Walton and Van Wolde: Hebrew Bara’ Does Not Mean “To Create”

Posted By on February 22, 2010

John Hobbins has a helpful post offering links to the critiques of the thesis of Ellen Van Wolde that Hebrew bara’ does not mean “create”.  John Walton’s recent book The Lost World of Genesis 1, positively reviewed by me here and (soon) in print, has popularized this view.  As I noted in my review, I think Walton’s overall thesis (Genesis 1 is pre-scientific cosmology and has religious motivation) is quite sound and does *not* depend on this idea of bara’ (which I don’t buy into either).  In other words, one can easily defend the idea that Genesis 1 has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with Israelite religion and cosmology (polemic or not), from many textual trajectories without respect to this notion of bara’.

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5 Responses to “Walton and Van Wolde: Hebrew Bara’ Does Not Mean “To Create””

  1. Nobunaga says:

    I’m taking your overall point of the religious and cosmological nature of Gen one, which i believe also but i’m left with Gen 5 and the historicity of Adam to contemplate and Gen one plays into this with Bara/creation of man.

    so do you see any literal meaning in Genesis with the creation of man. Assuming you take bara to mean create in this instance ?

    if you could answer that for me it would be great, also do you see Adam as historical ?

    • MSH says:

      I believe Adam was created by God, perhaps immediately, perhaps not. But there was a first man brought about through the agency of God.

  2. Nobunaga says:

    I had a good look through the link you gave and found this to answer my question above.

    http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2007/03/the_genre_of_ge.html

    the writer said “it is nonsensical and confusing to describe Gen 1 as “fully historical.”” this seems to suggest there are historical aspect to Genesis which is what i was trying to get at and perhaps these are minimal but i would like to find out what these are ?

    sorry if this is way of base from what your intention of the blog was for. That Hebrew poetry site is really informative :-)

  3. Nobunaga says:

    The fall and redemption would be at stake if he were not right.

  4. matija says:

    i found interesting the usage of words like “tree”, “fruit”, “eating”, “nakedness” etc. as symbols, so i would like to know where do you put “the tree of knowledge of right…” and “the tree of life” into the concept of the divin e council and the new testament. Especially how do you interpret the gen 3 (precisely, gen 2:25 – 3) in that view (i don’t mean on nachash thing etc, but the usage of terms like trees, eatind, fruit, wisdom etc, in the picture).
    It looks like a couple of rules exemplified in the bible is to be drawn from gen 3, like “who wants to be first, will be last”, “leading the smallest to sin”, the case of authority and hierarchy (Matthew 8), then the whole prisethood doctrine from leviticus looks to me tightly connected with gen 3 account – by form. An example of this is the death of Adab and Nabihu (can we interpret their names as “self-willing is my father?) as a public example of what PRIEST (one who is anointed) should not do, because the seraf in gen 3 behave in the same way.
    could you provide your opinion on this issue – tree of knowlegde of good and evil in relation to the divine council? what was the function of humans in the council, were they in authority above serafs, and if they were, what function of authority did they exercise – judges etc. (sorry for rusty english)

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