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Bob MacDonald

This - Genesis and the Tabernacle linkage - is a nice pattern recognition. I think its application goes far beyond function and construction. In particular, the 'male and female' is not simply functional but of the character of God's image in each of us. I will meditate on this ... and respond much later.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

Interesting stuff. There may be a little circularity going on here, though. Walton (whose ANE Thought in the OT I've read, though not the Gen. commentary yet, and I especially thank Alan Lenzi for his probing reading and comments somewhere else, where we interacted on the subject) is good to bring up the lack of distinction between essence and function in ancient thought. As far as I've ever read, the distinction is first made by Plato and explicated by Aristotle. But in focusing on the Genesis 1 narrative as describing function to the exclusion essence, Walton rather undercuts his own foundation, as it's precisely the ancient ambiguation that allows for his "function" argument to be posited. That is, anciently, the answer is actually "both": The essence and function were considered inseparable, and to have come into being together. There is no separation. To focus on function to the exclusion of essence is as objectionable as to focus on essence to the exclusion of function.

Anyhow, it's interesting stuff, and I enjoyed the book.

JohnFH

Thanks for your helpful comments, Kevin. They ring true to me.

David Guttmann

ז יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ, עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע;
Isaiah 45:7

JohnFH

In other words, David, other passages prove that HaShem was understood to be the Creator of darkness, even evil and misfortune, and thus anything and everything that exists.

One passage on its own is an insufficient basis for systematic thought. But if Scripture is allowed to interpret Scripture, false avenues are closed off.

David Guttmann

Sorry I got interrupted in the earlier comment. Transition from light to darkness occurs through the removal of light - it happens. Transitioning from nothingness to existence "occurs" also. There are no components being assembled. Making on the other hand
עֹשֶׂה and יוֹצֵר are assembling from preexisting components.

Life occurs.For living things the verb בוֹרֵא is used referring to the life force.

Rambam uses Yeshayahu to argue that evil is something that "occurs" through the removal of "good". One does not make evil - one just takes away life and continuity. (Guide 3:10)

David Guttmann

WoW John I did not expect you active at this hour. It seems scholarship is acquired at night!

Cristian Ratza

I agree with you John. I do find Walton's contributions very useful, but to say that we have no CREATION in Genesis 1 stretches beyond recongnition the definitions of most of the words involved.

JohnFH

David,

thanks for bringing Rambam into the discussion. He deserves to be read and quoted widely by Jews and non-Jews alike. Someone should write a book entitled "Rambam for dummies."

Phil Spinelli

On Monday June 23, 2008 John Walton presented his position on Gen 1 in a lecture sponsored by Logos. The MP3 audio of that lecture is posted for free download at: http://www.logos.com/media/lecture/walton.mp3

JohnFH

Thanks, Phil, for the heads up. I look forward to listening to it.

Andy Witt

John, do you think it's possible that Gen 1 speaks of both the creative activity of God (bara) as well as the preparation/functional activity (asa)? I've always found the phrase at the end of the creation account interesting, that God "created [bara] in order to make [asa]" (2:3). Though the two words are somewhat synonymous, they are not entirely, I think we'd all agree, and 2:3 seems to support the differences between the two words at least in the creation story. I had a professor in seminary describe 1:1 as the "creation" of all things, and from 1:2ff the narrowing in on the "preparation/making" of the land as a place for mankind to dwell, much like we 'make' our beds in the morning. It makes use of the sense of 'asa' which is preparing something for use, or making it ready for a function. Thanks for the post!

JohnFH

Hi Andy,

Gen 2:3 makes me think that a concrete sense of bara' is activated by the author of the pericope in this instance. That concrete sense would be related to what the verb as a participle means in Phoenician, a nomen professionis for a kind of artisan. If that is the case, the sense of 2:3 might be: God fashioned in order to make. I hope that's clear.

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