Separation and Creation in Genesis 1 and Psalm 104, A Continuation of the Discussion of the Verb ברא

In: Vetus Testamentum
Ellen van Wolde Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands

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The meaning of the verb ברא is the subject of fierce discussions. Conventionally it has been rendered by biblicists and Hebraists as “to create,” but this traditional interpretation fails to explain adequately numerous linguistic and conceptual aspects of the verb’s usage. Historical solutions of these problems are discussed. The alternative hypothesis defended here is that the verb ברא Qal designates “to separate.” It is considered to be a spatial concept, not a concept that figures in the domain of construction. In the present article I present further analyses of the verb ברא in Gen 1 and explain the significance for the idea of creation it represents, and of the most famous creation psalm, Ps 104, and especially of vv. 26-30 in which the term ברא is used. The similarities and dissimilarities between these two texts demonstrate that each context of usage of ברא must be independently investigated and appreciated.

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