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Vetus Testamentum 64 (2014) 502-513

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The Meaning of in Genesis 1:1-2:3


Terrance Randall Wardlaw, Jr.

SIL International
Terry_Wardlaw@sil.org

Abstract
In her 2009 monograph on cognitive linguistics for Biblical Studies Ellen Van Wolde
argues that the verb means to separate rather than the traditional understanding to create. This investigation considers her proposal, Becking and Korpels critique
of it, cognate and parallel evidence, the semantic domain creation, the use of
outside of Genesis 1, the use of within Genesis 1, as well its relation to the verb
. From this discussion, a contextual reading is then proposed which identifies
the linguistic traces of the conceptualization of within Gen 1:1-2:3, and it also takes
into account script semantics in the association of larger episodes with key vocabulary.

Keywords
Genesis 1 creation cognitive linguistics script semantics lexicography Ellen
van Wolde

Introduction
The last decade has seen an increase in the use of cognitive linguistics in
Old Testament studies, and Ellen van Wolde has been one of its chief proponents. Her well-written 2009 monograph on cognitive theory provides numerous tools for semantic analysis. Within her book, she analyzes Gen 1:1-2:4a
and argues that the verb means to separate rather than the traditional
understanding to create.1 This investigation will provide a brief description of
1 Ellen Van Wolde, Reframing Biblical Studies: When Language and Text Meet Culture, Cognition,
and Context (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009); idem., Why the Verb Does Not Mean
to Create in Genesis 1.1-2.4a, JSOT 34.1 (2009), pp. 3-23. For earlier proposals of this idea, see

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 4|doi 10.1163/15685330-12341166

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her argument, evaluate her treatment of in problematic passages both


outside of Genesis 1 and within Genesis 1, examine Gen 1:1-2:3 for determinate
linguistic indicators of meaning, and then apply insights from script semantics
to the analysis of .
1

Van Woldes Proposal

Van Wolde begins with the observation that the verb in Gen 1:1 describes
the acts of separation on days one through four of creation, whereas one finds
the verb alongside the making of light, the firmament, the heavenly bodies, and plants within Gen 1:3-19.2 Thus, she feels a need to identify the precise
meaning of . Moreover, she adduces parallel evidence from Sumerian and
Akkadian texts which she believes establishes a pattern of separation within
ANE creation texts, to which the biblical use of is analogous.3 She continues by reading the use of within Gen 1:20-2:4a in reference to the separation of the from other animals, humanity from God, male from female,
and the Sabbath from the other six days of the week.4 Moreover, it is claimed
that the verb means to create both in the Karatepe inscription and in
Gen 14:19, whereas is not used. Finally, Van Wolde proposes that the verbs
, to separate, and , to distinguish between may be distinguished on
the basis of their grammatical collocations with and , respectively.5
However, Becking and Korpel find this proposal problematic.6 After observing that Van Wolde is not the first to propose this idea, they note a consensus regarding the etymology behind the three roots for , which is reflected
within most classical Hebrew dictionaries. Moreover, they discuss each of the

2
3
4
5

mille Dantinne, Cration et Sparation, Le muson 74 (1961), pp. 441-51. For identifying
this unit as 1:1-2:3, see G. J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15 (WBC 1; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1987), p. 6.
An earlier form of this paper was presented at the SBL Midwest Regional Meeting at Luther
Seminary on 5 April, 2013. I would like to thank the constructive comments of conference
attendees and an anonymous reviewer.
Van Wolde, The Verb , pp. 5-10.
Van Wolde, The Verb , pp. 10-13.
Van Wolde, The Verb , pp. 13-14.
Van Wolde, The Verb , pp. 20-22. However, Nahum Sarna (Genesis [JPS; Philadelphia:
JPS, 1989], p. 7) indicates that divine fiat is the first modality of creation, whereas separation
is the second modality, among others. Thus, Van Wolde is limiting the meaning of this verb to
only one mode when several occur within this texts field of discourse.
Bob Becking and Marjo C.A. Korpel, To Create, to Separate or to Construct: An Alternative
for a Recent Proposal as to the Intepretation of in Gen 1:1-2:4a, JHS 10.3 (2010), pp. 2-21.

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occurrences within Genesis 1, and rightly conclude that the meaning to create fits the context better than the meaning to separate. They also identify
the verbs which occur in parallel as indicators of its meaning, and note several
inaccuracies in Van Woldes work. Notwithstanding, their counter-proposal
remains unconvincing. They propose that the meaning to construct, build,
(based on the LXX rendering ) resides behind the verb in reference to
creation, and they date this usage to a priestly redactor who was familiar with
Enuma Elish. In their view, this reflects a temple-oriented theology in which
God constructed the cosmos as his temple in the same way that human hands
constructed the Jerusalem temple.
In turn, Van Wolde and Rezetko provide a rather lengthy response to each
of these points.7 They successfully refute Becking and Korpels argument that
means to construct, build, and they go on to argue for a straightforward meaning to separate based on the key occurrences in Exod 34:10 and
Num 16:30, as well as the meaning to spread out in Isa 4:5; 40:21-26; 42:5; and
45:16-18.8 From anyone who critiques their position, Van Wolde and Rezetko
demand an exhaustive description of the domain to separate, divide for
Biblical Hebrew, which they themselves do not provide in support of their
own claims. Moreover, they wrongly dispute the poetic parallels put forward
by Becking and Korpel as misleading for determining the meaning of
since the use of poetic parallels for determining the meaning of words within a
semantic domain fails to capture the metaphorical meaning of a discrete word.
However, given a consideration of the type of parallel involved, a parallel word
may indeed prove helpful in approximating the meaning of its counterpart,
although it is of limited value for determining the precise conceptualization
of a word.
Therefore, it is evident that a due consideration of Van Wolde and Rezetkos
argument should account for the supposed parallel evidence, should treat
the use of in Exod 34:10; Num 16:30; Isa 40:21-26; 42:5; and 45:16-18, and it
should examine contextual usage within Genesis 1.
2

The Sumerian and Akkadian Evidence

Van Wolde and Rezetko argue that Sumerian and Babylonian creation stories opening with the origin of the universe begin with a verb of separation;
7 Ellen Van Wolde and Robert Rezetko, Semantics and the Semantics of : A Rejoinder to
the Arguments Advanced by B. Becking and M. Korpel, JHS 11.9 (2011), pp. 2-39.
8 Van Wolde and Rezetko, , pp. 5-6, 14-15.

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t herefore, this suggests that the parallel account in Gen 1:1-2:4a likewise opens
with , which may also be a verb meaning to separate.9 However, this is
true only in the case of Enki and Ninmah, where verbs of separation are found
in lines one and two. Contrary to Van Woldes analysis, and analogous to the
distribution of in Gen 1, verbs of separation are found following the
opening lines in Gilgame, Enkidu, and the Netherworld; The Song of the Hoe;
SpTU 3 67 9-12; and SpTU 3 67 19-22. Therefore, contrary to the parallel evidence adduced by Van Wolde and Rezetko, there is not a strict form whereby
Sumerian and Akkadian creation accounts open immediately with a verb of
separation. This observation militates against the argument by analogy regarding the placement of and a supposed meaning to separate in Gen 1.
3

Terms from the Semantic Domain Creation

The verbs which are paradigmatically related to are indicators of its general semantic range. Accordingly one finds a wide range of words used in the
semantic domain creation: , , , , , , , , , and
. These span the categories of generic action verbs, translocational verbs,
construction verbs, and miscellaneous metaphors. Of these, the verb
occurs in parallel with , , , , , and . The concrete meaning of ( qal) is to do, make (Gen 3:21; Neh 3:16), and this is often used in
reference to God creating the cosmos (Ps 104:19; Isa 66:22).10 It is found parallel
to in Gen 5:1; 6:7; Exod 34:10; Isa 41:20; 43:7; 45:7, 12, 18; 54:16; Am 4:13. The
concrete meaning of ( qal) is to form, fashion (Isa 49:5; Hab 2:18), and it
may also be used in reference to God creating or forming the cosmos (Gen 2:7;
Isa 42:6).11 The imagery associated with this word is that of a potter shaping clay into a vessel, and it is found parallel to in Isa 43:1, 7; 45:7, 18; and
Am 4:13.12 The concrete meaning of in the niphal is to be established or steadfast (Judg 16:26; Ps 119:5), and then in the polel and hiphil to set up, establish
(Exod 15:17; Isa 62:7). This may in turn be used in reference to creation
(Prov 3:19; Ps 8:4; Job 31:15), and it occurs parallel to in Isa 45:18.13 The
concrete meaning of ( qal) is to found, establish (Ezr 3:12; Isa 28:16), and
then by extension it may be used in reference to creation (Isa 48:13; Zech 12:1;
9
10
11
12
13

Van Wolde and Rezetko, Semantics of , p. 18.


HALOT 1:889-92; THAT 1:359-70; NIDOTTE 3:546-52.
HALOT 1:428-29.
THAT 1:761-65; NIDOTTE 2:503-6.
THAT 1:812-17; NIDOTTE 2:615-17.

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Ps 24:2; 78:69; 89:12; 102:26; 104:5; Job 38:4).14 This verb occurs parallel to in
Ps 89:12-13. The concrete meaning of ( qal) is to reach, spread out (Exod
9:23; Gen 12:8), and then this refers the God stretching out the heavens (like
a tent) in Job 9:8; Isa 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 51:13, 16; Jer 10:12; 51:15; Zech 12:1.15
This verb occurs in parallel with in Isa 45:12. The meaning of ( piel),
related to , new, fresh, is to make anew, restore (2 Chron 15:8; Isa 61:4),
and then it occurs in parallel with in Ps 51:12 and 104:30.16
Conversely, nowhere within OT poetry does occur parallel to .
Moreover, the conceptualization to build, advanced by Becking and Korpel, is
only one of the metaphors associated with creation within the Old Testament,
and this is also true of the gloss to spread out advanced by Van Wolde and
Rezetko in their discussion of the occurrences in Isaiah. Finally, Van Woldes
argument that the verb cannot mean to create since the verb has this
meaning remains fallacious since near-synonyms for verbs regularly occur in
many semantic domains. As was stated above, the verbs , , , , ,
, , , , , and each refer to creation.
4

The Use of Outside of Genesis 1

The contextual use of the verb itself, as well as the problematic passages
emphasized by Van Wolde, now merit discussion. In Gen 5:1 the phrase



, This is the book of the
generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness
of God (ESV), serves well as a prototypical example. First, one observes from
this context that there is only one direct object ( ) in valence with the verb
.17 Therefore, this evidence suggests that the meaning is not separation
since there are not two objects identified as being separated (ditransitivity).
Second, Susan Niditch has identified the formulaic nature of the early chapters of Genesis, and within this verse the verb , to make, create, occurs in
parallel with .18 Although this parallelism does not necessitate that these
two words be full synonyms, the identical object and the same subject matter
of creation suggests that they are near-synonyms with semantic convergence
14
15
16
17
18

HALOT 1:417; THAT 1:736-38; NIDOTTE 2:474-75.


HALOT 1:692-93; NIDOTTE 3:91-93.
HALOT 1:293-94; NIDOTTE 2:30-37.
This indicates that the occurrence of male and female in v. 2 is coreferential rather than
ditransitive.
Susan Niditch, Oral World and Written Word: Ancient Israelite Literature (Library of
Ancient Israel; Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996).

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in the creation domain. Third, context suggests that the emphasis on creation
in the image of God focuses upon likeness rather than separation and differentiation. For similar grammatical constructions and collocational context, see
Gen 6:7; Exod 34:10; Dt 4:32; Isa 4:5; 40:26, 28; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7, 15; 45:7[2x], 8, 12,
18[2x]; 48:7; 54:16; 57:19; 65:18[2x]; Ezek 21:35; 28:13, 15; Am 4:13; Mal 2:10; Ps 51:12;
89:13, 48; 102:19; 148:5; Ecc 12:1. Van Wolde fails to demonstrate how a meaning
to separate may account for each of these occurrences, although she argues
that in Isaiah means to spread, stretch out.
Moreover, Jer 31:22 serves as a prototypical example for the relation between
and newness:







, How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the Lord has
created a new thing on the earth: a woman encircles a man (ESV). This usage
is instructive in that, once again, there is only one object, . Moreover, the
focus is on the new thing the Lord is doing. This suggests that within
Israels traditions indicates a novel act of God in bringing something forth.
Similarly, see Isa 65:17; Pss 51:12; 104:30.
Analogous to this usage is the chief problem passage cited by Van Wolde and
Rezetko, Num 16:30. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against the
Lord and Moses, Moses announced to the congregation,










, But if the Lord created something new, and the ground


opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they
go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised
the Lord (ESV). The Septuagint translators understood this occurrence of
and its cognate accusative (a hapax) to refer to a novel act with their rendering
, but if the Lord reveals with a sign/miracle, and
most translation traditions understand this to mean if the Lord does (creates)
something new (e.g., Vulg, AV, ESV, NET, NJPS, NRSV, RSV; cf. NEB). It has been
suggested before that this use means to cut, split.19 However, as suggested by
the Septuagint rendering, the focus here is on the miraculous nature of the
new act God is about to perform. Therefore, this phrase should be rendered
to do something new (as in Isa 65:17; Jer 31:22; Ps 104:30) and the qal should
be distinguished from the piel on the basis of both the binyan and the agent.20

19

20

H. E. Hanson, Num. XVI 30 and the meaning of br, VT 22 (1972), pp. 353-59; Karl
Mller, Images of God and Creation in Genesis 1-2, in A God of Faithfulness (ed. Jamie A.
Grant, Alison Lo, and Gordon J. Wenham; LHBOTS 538; New York: T&T Clark, 2011), p. 9.
Following Gordon J. Wenham, Numbers (TOTC; Leicester: IVP, 1981), p. 137, and the hints of
Ibn Ezra (Michael Linetsky, Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezras Commentary on the Creation [trans.
and ann. Michael Linetsky; Northvale, N. J.: Jason Aronson, 1998], pp. 3-4).

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Then for Exod 34:10 Van Wolde and Rezetko argue that the use of indicates separation from the nations:










, And he said, Behold, I am making

a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been
created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you
are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do
with you (ESV).21 However, this interpretation remains questionable because
within verse 10 the generic verb , to do, occurs twice alongside one occurrence of the substantive , deed, act, and one occurrence of the substantive , miraculous act. Therefore, the emphasis is on the imminent deed
of the Lord, and v. 11 indicates that this act is God driving out the peoples from
before the Israelites. Moreover, the verb occurs within a relative clause
that is dependent on I shall do miraculous things. This suggests that the act of
God is in focus, and this relative clause is an adjectival modification of that act.
In this case, the further description emphasizes its novelty. Furthermore, this
verb is not ditransitive, as one would expect if separation is in focus. Instead,
there are two prepositional phrases reinforcing the idea that this has never
been done before in all the land or among all the nations. Therefore, this verb
means to do something new, akin to Jer 31:20, above.
In turning to usage in Isaiah, Van Wolde and Rezetko argue that the use of
indicates the spatial sense to spread out in reference to the heavens and
clouds in Isa 4:5; 40:21-26; 42:5; and 45:16-17, and this is indicated by the occurrence of the verb nearby in Isa 40:21-26 and 42:5. Moreover, this is analogous to the similar meaning of the phonemic form bra in the Akkadian text
The Dream of Lugalbanda.22 Aside from the differing ETCSL transliteration of
this form in line 333 of c.1.8.2.1 (ugula nu-zu-e nu-banda3 nu-zu-e), neither the
traditional understanding of the LXX nor verbs consistently occurring in parallel support their argument.23 Rather, the preponderance of evidence indicates that this verb means to create. For example, in Isa 45:16-18 Van Wolde
and Rezetko conclude that the verb means to spread out the heavens,
although there is no contextual indicator of spreading the heavens. To the contrary, each of the parallel verbs point toward novel construction:







, For thus says Yhwh, who the heavens, he is the God; who
21
22
23

Van Wolde and Rezetko, Semantics of , p. 14.


Van Wolde and Rezetko, Semantics of , pp. 14-15.
Lugalbanda in the mountain cave, ETCSL translation t.1.8.2.1 (http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.
uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=c.1.8.2.1&display=Crit&charenc=gcirc#, accessed 27 January, 2014).

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formed ( )the earth and made it (), he established it ( ;)he did not
it empty (), he formed it ( )for habitation; I am Yhwh and there
is no other (Isa 45:18). As elsewhere, the Septuagint translators understood
this verb to approximate the meaning to create, make with the rendering
, who made the heavens.
Moreover, the selection of marginal examples from Isaiah becomes evident
with a more thorough reading of prototypical occurrences of . Van Wolde
and Rezetko fail to consider all of the evidence in Isa 40:26, 28; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1,
7, 15; 45:7 (2x), 8, 12, 18 (2x); 48:7; and 54:16 (2x). To take only one example, in
Isa 43:1 the Lord is the one who Jacob, and in context the parallel describes
this as forming ( )Israel. It is unlikely that Jacob was stretched out like a
sheet or the heavens. Rather, it is more likely that he was formed, created,
made. There is a similar contextual usage in v. 7 with the synonyms ,
to form, and , to make: everyone who is called by my name and my glory,
I him, I formed him and, moreover, made him. In addition, Brevard Childs
identifies an emphasis on radical newness within the thematic flow of Isaiahs
emphasis on creation within this unit (Isa 48:7).24
5

The Use of within Genesis 1

Within Gen 1:1-2:3, Van Woldes analysis likewise remains unconvincing. Two
examples shall suffice, though similar arguments could be made for each
occurrence.
On day six of creation Van Wolde argues that refers to the separation of
humanity from God, as well as the separation of male from female:



, So God created man
in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he
created them, v. 27 (ESV). However, van Woldes reading runs counter to the
double emphasis on human likeness to God with the adverbial phrases
and . The use of ( adverbial of manner) rather than or ( separation) does not suggest partition. Moreover, is a transitive verb with only
one object in valence in its first two occurrences. This suggests that male and
female in the third occurrence are coreferential when read alongside the 3mp
24

Brevard S. Childs, Isaiah (OTL; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), p. 375. Moreover,
Deutero-Isaiah thinks in terms of a new era of salvation history and he uses the witness
to creation to demonstrate the absolutely new beginning in Gods imminent action in
history. (Idem., Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on
the Christian Bible [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992], p. 115).

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object and the previous occurrences of the more general and .


Therefore, fails to evidence ditransitivity, and the meaning to separate
remains unlikely.
Then in Gen 2:2-3 Van Wolde argues that , in conjunction with the verb
, (piel ) to sanctify, which connotes separation, indicates the separation of
the Sabbath from the other six days of the week:














, And on the seventh
day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day
from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made
it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (ESV) However, the verb occurs in a subordinate clause modifying
the clause which substantiates the main compound clause.

COMPOUND
CLAUSE


substantiating clause
[]
relative clause

Thus, the reason God blessed and sanctified the seventh day is that he ceased
all his work, and the phrase in 2:3 follows the two occurrences of in v. 2. Both of these occurrences of the word work
( )refer to the scenario of creation from 1:3-31. Following the narrative
flow of the text, it seems intuitive that this word retains the same referent in
2:3 as in the preceding verse. Therefore, the relative clause modifying
likewise refers to the work from 1:3-31 rather than to the verb . In addition,
the use of the verb within the infinitive phrase explains the preceding action (epexegetical), akin to the phrase in 2:2.25 Thus,
He ceased all his work which God had created by doing.
Moreover, in terms of the supposed near-synonymy of and , it is
noteworthy that the verb is limited to use in Gen 1:3-19 where separation
is in focus, and then is found in 1:20-31 where the novel creation of living
beings is in focus. Furthermore, if these words are near-synonyms, then one
would expect to find occasionally used in reference to the separation of
the clean and the unclean, or the holy and profane within the so-called Priestly
25

Joon-Muraoka 124 o.

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materials. However, alone is used in reference to the division of these


categories (e.g., Lev 11:47).
6

The Conceptualization of

This discussion now leads to the question, In what manner is distinct


from its near-synonyms?
For usage in the qal and niphal stems, S. R. Driver earlier proposed that God
is the Creator in the sense of the sculptor of what is (i.e., one who shapes by
cutting), and . Dantinne regarded this etymological interpretation favorably.26
However, an analysis of contextual usage is to be preferred over etymology.
In this case, more recent scholars advocate the relation between the concrete
piel gloss to cut and the extended meaning of the qal, to create.27 ( piel)
is used in Josh 17:15, 18 in reference to the clearing of ground or the cutting
down of a thicket. Then in Ezek 21:24 it is found twice in reference to making, cutting, or carving a signpost at the head of the way of the city. Again in
Ezek 23:47 this verb is used to describe the action of the enemy cutting down
people with their swords. Thus, by extension, creation (qal and niphal) occurs
by cutting or sculpture, similar to the use of in Gen 2:7. Moreover, the creation of humans in the image of God ( in collocation with and ,
Gen 1:27) indicates that the author of Gen 1 was indeed aware of the living
metaphor of God as sculptor, with the implication that humans, not idols, are
sculpted in the image of God.28 Moreover, this understanding is supported by
passages where occurs parallel to , to shape, form, (Isa 43:1, 7; 45:7, 18;
Am 4:13). Accordingly, a consideration of the contextual evidence discussed
above suggests that often means to create (something new) (Jer 31:20;
Isa 65:17; Ps 104:30), and creation is conceptualized as to form or shape by

26

27
28

S. R. Driver, Genesis (7th ed; London: Methuen, 1909), p. 3; Dantinne, Cration et separation, pp. 446-47. Following HALOT, cognates for this verb are found in Old South Arabian
bry, a religious figure in sculptured stone, Phoenician , sculptor, and Arabic
bary, to shape by cutting. (HALOT 1:154)
Bill T. Arnold, Genesis (Cambridge: CUP, 2009), 36-37; Mller, Images of God, 8-10.
Regarding the imago dei discussion see W. Randall Garr, In His Own Image and Likeness:
Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism (Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 15;
Leiden: Brill, 2003), pp. 132-65; for the relation between the imago dei and the aniconic
tradition see John F. Kutsko, Between Heaven and Earth: Divine Presence and Absence in the
Book of Ezekiel (Biblical and Judaic Studies 7; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2000), pp. 25-76.

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cutting in the qal and niphal stems.29 Only God is the agent, and this verb may
be either intransitive or transitive (never ditransitive). In contrast, the piel may
have a human agent.
Moreover, research into script semantics and scenarios demonstrates how
the cognitive faculties may associate a standardized general episode within a
semantic frame as an economy measure for cognitive processing.30 In relation
to the verb , Wardlaw argues that the creation episode is prominent within
Israels traditional materials, and that the use of its characteristic vocabulary activates the creation script for text comprehension within the canonical Pentateuch and Psalms.31 Therefore, the use of within Genesis 1:1-2:3
associates propositions or snippets from the creation episode with this word
(i.e., the entrenchment of a literary or traditional complex). Accordingly, the
creation episode and its cognitive abstraction is operative within the encyclopedic knowledge of the ideal reader, and this knowledge is available for recall
when contextual activation occurs with an instantiation of the verb ( e.g.,
Ps 51:12; Isa 40-55). This is active alongside the sense to create (something
new), and the degree of activation depends on contextual triggers.
7

Summary and Conclusions

From this examination of Van Woldes analysis of one may conclude that
the meaning to separate, cleave; to spread out is possible for the ambiguous examples she cites. However, for the majority of occurrences the mean29

30

31

Limitations of space preclude a detailed treatment of the syntagmatic and paradigmatic


characteristics of . See Franz Bhl, , br, als Terminus der Weltschpfung im
alttestamentlichen Sprachgebrauch, in Alttestamentliche Studien. Rudolf Kittel zum 60.
Geburtstag (ed. A. Alt, et al.; BZAW 13; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1913), 42-60; Paul Humbert,
Emploi et porte du verbe br (crer) dans lAncien Testament, TZ 6 (1947): 401-422;
TDOT 2:242-49; W. H. Schmidt, , THAT 1:336-39; Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, ,
NIDOTTE 1:728-35.
R. C. Schank and R. P. Abelson, Scripts, Plans, Goals, and Understanding (Hillsdale, N. J.:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1977); George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
(Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1987), p. 78; John R. Taylor, Linguistic Categorization:
Prototypes in Linguistic Theory (2d ed.; Oxford: OUP, 1995), p. 87; Van Wolde, Reframing
Biblical Studies, p. 59.
Terrance R. Wardlaw, Conceptualizing Words for God within the Pentateuch: A CognitiveSemantic Investigation in Literary Context (LHBOTS 495; New York: T&T Clark, 2008);
idem., Elohim within the Psalms: Petitioning the Creator to Order Chaos in Oral-Derived
Literature (LHBOTS; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, forthcoming).

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the meaning of in genesis 1:1-2:3

ing to create, make, produce (something new) is the more felicitous reading.
Moreover, this is the received understanding of the Septuagint translators
and rabbis, and no account has been provided demonstrating how they could
have been mistaken between the composition of this unit and its reception
in translation. Furthermore, Van Wolde and Rezetkos proposed meaning does
not make sense for the prototypical occurrences of , which in most semantic investigations are used to illumine the more ambiguous passages. Neither
have they established that is a ditransitive verb. The point is not whether
a translation is possible. Rather, it is whether a new proposal is necessary on
the basis of the linguistic evidence. Although this investigation has not been
an exhaustive study of the verb , it suggests several flaws in Van Woldes
analysis, it supports the consensus view that ( qal, niphal) means to create (something new), and linguistic traces suggest this word is conceptualized
in terms of sculpture. Moreover, in moving beyond previous studies, recent
insights into script semantics account for the entrenchment of propositions
and snippets from the creation episode within the encyclopedic knowledge
associated with the verb .

QAL, NIPHAL
Gloss: to create, do (something new)
DOMAIN: sculpture
Agent: God
Transitive, intransitive

to create (something
new), sculpt
Figure 1

to do or make
something new

PIEL
Gloss: to cut, hew
Agent: human
Transitive, intransitive

Creation script
Genesis 1:12:3

A representation of the senses associated with the verb .

Vetus Testamentum 64 (2014) 502-513