Gary Rendsberg - Genesis 1

At Ed Babinski's recommendation, I got on to some of The Teaching Company's excellent Religion courses. They have a host of courses on some wonderful topics. I figured I would start at the start and so downloaded Dr Gary Rendsberg's (Rutgers) Book of Genesis 24 lecture course.

In this course, Rendsberg recommends and uses the New JPS Translation of Genesis. The text of this newer translation is not available online (although the older 1917 version is) so forgive me if I refer to it but do not quote from it, as I am in China and it isn't easy to come by here.

Rendsberg notes that,
The first thing we notice about Genesis 1 is that, contrary to what most people might assume or believe, the world is not created ex nihilo, that is, “out of nothing.”
By using the JPS translation, he makes the assertion that according to the syntax of the Hebrew text, Genesis 1:1 is actually a dependant clause, dependant on Gen 1:2-3. That is the earth is in a state of preexistent matter and then God creates the world. He asserts that creation ex nihilo is a later theological development that was then read back into the Hebrew text, but which is not supported by the Hebrew text.

Of course he said a lot more, but I thought this is of note to those of us previously of the Christian tradition.

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