Part 1: Most Open Translation of Genesis 1:1-1:19

I started with the earliest original Hebrew texts, and studied Hebrew grammar, comparing glyphs and words between verses to find differences of use. Most of my sources are direct analyses, or ancient or modern-day direct translations, by Hebrew scholars of different faiths, to get a real understanding of what is told to us in Genesis. I saved the quite few phrases needing comparison between differing literal translation to first and foremost get a true sense of what is being said.

This gave me a generally understandable creation narrative based on original documents without tunnel vision of particulars, such as which tense is assumed. I then used two “untainted-by-interpretation” literal (though ancient Hebrew is about as far away from literal as a language can get) translations to get a few more specific ideas about some fuzzy and conflicting terms, such as formless vs. waste.

This gave me a second text, that largely verified that even with an “as-literal-as-is-possible” reading, the narrative tells of the same acts and subjects.

Thirdly, I compared with YLT, and had to adjust (more accurately, thoughtfully align) very little. In the fourth text, the translation based on Greek texts, there were fewer alignments still, with the exception of 1:16 which suggests God “also made the stars”. I and other scholars maintain that this verse in original texts does not convey this meaning, but instead something like “And God made the big light to rule the day and the small light to rule the night and/together with the stars.”  This does not mean I or they contest whether God made the stars; just that it isn’t written in 1:16.

I also noted that many modern Christian versions of Genesis 1 carry the interpretation of the Greek translation, and scrutinized the modern Hebrew and Christian texts in parallel.

Now, the subject of this article is not dissection of Genesis 1, but an effort to present a true understanding of what the texts say and imply. That will come later; here is the full text that extremely few, if any, scholars and linguists should have trouble accepting for what it is:

Day 1
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was unformed and empty, and darkness on the face of the deep. And the movement of God-spirit above the face of the waters.
And God said, “Be, Light”, and light! And God saw the light, that (it was) good, and God separated the light from the darkness.
And God called the light “day”, and the darkness called “night”. And the evening existed and the morning existed, one day.

Day 2
And God said, “Expanse, (be) the severance of the waters” – and separate the waters from the waters!

And God made the expanse, and separated the waters under the expanse from the waters above the expanse, and (it was so).

And God called the expanse “heaven”. And the evening existed and the morning existed, second day.

Day 3
And God said, “The waters under the heaven, gather at one place, and dry (land) show.” (And it was so.)

And God called dry (land) “earth”, and the gathering of the waters “seas”, and God saw (it was) good.

And God said, “earth, yield {grass,herb}, sow(ing) seed, and fruit-tree making fruit of (its) kind which seeds earth.” (And it was so.)

And earth brought forth {grass,herb}, sowing seed of (its) kind, and the tree making fruit, seeds of (its) kind, and God saw (it was) good.

And the evening existed and the morning existed, third day.

Day 4
And God said, “Luminaries (in) the expanse (of) the heaven, separate the day from the night and (be for) signs and appointed (times), and days and years.

And luminaries (in) the expanse of heaven, light earth. (And it was so.)

And God [had] made two big luminaries, the big luminary to rule the day, and the small luminary to rule the night (and;together with) the stars.

And God gave (them in) the expanse of the heaven to light the earth.

And rule the day and the night and separate the light from the darkness and God saw (it was) good.

And the evening existed and the morning existed, on four day.

Now, you may think, “This text looks very strange. It seems to have word-gaps in sentences.” That is because I have purposely left out words inserted in various language translations; only where they are necessary to make sense of the Hebrew sentences have I supplied them in ()-parantheses. {} signifies the collective term for grass-like edible or grazable vegetation that seems to have been used in those times, and [] signifies the  by some assumed pluperfect tense of 1:16.

(UPDATE: I have again compared the glyphs and there simply is no difference between the phrasing in 1:7 and 1:16. Since certainly “heaven” did not exist before 1:6 (as luminaries did not in 1:14), injecting the [had] in 1:16 to suggest that the luminaries were not created in 1:14 has a reason outside Genesis. There is all reason to suspect a tweaking of the text for your own purposes here, as opposed to approaching religious text with neutrality and honesty. I will not include the [had] in future! If that leads to contradictions, the underlying reason will be investigated.)

So, this is the first of my steps — a word-for-word translation, more literal but at the same time a more neutral and reconciling one than Young’s Literal Translation. I call this my Most Open translation. No translation will be the Most Open translation, because every human language uses almost exclusively words that are ambiguous. (Read the end of the series for a best attempt at resolving this with a non-human language.)

Let’s take a step back and look what is being done by God. The title of the narration is that God created the heavens and the earth. The description of events involved in this creation follows. (Alternate interpretation: this is not a title but an account of “God created everything in the Universe”, and the rest describes his work in our part of the Universe.)

Either way, I have found no doubt by scholars that God is the creator, and that this is the account told to Man by God of how the world of Man came into existence and how he formed and ordered them.

I have purposely stayed away from Bible class-like interpretations of the account of creation, and read it to understand it without the weight of inferred preferences.

The understanding that I find is that he created the heaven and also the earth, which was a formless watery body, and light itself, and lit it to create day and night. When the water-earth was created, he created the heaven to split the water in two (seawater and rainwater/clouds) and when that was done, he made land appear between the seas. When there was dry land, he let it sprout vegetation that could reproduce. When the earth and the heaven had been created, he created or placed the Sun and the Moon in the heaven. (Alternate interpretation: And the stars, in the heaven or elsewhere.)  The Sun, to rule the day and light the earth; the Moon, to rule the night together with the stars and light the earth.

This certainly seems to match extremely well the all-embracing understanding of the overwhelming majority of scholars and believers in the world, even those of different religions that share Genesis.

It also matches well what I was taught in Bible school, when I became a confirmed Christian at 13.

I will stop here, and let you reflect. I will append the many sources tomorrow, and let any scholar of any faith tell me whether they read this account in any way different from this assumptions-free, highly researched presentation of the original account of creation up to day four.

I am very interested in alternative readings, you may also supply differing translations of specific chosen words. Although I’m aware of most of them, there might be something to learn there.

Also, please suggest passages in books of prophets directly referring to the account of creation as written in Genesis.

Next: “Attacking our own Creation…”

(I will alternately attack and reconcile knowledge understood from these same verses, until hopefully there is a clear picture of what they can be said – by everyone – to reveal.)

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About maximilion

I seek truths and try to make you see them. View all posts by maximilion

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