Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The first word of the Bible

Thanks to Tim for this link to a fascinating Jewish commentary on the first word of the Bible.

In short the Hebrew word often translated "in the beggining" (B'reishit)has a number of unusual gramattical features. The commentary argues that probably the most accurate translation is not "in the beggining God created" but actually reading it as the first of a long series of subordinate clauses, e.g. "When God began to create heaven and earth—the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light." (JPS trans). Thus grammatically, "God said..." is in fact the first proper sentence of the Bible.

However, the gramatical peculiarities have also opened up the possibility for some Rabbinic interpreters to find quite different meanings for that first word. Suggesting instead of "in the beggining" we could actually read "For the sake of Torah" or "For the sake of Israel."

So, my thought is, if we understand God created the heavens and the earth for the sake of his word (Torah) and the sake of his elect (Israel), the Christian could equally well say, "For the sake of Christ," who is the fulfillment and antitype of both!

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