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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Jesus Christ, Creation & Chaos — Genesis 1:1-2 Septuagint (LXX) part 2

Gen. 1:1 ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν  2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος  3 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός γενηθήτω φῶς καὶ ἐγένετο φῶς

RE: the LXX rendering of  Gen 1:2a ‏והארץ היתה
Here we see vav + noun + finite verb, Wenham[1] states that the syntax of Gen 1:2a makes the first clause “disjunctive”.  The LXX renders this ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν. The particle δὲ is not typically a disjunctive in Hellenistic Greek.This could be a quibble over metalanguage, Hellenistic Greek people don’t always use the same metalanguage as the Biblical Hebrew people.

I am working on the assumption that the discourse function of δὲ is to mark development in the narrative. I am wondering if δὲ in the “translation greek” of Gen LXX is used to mark development or if it if merely represents some surface structure feature in the Hebrew vorlage. To address this question I compared the usage of δὲ and καὶ within Gen LXX.  

I built several search patterns,  for example:  “noun  δὲ  verb” and “article δὲ noun verb” and ran them against Gen LXX, studied the corresponding hebrew text (MT) to see what was potentially[2] the vorlage reading behind the LXX Old Greek (OG). I did a similar searches using “καὶ [article] noun verb” to see how it compared to the “noun  δὲ  verb” pattern. Here are two examples:

Gen. 4:3 καὶ ἐγένετο μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας ἤνεγκεν Καιν ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν τῆς γῆς θυσίαν τῷ κυρίῳ  4 καὶ Αβελ ἤνεγκεν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπὸ τῶν πρωτοτόκων τῶν προβάτων αὐτοῦ   

Gen. 6:1 καὶ ἐγένετο ἡνίκα ἤρξαντο οἱ ἄνθρωποι πολλοὶ γίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ θυγατέρες ἐγενήθησαν αὐτοῖς

After several hours of building searches I am now drowning in data. The discourse function of καὶ in καὶ Αβελ ἤνεγκεν and καὶ θυγατέρες ἐγενήθησαν appears to be similar to δὲ in the “noun  δὲ  verb” pattern. I don’t detect any sort of preference in Gen LXX for δὲ over καὶ when the Hebrew text reads “vav [article] noun verb” both δὲ and καὶ appear where they seem to mark development in the narrative. In some of the examples δὲ or καὶ appear to be mildly adversative, but that would not necessarily negate the development function. This is all very preliminary and uncertain. I’m sure someone has written a monograph on this but I’d rather study the text than read monographs.

Well, I spent some more hours on this, looking at the literature on the use of  δὲ and καὶ in discourse marking in Gen LXX. I have some doubts about pursuing this further, I don't think the use of δὲ in Gen 1:2 is going to shed much light on the difficult exegetical problems in that text. Here is a quote from S. Levinsohn[3] from his discussion of Gen. 22:4–6

I am not suggesting for a moment that δέ in the LXX is used to signal perceived DUs [development units] in the Hebrew text. I am simply observing that, by rendering waw with δέ, its translators may have been reacting instinctively to the discourse significance of the seemingly redundant references to Abraham in this passage.
Levinsohn was looking at redundant participant reference in the MT of Genesis as a means of marking development.

[1] Gordon J. Wenham  Genesis WBC v1, p.15

[2] We do not have the vorlage for the LXX (Old Greek) of Genesis.

[3] Stephen H. Levinsohn, Towards a Typology of Story Development Marking (Repeatedly Naming the Subject: The Hebrew Equivalent of Greek ∆έ)


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