Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 28:1 (Nov 1965)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

E. A. Speiser: Genesis, Introduction, Translation, and Notes (The Anchor Bible). Garden City: Doubleday. 1964. LXXVI, 379. $6.00.

According to a note by its editors, William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman, the Anchor Bible is said to be “a fresh approach to the world’s greatest classic. Its object is to make the Bible accessible to the modern reader; its method is to arrive at the meaning of biblical literature through exact translation and extended exposition, and to reconstruct the ancient setting of the biblical story, as well as the circumstances of its transcription and the characteristics of its transcribers” (p. 11). The first volume to appear is a commentary on Genesis by the late Professor Ephraim A. Speiser. That the undertaking is a difficult one cannot be denied, nor the fact that a tremendous amount of labor has gone into the preparation of the present volume.

The note of the general editors, however, is misleading, for this is not at all a fresh approach to the Bible. It is the same old “critical” approach to which we have been subjected for years. What makes Dr. Speiser’s commentary valuable is not its approach but rather the constant reference that he makes to the ancient literature and sources and to the discoveries of archaeology. On this score he has brought together much valuable material and rendered a truly useful service, for which all students of Genesis must be grateful. Furthermore there are many fine comments made throughout the course of the work, and the translation is stimulating. Professor Speiser has produced an interesting commentary.

The approach, however, despite what the editors say, is not fresh. We look at the comments on the first verse of Genesis and immediately find ourselves face to face with the view that the first verse is a dependent clause. Speiser translates “When God set about to create heaven and earth …”. The evidence presented for this rendering is that the first word of the Bible is in the construct state. We are told that, had it been absolute, it would have been pointed bārẹ̄ʾs̆īt. This statement is not accurate, for in Isaiah 46:10 the word is absolute, and is pointed anarthrously as in Genesis 1:1.

In the second place appeal is made to the syntax, and it is claimed that verse two is a parenthetic clause, and verse three the main clause. The

evidence for this is an appeal to the “analogous account” (by J) in Genesis 2:4b-7 and, more importantly, to the opening lines of the Babylonian E...

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