Short Study -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 61:2 (Fall 1999)
Article: Short Study
Author: Anonymous

Short Study

Discourse Analysis And The Interpretation Of Gen 2:4–7
Jack Collins*

I. Introduction

The interpretation of Gen 2:4–7 is a traditional hard place for Biblical studies. These verses are often cited as proof of discord between the creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2, and hence as evidence of disparate sources of the originals. In response, many have sought to harmonize the two pericopes, but with widely differing conclusions. The purpose of this essay is to employ the tools of discourse grammar to see if they can shed light on this passage.

We begin by giving the Hebrew of Gen 2:4–8, with the RSV for a sample English version. Our grammatical discussion will lead to an interpretation that we can express by modifying the RSV.

אלה תוֹלדוֹת השׁמים והארחּ בהבראם ביום עשׂות יהוה אלהים ארחּ ושׁמים 4

ושׂל שׂיה השׂדה טתם יהיה בארחּ וכל־עשׂב השׂדה טרם יצמח 5

כי לא המטיר יהוה אלהים על־הארחּ ואדם אין לעבד את־האדמה

ואד יהלא מן־הארחּ והשׁקה את־כל־פני־האדמה 6

וייצר יהוה אלהים את־האדמ עפר מן־האדמה ויפח באפיו נשׁמת היים 7

ויהי האדם לנפשׁ חיה

ויטע יהוה אלהים גן־בעדן מקדם וישׂם שׁם את־האדם אשׁר יצר 8

(4) These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, (5) when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; (6) but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground—(7) then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a livi...

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