Re: John 1:1a - in *the* beginning

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 06:51:29 EST

At 5:20 AM -0600 10/28/97, Rolf Furuli wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
><I've always assumed that this was directly in imitation of the Hebrew of
><Genesis 1:1 -- B'RESHITH BARA' . . . If there's a better reason for the
><absence of an article there, I'd like to hear it.
>Dear Carl,
>It is quite possible that John had Genesis 1:1 in mind, but the parallel is
>not as clearcut as it appears to be. The phrase B'RESHITH BARA' may be
>understood in three ways. Lexically speaking BE is a preposition which
>includes the meanings of EV but has a much wider range, including the
>temporal meaning "at the time of" ("when"), RESHITH is an anarthrous noun
>with the meaning "beginning", "first part of", "principal part of". BARAŤ
>is a verb in the perfect conjugation, meaning "created".

I am aware, Rolf, that analysts of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 have
noted the possibilities that you mention in your post, much of which I
haven't reproduced. But what ticked off the comment I suggested above was
the fact that the LXX reproduces Gen 1:1 with the opening phrase EN ARCHi
EPOIHSEN ... I remembered this especially after having done a close reading
of Philo's De Opificio Mundi,which subjects Genesis 1-3 to a fascinating
proto-neo-Platonic analysis. So, although I can't prove it, I think it by
no means unlikely that the opening of John 1:1 is influenced by the LXX
opening of Genesis 1:1. That may be wrong, but it seems not at all
implausible to me.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:34 EDT