Thursday, June 8, 2017

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- evidentiary epistemic

Genesis 1:4
 
ד וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאוֹר כִּי־טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ:
 
Transliteration: Va-yar elohim et-ha-or ki tov vayavdel elohim ben ha-or u-ven ha-choshekh.
Translation:     Gd must have manifested the light for it was good, for Gd separated the light and the darkness.
 
Vocabulary in this lesson:
יַּרְא
manifest
כִּי
because, for, if, when
טוֹב
good
יַּבְדֵּל
divide, separate
בֵּין
between, from
חֹשֶׁךְ:
darkness
 
Now I’ll go back and discuss this new binyan, the hifil.
 
Mostly it gets tagged as “causative”, that is, there’s a connotation that somebody made something happen.
 
That’s a label and it doesn’t match the function of this binyan in every context.  There are some verbs for which the qal is not transitive. Some of them use the hifil for their transitive form.   There are also verbs which have a transitive qal, but the hifil is not a causative version, it means something quite independent. There are even verbs with no attested qal that are attested in hifil.
 
The qal of the verb is raah, “see”.  But  since this isn’t qal, we have to find some other way of saying what it means. If we do fall back on “causative”, “causing to see” can be translated as “manifest”.
 
That’s what happened in this verse. Manifesting the light was how Gd proved to us, not only what He created, but also how He certified that it was He who created it.
 
So there’s that Janus effect again, looking both ways.
 
Now we come to a new feature of the certainty epistemic.
 
When it is at the start of several actions, usually in several verses, it usually introduces evidence that proves why we are certain of the initial situation.
 
When the certainty epistemic is followed by a narrative imperfect, the narrative imperfect is how we know the certainty epistemic happened. If you are going to translate it, you would say “X must have happened, for Y [in the narrative imperfect].” This Y often has consequences which will be immediately described; you’ll see this after the flood story. At any rate, we have it here.
 
Now think about that. Separating things often means that they were mixed together. Play with that in your head a little. The light and darkness were mixed together. Who knew? Well, Gd did. He’s the only one who would; anybody else would only have perceived the primal darkness.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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