Genesis 1.1 and Topic-fronting before a Wayyiqtol

Robert Holmstedt and John Cook

In a previous post, I (RDH) partially based my analysis of the syntax of Gen 1.1 within the larger structure of Gen 1.1-3 on the existence of examples where a wayyiqtol clause has a Topic-fronted Prepositional Phrase that is located before the wayyiqtol, such as Gen 22.4 (1).

(1) Gen 22:4 בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י וַיִּשָּׂ֨א אַבְרָהָ֧ם אֶת־עֵינָ֛יו וַיַּ֥רְא אֶת־הַמָּק֖וֹם מֵרָחֹֽק׃
‘On the third day, Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from afar.’

In this post, we follow that description of Gen 1.1-3 with additional supporting data and analysis.

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Searching for Hebrew Word Order

Two different types of posts were promised and have been long in coming. The first is a series of example syntax searches to illustrate how to use the Hebrew Syntax modules in the Accordance Bible Software (see here for my introductory post on the project). The second belated post is the follow-up to my word order discussion.

I have finally begun slowly sketching the syntax searching guide, since now the search programming is sufficiently accurate to produce excellent results (I posted an initial discussion in the Accordance User’s Forum here). And although April was a wash for writing, due to a prolonged illness and grading for the end of the term, I have now begun to finish my word order article; thus, the posts from that article will appear soon.

But, in the meantime, I thought I’d illustrate how sometimes even I’m surprised by the ease of use of our syntax database.

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Ancient Hebrew Syntax: Making a Searchable Database

(For a PDF of this post, see here.)

At the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Atlanta, there was a special informational session devoted to discussing the new syntactic databases available in the Accordance Bible software. As the primary architect of the syntactic tagging scheme, I gave a paper outlining the issues of principles that I, my collaborator Prof. Martin Abegg (Trinity Western), and the chief programmer Roy Brown (OakTree Software) had to sort out.

(The other three presenters were Prof. John Cook (Asbury Theological Seminary), on the verbal valency issues we faced in the project and how we sort them out, Dr. Brown on the types of syntactic searches that users of Accordance can now perform, and Prof. Abegg on the type of issues in Qumran Hebrew our database can help to solve—and yes, the overall project includes all ancient Hebrew, from epigraphic through Qumran).

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