Way back in September of 2010 I had posted a lecture I gave at church where I attempted to explain the real issue involved in translating Genesis 1:1-3. Rather than meanings of words like bara’, the real issue is the relationship of the clauses (and the nature of those clauses) in these first three verses. Since my talk was aimed at lay people with no knowledge of Hebrew, I tried to go easy. One of my doctoral classmates from the UW-Madison, Rob Holmstedt, provided a recent glimpse of the complexity involved. Rob’s stature as a Hebrew linguist and grammarian is rapidly rising, so I’m not offering this merely out of camaraderie. His post is very readable, even though it’s more involved than my baby-step lecture attempt. I’m hoping those able to follow that lecture will benefit from Rob’s summary of the issues.
The real point: Translations that differ from the traditional rendering many folks grew up with (and which affect the creation theology of the text) do not read the way they do because someone doesn’t like Ken Ham or Henry Morris or the gap theory. They read the way they do because of that thing evangelicals consider inspired: the text, given to us as it were with its own grammatical and syntactical rules and framework.