The Meaning of ברא in Genesis 1:1-2:3

Bibliographic information:

Wardlaw Jr., Terrance. “The Meaning of ברא in Genesis 1:1-2:3.” Vetus Testamentum 64.3(2014): 502 – 513.



In her 2009 monograph on cognitive linguistics for Biblical Studies Ellen Van Wolde argues that the verb ברא means “to separate” rather than the traditional understanding “to create.” This investigation considers her proposal, Becking and Korpel’s critique of it, cognate and parallel evidence, the semantic domain “creation,” the use of ברא outside of Genesis 1, the use of ברא within Genesis 1, as well its relation to the verb הבדיל. From this discussion, a contextual reading is then proposed which identifies the linguistic traces of the conceptualization of ברא within Gen 1:1-2:3, and it also takes into account script semantics in the association of larger episodes with key vocabulary.


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