First verse in Bible is mistranslation, says scholar

An Old Testament scholar in the Netherlands claims that the first verse in the Bible declaring that God created the Heaven and the Earth is a mistranslation.

Published 12 October 2009
Catholic Professor Ellen van Wolde says the Hebrew word ‘bara’ would have been better translated as ‘spacially separated’ instead of ‘created’, although the word does technically mean ‘created’, reports The Telegraph.

According to her translation, the first verse in the Bible would then read “In the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth”.

The professor presented a thesis on the subject on Friday at Radboud University where she studies.

She says she has looked at other parts of the Old Testament where the word ‘bara’ has been used and concludes that ‘separated’ would have also made a better translation in these instances.

She contends that her translation fits with other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia that also tell of a deity who separated Heaven and Earth at the beginning of time.

Professor van Wolde believes her translation challenges the Judeo-Christian belief that God created the Heaven and the Earth from nothing.

"There was already water. There were sea monsters. God did create some things, but not the Heaven and Earth,” she was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“The usual idea of creating-out-of-nothing, creatio ex nihilo, is a big misunderstanding.”

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