Brethren Academy Course Banner

"In the Beginning..."



Return to Introduction to Biblical Studies Pre-Work Assignment or use your browser's "Back" or "Previous" button to return to where you were when you clicked to come here.

bereshiyt

This is the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1, the very beginning of the Bible. It is pronounced be-re-SHIYT ba-RA eh-lo-HIYM and is usually translated "In the beginning God created...."

The first word (reading right-to-left) is be-re-SHIYT. It is from the Hebrew root resh-aleph-shin, meaning "head, start, beginning," with the preposition bet on the front, meaning "in, on, at." So this word could be translated "in beginning" or "at start" or "at the head." The Hebrew name for the Jewish holiday Rosh HaShanah is from this same root, and means "head of the year" or "beginning of the year" -- Ha is the definite article "the" and Shanah is "year."

The second word is ba-RA, meaning create, shape or fashion. It is from the Hebrew word bet-resh-aleph.

The third word is eh-lo-HIYM, one of several names for God in the Hebrew Bible.

So a word-for-word translation might be "in-beginning created God."



en arche

The second line is the Greek of John 1:1, which echoes the beginning of Genesis. It is pronounced en ar-KAY ayn ha LOH-gohs.

The first two words, reading left-to-right, are en ar-KAY, the preposition en meaning in, on, or at, followed by the noun ar-KAY meaning beginning or first. This phrase corresponds to the Hebrew be-re-SHIYT; in fact the Greek (Septuagint) translation of Genesis 1:1 starts off with just these two words, en ar-KAY.

The next word, ayn, is the third person imperfect form of the verb "to be" -- so it means "he/she/it was."

The final two words, ha LOH-gohs, are the definite article "the" followed by that very important biblical word Logos. You've probably heard it pronounced with long O's, but conventional scholarly pronunciation of ancient Greek has it with short O's. It has a pretty broad "semantic range" including word, message, thing, matter; it's also not the only Greek word rendered "word" in English (the second most common is RAY-ma, usually transliterated as rhema). English Bibles invariably render ha LOH-gohs in John 1:1 as "the Word" (or "the word," since there is no distinction between upper and lower case letters in the oldest manuscripts).

So a word-for-word translation from the Greek to English is just what most English Bibles render: "in-beginning was the-word."


Return to Introduction to Biblical Studies Pre-Work Assignment or use your browser's "Back" or "Previous" button to return to where you were when you clicked to come here.