THE CREATION STORY IN GENESIS,
The appreciation in modern scholarship of the biblical creation story is dependent, to a degree that can hardly be exaggerated, on our possession of the Mesopotamian creation traditions, particularly the Babylonia Creation Epic. To pick a single striking example: How does the Genesis creation pericope begin, and how and where does it end? The how of the beginning is, of course, whether the Hebrew words constitute an independent clause ("In the beginning God created") or a dependent clause ("When God began to create"). The second option, now the greatly preferred one, was still regarded as a radical translation some fifty years ago; this despite Rashi's having anticipated it almost a millennium ago. The ending of the pericope is now universally recognized in the division of 2:4 into (a) a recapitulation of the preceding narrative, and (b) a dependent clause beginning a new narrative. As to the unanimity on this division, one can only wonder that it was only so recently arrived at when one contrasts the present translations with the gobbledygook into which this verse was previously rendered, for example: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. " The case for the division of 2:4, providing for a second narrative beginning with a dependent clause, parallel to the rendering of Genesis 1:1 as a dependent clause, could only be strengthened by the parallel syntax of the Babylonian Epic, named (as in the Jewish tradition) according to its opening words Enuma elish, "When up above."