Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Religion, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Tammi J. Schneider

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gawdat Gabra Abdel-Sayed

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Marvin A. Sweeney

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Edens Elveus


A translation of Gen. 1:1-5 may seem to be both close and far at the same time from the original Hebrew text because of historical, geographical, theological, cultural, philological, and linguistic reasons. The scribes who translated the biblical narrative of the creation of light from Hebrew to a lingua franca of their time had a translation technique. They knew what they were doing. They provided a translation that the people of their time (d’alors) could understand, depending on a consideration of the milieu where they lived, and the jargon used to express their ideas – straight or in a zigzag manner – derived from the Hebraic text. This dissertation demonstrates that with regards to the translators of Gen. 1:1-5 from Hebrew to Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, and Coptic, their translations suggest what they were doing as scribes, their ideologies, and their methodology for their word choices. Fascinatingly, Gen. 1:1-5 meant different things for interpreters of the same biblical passage from the Essenes to scholars of modern times. I try to discern what it was for each period. In this work, a study of both the original text and the translations are provided. I present a critical comparative scriptural analysis of Gen. 1:1-5 based on Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, and Coptic manuscripts. First, to reach this goal, I deal with the accuracy of the translation and its fidelity to the thought of the biblical writers, as the worldview and theology of the scribes influenced their translations. Second, I weigh the significance of the lexical and grammatical details of the Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, and Coptic texts of the first day of creation (Gen. 1:1-5). Third, my aim is to show how complicated translation work is and to highlight how subtle shifts in translation change meaning. The reader of the Hebrew original text and these five translations has a broader view of the creation of light than the view that is presented just by the Hebrew Bible, because no one text can claim to have said it all. Last but not least, I explain, with the help of an historico-philological method of interpretation, the meaning of the Biblical text, to arrive, as nearly as possible, at the sense that the words of Gen. 1:1-5 were intended to have for the reader at the time when they were written.