I had a little time to kill this afternoon, so I decided to run a deltaview comparison of Abraham 4 and 5 against Genesis 1 and 2 to get a good visual map of the variations from the latter to the former. The results were fascinating. Some of the changes seem to have been influenced by Joseph’s studies with Joshua Seixas in the Kirtland Hebrew school (as a number of scholars have opined over the years). I’m at work without resources (in particular my copy of the Seixas grammar), but I thought I would try to identify some of the changes that to me seem most likely to have had a Hebrew-based motivation. These are just a series of (very) rough notes for my own future reference, but I thought some of you might find them interestintg as well:
4:1 and throughout: God—>Gods. Text is modified throughout to change a single deity to a pantheon. Presumably influenced by the plural form of ‘elohim.
created—>organized and formed. Creatio ex nihilo—>creatio ex materia. Appears to be based on the lexis of the verb bara’.
heaven—>heavens. Appears to be based on the dual form shamayim.
4:2: without form, and void—>empty and desolate. I believe this is the translation given in the Seixas grammar for tohu webohu.
moved—>was brooding. I believe this is the translation given in the Seixas grammar for merachepheth.
4:4: divided the light—>caused it to be divided. The verb yabdel is in the hiphil verb stem, which has a causative force; the BoA is highlighting that.
4:6: firmament—>expanse. I believe the suggested translation for raqiya’ in the Seixas grammar is “expanse.” This is also an easier translation vis-a-vis modern science, since “firmament” suggests the hard dome over the earth from ancient Hebrew cosmology. I remember Ellis Rasmussen, one-time Dean of BYU Religious Education and a Hebraist, preferring the translaction “expanse” for this very reason.
4:10: Seas—>Great Waters. Perhaps assimilating to mayim from earlier in the verse, and influenced by the dual form of the noun to render a plural. (Note: Big Bang Theory acress Mayim Bialik’s first name is indeed the Hebrew word for “water.”)
4:14: to divide—>caused them to divide. Again, as in 4:4, this seems to have been influenced by the hiphil (or causative) form of the verb.