Last weekend at the Upper Midwest Regional SBL meeting I heard a Hebrew Bible paper on Wisdom Theology in the Creation Psalms. At several points, the presenter indicated that he felt the psalmist had been aware of the creation accounts of both P and J. It was clear that he was still developing an understanding of how one would demonstrate such a textual connection that was more than a “feeling.” During the Q&A, I asked for specific examples he’d found supporting his assertion, but he answered mostly about thematic connections and the idea of creation by speech. I hate to be the one to burst his bubble, but after examining the shared locutions between Psa 33 and Gen 1, I have to conclude that it is very unlikely that the psalmist knew of or used the Priestly Creation Account in Gen 1-2:4a. The idea of creating by speech is known from ANE mythology (e.g., the deity Ptah creates by naming things in one Egyptian account). Beyond that, the only thematic connection is that both are creation texts.
So, I started thinking about what would constitute a clear allusion to Genesis 1. The shared locution should be distinct and recognizable in order to function as an allusion. I found 10 lexical items in Psa 33 that are also found in Gen 1: ארץ, שמים, רוח, עשה, צבא, מים, ים, תהום, היה, אדם.
With the exception of תהום , all occur over 350 times in the Hebrew Bible. So, do common words like “earth” (2498x), “to make” (2573x), and “to do” (3514x), constitute an allusion?
I think not.
Are there any terms that are sufficiently concentrated in Gen 1 and fairly rare overall in the Hebrew Bible to possibly support an argument for allusion? The words above come from very common vocabulary used in Gen 1.
Here are a few terms from Gen 1 that are sufficiently uncommon to serve as markers of allusion: תהו, בהו, רקיע, בדל, רמש, שרץ, מין, צלם, תנין. Most of these terms occur 20x or less in the Hebrew Bible. The verb בדל “to divide” (42x) and the noun מין “type, kind” (31x) are the only exceptions, but בדל occurs 5x just in Gen 1, raising its profile for allusion.
Unfortunately, none of those terms occur in Psa 33. I have yet to search whether they occur in any other creation texts in the Hebrew Bible, but that is another question that I’m interested in: Does any of the Hebrew Bible allude to Genesis 1 at all?
What else in Gen 1 is sufficiently distinct to be considered a clear allusion to that creation account in a psalm or other Hebrew text?