Philology as the Handmaiden of Philosophy in R. Saadia Gaon’s Interpretation of Gen 1:1
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It seems reasonable to assume that Saadia, like Maimonides, held that time cannot exist without motion, and motion cannot exist without matter. Thus, the creation of the world within a temporal matrix would imply the pre-existence not only of time but also of matter .42 R. Saadia Gaon believed that, in biblical exegesis, philology must serve as the handmaiden of philosophy. 43 In the case of Gen 1: 1, he considered it necessary to avoid at all costs a syntactic analysis in which the clause " God created heaven and earth " is modified by a prepositional phrase beginning with "in . "44 He accomplished that by making the preposition -ב pleonastic . This, in turn, made other philological maneuvers necessary, but it appears that Saadia viewed them as secondary. It was only pleonastic -ב that manifested clearly and directly the relationship between philosophical ends and philological means that Saadia placed at the center of his exegetical method. 41
Steiner, Richard. “Philology as the Handmaiden of Philosophy in R. Saadia Gaon’s Interpretation of Gen 1:1.” Israel Oriental Studies 19 (Gedenkschrift for Naphtali Kinberg, 1999): 379-89.
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