Believers accept that statement as truth. Others assume that it reflects unchanging doctrine. And most are unaware that this opening line is a translation of words written thousands of years ago - words that may be inaccurately translated.
What happens when we compare the translation with the original text? (Don't forget to read from right to left.)
Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim
|Hebrew, like Arabic, was originally written without vowels. That allows some words to be interpreted differently depending on which vowels are inserted. However, there is little dispute over this opening verse.|
Look at the third word, Elohim. The -im ending means that it is plural, like cherubim and seraphim. Elohim means "gods", not "god". That means an accurate translation would read:
“In the beginning, the gods created heaven and earth.”
Yahweh is only one of many Hebrew gods, elohim,which the ancient Hebrews worshiped.
In The Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments, Oxford professor of Assyriology A. H. Sayce maintained: 'Even the most devoted adherents of the supreme God of Israel sometimes admitted that he was but supreme among other gods, and David himself, the friend of seers and prophets, complains that he had been driven out of 'the inheritance of Yahveh' and told to go and 'serve other gods' (1 Sam. xxvi. 19)."
In The Religious Teachings of the Old Testament, Albert C. Knudson, a professor in the Boston University School of Theology, also pointed out:
"The sole godhead of Yahweh was a truth that was only gradually attained. The different steps in this development may be distinguished with a fair degree of clearness. We begin with the Mosaic age. It was to Moses, as we have seen, that the establishment of Yahweh-worship was due. Previous to his time the Israelites seem to have been polytheists. On one of the cuneiform tablets discovered by Winckler at Boghazkj and belonging to the pre-Mosaic age we read of 'the gods' of the Habiri or Hebrews, and in Josh. 24.2, 14f. and Ezek. 20.7f., 24 we are told that both in Mesopotamia and Egypt the Israelites worshipped other gods. The very name 'Yahweh' also points in the same direction. The manifest purpose of such a name was to distinguish the god of Israel from other gods. If the Hebrews had not believed in the existence of other deities, there would have been no need of giving a personal name to the Divine Being through whom they were delivered from Egypt. He would have been to them simply God."