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Title: The First Instant of Creation
Subtitle: Jedaiah ha-Penini, Durandus of Saint Pourçain and the Ibn Ezra Supercommentary Avvat Nefesh
Author(s): VISI, Tamás
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 77    Issue: 1   Date: 2010   
Pages: 83-124
DOI: 10.2143/RTPM.77.1.2050373

Abstract :
The Ibn Ezra supercommentary Avvat Nefesh contains a long excurse on the problem of the first instant of creation that has been incorporated into Asher Crescas’ commentary on the Guide of the Perplexed as well. The supercommentary was composed probably during the first half of the fourteenth century by a certain Sen Bonet de Lunel, who might be identical with Jedaiah ha-Penini. The author of the supercommentary claims that time has a first instant in which creation took place; consequently, the opening phrase of Genesis, «in the beginning», must refer to the first instant of time. This position is contrasted with that of Moses Narboni who argues that creation could not take place in the first instant of time even if a first instant of time is allowed. Accordingly, Narboni refutes that «in the beginning» could mean «in the first instant».
The controversy about the interpretation of one biblical phrase was but a surface manifestation of a more fundamental disagreement about the nature of time. Narboni was a conservative Aristotelian who treated time as a natural existent. The author of the supercommentary, just like Gersonides, Peter John Olivi, Durandus of Saint Pourçain, or William Ockham, deemphasized the connections between time and natural changes and proceeded to a more abstract notion of time.

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