Latin/Vulgata

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Question
Pax!
I was listening to a recording of the Vulgate translation of the Book of Genesis. He introduced it with the words: "Liber primum Moysi vocabitur: Genesis Caput Primum". I don't understand what "Moysi vocabitur" means. Could you please explain.

The second verse: "Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi: et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas."
Could you explain why erat is used instead of fuit.

Answer
"Moysi" is the genitive (possessive) case of the name Moses.  "Liber primus Moysi vocabitur Genesis":  The first book of Moses is called Genesis.

With the verb "esse," the imperfect "erat" is even more commonly used for past time than "fuit."  In Latin, the imperfect tense usually indicates continued or repeated action in the past, whereas the perfect tense often indicates a single action in the past.  But with the verbal notion of "being," there is no such distinction.

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Michael

Expertise

Ph.D. Cand. in Classical Languages. Conversant with all forms of the language: classical, mediaeval, and modern.

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I have 50 years of teaching at all levels of Latin from high school through university postgraduate. I read, write, and speak Latin daily.

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American Classical League, American Philological Association

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A.B., M.A., Ph.D. Cand. in Classics.

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