Lee R. Martin
lmartin at vol.com
Tue Jan 5 15:41:48 EST 1999
I agree with you to a certain extent, but you say that God creates
"through a process of separation." That is only partially accurate.
The "heavens" are created from nothing. God says "Let light be; and
light was." He also said, "Let there be lights..." The text seems to
say that light, the sun, the moon, and the stars were created from
nothing. What do you think?
Lee R. Martin
P.S. Creation "ex nihilo" is not universal in Greek thought. As I
mentioned in another post, "Chaos" was both an early god, and later
Ovid saw Chaos as the original disordered and formless mass, from which
the maker of the Cosmos produced the ordered universe.
Irene Riegner wrote:
>> Enuma Elish: the gods used pre-existing matter to make the universe
>> Genesis: ex nihilo
> Genesis 1 does not express an ex nihilo creation. Creatio ex nihilo
> is a much later interpretation of Genesis 1. In Gen 1, the material
> of the cosmos was there but unformed or more correctly
> undifferentiated. It was dark and watery and the earth was "bohu" and
> "tohu," whatever they mean.
> Elohim "creates" through a process of separation---through separating
> the waters and drawing boundaries, which is implied in separation. In
> Gen 1.6,7, the key word is "bdl" to separate. "Land" is not created
> but emerges after the waters are gathered to one place (Gen 1.9, 10).
> In other words the land already existed.
> E. A. Speiser in his Anchor Bible commentary on Genesis has a
> interesting discussion of just this issue as well as the translation
> of the the opening verses. See also Claus Westermann's commentary on
> Genesis. Both discuss Gen 1 in connection with the Enuma Elish and
> Babylonian cosmology.
> Part of the problem is syntactical: How do the first couple of verses
> relate to each other? Which are the subordinate clauses and what is
> the main clause? Is verse 1 an independent or a dependent clause. Two
> possible translations are [and I'm sure there are others]:
> 1. In the beginning god created the heavens and the earth.
> The earth
> This reading would support a creatio ex nihilo
> interpretation and the
> description of the earth is that of the moment after
> 2. When god began to create the heavens and the earth---the
> being unformed and void, with darkness over the face of the
> deep....---god said, "Let there be light."
> This reading (from the NJPS trans.) supports the idea
> undifferentiated matter existing prior to its being
> separated into
> namable entites. According to Speiser, Genesis 1
> opens with the
> same structure as the Enuma Elish: Dependent temporal
> parenthetic clause, main clause.
> In trying to understand biblical verses it is important to distinguish
> between later understandings of the text and the understanding that
> ancient Israelites and Judahites may have had. Ideas of "first
> causes" and "prime movers" are later conceptualizations---Greek I
> believe---and not part of the Mesopotamian worldview from which these
> texts emerged. It is more likely that a Judahite writing in exile
> from Babylonia would have a greater understanding of the Mesopotamian
> worldview than that of the Greek and incorporate this into his text
> rather than anything Greek---especially if part of his task is to
> write for an exile Judahite audience.
> irene riegner
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