creatio ex nihilo

David Stabnow dstabno at
Mon Feb 5 09:25:19 EST 2001

>On 2 Feb 01, at 11:03, David Stabnow wrote:

>> While the account in Genesis does not require ex nihilo, this doctrine
>> reinforced, for the Christian, in Hebrews 11:3 -- "what is seen has been
>> made from things that are not visible" (EIS TO MH EK FAINOMENWN TO
>> BLEPOMENON GEGONENAI).  I say this only to explain why some hold the
>> position, not to argue for it.

On 2 Feb 01, at 19:49, Lewis Reich wrote:

>I am curious how this verse was seen as supporting ex nihilo.  I'd have
>thought that "things that are not visible" are not the same as "nothing";
>a thing is not visible does not mean that is no-thing. (I ask this not to
>the position, but to understand how the verse was understood by those
>who took the position.)

>Lewis Reich

This is just speculation on my part, but in the understanding of the writer
of Hebrews I would guess that "invisible" would be equated with
"non-existent." (This is not to say that anything that was hidden from the
senses ceased to exist, as existentialism is parodied to teach, but only
that their scientific grasp of the world was phenomenological.)

I can think of one exception, and that is the wind. But this was treated as
an exceptional entity even at the time. First, note that "wind/breath" and
"spirit" were equated in Hebrew, and "air" and "spirit" in Greek. Perhaps
wind was not seen so much as elemental, but as animated or personal.
Second, note how Jesus waxes poetic in speaking of the mystery of the wind:
"The wind (TO PNEUMA) blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but
you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with
everyone born of the Spirit (EK TOU PNEUMATOS)." (John 3:8)

Dave Stabnow

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