Sunday, October 14, 2018

Primordial matter in Genesis 1:1?

PHILOLOGOS: There's a Strange Grammatical Difficulty with the Opening Verse of the Bible. It could suggest a different story about the creation of the world. The language of Genesis 1:1-2 does not fit very well with the idea of creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing. Rather it seems to say that God had to work with the primordial chaos (tohu vavohu, "formless and void") that was already there. That was the normal understanding of creation in ancient Near Eastern myth, and also in the philosophy of Plato. That's awkward, but there it is.

That said, the idea of creation out of nothing was read into the passage fairly early.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the subject are here and here. Cross-file under Philology.

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