Tuesday, January 3, 2017

In the Beginning: Creation

Chapter one of Genesis sets the scene. The creation story is filled with beautiful imagery. My favorite line is before God actually creates anything. "And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2 ESV) Because I liked it so much, I found it interesting to see how this line was translated in the different versions: 

                    NABRE: And a mighty wind sweeping over the waters.

                    NRSV: While a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

                    kjv: And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Personally, I like the ESV best. 

The style is formulaic with a certain set of ingredients on each of 6 creation days: 1) the announcement "and God said," 2) a divine command beginning with "let" 3) the report "and it was so" 4) an evaluation "God saw that it was good" and 5) placement in time "there was evening and there was morning, the _______ day." [1]

There is only one character in the chapter - God - and very little is said about who he is...only what he does. What we should think of God? He created the earth, but was he omnipotent? What were his reasons? Who was God? These issues are left a mystery. Most people already have an idea of who they think God is before starting the Bible. Is this why God was left a mystery? Or is it because God is a mystery?

[1] Ryken, Leland. Ryken, Philip.(2001) The Literary Study Bible, Wheaton, IL, Good News Publishers.


  1. I agree that anyone picking up the Bible--whether for the first time or the eight-hundredth time has an idea of who God is. But I would say that the fact that he spoke and the universe came into existence "and it was so, and it was so, and it was so, and it was so, and it was so" speaks of his power and sovereignty.

    I think I read somewhere--and now I can't remember where--maybe Tozer? that we are all theologians. We may be bad theologians or good theologians--but everyone is a theologian of some kind because we all have thoughts and ideas about God.

  2. You raise an interesting issue of translations. As an adult I have only read The King James Version. As a child I read one of the Catholic approved translations, I am not sure which one.

    I will certainly read pats of the Bible going forward, I think that I will try something other then The King James version.

  3. I want to comment on a possible connection between Genesis and the Enuma Elish (Babylonian creation story).

    In the Babylonian story Tiamat and Apsu give birth to other gods/goddesses. Some of them rebel, ultimately killing both. The victor, Marduk, creates, heaven, earth, waters out of the god(dess) bodies. (I remember this story vaguely from an undergraduate class.)

    Here are some interesting links, though you'll have to do your own evaluation on how seriously to take them.

    Biologos article

    California Skeptics article