Something from Nothing

From: Will Wagers (
Date: Sat Feb 10 1996 - 21:03:45 EST

David M. Schaps wrote about Gn 1 in "Re: Accuracy in Translation":

"It misses the fact that the three first letters of the first word are
themselves the second word. It misses the distinction between the
verb actually used, "bara" ("created") and the more common verb
"asa" ("made") -- the difference usually being explained as being
one between making something out of nothing (bara) and something
out of something else (asa)."

It is my impression that the ancients, and particularly the Greeks,
didn't think anything came from nothing, i.e. no creation ex nihilo.
In Genesis for example, the wind and the waters, at least, seem to
pre-exist the creation. Many ancient creation myths seem to create
the cosmos from the body of a god, as Marduk from Tiamat.

Is this supposed use of bara to mean creation from nothing limited
to divine contexts ?

Does anyone have textual references supporting or contradicting the
notion of creation from nothing in ancient Hebrew (or other Middle
Eastern) sources ?

Is it Christian thought that Jesus created the world from nothing ?
(Jn 1:1) If so, what would be the textual evidence for this position?

Thx, Will

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