Re: Summary: Something from Nothing (longish)

From: David Moore (
Date: Tue Feb 20 1996 - 23:59:35 EST

On Tue, 20 Feb 1996, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> On 2/20/96, David Moore wrote:
> > What we would really need to get at the biblical view on this
> > matter is a good exegesis of Gen. 1:1. Maybe someone can get that going
> > on b-hebrew.
> I'm not sure this would really settle matters, as there are sufficient
> grounds for understanding the text of Genesis 1:1 in terms of a
> pre-existent chaos or "matter" (TOHU W'BOHU) shaped by the creator into a
> cosmos. The question Will raises is really (I think?) WHEN the doctrine of
> CREATIO EX NIHILO really emerges and whether it is in fact implicit in NT
> texts.

        It looks as though one would practically have to torture the
Hebrew to get it to say anything very far from, "In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth." I suspect that the interpretation,
"In the beginning of God's creating the heavens and the earth..." would
depend more on the interpreter's presuppositions than on the Hebrew. The
waw at the beginning of v. 2 pretty much rules out v. 1's being a general
title of the section, and it (the waw) falls very unnaturally between the
temporal prepositional phrase and the rest of the sentence if we are to
understand, "In the beginning of God's creating...."
> Another reason is that it may not be a matter of how the Hebrew text was
> understood but rather of how the LXX of Genesis 1 was understood. For that
> we have ready to hand Philo's treatise De Opificio Mundi, to which I've
> made reference before. Even any antecedents of the Logos doctrine are
> likely to be found in those very Wisdom texts most (even if not all) of
> which come from Alexandria and Hellenistic Judaism.

        The LXX supports taking the first verse of Genesis as a sentence
unto itself. And most of the other textual and exegetical evidence seems
to point in that direction, so why look for any other *emergence* of the
idea of CREATIO EX NIHILO? If Gen. 1:1 is taken in the most
straightforward manner, what we should be asking is why other ways of
interpreting this passage emerged that drew on the Greek philosophical
idea of preexisting material. See, for instance, Josephus's explanation
of the creation at the beginning of Antiquities (Ant. I:27) in which he
(like Aquila in the 2nd Century) supplies EKTISEN in place of the LXX's

David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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