Re: Gen. 1:1-2, and the Greek of it

From: David Moore (
Date: Fri Feb 23 1996 - 10:27:44 EST

On Thu, 22 Feb 1996, Will Wagers wrote:

> David L. Moore writes:
> > I would suggest that creatio ex nihilo is not so much explicit as
> >it is implicit within the Old Testament (although Gen. 1:1 is pretty
> >definite).
> Gn 1:1 is definitely definite, but diametrically opposed to your position.
> I don't know Hebrew, so I cannot comment on the discussion of how to
> segment Gn 1:1. But, it is a red herring as far as the discussion of creatio
> ex nihilo goes, because it doesn't matter which way you interpret it. The
> argument is not about "the beginning of what": It's not that it doesn't say
> "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It's in what
> the words *mean*.
> It is understandable that the scientific meanings of words are omitted
> from theological dictionaries. But, when they are pointed out, I see no
> reason to ignore them. However, we should be doing this on B-HEBREW?
> >A possible reason that the explicit doctrine does not appear
> >until II Mac. may be that it was only when the Hebrew culture came in
> >contact with Helenism as a philosophical system with its cosmology that
> >postulated a pre-existing mass of matter that it was necessary to make
> >explicit what is implicit throughout all of the OT.
> What explicit doctrine? Certainly not Second Maccabees in Alexandrian
> Greek. Edward Hobbs notes that "the *implication* (my ital.) of creatio
> ex nihilo, according to Encyclopaedia Judaica (5:1059), 'first appears in
> II Maccabees 7:28.'"
> 2 Mc 7:28: "I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth,
> and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that
> were not; and so was mankind made likewise."
> This passage could be the poster child for my thesis. The cosmos is made
> in the same manner as a *child*, not from nothing, but from no-thing.
> Further, if this is the first implication, how can the OT be said to hold it
> implicitly.
> > Something analogous to a certain extent happened in Christianity
> >with the emergence of the doctrine of the Trinity which was not explicitly,
> >but rather implicitly present in the New Testament doctrines about God.
> Something analogous did, indeed, happen with the doctrine of the Trinity:
> Father (God), Son (Demiurge), Holy Spirit (Cosmos), all characters straight
> out of the original cast of _Timaeus_.
> I don't know that this discussion is of general interest to the list. Perhaps,
> if you wish to continue, we should go off list.


        Your arguments depend mainly on theories that I don't share.
Your imposition of Greek philosophy on the message of the NT seems to me
un-called-for by anything within the message of the NT itself. If you
were pointing out areas of dialogue between Greek philosophy/cosmology and
the message of the NT, I could see it. But, IMHO, your theories of major
dependence between the Bible's central message and Pagan cosmology are not

        Some of the positions you advocate (eg. apostolic Christianity's
being more closely related to Greek thought than to Old Testament faith)
are very similar to positions espoused by some of the early heretics.
Marcion, for instance, wanted to do away with the Old Testament, reduce
the Gospels to an abbreviated edition of Luke and do away with all except
what he considered the most Pauline of the Pauline epistles. Marcion's
ideas and others like them were considered by the church and decided
against many centuries ago.

        Regarding II Mac. 7:28, I don't see how GNWNAI hOTI OUK EC ONTWN
EPOIHSEN AUTA hO QEOS can be understood as anything but an explicit
expression of creatio ex nihilo. By KAI TO TWN ANQRWPWN GENOS hOUTW
GINETAI is understood God's bringing into being the human race. The
neuter article TO here indicates a reference to a well-known fact.
So I really don't understand what you are getting at when you say it
could serve as "poster child" for your thesis.

        Let me suggest, to keep this thread on subject for this list, that
we try to keep our presuppositions in the background and concentrate on
exegesis of the text.

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

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