How would you illustrate Genesis 1:1 and 1:2

Hi guys,
as you all know, i regularly challenge others and even my own thinking on many topics and we do not agree on a lot.

My wife and i have been discussing these two verses this morning and we both agree that its pretty clear that if God pre existed (and of course we believe he did), then:

  1. a place for God must also pre-exist.
  2. objects in space (if you like) appear to have also pre existed day 1 of creation (prior to Genesis 1:3-)
  3. even perhaps God exists in a different dimension?

One thing that i am certain of is this, the prophet Jeremiah 4, in prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians i think it was and also referring to the destruction of sin and its affects spoken of by John just before Revelation 21, is quite clear in comparing the oncoming destruction to the state of the earth prior to day 1 of creation. Jeremiah states

Jer 4:23 (Jeremiah 4 BSB)
I looked at the earth, and it was formless and void; I looked to the heavens, and they had no light.

The biblehub pulpit commentry makes the following statements about Jeremiahs prophesy:

judgment upon the enemies of Israel is interwoven with the judgment upon "the earth"). Without form, and void; rather, waste and wild (to represent in some degree the characteristic assonance of the original - tohu va-bohu); more literally, immovable and lifeless. It is the phrase used in Genesis L 2 for primeval chaos.

This tells me that i must really do some thinking about exactly what existed prior to day 1 creation.

Many i have listened to over the years are convinced that formless and void kinda means empty…nothing there. However, if nothing was there/here before God said, “let there be light”, then what was Jeremiah looking at in vision when he revived Moses description Gen 1:2? (clearly something was there/here).

please note, my aim here is to listen to your thoughts…what imagery is in your head when you read Genesis 1:2.

i am thinking something like a rock covered in water, however, it cant have been circular because im sure if it was, both writers would have said something other than formless. That begs the question, can water completely cover a non circular object? i think genesis clearly tells us no dry land is visible at that time.

Finally, i do not think we can make the claim that the beginning spoken of in verse 1 is universal. Its pretty difficult to assign a beginning to the home of a being that is timeless. If God has always been here, then He and his home have also always been here! that tells me that what we see and what God sees are not the same…perhaps interdimensional or perhaps as time has progressed, more stars have become visible as light reaches us?

Using words or images (whichever is easier for you), please describe/illustrate what Moses wrote in Genesis verses 1 & 2 and what Jeremiah saw in vision in Jeremiah 4:23.

I am still thinking about numbered point 1. Isn’t God spirit? What space or place does spirit need?

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No.

Neither science nor theology would agree with you on that.

You take the text too literally. What you say has no meaning for me whatsoever.

Genesis 1 is simply telling us God created everything. It has no intention whatsoever to explain how God created.

No.

God does not require a space or dimension in which to exist. We, like all physical things, are a space-time dimensional mathematical construct. Our physical existence is all about these space-time relationships to the rest of the universe. God is no such thing. He exists by His own nature alone. And I think this is true of all spiritual things/beings.

Jer 4:21-27
How long must I see the standard,
and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22 “For my people are foolish,
they know me not;

they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.

They are skilled in doing evil,
but how to do good they know not.”

23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.

24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.

25 I looked, and lo, there was no man,
and all the birds of the air had fled.

26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

NO.

This most certainly is NOT about the earth before creation. I is poetical description of Jeremiah’s feelings (and how He thinks God feels) about Israel.

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Why? God does not need a place or space. The phrase “the heavens and the earth” was an idiom for “everything that exists”, which rules out anything existing that God didn’t make – which is what would be required of any “place” for God to exist “in”.

God doesn’t need a dimension to “exist in”, He only needs Himself. Perhaps God qualifies as His own universe, but he doesn’t need one to exist in.

I’m not impressed with this translation at all. The Hebrew reads

רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְהִנֵּה־תֹ֖הוּ וָבֹ֑הוּ

“I saw the earth, and behold – tohu wabohu!”

It doesn’t need the helping verb, and without the “behold” the verse loses its power; this is a lament, and “tohu wabohu!” is an exclamation of despair; everything orderly and habitable gone from the earth (the Pulpit commentary totally misses the fact that this is an anguished lament).

“The heavens” in “the heavens and the Earth” aren’t for God, they’re for all the heavenly beings He created – they’re the ones who need a place!

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the father is obviously spirit, however,

  1. given that Christ and the angels came to this earth numerous times in the old testament and took on physical forms,

  2. Christians i think pretty much agree that we are not the only creation and

  3. other worlds were created before ours and are looking on at this creation

  4. the earthly sanctuary is claimed in the bible to be a copy of the heavenly one

  5. Christ ascended to the father and sat at the rhs of the father on his throne

  6. we are going to first return to heaven after the second coming and finally,

  7. come back to a newly recreated earth according to Revelation 21

i would argue that heaven is a literal physical place…i dont see God suddenly jumping into a panic and stating “oh crap” at the fall of mankind, quickly throwing together a physical heaven in order for the “Sons of God” to meet as described in Job chapter 1.

Finally, we keep getting hung up on this word “beginning”. This does not apply to God. It also does not restrict a creator God to a solitary existence. He has always been here and always created…unless you are keen on exploring the claim that nothing existed in the biblical universe before the creation of our planet?

ST Roymond…thats why i included the quote from Jeremiah…of course its a statement from despair…Jeremiah is prophesying the oncoming destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians and comparing that the the chaos and emptyness of this planet before Genesis 1 verse 3- !

Without God, despair is exactly what is. We only call it that because for us, to go from enlightenment, from completion backwards, is a negative desperate movement in terms of our reality. We dont like backtracking…its not usually what we want and is usually accompanied by failure for us.

Your statement about the existence of God is excluding the possibility of other creations prior to ours. This world even from an evolutionary point of view is significantly younger than the rest of the known universe…so one would have to argue the belief other inhabited worlds have existed long before ours.

Anyway, i think that the above is getting off topic…it does not provide any illustration of Genesis 1:2 and that is the aim here.

What imagery is in your mind when you read Genesis 1:1 and particulary Genesis 1:2?

I hate to say this, Adam, but this sounds like Mormonism, not Christianity.

Rendering ὑπόδειγμα (hy-PAW-deig-ma) as “copy” has always puzzled me because it’s the only place in the New Testament writings that gets rendered that way; mostly it is translated “example”. The range of meaning can extend to “copy” but is centered on “model”, “representation”, “figure”. This indicates that “copy” cannot be taken woodenly after the fashion of using LEGO bricks to build a structure identical to one already built.

That falls into the trap of taking things woodenly. Nothing in the scriptures suggests that there is anything physical about Heaven – or to be more precise, the “heaven of heavens”, or “highest heaven”.

Why would they need a physical heaven? They aren’t physical beings. Again, this smacks more of Mormonism than the Bible.

So? In Genesis 1 it apparently applies to “the heavens and the earth”.

The first is sort of true; “been here” must be meant as “was”. The latter is speculative theology – He may have made other universes, but we don’t know that.

The opening Creation story in Genesis isn’t about “the creation of our planet”, it’s about the creation of everything that is; that’s what “heavens and earth” means.

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The only image in my mind with 1:1 is the grammatical construction of the Hebrew and the way it can do things that are impossible in English.
Genesis 1:2? An entity that both is and is not a dove, fluttering over an infinite dark watery deep, linked with an Artist pondering His bare canvas.

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Thinking in terms of the mythological imagination the ancient Near East, I picture the scene in Genesis 1:2 as being this dark, murky water mass, comparable to being in the open ocean on a dark, cloudy night. The ancient Israelites appear to have thought of the open ocean as representing cosmic pre-creational chaos. As far as Jeremiah 4, formless and void is probably the kind of formlessness and void that accompanies the aftermath of nuclear blast. All life has been obliterated and all that is left is a barren landscape and a crater. This wasn’t literally what Jeremiah was picturing, but it was probably the same idea, desolation.

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What i want to know is why you keep trying to impose your views of Genesis onto everyone else?

It is the sane stuff regurgitated ad nauseum but from a slightly different starting point.

Richard

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well let me put you on the spot here…

I think we have roughly 50-60 billion planets in the milky way and trillions in the known universe…

Do you think that its almost a mathematical certainty that at least 1 other of all those trillions of planets in the universe is such that it sustains life and that intelligent life exists elsewhere?

I would challenge that almost everyone (secularlists as well as christians) agrees that life must exist elsewhere in the universe.

So leaving God out for a moment and thinking scientifically, do you believe there is intelligent life on at least one other planet in the universe?

It seems to me that you are looking for the classic Jehovahs Witness “show me the word Trinity in the Bible” on this point. All i can suggest is that you study Type/Antitype theology. If you do that you will understand the idea of earthly being a copy of the heavenly fair better (oh and read Hebrews of course)

With your own words, tell me, exactly when is the “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 in the historical timeline? Have you any biblical verse that supports any claim that “beginning” in Gen 1:1 refers to Creation week?

How can it be was? God is still here…hes “been here” for millenia (indeed always “been” here)

If i had said, God was here, than that would mean he was once here, but isnt here any longer…which is false obviously.

how might a dark watery deep work on a formless mass (without any dry land visible)? I mean if theres no land at all, no core or anything like that, wouldnt the water just turn to ice or vapour (the moon temp is 123 degrees on the sunny side and -173 in the shady side…isnt that problematic for a formless body of nothing but water?

My views of Genesis? What on earth are you talking about?

This isnt a YEC question.

The question asks…

How would “YOU” illustrate Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?

(im really struggling to find any logical and sober means of comprehending my question any other way than as its written)

The object of the exercise is for you to tell me what imagery comes to your mind when you read Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

Why does Adam ask such a question? Well, perhaps you might answer this new question by googling Genesis 1:2 and clicking on the “images” tab in your browser. I didnt find anything true to the text in any of the images in my google search. The best is a rough watery round globe in darkness. The big problem with that is round has form…the text clearly says “formelss”…is a formless object round? I would challenge that geometrically it cannot be round if read that way. So either it must be read a different way or its not round.

BTW, my understanding is that both YEC and TEists generally agree on Genesis 1:1 this isnt about YEC.

Hi, Adam.

Thanks for your reply. Following your format:

  1. So physical forms are possible but not the standard for otherwise spiritual persons. This neither hslps nor hinders, does it?

  2. Hmmmmm. In this case we are statistically working off opinion. Our limited experience and gut feel don’t prove anything.

  3. Possibly? Maybe? The Bible speaks of one creation. I don’t know if all everything was part of it, or other creation events were required as well. Any attempt to show multiple creations inconjunction with the Bible is speculative and interpretive.

  4. A copy is not identical the original or even of the same substance of the original. The word “copy” has many implications.

  5. He also walked through locked doors and appeared in the middle of a group. We don’t know much about his perfected body except it isn’t quite like ours now,

  6. Assuming this is the correct understanding if how things end, please see my point 5. I am aware of other views of the end of things that I think make more sense, but I am learning about those only recently.

  7. This really doesn’t tell us anything about the need for a physical space for God before creation. Again, see 5.

  8. In contrast, I would argue that this is all a matter of speculation and therefore irrelevant to the work we have been assigned as Christians.

  9. I am not a fundamentalist, so I approach Genesis differently than you do, Adam. I am not hung up on the word “beginning” except in so far as it is what was understood to the the Beginning by the people who wrote it and first read it – and for a long time after. Again, anything that we work out from the two different accounts of creation is a matter of interpretation and speculation. And a distraction from the actual point of the accounts.

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If you can’t see what you are doing I am sorry for you.

You ask a question so that you can dispute the answer and impose your own.

You go further than YEC. You dispute science itself.

You are obsessed with proving a iteral view of Genesis 1.

Richard

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A murky watery mass in space, would be a perfect sphere. Water has been shown to form a sphere in space, so thats geometric and not consistent with the text (in Genesis) where it specifically states “formless”!

Dry land according to the text, did not appear until later (day 2)…which in evolutionary terms would be millions of years after.

I also wish to make it quite clear…this is a dilemma for me too. Even as a YEC, i dont actually have satisfactory imagery of what this thing looked like in Genesis 1:2! What i do know is that according to the words it doesnt appear to be geometric!

Interesting to consider. I tend to be in the camp that sees it as figurative and creation as God giving purpose (form) to chaos (formless) in the creative process rather than it being a physical description of what took place. And it is interesting that the same imagery is in the concluding book of the Bible where John states in Revelation that “there was no more sea” indicating that creation was complete with chaos resolved.

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Insufficient data. It may be that life happening on its own is so unlikely it only happened once. We don’t know; what we do know is that the parameters needed for a world to have life, based on thr f

Hm. I can think of three people who don’t. One thinks cynically that having made humans, and how badly we turned out, God gave up on making intelligent life, anyway.

Scientifically there’s insufficient data, and that will remain the case until we have some idea of all the requirements for life. Since I first encountered the list of things needed, such as the right distance from its star and that star being third generation or more, things have been added, including tides and volcanism. On top of the original being in the zone where the three states of water can occur (habitable zone), having a stable star, massive enough to hold an atmosphere have been added that the neighboring stars must be stable, there can’t be any white dwarfs close by (they produce novas), must rotate giving a regular day/night cycle, must be tilted moderately on its axis to provide seasons, must have a stable orbit, must be in a system with at least one gas giant to clear out most of the wandering bits of rock, must not be too close to that giant lest it swing asteroids towards the planet, the orbit must be near-circular to provide stable conditions, it must have a large enough moon to keep the planet’s axis from wobbling too much, must have a molten, spinning core to provide a magnetic field, must have plate tectonics, must have a low enough oxygen content to the atmosphere so fires are not nearly constant, must have an atmosphere thick enough to filter UV, X-rays, and gamma rays . . . .

Did I get rotation in there? Some say it has to rotate fast enough to have a significant Coriolis force but not too fast so it doesn’t generate constant destructive storms.

That list may not even be complete. But the more it grows, the smaller the chances of life developing get because fewer and fewer planets fit the profile.

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Been there, done that; it does not require a physical sanctuary in the heavens. Heaven itself is the sanctuary since a sanctuary is where God “resides”. Eden was a sanctuary with humans as the “icons”.

“Historical timeline”? “Historical” refers to the period of time since people started making records.
In the timeline, it’s at the start – it’s when God began to create.

It refers to the beginning – “Creation week” is a human construct; you can make the start be wherever you please.

That’s not true – it says nothing about what comes later. This is a common error.

Stop trying to make Genesis about science! It has nothing to do with science.

The dark watery deep is the t’hom (teh-home), the great deep that filled everything; it doesn’t need any land, it doesn’t need anything; that’s the wrong cosmology. Ancient near eastern cosmology is that the t’hom is all that there was in the beginning, that it already existed. The Hebrew writer is working from that but to tell a different story.

“Ice or vapour” is also from the wrong cosmology – the t’hom is just water, that’s all it can be. Even in the opening of Genesis it doesn’t get changed, it gets pushed up and a dome slapped in place to keep it up, effectively dividing it into the “waters above” and the “waters below”.

I suddenly started thinking in terms of a play: the curtain opens to nothing but water everywhere; at the very front of the stage we suddenly notice that something seems to be fluttering, and is there a very faint strain of music?
YHWH emerges from stage center and spreads His hands in a smooth motion over His head and down to His sides, leaving behind a solid crystal-clear dome. Now the fluttering can be seen, something like yet not at all like a dove, and yes, the music is there, building to a crescendo . . . . and YHWH smiles.

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