The material cosmos was created before/independent of Genesis 1

I thought I would basically sum up my view of Genesis 1.

  • Semitic scholar Robert Holmstedt argues that you simply cannot claim that the world began in Genesis 1:1 based on a reading of Genesis 1:1, period.
  • Dutch biblical scholar Ellen van Wolde claims that the Hebrew word ‘Bara’ in Genesis 1:1 is better translated as ‘spatially separate’. According to Michael Heiser this is syntactically possible. Mike doesn’t otherwise endorse her thesis, largely on the grounds that it presumes that God did not create from nothing but I hold that she is probably right (though wrong in suggesting that God didn’t create the pre-existent material) given how this notion is found in other ANE cosmogonic myths, so we ought to expect that Genesis 1 includes this given it’s apparent use of common cosmogonic ideas. This would imply that the heavens and the earth were already in existence in Genesis.
  • John Walton has conclusively shown beyond reasonable doubt in my mind that creation is described as a temple. I won’t go over all the evidence here (read his Lost World book for more information). He has also shown that Genesis 1 describes the assignment of creation’s functions. In the ANE the dedicatation ceremony was considered to be the creation of the temple (hence explaining why later biblical authors treat this as creation), but the material creation of the temple building was a different process altogether.

Therefore, as Genesis 1 describes the functions of creation being dedicated, in historical (and biblical context, I might add) context one cannot claim that it describes material origins. It does describe creation, but in the context of a temple, creation does not mean what we commonly think.

What do you think?

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I agree with you, but for different reasons. The prime reason is that the origin of matter itself simply did not concern Iron and Bronze Age ANE/Greco-Roman peoples. The fact of the matter is that they felt their lives were dominated by chaos and randomness. ‘Weather and war, health and wealth, love and hate’ seemed to occur and change by chance. But among the chaos that seemed to rule life, there was clear order. The days, seasons and skies followed cycles, the oceans stayed where they were and didn’t swallow the land - where did this order come from? This is what their origin myths and stories needed to explain, and it is what Genesis 1 addresses.

Genesis 1:2 tells us the chaotic conditions that prevailed before Elohim brought order into existence: dark, formless, void, and the deep. Jewish scholar Gary Rendsberg points out that these were all viewed as elements of evil to peoples of the ANE and Mediterranean worlds. Thus, evil was viewed as pre-existing the creative activities performed in Genesis 1. The theodicy of Genesis 1 therefore places evil as pre-existing the creation of order, or good. The daily pronunciation during creation by Elohim that ‘it was good’ confirms the creation of goodness as a counter to evil. Gen. 1 accordingly shows good emerging from a pre-existing evil, in contrast to the theodicy of Gen. 2 where evil emerges from the good of Eden.

But, Gen. 2 was written some half a millennium before Gen. 1 and reflected a much more primitive view of Yahweh and creation. To most scholars other than very conservative evangelicals, Gen. 2 was written by the J source, probably in the court of the united monarchy. The Israelites were monolatrists at the time and viewed Yahweh as their god, but one of a host of others worshipped by their neighbors.

The situation of the exilic Israelites had changed significantly by the time the P source was writing Gen. 1. The early diaspora had already distributed Israelites all over the Mediterranean world and ANE, and Elohim was viewed by the Israelites as the supreme divine being of the world, not just the land of Judah. Thus, Gen. 1 exhibits this universalist view by showing Elohim having brought order, and therefore good, to the whole world, not just the land of Canaan.

Note that this general view is one of progressive revelation in which the belief in God develops and matures with time. Progressive revelation is within the framework of acceptance by the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. Cheers.

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Once upon a time I was of the opinion that there was a space between verse 1 and 2 in which one could hide billions of years. That was until it was gently brought to my attention that Exodus 20:8-11 directly and totally excludes any such notion. Six days for mankind to work is exactly the same six days in which God did His creation - of everything. The context is crystal clear.

Now as to Genesis 1 referring to a “temple”, well I think the proponent of that thought aims far too low. The whole picture presented by Genesis 1, to my mind at least, represents a whole kingdom, not just a mere temple. It is precisely this very same kingdom of whom God alone is King, and which Satan decided to try and overthrow that is the very essence of our spiritual war here on earth.

Now the only real and true reference we have to the origins of that kingdom is God’s Word itself. So if Satan could just blind those who were put in charge of it as to its real import then he will have captured a great deal of humanity for his own nefarious purposes. It would appear that he (satan) has indeed managed to do just that. People are blindly believing and following the atheistic religious dogma of “billions of years, abiogenesis and darwinian evolution” and then using its tenets to begin to modify the clear meaning of the bible to fit in with that agenda.

Just look at this very topic for a clear example of that alteration of thought.

Have you read the Lost World of Genesis 1?

I’m guessing not, since you seem rather ignorant of the temple imagery presented in Genesis 1-2, and other biblical creation narratives, such as Psalm 104. (Where the heavens are said to be stretched out like the veil of the tabernacle)

Good guess. Prode shows up every six months or so to spout YEC dogma and remind us all that we’re heretics and atheists. He’ll disappear soon enough, only to restart the cycle again some months down the road. Enjoy the show while it lasts!


Perhaps it’s tied to the weather or the pollen count?

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