Cosmogony, Mosaic

Cosmogony, Mosaic or the Biblical account of the origin of the world, especially as contained in the first chapter of the book of Genesis. The following is a close translation of the first (Elohistic) or general account of the creation as given by Moses (Ge 1:1-2:3). SEE GENESIS.

At first God created the heavens and the earth; but the earth was waste and bare [(a scene of ruin)], and darkness [was] upon [the] face of the abyss, while the Spirit of God [was] brooding upon [the] face of the waters. Then God said, "Let [there] be light!" and [there] was light; and God saw the light, that [it was] good: so God divided between the light and the darkness; and God called the light DAY, but the darkness he called NIGHT. Thus [there] was evening, and [there] was morning — [the] first day.

Then God said, "Let [there] be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let [it] be a divider between [the] waters [below it] as to [the] waters [above it]:" so God made the firmament, and divided between the waters that [are] underneath as to the firmament, and the waters that [are] overhead as to the firmament; for it was accordingly: and God called the firmament HEAVENS. This [there] was evening, and [there] was morning — [the] second day.

Then God said, "Let the waters underneath the heavens be gathered toward one place, and let the dry [land] appear;" and it was accordingly: and God called the dry [land] EARTH. but the gathering of the waters he called SEAS; So God saw that [it was] good. Then God said, "Let the earth sprout the sprout [(grasses)], the plant [(annuals)] seeding seed, the fruit- tree [(of woody stem)] bearing fruit after its kind — in which [is] its seed upon the earth;" and it was accordingly; for the earth sprouted the sprout, the plant sending seed after its kind, and the tree bearing fruit — in which [is] its seed after its kind: so God saw that [it was] good. Thus [there] was evening, and [there] was morning — [the] third day Then God said, "Let [there] be lights in the firmament of the heavens, to divide between the day and the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years; even let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens, to give light upon the earth:" and it was accordingly; so God made the two great lights — the greater light [(sun)] to rule the day, and the smaller light [(moon)] to rule the night — also the stars: and God appointed them in the firmament of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide between the light and the darkness; so God saw that [it was] good. Thus [there] was evening, and [there] was morning — [the] fourth day.

Then God said, "Let the waters swarm [with] the swarm of the living creature, and let the bird fly upon the earth upon the face of the firmament of the heavens:" so God created great [sea-] monsters, and every living creature that creeps, [with] which the waters swarmed, after its kind"; also every winged bird after its kind; so God saw that [it was] good: and God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas: and let the bird multiply on the earth." Thus [there] was evening, and [there] was morning — [the] fifth day.

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, beast [(large quadrupeds)], and reptile [(short-legged animals)]. and [(every other)] living [thing] of the earth, after its kind;" and it was accordingly; for God made the living [thing] of the earth after its kind, and the beast after its kind, and every reptile of the ground after its kind: so God saw that [it was] good. Then God said, "'Let us make MAN in our image — according to our likeness [(the exact reflection of the divine [mental] lineaments)]; and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the bird of the heavens, and over the beast, and over all the earth, and over every reptile that creeps upon the earth;" so God created mankind in his [own] image, in the image of God lie created him, [yet] male and female he created them: and God blessed them, when God said to them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the bird of the heavens, and over every living [thing] that creeps upon the earth" for God said, "Lo! I have given to you every plant seeding seed, which [is] upon [the] face of all the earth, and every tree in which [is] the fruit of a tree seeding seed; to you it shall be for food, also to every living [thing] of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every [thing] creeping upon the earth in which [exists] a living creature, [even] every green plant for food." And it was accordingly; so God saw every [thing] that he had made, and lo! [it was] very good: thus [there] was evening, and [there] was morning the sixth day Now were finished the heavens, and the earth, and all their army [of stars]; for God finished on the seventh day his work which he had made, and [therefore] ceased on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Then God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because on it he ceased [(shabath, rested)] from all his work which God created in making.

The statements contained in this passage are thought by a certain class of semi-infidel philosophers to be in conflict with the conclusions of modern science, especially astronomy and geology. We are sure, however, that the works and word of God can never be otherwise than in harmony, and if any conflict appears, it must be in consequence of the unskillfullness or erroneous system of the expounders, either of the book of nature or of revelation. The difficulty consists in the alleged contradiction between the philological "interpretation" of the sacred record and the scientific or historical exposition of the facts. In this, as in all similar instances of apparent discrepancy, its is no disparagement of philology that it is obliged to modify previous interpretations on account of new light from collateral branches of knowledge; the same course has always been pursued, e.g. in the verification of prophecy, where history has necessarily come in as a supplementary aid in fixing a definite meaning to what before was dark and general. This, it is true, would not be allowable if the scriptural statements in question were explicit and in detail, or if they were couched in the precise terms of modern science; but it is a legitimate method of interpretation in the case of such brief and popular phraseology as. we often find in the Bible on subjects adverted to for collateral purposes. It is therefore only necessary to show that the essential meaning of the text, when explained according to the analogies of the usus loquendi of an unscientific people, should not conflict, as to the real facts involved, with the conclusions of late scientific investigators. SEE INTERPRETATION. There are three principal modes in which this adjustment has been attempted with regard to Moses's account of the creation.

(1.) Some regard chapter 1 of Genesis as a general statement of the original formation of all created things, including that of man as a race, in the several varieties scattered over the earth's surface; and chap. 2 as a detailed account of a subsequent creation of the Adamic or Hebrew lineage in particular. It cannot be denied that the difference in language (especially the distinctive use of the titles "Jehovah" and "Elohim"), and the resumptive form of the latter chapter, somewhat favor this view; but, on the other hand, it is emphatically forbidden by the doctrine of the unity of the human race (and "man" is in both cases alike called אָדָם); and after all it leaves essentially untouched the principal question of the reconcilement of the Mosaic order and date of creation with those suggested by science. SEE ADAM.

(2.) Others regard the several "days" of the scriptural narrative as periods of indefinite extent, and so find time enough for the astronomical and geological cycles required. SEE EARTH. But this interpretation is met by two objections:

(a) Although the term יוֹם, day, is sometimes used in a vague sense for a longer or shorter period of time, such a signification here is forbidden by the distinct recurrence of the divisions "night and morning" stated in connection with each νυχθήμερον or space of twenty-four hours; and the Sabbath comes in as a similar space of time at the close of the week, in a sense probably strict and literal, since it is made the basis of the hebdomadal cycle religiously observed ever since. SEE DAY.

(b) The exact number of six such periods cannot be made out satisfactorily from the records of science: e.g. the astronomical system requires the sun at the outset of the demiurgic period, whereas Moses does not introduce it till the fourth day, although light had existed from the first; and the lowest geological strata exhibit animal life, whereas Moses speaks of vegetables as created first. SEE GEOLOGY.

(3.) Perhaps the best solution of the difficulty. is that which inserts the entire geological period between the original creation of matter in ver. 1 of Genesis 1, and the literal account of the last, or, properly, Mosaic creation of the present races of living things detailed in verses 11-31; the intermediate verses (2-10) describing phenomenally, i.e. just as the facts would have appeared to a spectator, the gradual restoration of mundane order, after the grand cataclysm that closed the geological period, and swept off the terrestrial tribes then existing; and chap. ii, resuming the account for the purpose of further detail, especially with reference to the formation of Eve. SEE CREATION.

For a more general exposition of the Hebrew views on this subject, SEE COSMOLOGY.

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