The Two Stories Of Creation That Begin Genesis

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The Two Stories Of Creation That Begin Genesis

Creation from Unorganized Matter

Genesis does not teach ex nihilo creation, as observed by Rutgers professor Gary Rendsburg, author of The Redaction of Genesis. He states: "Instead, the earth begins as a mass of preexistent matter with five key elements that are present at the beginning of creation." He cites the primordial elements used as substrates in the creation as listed in Genesis 1:2: (1) the "unformed and void" or "empty and desolate" earth, (2) "the darkness," (3) "the deep," (4) "the water “and (5) “the wind “or” spirit." Both wind and spirit represented by the same word in Hebrew, with most recent translations preferring "wind" where the KJV uses "spirit."

The light was then separated from darkness; and the mass was organized into the primeval earth. Rendsburg observes that the Genesis author demythologize the creation account by avoiding naming of the sun, moon, and the Sabbath day, as the names of these celestial bodies, were synonymous with the names of pagan deities. The word for sun, Hebrew Shemesh/Akkadian Shamash, also was the name of the pagan sun-god. The name of the moon also referred to the moon-god, and the seventh day was eponymous with god for the planet Saturn, like "Saturday" or "Saturn's day" in modern English. To avoid invoking words understood as representing pagan deities, the Genesis author engages in unambiguous circumlocution in describing "the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night" (Hamilton, Genesis 1:16) and the "seventh day" (Hamilton, Genesis 2:2).

The Two Creations Stories of Genesis: Spiritual and Physical

The Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the mid-nineteenth century, recounts the story of a spiritual creation preceding the physical creation of living creatures. The Lord declared: "I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth". At the time, the doctrine of two creations - one spiritual and one physical regarded as a uniquely LDS teaching. The text of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 has traditionally been read as constituting a single physical creation story.

Creation by Word vs. Creation by Physical Action

Most of these lines followed by the statement: "and it was so." In contrast, the second creation account is the result of physical work in manipulating tangible objects, and centers around verbs which reflect constructive human activities: to form to fashion. These tangible activities of organizing and fashioning living creatures, contrast to the "creation by fiat" ("let there be light") of the first creation account, is consistent with LDS teachings of an initial cosmic and spiritual creation followed by a second, physical creation of living beings (Cross

pp. 394-398).

The First or Spiritual Creation

On careful reading, the principle of spiritual creation preceding physical creation as expounded in Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Moses is also present in the Genesis creation narrative, yet overlooked by other Christians because they lack the theological foundation to ...
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