The creation narrative.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1, NIV. What does the “In the beginning” mean? When was the “beginning”? The biblical narrative of the creation does not reveal the “beginning” of “the heavens and the earth.” We could study, debate, and argue about the “beginning” endlessly; employing the world-view held by the authors of the Genesis narrative, but never arrive at a fruitful and an intellectually satisfying answer. The authors of the Genesis narrative did not intend to define the chronology of the creation with a rigid literalism. They planned to emphasize the contrast between what was before the Creator said, “Let there be light,” and what became after. They emphasized the superior power, and greatness of the One and the Only God, the God of the Hebrews. The theological inferences in the Genesis creation narrative concentrate on the nature of the Creator; not on the order, sequence, and the mechanics of His creative works. Accordingly, the actual creation narrative begins in the second verse.
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:2, NIV. The earth may have been such before the first day of creation. In the ancient time, the “formlessness” and the “darkness” represented evil force. Accordingly, the authors of the creation narrative, in the Genesis, endeavored to show that the God of the Hebrews is so powerful that He overcame the evil force. He did so with a much better outcome than what the gods of the ancient narrative, Enuma Elish, could achieve. The Genesis creation narrative aimed to depict the supreme majesty and power of the only Sovereign God, the God of the Hebrews.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light…”, Genesis 1:3, NIV. The ancient world-view and the creation narratives concerning the world-ordering activity by gods portray the darkness as an evil force opposed to the righteous force; which is light. The Creator is the focus of the creation narrative, in the Genesis. Therefore, the authors of the narrative emphasized the supreme power by which He separated the two opposing forces and established the inviolable boundary between the two. Also, the ancient creation epic, the Enuma Elish, describes the attempt by gods to create a world order that will ensure their comfort.
In contrast, God in the Genesis narrative created the world order that will provide the best home, and best comfort for humankind. God, in the Genesis narrative, created what is best for humanity because He loves it. The Creator, in the Genesis narrative, is not concerned about what is good for Him, but for all creation.
The next blog will address the additional theological inferences.