Re: bara

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 15:45:21 EDT

A great deal of confusion is caused by focusing discussions creatio ex nihilo entirely on Gen.1-2 & on the word br' in particular. It is the whole of scripture & the Christian community's reflection on it that has to be considered. Romans 4:17 which says that God is the one who "calls into existence the things that do not exist" (kalountos ta me onta hos onta) is significant. (Of course I am not being exhaustive here.)

Walton's claim that "God instead creates a new separateness and definition to some portion of what He is" is highly questionable." (I can only quote what you give since I can't get beyond the opening page on the link.) This is emanation rather than creation & carries the implication that the world is (or used to be?) really
part of God.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jim Armstrong
  Cc: ASA
  Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 2:32 PM
  Subject: Re: bara

  Dr. John Walton at Wheaton
  suggests that bara is NOT about creating something from nothing, which leads to unnecessary conflict in the specific interpretations of Genesis 1.
  To the contrary, (assuming I understand him right) the view of these ancients is more that God instead creates a new separateness and definition to some portion of what He is (or has, if that is at all meaningful), assigning a separate and distinct functionality and role that is the real evidence of its new existence and reality.
  Our western (modern) minds take create to mean that something comes into existence by becoming a thing, embodying attributes like weight, volume, etc.
  He suggests that it is better understood in their context as the creation of functionalities., the means for accomplishing something rather than the thing itself.


  Dick Fischer wrote:

    Iain wrote:

    Actually I think there are clear literary elements as well. The

    "evening and morning" before the sun is created seem to indicate that

    this is a literary device.

    Poor hermeneutics is partially to blame for some of the misconceptions that Genesis cannot be taken at literal face value. In an article in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Roy Clouser takes the fourth day as a time when God caused the sun, moon, and stars to come into existence, notwithstanding that God created heaven and earth on the first day. Clouser states:

    "It shows that the intention of the text was to reveal

    a teleological order to the process of creation,

    which is not at all the same as either a scientific

    explanation or a description of what an observer

    would have seen."

    In his "teleological" order the "days" of creation are lined up such that the first day on which God separated the light from the darkness sets up a "precondition" for the fourth day when God created the sun, moon, and stars. Then the second day is lined up against the fifth, and the third is lined up against the sixth so that it seems to make some sense whereas otherwise it would not. Conrad Hyers calls this a "cosmogonic" order.

    These attempts of help out poor Moses (or an otherwise unnamed author of Genesis) who otherwise would have been just plain wrong are totally unnecessary. This has been addressed and resolved long ago.

    In Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason Archer said this:

    Genesis 1:14-19 reveals that in the fourth creative stage

    God parted the cloud cover enough for direct sunlight to

    fall on the earth and for accurate observation of the

    movements of the sun, moon, and stars to take place.

    Verse 16 should not be understood as indicating the

    creation of the heavenly bodies for the first time on the

    fourth creative day; rather it informs us that the sun, moon,

    and stars created on Day One as the source of light had

    been placed in their appointed places by God with a view

    to their eventually functioning as indicators of time ('signs,

    seasons, days, years') to terrestrial observers. The Hebrew

    verb 'wayya 'as' in v. 16 should better be rendered 'Now

    [God] had made the two great luminaries, etc.,' rather than

    as simple past tense, [God] made.

    Simply put, Bible scholars put a strain on these passages, maintaining that the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day. This is unwarranted. The emphasis in this verse is on the purpose for the heavenly bodies not their coming into existence.

    If we take "the heaven" from Genesis 1:1 to include the visible universe, or cosmos, then it would incorporate the sun, moon, and stars. Even if we just take the heavens to mean "sky," it would be strangely black without sunlight, moonlight, and starlight. This is from The Expositor's Bible Commentary:

    So the starting point of an understanding of vv.14-18

    Is the view that the whole of the universe, including

    the sun, moon, and stars, was created "in the

    beginning" (v.1) and thus not on the fourth day.

    In the creation account, the Hebrew word bara' means create, and always emanates from God. That can imply an ex nihilo creation, a literal out of nothing creation (Gen. 1:1), or the use of elements brought into existence previously as with primitive sea life (Gen. 1:21), also a man and his woman (Gen. 1:27). The word "made" used in Genesis 1:14-19, is the Hebrew 'asah, a more general term, and may mean "appoint" or "accomplish" in this verse.

    The Septuagint avoids confusion: "God indeed made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for the regulations of the day, and the lesser luminary, with the stars, for the regulations of the night ..."

    Thus, on the first "day" God created the sun, moon, and stars in addition to the earth, and on the fourth "day," God appointed the sun to govern the day and commissioned the moon and stars to rule the night. Had the sun not been created until the fourth day, we would be left to wonder what caused the demarcation between the "day" and "night" named on the first day (Gen. 1:5). Furthermore, from what we know about the physics of orbital objects, it would be impossible for the earth and its sister planets to circle a blank spot in space awaiting the sun's creation.

    ~Dick Fischer
Received on Thu Sep 1 15:47:55 2005

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