Now the constantly misunderstood beauty of Genesis 1-4 is its poetic undertone, which should not necessarily be made a purely analogical fare, given the anthropological Darwinian influence of these latter days. The Hebrew for “day”, “yom“, has been consistently used to display a day from evening to morning, as the Old Testament Jewish tradition displayed – not an eon, not a generation, not a day = 1000 days (and even then old earth/theistic evolution/evolution/progressive creationists prefer not to see the latter half of 1000 days = 1 as well!). I’ve heard people say that since the sun and moon were not created until day 4, it is likely that time was measured differently before day 4. I can’t help but feel that these bible interpretations are, again, an attempt to mold theology to our contemporary scientific understanding of the universe. If our theology is culturally/socially/scientifically defined, then we’re opening a gate whereby the Bible is not given the objective context it is due. Here, God himself states that it is a day, from ‘evening to morning’ – nothing to do with moon or sun. This phrase pops up first with the separation of light and darkness on Day 1 – so we can safely assume that God (there is a mutually constituting relationship between time and eternity; it is not as if God was eternal, and THEN he created everything to be played out in time), when he says ‘evening and morning’ did not suddenly change his definition in day 4, when evening and morning should be self-explained on Day 1. Should we wish to bend to the majority of our scientific counterparts’ interpretations and say that these evenings and mornings must have lasted some many tens of millions of years, then we might as well learn the new art of Scriptural-bending. For when analogy, prophecy and symbolism is used throughout Scripture, God never makes it vague and always provides the context like here – and just because the first chapter starts like a poem, it does not immediately follow that the description of ‘day’ must be merely poetic – as if ‘poem’ is a license for heresy.
Without any necessity to rely on extra-biblical evidence (as if it is ever our highest authority… haha), God himself reveals to Moses that “there was evening and there was morning, the first day”, and this stanza He repeats continually (1:5; 1:8; 1:13; 1:19; 1:23; 1:31; 2:2). By 2:2, the poetic undertone changes, the stanza no longer repeats, and we switch straight into the narrative — “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation”.
What’s this business about blessing the seventh day? Were the previous days not blessed? Why the sudden switch from poetic to narrative, and the exclusion of the stanza “there was evening and there was morning, the ___ day”? For the everlasting Day, the eternal Sabbath and Jubilee, needs no evening, nor morning — for there will only be capital D-ay, the light that was and is and will be good (v.4). More on this when we look at the verse in detail.
Now let us turn to look @ verse by verse:
1:1-2 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”.
“εν αρχη εποιησεν ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην”
Now, the LXX translates αρχη (arxh) as beginning, origin, outset, prime, principle, start, threshold – and undoubtedly many translations, and the more reliably literal ones such as ESV, KJV and NASB opt for “beginning”. Yet, much like the OT saints, apostolic and reformed fathers, the LXX is much like the NIV of our time – common, loose and possibly biased with the translator’s theology (or at least interpreted by men with their own theological agenda). The same word is this, in the original Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית
Bereishit bara Elohim, “bereishit” being the same αρχη and בְּרֵאשִׁית referred to earlier. What does this mean? Both the Greek arxh, and the Hebrew word bereishit, if split into its root combinations (be, reish, it — reish, which is “rosh” without vowels, meaning “head”). If reish of bereishit gives the literal translation: “At the head”, we are thus given more exegetical insight. For who is the head of the heavens and the earth? Colossians 1:16-18 is a big give-away: “For in (as the footnote suggests) him all things were created, in heaven and on earth…And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head (using the same arxh in the Greek) of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” And Hebrews 1:2: “…he (the Father) has spoken to us by the Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he (the Father) created the world.”
And the word “God”, as Elohim ( אֱלֹהִ֑ים )? A singular noun which is a plural of “El” – God – yet maintaining His Oneness. For our Lord God is one as Moses muses in Deuteronomy 6:4 (footnotes of ESV): “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one”. Why this term of expression? The LORD is our God, the LORD is one — sounds somewhat redundant. Who else can play the role of kurios, when the modern day Jews assume the Unitarian nature of “God” throughout the entire Old Testament? And yet this LORD is the same LORD who brought them out of Egypt, the same LORD who brought the Israelites to the Promised Land. Did the LORD contradict himself? Surely it was the Angel of the Lord who fulfilled that role, not the LORD himself? Judges 6:11-18, Exodus 3:5. No – we are not to assume that the modern day Jews are to hold some sort of theological hierarchy over us post-apostolic Christians. For what does non-second born Jewish theologians have in common with Old and New Testament Christians? Nothing, save a platform for persuasion that the Angel of the LORD is the LORD – the angel, ‘malak’, the messenger, the sent one from the second Lord on Mt. Sinai. He is no Metatron or given some unbiblical name as the Talmudic writings suggest — within its own right, Gideon, Joshua, Moses, just to name a few saints, knew the Angel as the LORD. And Moses rightfully defends the Trinitarian nature of ONE God to prevent the pluralistic idolatry in Exodus 32:4, a perversion of the one Angel in the pillar of cloud and fire, who brought the Israelites through the Baptism of the separation of the waters to meet the second Lord, the first person of the Trinity.
Finally, the word ‘bara‘ ( בָּרָ֣א ) – which is translated into ‘create’ in the English, but more accurately it means ‘cut’ as it has been commonly used in the instance of cutting covenants. Quoting Leon Sim in his sermon on Hebrews 10:
This is what Berkhof says about this word. “Its original meaning is to split, to cut, to divide… The word itself does not convey the idea of bringing forth something out of nothing.” Now here’s a bit of irony for you – this quote is taken from a section entitled “Creation as an act by which something is brought forth out of nothing”.
I guess I can see the irony too. Ex nihilo? More like Ex Christos. Poor Athanasius in his “On the Incarnation of the Word” – his tangential point in this classic theological piece would have had that much more focus on the alpha of Christ if God had created all things out of Christ, therefore the universe finding its only meaning in Christ alone. Rather, ex nihilo preaches a doctrine of nothingness, that we are to return to nothingness – to dust. But that is not what the Bible teaches – for all things will be recreated, and all unbelievers and believers arisen from their sleep on the Day. Is the teleology of the universe therefore nothingness? No – the teleology, the omega, of all things is also Christ. Whether all creatures and men find their timeless eternity in Christ, however, is something only the Christian men and beasts can take part in, much to the dismay of the rest of the God-rebelling creation.
Now, with the aid of the LXX and the Hebrew Scriptures, we can translate it sensitive to its intra-biblical context with the theological oomph:
“At the head (Christ) God (the Father) cut the heavens and the earth (by the Spirit)”. These are my theological add-ons in the bracket – and by no means is it forceful to understand the first two verses in the Bible with Trinitarian spectacles, for our Triune LORD was, is and will always be ONE. What better way therefore to start the Scriptures than with the Holy Family?