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Creation (theology)

Creation is a doctrinal position in many religions which maintains that one or a group of gods or deities is responsible for creating the universe. Creationism affirms this belief, but the doctrinal belief is not necessarily synonymous with creationism.

Contents

1 Judaism & "Christianity"
1.1 Genesis 2:4-25
1.2 Genesis 1:1-2:3
1.3 Psalms
1.4 Rabbinic Interpretation
1.5 New Testament
2 Islam
3 Hinduism
4 Resources
5 See also
6 External links

Judaism & "Christianity"

Genesis 2:4-25

Mainstream Biblical scholarship maintains that the creation story found in Genesis 2 is the earlier of the two Genesis accounts. Filled with ancient and rich mythological imagery, it is believed that the basic story once circulated among the early nomadic Hebrews, told perhaps around simple, intimate campfire settings, answering questions about life and the origins of humankind. The story also reflects Israel's belief in its covenant relationship with God. The concern in Genesis 2 is not in the creation of the cosmos but in the origins of humankind and their environment. There is a clear connection between humans and the land (2:7) and the notion that people are a special creation of God.

Genesis 1:1-2:3

Most Biblical scholars believe that the Genesis 1 account can be attributed to the so-called "priestly" writer(s)/editor(s) (known in academic circles as "P") who was responsible for a fair portion of the Pentateuch. Dating to roughly the Exilic and early post-Exilic period of Hebrew history, the account sets forth creation on a cosmic scale. Revered for its majestic poetry concerning the beginnings of the universe, the Genesis 1 account is shaped as a litany, likely for use in the Temple in Jerusalem, though its basic form predates the building of the Second Temple.

Whereas the earlier account found in Genesis 2 emphasizes the closeness of humanity's relationship to the environment and the immanence of God, the later Genesis 1 account emphasizes the trancendent greatness of God and culminates in the establishment of the Sabbath. It is believed that the "P" source was concerned with maintaining a Jewish identity while removed from Jersualem and Temple worship, and that the Sabbath was thus lifted up as a means to retain a distinctive identity in the midst of a pluralist Exilic culture. Hence, the account ends with the establishment of the Sabbath as an act of God, and an important part of the creative process.

This familiar account today is utilized for a variety of theological purposes.

  1. It is often used to stress the transendence of God, his sovereignty, awesome power, and identity as wholly separate from creation.
  2. The account is typically used to establish or strengthen the notion of Sabbath as a key mark of God's "chosen people", particularly by Jewish scholars.
  3. This is a key passage for those who support the notion of creatio ex nihilo, or "creation out of nothing". This belief states that God created the cosmos without the aid of anything to begin. Genesis 1:1 reads in Hebrew, "Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets...". In most traditional English translations, it reads, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...". God's existence and creative power apart from any original "building blocks" is assumed. A notable exception to this translation appears in the NRSV translation, which reads, "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth...", which, while still faithful to the Hebrew text, seems to make the assumption that God created the universe out of "chaos". While this idea is found elsewhere in Scripture (notably in the Psalter), the NRSV is the first major English translation to find this notion in Genesis 1.
  4. The first creation story found in Genesis is also the key passage for those who subscribe to some form of creationism, which purports that Genesis 1 is a literal account of how God created the universe (see article for more information).

Psalms

  • YHWH as divine warrior
  • Psalms 8, 33, 89, 98, 104, 145

Rabbinic Interpretation

A Jewish midrash or homiletical interpretation tells that six things preceded the creation of the world: the Torah and the Throne of Glory were created, the creation of the Patriarchs was contemplated, the creation of Israel was contemplated, the creation of the Temple in Jerusalem was contemplated, the name of the Messiah was contemplated, and repentance too. (Genesis Rabbah 1:4.)

The Mishnah teaches that with ten Divine utterances did God create the world. Noting that surely God could have created the world with one utterance, the Mishnah asks: What are we meant to learn from this? The Mishnah answers: If God had created the world by a single utterance, men would think less of the world, and have less compunction about undoing God’s creation. (Mishnah Avot 5:1.)

See also