Friday, June 21, 2019

Creation reversed

Narratives like Gen 1 or Gen 2-3 are brief and sketchy, yet inexhaustible. There's always something new you didn't notice before. 

I'm going to revisit my abiding interest in the biblical symbolism of light. On the one hand, each day in the Gen 1 creation account has something distinctive. Day 1 represents the creation of light. Light is God's first creation. And the creation of daylight entails night, as a necessary point of contrast. 

Day 2 represents the creation of the atmosphere, rainclouds, and the sea. Day 3 represents the creation of dry land and flora. I assume Gen 1 doesn't differentiate the creation of freshwater from saltwater because bodies of freshwater (lakes, rivers, ponds) are features of the land, in contrast to the sea. 

Day 4 represents the creation of celestial luminaries (sun, moon, stars). That raises questions about the causal and chronological relationship between Day 1 and Day 4, inasmuch as the diurnal cycle is already in place on day 1, which implies the existence of sunlight and solar days.

Day 5 represents the creation of volant animals and aquatic animals, while day 6 represents the creation of land animals and mankind. And Day 7 is striking for what doesn't happen. After six days of creative activity, the reader is primed for something to happen on day 7. But day 7 is a coda to creation.

On the other hand, there's a constant running through all 7 days, and that's the overarching motif of dawn and dusk, daylight and night. One thing that's prescient about the light motif is how that supplies the backdrop for eschatological judgment. One of the signs of final judgment is a solar eclipse, lunar eclipse, and shooting stars. And that represents a reversal of day 4 in particular, as well as the persistent role of light in the creation account generally. On the one hand, a dominant theme of creation is celestial illumination. On the other hand, a dominant theme of eschatological judgment is the darkening sky. A return to darkness as sun and moon are occluded, while the sky is emptied of stars as they fall to the earth. So eschatological judgment represents a reversion to primordial darkness, before the creation of daylight, sunlight, moonlight, or starlight. In addition, the crucifixion darkness prefigures the final judgment. 

1 comment:

  1. Such an excellent observation! The uncreation of creation.

    I guess in the world to come it'll be a recreation of creation.