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‘To Give Light Upon the Earth’
A Pre-Biblical Impression of the Bible #2: Genesis 1:3 -19
Keep in mind, please, that the Christian warriors, listening in a mead hall to the epic of Beowulf had none of them read the Bible, and when the Bible was related to them by a speaker working from one of the rare books used by the clergy, the best way for these pre-literate men to commit passages to memory would have been through recitation or song, as the skalds had committed the tale of Beowulf to memory and would then recount it under Christian dominion as it has come down to us.
Creation has evoked the deep as a cosmic expanse, more than ocean.
The First Day
Creation is simple and blunt compared to other traditions, with heaven and earth having preceded illumination with light commanded into being by their Creator with, “Let there be light.” The light does not yet have form and is apparently ambient, having been separated from the darkness after its summoning. [G-4]
The Second Day
Most unique of this creation account is that the waters are separated by the “firmament” or “Vault of Heaven,” a solid dome into which the heavenly bodies are placed. Apart from the beauty of this divine architecture standing out against the generally more naturalistic and allegorical creation stories of Heathenry, is the wisdom that beyond the visible heavens are great stores of water, which we now know to be frozen and stored in comets. For men borne upon the oceans in their migrations in open boats, such as the quickly converted Norse, God’s division of the waters and dry land would find much appeal.
The Third Day
The waters and the lands are separated and “the dry land” named, “Earth.” Such distinction of the dry land from the inundated or wetlands and an unconcern with even naming wetlands, fit very prosaically into the Beowulf narrative, in which the hero must master monsters of the sea and men of the land, and contend with a great menace lurking in and creeping forth from swamps, and fens, ecological zones know to the Middle Eastern framers of the Bible.
Plant life is brought forth on the command of God from the Earth, which possesses the power to do so and is obedient to God whose Spirit has earlier “moved upon the face of the waters,” at the act of creation. This aspect of creation would be among the most easily accepted by Pre-Christian folk, especially Aryans with a strong belief in feminine Earth powers ruled by masculine sky power. Interestingly, the most resistant to this faith among the Nordic Aryans and Native American [Iroquois] were not Odinists or Sun cultists, but Thunder cultists who fled the wrath of the Odinist-turned-Christian King of Norway to Greenland and Vinland, in boats identical to that “wave-treader” used by Beowulf and the “Argo sea-hawk” of Jason and the swan-like boats of Aeneas and his heroes, as well as the ill-fated ship of Odysseus, all single-sailed, oared open boats. Likewise, the cruelest tormentors of Christian missionaries in America were Iroquois, and the most quickly converted were the sky-worshipping sons of the Great Plains, Mexican Highlands and Peruvian mountains.
The Fourth Day
In 1:14-15, God does not place the lights in the heaven but summons them, commands them with words of creation. There is a sense of power in this that exceeds the will of heathen creators.
1:16-19 depicts God as cosmic magician, commanding powers into being and also as an architect of a worldly stage, illuminated by witnessing powers lesser than He and greater than man and his earthly stage, powers who actually “rule.” The power of the word reflected in the emergence of powers in service to the Creator’s will would find favor among the Hellenes just as the architecture of heaven would appeal to the astronomically oriented priesthoods of the Chaldeans, Aztecs, Mayans and Inca.
“1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, he made the stars also.”
The plant life of the earth had therefore come forth under some general ambient light, not according to the direct ray and obvious powers of the sun, suggesting a greenhouse earth.
“1:17 And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth,”
“Upon the earth” is the most commonly repeated theme in the creation, with the Creator arranging with care the stage for the willful creature he will bring into existence. Having brought these powers with the word, only now does the Creator handle the rulers of day and night, assigning them to their place, and making the stars as an almost forgotten afterthought. This later, also suggests an emergence from an ambient state, and is strikingly absent the naturalistic allegory of many Heathen creation accounts, whispering perhaps of a pre-Creation chaos, for much of the Creation here related indicates pre-existing potential willed into activation.
“1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.”
While modern secular academics suggest that the dualistic nature of Christianity was somehow borrowed from Zoroasterism, the assignation of the sun and the moon as powers ruling over the earth establishes a clear sense of duality on the first page of the book. Such duality had appeal to most other cosmologies that would come into contact with the Bible in ages to come. The most strikingly unique aspect to Genesis is the sense of a World Stage set, not by a manipulative and visible hand, not by a conclave of creative powers, but by a Mind from beyond Time in command of such powers.

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BryceFeb 8, 2021

"It was at that time I got a job working as a consultant on the Norwegian revision of the Old Testament, and since I had no grounding in the linguistic, cultural, or religious aspects that were involved, I had no option but to work hard and meticulously, nothing was going to come to me on a plate, and what revealed itself then, when I went through the first sentence of creation word for word, for instance, was the way in which entire worldviews might be encapsulated in a comma, in and “and,” in a “which,” and with those insights, how different the world becomes if its description is coordinate with rather than subordinate to the metaphor, for example, or the way a word not only has lexical meaning, but is also colored by the contexts in which it appears, something the writers of the Bible exploited to the full, for

instance, by allowing a word at the beginning to apply to the sun’s relation to the earth, and then to let that same word many pages on to apply to man’s relation to woman. The word is merely there, in the two different places, and the connection is as good as invisible, yet decisive. People have been reading the Bible as holy Scripture for a couple of thousand years, and every word it contains has been considered meaningful, a dizzying tight mesh of different

meanings and shades of meaning have thereby arisen, which no single human can every possibly command. What happened when I started working on those texts was that I learned to read. I began to understand what it meant to read.

- Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle, Book Six

You should read Augustine's take on the same passages in the end of "Confessions." He struggled with the Creation narratives of Gen 1-2 and felt that even by his day, they'd lost much the intent and meaning of the texts Moses wrote.

Like you said, there is a lot of overlap with other ANE creation narratives, though Genesis is partly a polemic against them
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