The Creation of Heaven and Earth

Re-interpretations of Genesis I in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics


This volume discusses the narrative of the creation of heaven, earth and light in the first chapter of Genesis and focuses extensively on its later interpretations in different cultural and religious contexts.
After an introductory paper on the text of Genesis itself, the authors deal with receptions of this theme in the Prophet Jeremiah, Early Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. They comment on creation accounts in the Ancient Near East, Ancient Greece and ancient philosophy, reconstructing the earliest known receptions of Genesis 1 in ancient philosophers like Numenius and Galen. They trace its influence in the Johannine, Petrine and Pauline traditions of Early Christianity, and follow it right through the Middle Ages up till the present-day discussion of design in Nature.


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Biographical Note

George H. van Kooten, Ph.D. (2001) in Theology, University of Leiden, is University Lecturer in New Testament & Early Christian Studies at the University of Groningen. He is the author of Cosmic Christology in Paul and the Pauline School (Tübingen, 2003).

Table of contents

Introduction Part I. Creation in Genesis, Jeremiah, the Ancient Near East and Early Judaism 1) The Creation of Light in Genesis 1:1-5: Remarks on the Function of Light and Darkness in the Opening Verses of the Hebrew Bible 2) Back to Chaos: The Relationship between Jeremiah 4:23-26 and Genesis 1 3) ‘Lights Serving as Signs for Festivals’ (Genesis 1:14b) in Enūma Eliš and Early Judaism 4) Creation in the Dead Sea Scrolls — Part II Creation in Ancient Greece, Ancient Philosophy, and the Earliest Graeco-Roman Interpretations of Genesis 1 (5) Canonical and Alternative Creation Myths in Ancient Greece (6) Cosmic Gods and Primordial Chaos in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy: The Context of Philo’s Interpretation of Plato’s Timaeus and the Book of Genesis (7) God the Creator, God the Creation: Numenius’ Interpretation of Genesis 1:2 (Frg. 30) (8) Galen and Genesis Part III. Creation in the Johannine, Petrine, and Pauline Literatures (9) The ‘True Light which Enlightens Everyone’ (John 1:9): John, Genesis, the Platonic Notion of the ‘True, Noetic Light,’ and the Allegory of the Cave in Plato’s Republic (10) Creation ‘Out of’ and ‘Through’ Water in 2 Peter 3:5 (11) The History of Religions Background to 1 Timothy 4:4: ‘Everything that God has Created is Good’ — Part IV. Creation in the Middle Ages and Modernity (12) Reading Creation: Early Medieval Views on Genesis and Plato’s Timaeus (13) Design in Nature: Some Current Issues (14) Design in Nature: Some Comments from the Ancient Perspective — Index of Ancient Texts


Philologists, theologians and philosophers, and all those interested in the interpretation of Genesis 1 throughout different ages, the Bible, ancient philosophy, the history of the Church, and the modern debate about God and Physics.