In Biblical Hebrew, there is no punctuation. There is also no time indicator - no past or future tense. Everything is stated in the present. Translators have tried to bring out, according to their understanding, the original meaning by adding punctuation and chronology. But as the picture to the left points out, the meaning of a sentence can be hugely affected by even minor adjustments. The placement of a simple comma can mean life or death to Grandpa!
In translating the King James version, men from different backgrounds and religions participated in the process of word selection and punctuating. Sometimes extra words were added if they made clearer the meaning of a text. Thanks to intellectual integrity, additions were italicized to avoid confusion. Aside from the difficulties of translation, scholars are still debating the theology of the original Hebrew.
The first three verses of chapter 1 in Genesis read: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
Here we find a veritable wealth of periods, commas and semicolons, as well as an extra was. Of course they are included to clarify the point. But what point? Of original nothingness from which creation sprang? Of original shapeless, formless, dark, material chaos as the wellspring of life?
To me, the presence of matter (earth without form, and void) and mortal consciousness (darkness upon the face of the deep) seems inescapable in the King James translation. But according to at least one Bible scholar, the form, void and darkness of Genesis 1:2 "represented a state contrary to the character of God." (Bruce K. Waltke. "The Creation Account in Gen. 1:1-3, Part IV: The Theology of Genesis 1." Bibliotheca Sacra 132 (1975): 339)
Waltke also wrote, "The situation of verse 2 is not good, nor is it ever called good. Moreover, that state of darkness, confusion, and lifelessness is contrary to the nature of God in whom there is no darkness. He is called the God of light and life; the God of order." (Walke, "Creation and Chaos", 58) "Darkness is understood to represent evil and death." (ibid, 52)
So what happens to the meaning of verses 1-3 when we remove much of the punctuation, return to the original present tense and pull out the added word?
The verses would read: "Now God creates the heaven and the earth. And the earth is without form and void and darkness upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters. And God says, Let there be light: and there is light!"
I think that merits at least one exclamation point. Everything that follows these verses is now set up to be seen in the light of Spirit's actual movement. All belief in any other presence or power or form of creation other than that which is of God, and therefore good, disappears in the constant revelation of what God is and does through light.
The Hebrew word for earth (pronounced: eh'-rets) means wilderness or "vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence." (See Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, Glossary, "WILDERNESS" 597)
"And the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters. And God says, Let there be light, and there is light!"
"Water symbolizes the elements of Mind," wrote Eddy. (ibid. 507) The elements, activity and attributes of the Mind that is God are reflected throughout creation, that is, in you and me. Creation is happening right now. And God's light reveals it.
Oh, what a difference punctuation can make. When earth is "without form and void and darkness upon the face of the deep", suddenly the slate is wiped clean of mortal and material sense.
Earth is seen to be the vestibule unfolding the spiritual facts of existence where...
Mary Baker Eddy wrote of the first chapter of Genesis, "Was not this a revelation instead of a creation?" (ibid. p. 504)
In the simplest, most fundamental terms: Genesis 1:1-3 tells us that there is no matter. (That statement alone should get the comments rolling on this post!)
There are certain unmistakeable correspondences between Genesis 1 and the thoughts of Second Isaiah (author of Isaiah, chapters 40-55) on creation:
The truth of creation's spirituality and goodness has been declared from ancient time. God himself has revealed it and will continue to do so. There is one God, one Spirit, and one true creation - man, spiritual and very good. As Eddy put it, "Spirit and its formations are the only realities of being. Matter disappears under the microscope of Spirit." (Science and Health, 264)
Friends, today's post is a deep-think piece. I hope you will engage in the conversation and share where it takes you.
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no