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.
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)
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)
"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...
- material form (pronounced to'hoo in Hebrew - meaning worthless thing, confusion, vanity, or waste),
- material void (pronounced bo'-hoo in Hebrew - signifying emptiness, a vacuum, destructibility), and
- mortal darkness (pronounced kho'shek in Hebrew - a figurative reference to misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness, night and obscurity)
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:
Drop down, ye heavens, from above,
and let the skies pour down righteousness:
let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation,
and let righteousness spring up together;
I the Lord have created it.
Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel,
and his Maker,
Ask me of things to come concerning my sons,
and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
I have made the earth, and created man upon it:
I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens,
and all their host have I commanded.
I have raised him up in righteousness,
and I will direct all his ways.
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens;
God himself that formed the earth and made it;
he hath established it, he created it not in vain,
he formed it to be inhabited:
I am the Lord; and there is none else.
I have not spoken in secret,
in a dark place of the earth...
Who hath declared this from ancient time?
who hath told it from that time?
have not I the Lord?
and there is no God else beside me;
a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Look unto me, and be ye saved,
all the ends of the earth:
for I am God, and there is none else.
(Isaiah 45:8,11-13,18-19, 22)
I received an email this morning indicating that at least one person was having repeated trouble subscribing to the blog. If you, too, are having difficulty, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that I can help resolve the problem.