Michelangelo, 1512, Sistine Chapel
The creation of Eve (top) and Adam (below)
Before we look at the various biblical accounts of creation, it is necessary to set the stage. Setting the stage will require that we try to look at the universe in terms that the biblical writers (and all people from the Ancient Near East) saw it. Setting the stage will also require that we look at the sources of these myths and compare the sources with the biblical accounts.
This can be summarized in this way:
How did the ancients see the physical cosmos?
What did their myths (both Babylonian and Hebrew) tell them about their relation to the cosmos?
It is that second question that will help us theologically in constructing a Christian theology of creation for the 21st century. How and why did the biblical writers change these myths? I suggest that these changes will provide the theological basis for a 21st century Christian theology of creation.
Then, we will ask:
How do we see the cosmos?
What can we take from the biblical creation myths (particularly the theological relationship between God and creation) that will be useful for us?
I am going to need to break this up in order to keep each post relatively short and to spend adequate time on each part. Here are my working titles for the next several posts:
Setting the Stage: The Babylonian Myth, Enuma Elish
The Biblical Creation Accounts (from Job, the Psalter, Proverbs, and Genesis)
A Comparison the Hebrew Bible’s Theology of Creation with the Babylonian Theology of Creation
Some Theological Affirmations We Can Keep
The Modern View of the Cosmos
A Modern Creation Myth
To whet your appetite, check out this website for an overview of the biblical conception of the universe.
Finally, The History and Literature of the Bible is an excellent website to which we will be returning!
Next time, Setting the Stage: How the Ancients Viewed the Cosmos