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Gods breath suspended over the dark waters sets the stage for a generative fluctuation of astronomical or (I cant resist) biblical proportions. The Temple and the Astrodome So begins the Genesis report.The text recounts Gods fashioning form out of formlessness.One could call it chaos, but not in any mythically threatening sense.
Read vertically, the two columns address the two abject conditions of lack described in Genesis 1:2, formlessness and emptiness.
The left column (Days 1-3) gives form to creation, with Day 3 climactically depicting the growth of vegetation.
It reflects a literary austerity, an abstractness that rigorously avoids the fray of mythic conflict, on the one hand, and eschews the pathos of ancient poetry, on the other.
Its closest intellectual cousins are found among the cuneiform astronomical diaries of ancient Mesopotamia.
In the course of the Genesis narration, both the domains and the "members" of these domains reveal an overarching symmetry as the following table illustrates. Their chronological ordering gives rise to a thematic symmetry.
According to their thematic correspondences, the first six days of creation line up to form two parallel columns (see Mc Bride, 2000, pp. Days 1-3 establish the cosmic domains, which are subsequently populated by various entities or agencies (Days 4-6).Genesis 1:1-2:3 is the most "natural" and carefully crafted account of creation in the Hebrew Bible.This "report" proceeds methodically to outline a sophisticated cosmology whose chronological framework reflects the structural features of a typical Syro-Palestinian temple in antiquity and whose spatial contours suggest a three-tiered astrodome.The sixth day would have been a better fit for the creation of plants.Days 5 and 6, moreover, are one-sidedly weighted with the language of blessing (see verses 22, 28), which bears no correspondence to Days 2 and 3.Compared to the rough-and-tumble drama of the Babylonian myth of creation, the Enūma Elish (late 2nd millennium BCE), Genesis 1 reads like a dispassionate treatise.Through the near-monotonous repetition of literary motifs and structural devices, the Bibles first account of creation resembles more a report than a story, more an itemized list than a flowing narrative.The account begins not with God creating ex nihilo, as is commonly assumed, but with the deity working with undifferentiated matter, a cosmic mishmash.Primordial light, the first act of creation, is distinguished temporally from the light transmitted by the sun and stars.This concluding act vividly changes the earths primordial condition from its formless state of barrenness: the earth is no longer a "void" (tōh) but a fructified land, providing the means for sustaining life on the land.Covering Days 4-6, the right column reports the filling of these domains with their respective inhabitants, from the celestial bodies, which "rule" both day and night, to human bodies, who exercise "dominion." The creative acts on Days 5 and 6 specifically change creations primordial condition from "vacuum" or emptiness (bōh) to fullness (Tsumura, 2005, p. Genesis 1, in short, describes the systematic differentiation of the cosmos that accommodates and sustains the plethora of life.