The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Re-Interpretation of Genesis I in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics

By George H. Van Kooten | Go to book overview

connection between creation and cult, of the role of the temple as the centre of the cosmos, would favour such a concentration on the macro context. Or are both options part of an antiquated paradigm of alternatives no longer valid in the present debate on Genesis texts? The role of chronology in the Priestly Codex4 may support such a vision; after all, the chronological markers may be used for both concepts. The world to be is brought into the dimension of time by the creation of light and the renaming of light and darkness as day and night (1:5). Chronologically, this means that the creation narrative starts on the first day of the first week of the first month of the first year. After the reversal of creation in the Great Flood the earth is freed from the waters on the first day of the first month (8:13).5 This is a new beginning. The theophany at Sinai results in the command by YHWH to set up the tabernacle on the first day of the first month (Exod 40:2) and so Moses did (Exod 40:17).6 From creation until the establishment of the sanctuary in the promised land, chronology bridges and connects the mighty acts of the creator of the world and the deity who wants to live in a tent in the midst of Israel.

But even within these well-known frameworks, the creation account leaves us with several question marks. Maybe the time for great con-

1988, 77–99; B. Janowski, 'Tempel und Schöpfung: Schöpfungstheologische Aspekte
der priesterschrifdichen Heiligtumskonzeption' (1990), in: B. Janowski, Gottes Gegenwart
in Israel: Beiträge zur Theologie des Allen Testaments
, Ncukirchen-Vluyn 1993, 214–246;
B. Janowski, 'Der Himmel auf Erden: Zur kosmologischen Bedcutung des Tempels
in der Umwelt Israels', in: B. Janowski and B. Ego (eds), Das biblische Weltbild und seine
altorientalischen Kontexte
(FAT 32), Tübingen 2001, 229–260.

4 Though there is fierce debate on the usefulness of source criticism and on the size
and character of the Priesdy Codex, I think understanding the different voices in the
Primeval Cycle Gen I–11 in a source model is still helpful. Within the Primeval Cycle
the following texts belong to the P-Grundschrift: Gen I:1–2:43; 5:1–28, 30–32; 6:9–22; 7:6,
11, 13–16a, 17a, 18–21, 24; 8:1, 2a, 3b–5, 13a, 14–19; 9:1–17, 28f.; 1o:1–4a, 5*–7, 20, 22f.,
31f.; 11:10–27*, 31f- For full coverage of the models and theories playing a role in the
present (continental) debate, see C. Frevel, Mil Blick auf das Land die Schopjung erinnern:
zum Ende der Priestergrundschrift
(HBS 23), Freiburg & New York 2000.

5 Gen 7:(6), 11, 23; 8:3b, 4, 5, 13, 14 result in a scheme of 354 days (12×29.5 lunar
month days) from 17.II. 600* until 16.II.601*. The eleven days of 17.II.601–27.II.601
should be added. Then the duration of the flood in the Priestly version is 365 days,
a year based on the solar calendar! For this theory see E. Kutsch, 'Der Kalender des
Jubiläenbuches und das Alte und Neue Testament', Veins Testamentum 11 (1961) 39–47,
esp. 43 and C. Westermann, Genesis (BKAT I –1), Neukirchen-Vluyn 1974, 582f.

6 Finally, the dedication of the Jerusalem temple (1 Kgs 8:2) is connected with the
festivities in the seventh month, Ethanim, which is the New Year's Festival in autumn.

-4-

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