Debate problem. Creatio ex nihilo vs. ex materia

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by OldShepherd, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. OldShepherd

    OldShepherd
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi,
    I need some serious help, primarily with Hebrew.

    Situation.
    I am a maember of another board which has an area for discussion with Unorthdox "Christian" denominations. Those who consider themselves Christian but fall outside traditional evangelical Christianity, this includes JW, LDS, WWCG, UPCI, etc.

    Situation.
    I have been discussing Genesis 1:1-2 with a few Mormons. Their so-called Book of Abraham, 4:1 states, "They, the gods, went down and organized the world." In order for the Bible to conform to the BoA they interpret Gen 1:1 as God created, i.e. formed, shaped, molded, our universe out of preexistent, eternal material.

    Problem.
    They rung in a ringer on me. A new poster joined the discussion, he appears to be either a Hebrew instructor or professor at BYU. He has posted several recent sources all of which, of course, support his argument.

    I am based in the Far East and do not have any English language university or public libraries for research. My sources consist of BDB, TWOT, and a Hebrew Grammar by Yates and Owens, all 20+ years old, some dated commentaries, MHC, JFB, K&D, Gill, etc. on my Bible programs and whatever is available online. He is using terms I am not familiar with. I would need someone very knowledgeable in current scholarship in Hebrew.
     
  2. paul hadik

    paul hadik
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    0
    OldShepherd:

    I am a moderator on one of the bigger LDS boards populated with quite a few BYU profs. While I can't help you with the Hebrew I can help you with the basis for the LDS teaching of eternal intelligence.
    One thing is the LDS like things to be clarified. Their belief in eternal intelligences, to them, answers the "knotty" problem of where does evil come from. They argue that if God truly knows all things, and He then created Lucifer knowing that he would sin, then it follows that God is the author of sin. But if Lucifer's intelligence always existed and God merely procreated a body for him then Lucifer's free agency is alone to blame for the introduction of evil into the universe.

    The will strongly argue that "bara" from Genesis is misunderstood by ex nihilo'ites.
     
  3. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Too bad I cannot use a Hebrew font here.

    Bara' is used a number of times it the OT - pretty much only when God is making something - often out of nothing.

    Usually to mold or fashion something gets the word 'asah.

    The distinction is of course blurry since bara' is also used about God forming something as well.

    Consider the large amount of extant near eastern mythologic literature. Moses here is trying to assert beyond a doubt that it was YHWH who made everything - from the beginning and from nothing.

    The grammar here can help you but won't 100% make the case - language is always plastic!!
     
  4. Helen

    Helen
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Helen2.gif>

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Messages:
    11,703
    Likes Received:
    1
    Charles is right about 'bara' being used only with God as the subject when it is the verb. It is a verb used ONLY in connection with actions by God in the Bible.

    In Genesis 1, it is used only on three different occasions. Every other time the verb 'asah' is used. When these two verbs are used in contradistinction to each other, the fact that 'asah' means 'formed from pre-existing materials' leaves 'bara' as ONLY meaning, by contrast, creation 'ex nihilo.'

    The three times this verb is used are

    Genesis 1:1 -- the creation ex nihilo of the time/matter/space continuum

    Genesis 1:21 -- the creation of organisms with nephesh, or soul, or the breath of life. (This can be roughly equated to unique individuality as expressed through a complex nervous system). This is absent in the world before this moment, as rocks, stars, water, and even plants are not living the way that complex animal life is, with not only personalities, but the ability to be trained as well as to relate to species other than their own.

    Genesis 1:27 -- the creation of man. Man is created in the image of God, and this was new in creation; not done before. Man is the only physical part of creation to have a spirit within a physical body.

    The body itself is formed from pre-existing materials, as mentioned in Genesis 2:7, and the nephesh is breathed into man by God in the same verse. Neither of those is new. But the spirit of man is new -- created ex nihilo as evidenced by the third use of the verb 'bara' in Genesis 1.

    To deny that these two verbs, 'bara' and 'asah' are being used in contrast to each other is to declare them synonymous and used randomly, neither of which is true.

    Hoping that will help a bit.
     
  5. Deacon

    Deacon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Messages:
    6,972
    Likes Received:
    129
    I agree with what has been written so far but would add that the root word for creation, (Bet-resh-aleph) is not a term exclusively reserved for creation out of nothing, for example, it is used for the creation of Israel (Isa 43:15).

    There are commentaries that would wholeheartedly agree with the BYO professor that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is not so clearly expressed in Genesis 1. But this doesn’t mean that God didn’t create all things out of nothing, the fact that God created that way is certainly implied by other OT passages which speak of His creating everything by his word and of His pre-existence before the world (Ps 148:5; Prov 8:22–27, Neh. 9:6…plenty of other verses too).
    The phrase, “heaven and earth” in Genesis 1:1 is a form of speech called a mirism, (it uses two opposite words to create a new expression). The phrase, “heaven and earth” means totality, everything, the whole kit and caboodle; God created the “universe”. It doesn’t matter about how big (or small) previous generations believed the universe to be, God created it all! Did anything exist before God? No! That would negate His transcendence over ALL creation and make the first chapters of Genesis almost meaningless. The Word of God expresses nothing less than a frank creationism.

    The New Testament book of Hebrews most clearly sets down the doctrine of creation out of nothing.
    (also see Romans 4:17)

    Still the idea that God works in an orderly, systematic and progressive way in His creation should not be foreign to students of His Word. God can use previously created matter to develop “a new creation”, as He did when creating Adam, as He does with every new believer.

    Rob
     
  6. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    The idea of creation ex nihilo is a tough one!

    I would maintain the the implication of "bara'" in the Pentateuch is that of God divinely creating something. The idea is to cause to exist that which did not exist. The uses in Isaiah and Psalms are more in terms of poetic parallelisms using other verbs such as "'asah" or "yatsar". There's a good discussion of this in TDOT.

    Regarding the idea of ex nihilo...

    Consider the Babylonian creation myths. These stories have in the beginning primordial monsters from whom all the erath was made. Marduk, the creator, began formal creation after his victory over these monsters - using their carcasses as some of his "raw materials" - ugh!

    Certainly Moses has intentionally included some similarities to the Babylonian myths so that the Israelites (having already heard these myths)would recognize that it was YHWH who was the creator and not Marduk. The reference to "the face of the deep" may be such a reference.

    But no matter how you slice it the point is that God made to exist that which did not exist!! So the idea is in essence "ex nihilo".

    The best commentary I've read on this is the work by Nahum Sarna. VERY GOOD explanations.
     
  7. Trotter

    Trotter
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/6412.jpg>

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2003
    Messages:
    4,815
    Likes Received:
    0
    OldShepard,

    If you allow the LDS to use their "holy books" (used VERY loosely, VERY loosely indeed), you have already lost the battle. The books that the Mormons hold up as equal to the Word of God are nothing more than the delusions of men who want to be God, and nothing more. Disregard them for what they are.

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  8. OldShepherd

    OldShepherd
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks everyone. Those responses will help. Here is this guy's first post. Notice how he relies on grammar to make his argument. And I have no way of affirming or refuting what he says, at this time.

    And to post Hebrew in the forum type where xxxx is a number from 1488 א thru 1514 ת
     
  9. OldShepherd

    OldShepherd
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
  10. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Old Shepherd,

    Some problems with this dude's translation. Particularly the phrase, "the earth being a desert and a wasteland, with darkness covering the surface of the abyss."

    He translates the Hebrew, &#1488&#1514&#1497&#1488
    as a dependent participle clause - the earth being. The KJB translation usuing English indicative mood is more correct.

    This is important since to use it as a participle gives the sense that he created stuff with the earth being formless - that's not the true sense of the passage.

    Also the reference to the derivation on Hebrew "tehom" from Tiamat is also not likely correct.
     
  11. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    OOPS,

    Sorry I messed up the Hebrew font! It's "haytah". [​IMG]
     
  12. OldShepherd

    OldShepherd
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    The LDS argue that God creating from preexistent, eternal matter is the true sense of the passage.

    Here is a little more on the Hebrew.

    Here is the Hebrew alphabet which displays across platforms without having a specific Hebrew font installed. It is a little labor intensive. Each letter requires seven key strokes, so I only use it for short quotes and single words. For example to print the Hebrew aleph, type &#1488; it will appear as א. You must have the &# before the 4 digit code no., and a semi-colon, at the end. Note I also use bold to make the Hebrew more visible.

    Type from left to right, the system will reverse whatever you type. For example, for Yeshua type, L to R, yod, shin, waw, ayin, and it will show correctly as ישוע

    &#1488;=א

    &#1489;= ב

    &#1490;= ג

    &#1491;= ד

    &#1492;= ה

    &#1493;= ו

    &#1494;= ז

    &#1495;= ח

    &#1496;= ט

    &#1497;= י

    &#1498;= ך

    &#1499;= כ

    &#1500;= ל

    &#1501;= ם

    &#1502;= מ

    &#1503;= ן

    &#1504;= נ

    &#1505;= ס

    &#1506;= ע

    &#1507;= ף

    &#1508;= פ

    &#1509;= ץ

    &#1510;= צ

    &#1511;= ק

    &#1512;= ר

    &#1513;= ש

    &#1514;= ת
     
  13. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hebrew syntax is a little tough at times. Don't look to any LDS "scholars" to know best! Thanx for the font thing! I assumed I had to type left to right and write the word backwards!
     
  14. OldShepherd

    OldShepherd
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Definitely not looking to LDS for the correct understanding of anything. If one tells me the time, I check my watch to make sure. But with the sources this guy is citing, I have no way of verifying, so the discussion is at an impasse.
     
  15. OldShepherd

    OldShepherd
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bumping this up. Hope to have more responses. Also I have a problem here, I cannot view the last post in any thread.
     
  16. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Old Shepherd,
    Left click on the message icon - it should show the post.
     

Share This Page

Loading...