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From: Genesis 1:1-19
The Creation Account
 And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  And God saw that
the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called
the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there
was morning, one day.
 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it
separate the waters from the waters.”  And God made the firmament and se-
parated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were
above the firmament. And it was so.  And God called the firmament Heaven.
And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into
one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry
land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And
God saw that it was good.  And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation,
plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each ac-
cording to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so.  The earth brought forth
vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing
fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was
good.  And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to se-
parate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for
days and years,  and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to
give light upon the earth.” And it was so.  And God made the two great lights,
the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made
the stars also.  And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give
light upon the earth,  to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate
the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was
evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
1:1-2:4a. Creation is the beginning of salvation history and the foundation on
which are built God’s salvific plans, which reach their climax in Jesus Christ.
The biblical accounts of creation focus on the action of God; it is he who sets
the scene and he is the creator, too, of those who will act out the drama and
with whom he will enter into dialogue.
The sacred text incorporates ancient traditions about the origin of the world;
scholars identify two separate accounts in the early chapters of Genesis. The
first of these emphasizes God’s transcendence over all created things, and is
written in a very schematic style; this account (1:1-2:4a) is attributed to the
“Priestly” tradition. The second, which also covers the fall and the expulsion
from paradise, speaks of God in an anthropomorphic way; this more vivid, more
popular account (2:4b-4:26) is considered to belong to the “Yahwistic” tradition.
Here we have two different ways in which the Word of God (not intending to pro-
vide a scientific explanation of the origin of the world and of man) expounds the
basic facts and truths on the subject in a way people can readily understand,
inviting us to see the greatness and love of God manifested first in creation and
then in the history of mankind. “Our faith teaches us,” St. Josemaria Escriva
writes, “that all creation, the movement of the earth and the other heavenly bo-
dies, the good actions of creatures and all the good that has been achieved in
history, in short everything, comes from God and directed toward him” (”Christ
Is Passing By”, 130).
In the first account the Bible offers profound teaching about God, about man and
about the world. About God, who is the only God, creator of all things and man
in particular; he transcends the created world and is its supreme master. About
man, who is the image and likeness of God, above all other created beings and
placed in the world to rule all creation. About the world, which is something good
and is at the service of man.
1.1. “Three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God
gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is Creator (the
verb ‘create’ — Hebrew “bara” — always has God for its subject). The totality of
what exists (expressed by the formula ‘the heavens and the earth’) depends on
the One who gives it being” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 290).
“In the beginning” means that creation marks the start of time and the course of
history. Time and history have a beginning and they are headed towards a final
goal, which the Bible will tell us more about, especially in its last book, Revela-
tion. At the end, we are told: ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the
first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more”
God the Creator is the same God as will manifest himself to the patriarchs, to
Moses and to the prophets and make himself known to as through Jesus Christ.
In the light of the New Testament we know that God created all things through
his eternal Word, his beloved Son (cf. Jn 1:1; Col 1:16-17). God the Creator is
Father and Son and (the relationship of love between them) the Holy Spirit. Cre-
ation is the work of the Blessed Trinity, and all of creation (particularly man,
created in the image and likeness of God) in some way bears their seal. Some
Fathers of the Church (Augustine, Ambrose and Basil, for example), in the light
of the New Testament, saw the words “in the beginning” as having a deeper
meaning — namely, “in the Son”.
The “action of creating” belongs exclusively to God; man cannot create; he can
only “change” or “develop” something that already exists. In the creation ac-
counts of other Near East religions the world and gods developed out of preexis-
tent matter. The Bible, however, records gradual revelation of the mystery of cre-
ation interpreted in the light of God’s choice of Israel and his covenant with man-
kind; it roundly asserts that everything was made by God. Later on it will draw
the conclusion that everything was created out of nothing: “I beseech you, my
child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see everything that is in them,
and to recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed” (2 Mac
7:28). This creative power of God is also able to give sinful man a pure heart (cf.
Ps 51:12), to restore the dead to life and to give the light of faith to those who
do not know him (cf. 2 Cor 4:6).
It was God’s love and wisdom that moved him to create the world, thereby com-
municating his goodness and making his glory manifest. The world, therefore,
“is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We
believe that it proceeds from God’s free will; he wanted to make his creatures
share in his being, wisdom and goodness” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”,
The expression “the heavens and the earth” means everything that exists. The
earth is the world of men; the sky (or the heavens) can mean the firmament or
the divine world, God’s own “place”, his glory and all spiritual (non-material)
creatures — the angels.
1:2. The Bible teaches not just that God created all things, but also that the se-
paration and ordering of the elements of nature is something established by God
once and for all. The presence of the loving power of God, symbolized by a gen-
tle breeze or a breath (the text refers to it as a spirit; “ruah” in Hebrew) which ho-
vers and keeps watch over the world when it is still in chaos, shows that, as the
text will go on to say, the Word of God and his Breath are present in the origin
of being and in the origin of every creature’s life. That is why many Fathers of the
Church (Jerome and Athanasius, for example) saw this passage as reflecting
the presence of the Holy Spirit as a divine Person who, along with the Father and
the Son, is at work in the creation of the world, “This biblical concept of creation”,
John Paul II explains, “includes not only the call to existence of the very being
of the cosmos, that is to say, “the giving of existence”, but also the presence of
the Spirit of God in creation, that is to say, the beginning of God’s salvific self-
communication to the things he creates. This is true “first of all concerning man”,
who has been created in the image and likeness of God” (”Dominum Et Vivifican-
1:3-5. At this point strictly speaking begins the description of the creation, which,
according to the literary plan of this account, is going to take place over six days.
These six days are meant to indicate the orderliness with which God went about
his work, and to show a rhythm of work and rest: the Jewish Law laid down Satur-
day, the sabbath, as a day of rest and a day dedicated to the Lord. In the Chris-
tian Church this day was shifted to Sunday, because Sunday was the day on
which our Lord rose from the dead, thereby inaugurating the new Creation: Sun-
day, the “dies dominica” (Latin), the Lord’s day.
On the first day God creates light and separates light from darkness (the latter,
being something negative—the absence of light—cannot be created). Light is seen
here as being a thing in its own right (without reference to the fact that daylight
comes from the sun, which will not be created until the fourth day). The fact that
God puts names on things (or in this case on situations caused by some ele-
ments being separated from others) indicates that he wields absolute power over
them. God is in authority, whether it be day or night.
Here we meet for the first time a phrase which is going to be used seven times
over the course of the narrative: “And God saw that it was good.” This means
that everything that God creates is good because in some way it bears his seal
and shares in his own goodness, for it has come from divine goodness. The good-
ness of the world proclaimed here by Holy Scripture has important consequences
for the Christian: “We must love the world and work and all human things. For the
world is good. Adam’s sin destroyed the divine balance of creation; but God the
Father sent his only Son to re-establish peace, so that we, his children by adop-
tion, might free creation from disorder and reconcile all things to God” (St. J. Es-
criva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 112).
1:6-8. In line with the culture of their time, the early Hebrews thought that rain
came from huge containers of water in the vault of heaven; when trapdoors were
opened, the rain poured down. When it says here that God separated the water
which were above the firmament from those below, what is really being taught is
that God imposed order on the natural world and is responsible for the phenome-
non of rain. It is also making it clear from the outset that the firmament must not
be thought to involve any divinity (as was believed in the nations roundabout
Israel); the firmament is part of the created world.
1:11. As the inspired author depicts here, a distinction is made between God’s
action in separating and ordering the elements (creating the vast spaces of sky,
sea and land) and his action of filling or adorning these spaces with different
kinds of creatures. These creatures introduced in an increasing order of dignity
(in line with the thinking of the time)—first the vegetable kingdom, then the stellar
kingdom, and, lastly, the animal kingdom. Everything is perfectly arranged; the
world of Creation invites to contemplate the Creator.
1:14-17. Against the neighboring religions, which regarded the heavenly bodies
as divinities exerting influence over human life, the biblical author, enlightened
by inspiration, teaches that the sun, moon and stars are simply created things;
their purpose is to serve man by giving him light by day and night, and to be a
way of measuring time. Put in their proper, natural place heavenly bodies (like
all the rest of creation) lead man to appreciate the greatness of God, and to
praise him for his awesome works: “The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork...” (Ps 19:1; cf. Ps 104). It follows
that all forms of divination are to be rejected—consulting horoscopes, astrology,
clairvoyance etc. (cf. “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 2116).
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.