Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Writing is glorifying the One who created the heavens and the earth - all things visible and invisible. The + signs in the diagram are for the invisible and the visible from black holes to suns to dark matter, from process to end product, the ending we are known as but which we ourselves long to know. See my diagram here.

So Genesis is not a psalm - but I have put it with the psalms. I am looking at this diagram spread out on an 11x17 piece of paper (I hate wasting paper so I am looking at an earlier version).

It is in 8 double columns - these are the obvious divisions of the text. The first five columns end with the familiar refrain - and there was evening and morning, ...

Column 6 is split into two since day 6 is so long being so full of words. Column 8 is the seventh day at the beginning of chapter 2. Notice how verse 4 - these are the accounts of the heavens and the earth when they were created - completes the circle from the first verse.

I have coloured each action of God with a roughly square box - green for create, deep red for speaking, bright yellow for seeing, deep blue for distinguishing, burnished gold for calling, maroon for making, sky blue for putting, fine gold for blessing, red for rest.

In this introductory - you know, if you never got farther than the introduction, you would have much of the whole! In this introductory section to the Hebrew Bible, God introduces himself by his works - they are better than newspaper headlines or a Herodian hotel.

You can learn some Hebrew from this diagram - but let it be for fun - and remember, I might be misleading you.

What does God do? He creates (בָּרָא bara') the heavens and the earth - and more, specifically (follow the blue connector to the green squares) , he created (וַיִּבְרָא vayivra) the great sea monsters - whoever wrote this work knew that whales were important. Create - make - is there a difference? Maybe the created are meant to respond. Ultimately and somewhat centrally in the text - he creates - three times it says that - the human.

Notice how the earth brings forth herbage and stuff and animals and creepy-crawlies and stuff. This is evolution, by the way - but I don't really want to go to that conversation. Some things are a real waste of time and energy. Get over it. How many days did it take? One (in the day that God created.) So if you have trouble with 3 in 1 - do the created order 7 in 1. And then rejoice that 'we count 300, but there is but one and that one ever' (borrowed from George Herbert, Easter).

I have been trying to see the structure of this text more clearly - I am not sure I have yet. The 7 are somewhat obvious. The 10 words - and God said - are also potentially a set of discriminatory markers. And so are the 6+ ki-tov - and it was good. And so are the refrains - and it was so וַיְהִי-כֵן vayehi-ken. Are these like level 1 2 and 3 headings or footings - to invite us into the structure?

It has always struck me that light was first - and it has a whole day. Light is so fundamental, the foundation of information. All that we do is dependent on it. Photons - massless, limiting our knowledge by their finite speed, forming time, yet for eons thought if thought at all to be of infinite speed (Aquinas - book 51 I think - not that I have had time to read Aquinas).

Day 2 - the surface. I deliberately chose a child's word - as if seeing the creation from the earth. The surface - which God made, see also: the two great lights, the beast of the earth after its kind, and the human (though also spoken of as created) - and both these latter are living beings - nephesh נֶפֶשׁ xayah חַיָּה. That's for those who have trouble with the soul of the beast. (Like I have trouble lining up letters to go left and right).

The surface plays a role in days 2, 4, and 5. Day 3 is given to the herbage - and it makes its place again in day 6 as food. There are other patterns, shades of meaning in light and darkness, day and night, morning and evening. The 'goods' (I thought of using goods instead of the rather flat 'work' in chapter 2) - the goods of day 3 - herbage, day 5 - fish, and day 6 - beasts and creepy-crawlies, are repeated in the exhortation to rule that is given to the human - and repeated again in the instruction concerning food. (Busy day).

There is much to say - but enough for now. I do not write commentary - too much like work. I only play.

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