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De Moor VIII:14: The Material Cause of Creation, Part 2

The Creation of Bodies is called the Second Creation, which followed the First Creation of Heaven and Earth accomplished in the first Beginning.  Now, as the First Creation was made out of Nothing absolutely and simply, which Nothing is also asserted to be of subject or matter:  so the Second Creation was made out of Nothing relatively, that is, in a certain respect, which Nothing is otherwise said to be of itself, or of the End to which, that is, of the thing that is produced.  The First Creation is called Immediate, because no Middle action comes between it and the thing produced:  the Second is called Mediate, because it was accomplished with the first Creation intervening, and with an intermediate unsuitable Matter produced in the first Moment, or that Terraqueous mass, called Formless, that is, unwieldy and devoid of all ornament, which Moses desired to express by his תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ, without form and void, in comparison with Jeremiah 4:23[1] and what things immediately follow; while from what thing immediately follow in Moses it is evident that, from the separation of the waters from the earth not yet accomplished, all visible things were one Abyss, as it were, covered with darkness; although we do not otherwise deny, that, as each and every corporeal thing has its own matter and form, so also this is not to be denied to this Terraqueous mass.  And so this Matter is called Formless, not absolutely and simply, as if it were free of all form, since whatever exists exists by its own form, and the form gives being to a thing; but relatively and comparatively, because it was yet without the elegant and exact form that is afterwards obtained.  Although the production of Bodies altogether diverse from that formless mass was not made out of absolute Nothingness, yet it is rightly called a Creation, because it was made out of Matter Unsuitable, according to the laws of Nature, to put on such a form, or to pass into such a state, into which it was translated by the Second Creation; since all generation is accomplished from a suitable subject, that is, naturally disposed to produce such an effect.  But it belongs to the same power, to produce something out of pure Nothing, and to compose something from a subject in no manner apt, and so conferring no less than mere Nothing to the existence of a thing newly to be produced from itself.  Thus, for example, Grain is the matter of the generation of Bread; but, whether you take a stone, or absolute Nothingness, it is all the same to a created power to form Bread from thence.

Now, that from that Unsuitable Mass they were produced, the Firmament, the upper and lower Waters, Plants, Animals, and the Human Body, learned Men observe out of the Mosaic history of the Creation.  But overly artificial and repugnant to the simplicity of the Mosaic history appears to be the distinction mentioned by MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus V, § 7, whereby Man is indeed acknowledge to be formed out of Earth; but in the case of the rest the Earth and Waters are to be considered as a termino à quo,[2] rather than a subjectum ex quo[3] of the production of those things that are said to have proceeded from them; because God did indeed command Herbs and Plants to sprout from the Earth, Birds and Fish to emerge from the Waters, Quadrapeds to walk upon the Earth:  but that God formed the Plants, Herbs, and Beasts from the Earth itself, or the Fish and Birds from the Water, Moses does not say, according to MARESIUS in the passage cited.  Inept, I say, is this bit of criticism; since, 1.  the words employed concerning the production of the rest of the bodily Creatures just now mentioned from Watter and Earth, no less lead us to the subject from which they were produced, than that וַיִּיצֶר, and He formed, Genesis 2:7, employed concerning Man.  2.  The same verb, וַיִּצֶר, and He formed, which MARESIUS was ignoring, is employed in Genesis 2:19 concerning the formation of every beast of the field and every fowl of the air מִן־הָאֲדָמָה, from the ground/earth.  But in the passage cited, note a, and in § 21, note h, MARESIUS indicates, that this is not so much his own, as PAREUS’[4] opinion, in whose works you will find the same in his Commentario on Genesis 1:12, page 40a, and on verse 20, page 47a.

The memory of the Chaos appears to have diffused hence to the Gentiles, which we were hearing OVID describing above, and concerning which more things were able to be read in his works, which everywhere they mention as the matter from which the individual creatures proceeded; but, not penetrating to the manner of the first production of that Chaos, they wrongly considered it as eternal and uncreated:  see BUDDEUS, Historia ecclesiastica Veteris Testamenti, period I, section I, § 2, tome I, pages 54b, 55.  Just as now, whence the Greeks may have drawn that term χάος/chaos, whether it was properly a vast expanse/chasm, from the ancient χάω[5] in the place of χαίνω, to gape, or verily χάος/chaos is used in the place of χύος, from χέω or χύω, to pour forth, just as PHILO[6] has it in de Incorruptibilitate Mundi, page 941, Τῶν δὲ Στωϊκῶν ἔνιοι χάος τὸ ὕδωρ οἴονται εἶναι, παρὰ τὴν χύσιν τοὔνομα πεποιῆσθαι νομίζοντες, but some of the Stoics think that the Chaos is water, imagining that its name has been derived from Effusion.  Perhaps that is better derived from the East, not so much from תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ, without form and void, but from the verb כָּהָה/cahah, to be dim, to indicate the Darkness that at the beginning of time was upon the face of the Deep, just as HESYCHIUS and the Glossarium Cyrilli also explain χάος as τὸ σκότος, the darkness.  But which CHRISTIAN SCHOTANUS,[7] in his Bibliothecæ Sacræ, tome I, page 25, asserts on book I of Sulpicius Severus’ Historiæ Sacræ,[8] chapter I, Diatribe II, the Syrian translation to have rendered חשֶׁךְ/darkness in Genesis 1:2 as כְּהָא:  in this the learned Man was mistaken, since the SYRIAC here has ܚܶܫܽܘܟ݂ܳܐ.  Among the Jews also, no less than the Gentiles, ὕλη ἄμορφος, amorphous matter, was known, from which the Omnipotent hand of God created the World, as it is in Wisdom of Solomon 11:17,[9] which I said in § 13 is able to be explained of the Second Creation; although SCHOTANUS, in his Bibliothecæ Sacræ, tome I, page 30, maintains that it is to be understood of the eternal and ungenerated Matter of the Gentile Philosophers:  It is to be observed, says he, that the Writer is apocryphal/spurious, a Jew of Egypt, imbued with Platonic opinions.  Whence I do not think that he used ὕλην ἄμορφον, amorphous matter, in the sense in which our men take it today; but as the Gentile Philsophers did, as eternal, not created, the other principium of things.  Concerning which I have no wish to contend with him.

Now, it less able to be admitted, that the same SCHOTANUS in the Diatribe cited traduces this opinion, concerning various Bodies produced through a Second Creation from that confused and inelegant Mass of the First Creation, as Semi-Hermogenian.  He writes, page 25, It is not able to said to what extent the consent of the Wise comes together into that opinion, futile and not suited to right reason, indeed, repugnant to right reason in my judgment, wherein it is established that the universe’s beauty and most commodious order, which we now discern, were distinguished and arranged by God as artificer from the confused and disordered mass of matter.  Again, page 28, Christians and Jews attribute to the Creator God, not only the ordering of prime matter, but also its very origin, as all well know:  and so the Hermeti do not give their assent unto the whole, but in part, that partly they determine and partly conceded, or dare not to deny, that with it there was some matter of the world from which it was constructed.  While at the end of the Diatribæ, page 32, after certain words of Tertullian were cited, he yet has:  These things said about Hermogenes by Tertullian will prevail upon Semi-Hermogenian Materialists, who maintain, as he did, that the Mosaic terms were led away from their proper sense to signify matter.  While he had already set down in Diatribe I, page 18, in explanation of Genesis 1:1:  Others, and those a great many, by the name of Heaven and Earth understand the chaos, that is, the rude and confused mass, which sort that Hermes, concerning whom we have spoken, has obtruded upon the world, from which, arranged into its own order, a better world emerged….  We shall expose, not only the falsity of this opinion, but also its foolish vanity, as being unworthy of God.

But, α.  with those that refer the Heavens and the Earth, mentioned in Genesis 1:1, to that unwieldy Matter of the Bodies thereafter to be drawn from it, and thus, as SCHOTANUS says, in the place cited, page 30, confound the Heaven of God and of the blessed with the earth, we have nothing in common; with our AUTHOR in § 24 below understanding by that Heaven the highest Heaven, the third Heaven, distinct in its first producted from that formless Terraqueous Mass and then perfected.  β.  If Schotanus should undertake such an opinion to be confuted, which asserts that certain bodies were next produced at the beginning of the first day, but that all those things were mixed together in the one Chaos, from which, through the remaining time of the six days, were brought forth into the light one after another through the separation of that disordered mass, comprehending all things confusedly in its embrace:  he will not find us strenuously opposing, who believe that the Earth and Waters indeed, not yet separated from each other, were next brought forth:  but whatever trees, fish, birds, and animals, we think to have thereafter been formed individually by God out of that Mass, unsuitable in itself for this end, although now more separated, one thing from another, and with the Waters and the Earth each assigned their own place.  γ.  Now, with the opinion of Hermogenes that has nothing in common, since we altogether deny the Eternity and Existence of Matter before the Mosaic beginning.  δ.  Neither do we thus find outselves arguing with Moses, who in Genesis 1:1 next says that the Heavens and the Earth were indeed created, yet then asserts that the Earth was not fitted out with that ornamented and elegant form, which it thereafter receives through the created Firmament, the Waters separated from Earth, and the many individual creatures brought forth from the earth, which were able to renders its appearance diverse and pleasing.  ε.  Neither is this opinion as repugnant to Right Reason, as Schotanus promises to demonstrate:  for it is not able to be said, 1.  that thus the Perfection of the Divine Work is not sufficiently acknowledged, to which conclusion tend those things that he has on page 31, since all things were at length brought to perfection by Creation absolute, not inchoate.  2.  Nor is there any prejudice to the divine Power:  since we do not deny that God was able to perfect all things out of absolute Nothingness, if he had willed to do so immediately in the first moment; but we place our faith in the Mosaic history, which relates that the matter was otherwise by the Will of God, so that thus we might be better taught the magnitude of the work, and the nexus and end of things.

[1] Jeremiah 4:23:  “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void (וְהִנֵּה־תֹ֖הוּ וָבֹ֑הוּ); and the heavens, and they had no light.”

[2] That is, the border/limit from which.

[3] That is, a subject out of which.

[4] David Pareus (1548-1622) was a German Calvinist, serving the Reformed Church as a minister, churchman, and professor.  He wrote a number of commentaries on the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and they were held in high estimation among the Reformed.  His Commentarius in Epistolam ad Romanos was burned publicly at Oxford and Cambridge in 1622 by order of the Privy Council of James I because of his comments on Romans 13, in which he upholds the right of resistance to tyranny.

[5] Χάω signifies to swallow up.

[6] Philo was a first century Jewish scholar of Alexandria, Egypt.  He is noted for his synthesis of Greek philosophy and Jewish theology.  With respect to exegesis, Philo indulges freely in allegorization.

[7] Christian Schotanus (1603-1671) was a Reformed pastor, theologian, and philologist.  At Franeker, he served first as Professor of Greek (1639-1644), and then as Professor of Theology (1644-1671).  He wrote a Hebrew Grammar and an Old Testament History.

[8] Sulpicius Severus (c. 360-425) was a member of the Roman senatorial aristocracy, who renounced all for the monastic life.  He wrote the first biography of Martin of Tours and the Chronicorum Libri Duo (or Historia Sacra), providing a history from the creation to 400 AD.  Drusius produced an annotated edition of his works.

[9] Wisdom of Solomon 11:17:  “For thy Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form (ἐξ ἀμόρφου ὕλης), wanted not means to send among them a multitude of bears or fierce lions…”

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
11 thg 12, 2023
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