top of page

De Moor VIII:2: The Term, "Creation": Part 1

Perhaps CREATION was so called from the Hebrew קָרָא/qara, to call. In his Compendio our AUTHOR makes mention of various other conjectures concerning the Etymology of the Latin term, Creatio, and verb, Creo, which one may find in MARTINIUS’[1]Lexico philologico and VOSSIUS’[2] Etymologico Linguæ Latinæ: in such a way that it might be derived, 1. either from κρέω/creo, I command, whence is κραίνω/ craino, I command, because God created all things by His order and command, Psalm 33:9. MARTINIUS says that this is still closer than any other that he had set down before. But VOSSIUS: We do not think that it is from κρέω/creo, I command, since that signifies something else. Or, 2. from χεὶρ/cheir/hand, concerning which MARTINIUS says: “Not ineptly, I think, will this be referred to χεῖρες/hands. By His hands, that is, by His power God made made and molded all things, Psalm 102:25; and our hands are a sort of image of divine power, with which we construct all things.” Or, 3. from κερῶ/cero,[3] which is τελειῶ, to complete/accomplish, in HESYCHIUS.[4] Or, 4. From κρέας/kreas/flesh, according to PEROTTUS,[5] writing: “From κρέας/kreas/flesh comes Creo, I create, which signifies I produce, I make flesh, as it were.” Which, as MARTINIUS mentions, SCALIGER[6] follows in his Theophrasti de plantis, book I, where at the same time he forms κρέας/kreas/flesh from κράσει/krasei, that is, compounding, temperature. But VOSSIUS: “We do not agree with the opinion of Perottus, that it is from κρέας/kreas/flesh, so that creo, I create, might properly be carnem facio, I make flesh.” Or, 5. from בָּרָא/bara, to create, which is the opinion of VOSSIUS himself: “It appears to be from בָּרָא/bara, to create, which denotes the same thing. I understand that the mutation of the letter B into C appears somewhat harsh. But it is to be understood, that this is not unusual. For the Ionians similarly change Π/P into Κ/K, as in πῶς/pos/how, κῶς/kos/ how…. And the Latins also say scintilla/spark, instead of spintilla, from σπινθὴρ/spinther/spark; likewise linquo, I leave, from λίμπω/limpo, instead of λείπω/leipo, I leave.” But perhaps in preference to all these, 6. that conjecture, which our AUTHOR adds, could give satisfaction, when he says: or rather from קָרָא/kara of the Hebrews, which denotes calling: in which the agreement of the letters is greater than if you refer it to בָּרָא/ bara, to create; neither would you poorly reconcile this Etymology of the word Creo, I create, with the thing signified, seeing that in this way the manner of Creation is brought back into mind for us, concerning which the Apostle speaks in Romans 4:17, Θεοῦ—καλοῦντος τὰ μὴ ὄντα ὡς ὄντα, God…who calleth those things which be not as though they were: compare also ROSSAL,[7]de Christo per errorem in Chrestum mutato, chapter XVIII, page 126.

To this corresponds, not only the verb בָּרָא/bara, to create, or κτίζειν/ktidzein, to create, but also עָשָׂה, to make, or ποιεῖν, to make. Besides the verb קָנָה/kanah, to acquire, which is done in various ways, no less rightly through Creation than Generation, whence also it is applied to Creation in Genesis 14:19;[8] and besides the verbs יָלַד, to bear, הֹלִיד, to beget, and חוֹלֵל, to bring forth, which, although properly pertaining to Generation and birth, are improperly also used of Creation, Psalm 90:2;[9] Job 26:13,[10] together with the paronymic word תּוֹלְדֹת/generations in Genesis 2:4, see below in § 10: are provided three more proper terms in this business, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, בָּרָא/κτίζειν/creare, to create; עָשָׂה/ποιεῖν/facere, to do, whence is the Hebrew passive נַעֲשָׂה, in the place of which in Greek is used the verb γίνεσθαι, to become; יָצַר, πλάσσειν or πλάττειν, to form. Those three Hebrew terms are distinctly conjoined in Isaiah 45:18,[11] and also in a more metaphorical and spiritual sense in Isaiah 43:7,[12] on which passage consult VRIEMOET’S[13] Adnotationes ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, part II, chapter XII, pages 284-288. These three terms are distinguished chiefly in this way, that to make is general, not in any way restricted to the work of Creation or to this or that part of it; to form has regard to external elegance; and to create denotes the all-powerful production of a new work. Thus Michlol-Jophi[14] on Genesis 1:1 observes בְּרִיאָה/creation to differ from יְצִירָה/formation in this, that in that latter is something substantial, to which only form is wanting; but the former does not require pre-existing subject matter. In the same on Genesis 1:27,[15] the three terms just now mention are also distinguished in this manner: אין לשון יצירה נופל על הנפש כי איננה גוף אבל לשון בריאה וכן לשון מעשה נופל בין על מה שאיננו גוף בין על מה שהוא גוף׃, that is, the term יצירה/Jetzira/formation does not apply to the soul, because that is not a body, but rather the term בריאה/creation: and thus the term מעשה/work applies as much to that which is not a body, as to that which is a body. At the same time, in Sacred Scripture those words in the present matter are exchanged and used promiscuously; in which עָשָׂה, to make, is quite frequently used in general concerning Creation, Psalm 33:6;[16] 121:2,[17] in which in the Chaldean it is עֲבַד, to work, to do; Jeremiah 10:11;[18] in the same matter יָצַר, to form, is also found to have been used concerning the production of the soul in Zechariah 12:1.[19] But, when עָשָׂה, to make, is joined with בָּרָא, to create, and יָצַר, to form; a κλίμακος/ climax is thus reached by degrees from the latter words to that עָשָׂה, to make, so that עָשָׂה does not appear simply to denote to make, but to sum up, to consummate a work begun, to put a period to it; see Genesis 2:3;[20] Isaiah 43:7; 46:11.[21]

We observe this against the Socinians, who in John 1:3 maintain that the Creation is not noted; so that they might remove the glory of the true Creation from Christ, and deny His pre-existence before the Mosaic Creation, and through their human Gospel leave Him only the praise of I know not what ineffectual Innovation: see Socinus’[22] Explicationem primæ partæ of John 1, tome I, opera, pages 77-80; Schlichting’s[23] Commentarium in John 1:1, 3, opera, tome I, pages 2-6; Wolzogen[24] Commentarium in John 1:1, 3, opera, pages 714-717, compared with the Prolegomenis, chapters IV, V, pages 704-706. Nevertheless, since it is treated in that context, α. of the first Beginning of things; compare verses 1, 2, ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, etc., in the beginning was the Word, etc., which expression ἐν ἀρχῇ, in the beginning, here manifestly has regard to the Mosaic בְּרֵאשִׁית, in the beginning, and from the context differs much from the beginning recounted by Luke, Luke 1:2, where are mentioned οἱ ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ Λόγου, those that were from the beginning eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, as those that had delivered the argument of the Gospel to Luke. β. And of absolutely All Things that were made, πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἓν ὃ γέγονεν, all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thin made that was made. γ. Even the World, which knew Him not, acknowledged Him not, received Him not, which hence was not begotten again by Him, verses 10, 11. δ. And it is evident from the context, that the Incarnation of the eternal Word followed long afterwards, verse 14. ε. And, just as John here makes use of the term Λόγου/Logos/Word and the general verb γίνεσθαι, to be made, when he speaks of the Creation of all things through the Son of God; so these things similarly come together in Psalm 33:6, בִּדְבַ֣ר יְ֭הוָה שָׁמַ֣יִם נַעֲשׂ֑וּ, by the Word of Jehovah were the heavens made: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XXXVI, Part VI, Exercitation, § 3, 6, 7, compared with § 12; ARNOLDI’S[25]Refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter I de Cognitione Personæ Christi, questions 9, 10, page 52, § XLVIII-LII, LV-LXXI, pages 187-195, likewise on questions 33-37, pages 72-78, § CXCVI-CCXV, pages 243-252.

Moreover, the Kabbalistic games on the word בָּרָא, to create, etc.; see MAJUS’[26] Synopsin Theologiæ Judaicæ, locus III, § 2: compare also above, Part 1 on Chapter II, § 38.

[1] Matthias Martinius (1572-1630) was a German Reformed Theologian and educator. He was instrumental in the founding of the Gymnasium at Bremen, and taught Johannes Cocceius. [2] Gerhard Johann Vossius (1577-1649) was a Dutch classical scholar and theologian. In 1619, his Historia Pelagiana brought him into suspicion of Arminianism. [3] Κερῶ can signify to cut down or destroy, or to hew out. [4] Hesychius of Alexandria (fifth century AD) composed a Greek lexicon of almost fifty-one thousand entries, filled with explanations of rare and obscure words and phrases. [5]Niccolò Perotti (1429-1480) was an Italian humanist, educator, Archbishop (of Siponto), and Papal Governor and Diplomat. His Rudimenta Grammatices was one of the earliest and most popular grammars of Renaissance Latin. [6] Julius Cæsar Scaliger (1484-1558) was Italian humanist scholar and physician, father of Joseph Justus Scaliger. He commented on Theophrastus’ De causis plantarum and Aristotle’s History of Animals. [7] Michael Rossal (1674-1744) served as the librarian of the University of Groningen from 1727 to 1744. [8] Genesis 14:19: “And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor (קֹנֵה) of heaven and earth…” [9] Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth (יֻלָּדוּ), or thou hadst formed (וַתְּחוֹלֵל) the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” [10] Job 26:13: “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed (חֹלֲלָה) the crooked serpent.” [11] Isaiah 45:18: “For thus saith the Lord that created (בּוֹרֵא) the heavens; God himself that formed (יֹצֵר) the earth and made it (וְעֹשָׂהּ); he hath established it, he created it (בְרָאָהּ) not in vain, he formed it (יְצָרָהּ) to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” [12] Isaiah 43:7: “Even every one that is called by my name: and for my glory I have created him, I have formed him; yea, I have made himבְּרָאתִ֑יו יְצַרְתִּ֖יו) אַף־עֲשִׂיתִֽיו׃).” [13] Emo Lucius Vriemoet (1699-1760) was a Dutch Reformed Theologian and Orientalist, serving as Professor of Oriental Languages at Franeker. [14] Shelomoh ben Melech was a Spanish Jew, living in Constantinople, where he penned Michlol-Jophi, The Perfection of Beauty (1554), a detailed commentary upon the Hebrew Bible. [15] Genesis 1:27: “So God created (וַיִּבְרָ֙א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀) man in his own image, in the image of God created he (בָּרָא) him; male and female created he (בָּרָא) them.” [16] Psalme 33:6: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made (נַעֲשׂוּ; איתעבידו, in the Chaldean); and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” [17] Psalm 121:1: “My help cometh from the Lord, which made (עֹשֵׂה; דעבד, in the Chaldean) heaven and earth.” [18] Jeremiah 10:11: “Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made (לָ֣א עֲבַ֑דוּ) the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” [19] Zechariah 12:1: “The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth (וְיֹצֵר) the spirit of man within him.” [20] Genesis 2:3: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made (אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃).” [21] Isaiah 46:11: “Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it (אַף־דִּבַּ֙רְתִּי֙ אַף־אֲבִיאֶ֔נָּה יָצַ֖רְתִּי אַף־אֶעֱשֶֽׂנָּה׃).” [22] Fausto Paolo Sozzini, or Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), was the father of Socinianism, a rationalistic heresy (denying the Deity of Christ, the satisfaction theory of the atonement, etc.), an aberration of the Reformation. [23] Jonas Schlichting (1592-1661) was a theologian of the Socinian Polish Brethren. He wrote commentaries on most of the books of the New Testament, including the Gospel of John. [24] Johann Ludwig von Wolzogen (1599-1661) was an Austrian noble (Baron of Tarenfeldt and Freiherr of Neuhäusel), and Socinian theologian. He also distinguished himself as an exegete by his commentaries on the Gospels, Acts, James, and Jude. [25] Nicolaus Arnoldi (1618-1680) was Professor of Theology at Franeker (1651-1680). [26] Johann Heinrich Majus, Senior (1653-1719) was a German Lutheran philologist, theologian, and historian. He served as Professor of Theology at Giessen (1688-1719).

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 14, 2023
bottom of page