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De Moor VIII:3: The Term, "Creation": Part 2

The term Creation is sometimes extended actively to Men; and then it denotes, either simply to make, or to do with care: thus PLAUTUS[1] in Pœnulo, act III, scene II, verse 9, makes mention of men, who create quarrels. The same in Milite glorioso, act II, scene III, verse 23, says: Hence thou art now creating a deadly fraud for thy legs and head. CICERO, in Verrem 2, chapter XXXVII: He began to exhort men, that they should create some danger against Sthenius, and fashion some charge. Or, to constitute through votes: CICERO, book III de Legibus, chapter X, While ten are created, wilt thou find in all memory no tribunes pernicious? CÆSAR, book VII de Bello Gallico, chapter XXXII, That, although single magistrates were wont in former times to be created, and to obtain royal power annually, two were bearing magistracy; and each was saying that he was created by their laws. Thus academic Doctors are said to be created. Or, to generate and to procreate: CICERO, book III de Legibus, chapter VIII, It was child, conspicuous for deformity, created in a brief time, and born much uglier and fouler. LIVY, book I Ab Urbe Condita, chapter III, He created Æneas Silvius; he in turn created Latinius Silvius.[2] PHÆDRUS,[3] book I, fable VI, verse 9, What then is going to happen, if he should create offspring? on which passage BURMANN[4] observes that this verb is also used of women.

And from this use of the verb בָּרָא, bara, to create, appears to have flowed both the Chaldean בר/bar, denoting a Son, and the Latin parere, to bear, and the Dutch baaren/bear: compare THEODOR HASE,[5]Bibliotheca Bremensi, classis VI, fascicule I, chapter VI, § 7-10, pages 142-146, from whom, with respect to the origin of the term בר/bar/son, GERHARD OUTHOF dissents, Bibliotheca Bremensi, classis VIII, fascicle I, chapter VIII, § 13-19, pages 107-116, where he derives it from ברה, to choose, so that it might denote originally a choice son, a select offspring, distinguished from one following after: but on whose dissertation HASE observes, pages 114, 115, If it be agreeable to the Illustrious Author to weigh carefully the things that I have discussed in this Bibliotheca, Classis VI, Fascicule I, concerning the origin of this term…I hardly doubt that he would derive that rather from a root that denotes to beget offspring, to be fruitful, TO BEAR, than from that which signifies to choose.

But the language of Creation attributed to God, α. is also transferred to Providence, which is, as it were, a continued Creation, and also furnishes a manifest demonstration of divine Power, Isaiah 45:7;[6] Psalm 104:30.[7] Among the works of Providence this term is referred especially to the Providence conspicuous in the wonted Generation of men, Ezekiel 21:30.[8] β. It κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, pre-eminently, describes a special demonstration of divine Providence in Unaccustomed Works, Numbers 16:30. γ. Moreover, it metaphorically denotes the Reformation, both of the whole world, begun in the grace of the New Testament, and to be consummated in glory, Isaiah 65:17, compared with 2 Peter 3:13, and in my Disputatione Theologica de Adventu Christi memorato 2 Peter 1:16, § II, III: and of Elect individuals in Regeneration, concerning which below in Chapter XXVIII, § 2-6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 51:10. δ. But here it signifies the first Fabrication of the World, begun more strictly with respect to the mass produced out of Nothing, and continued in the most apt Arrangement of the Formless Matter within the first hexameron.

By the force of the term, received in its fullest signification, you would rightly assert that it asserts the Production out of Nothing, or, what is the same thing, Production by Command alone. Concerning the original notion of the verb בָּרָא/bara, to create, it is not agreeable to dispute, which from a comparison with the Arabism learned Men constitute in the roughing and hewing out by the hand of the Craftsman, and the polishing to a perfect sheen: that this force of the verb was not unknown to the Hebrews, the use of it in the Piel form proves, both the proper use, Joshua 17:15,[9] 18,[10] in which Joshua wills, that the sons of Joseph in the designated place rough out for themselves, that is, prepare the place for themselves with axes, picks, and other tools of the workman: וּבֵרֵאתָ֤ לְךָ֙ שָׁ֔ם, etc.: and improper and more metaphorical, Ezekiel 23:47,וּבָרֵ֥א אוֹתְהֶ֖ן בְּחַרְבוֹתָ֑ם , and they shall cut them down with their swords, where we have an Infinitive Piel with the signification of cutting down, properly of hacking and hewing with swords, with that same use whereby PLAUTUS is observed to said, to hack the entrails of one, in the place of to punish one savagely, in Menæchmi, act V, scene II, verse 106, I will take a two-edged ax, and I will debone this old man, then I will hack his entrails into pieces. In this manner, in a far more eminent sense, the verb בָּרָא/bara, to create, was transferred to the Creator God, since in Creation He roughed out, brought forth, and bestowed care upon all things in a most perfect manner. Of course, a human craftsman finds already existing material for refinement, and human strength and hands proceed from the rude to the polished, with fit instruments intervening; but the divine hand in Creation both produces, and refines, having need of no pre-existing material, no instruments.

But concerning this, as I do not wish to contend, where the matter is so plain, so also it is not agreeable to quarrel, whether בָּרָא/ bara, to create, is more properly explained of the Production of a thing out of Nothing, or of Production by Command alone. COCCEIUS[11] professes himself more attached to the latter opinion, Summa Theologiæ, locus VI, chapter XV, § 4, 5, opera, tome 7, page 189: Creation is the bringing forth of a new thing by command: etc. For, it is not as it is observed by the Doctors of the Hebrews, that Creation precisely signifies הוצאת יש מאין, the production of a thing which is of nothing. For Ibn Ezra[12] for good reason sets in opposition Genesis 1:21, and God created great whales. And so it is not necessary to distinguish between Creation mediate and immediate; as if in all Creation there is a reference to Nothing: since it signifies nothing but a leading from non-being to being through calling or the motion of the will, or of command, as Ambrose speaks, or a νεῦμα/nod, as Cyril says. With whom compare HEIDEGGER,[13]Corpore Theologiæ Christianæ, locus VI, § 2: The Hebrew term בָּרָא/bara, to create, in its first origin, with the more learned Hebrews also acknowledging it, signifies, not הוצאת יש מאין, the production of a thing out of nothing, but חדוש/production, and a certain birth of a new thing, as it is evident out of Psalm 51:10, where בָּרָא and חָדַשׁ are joined παραλλήλως, in parallel.[14] But MEYERUS stands for the former opinion, Oratione de Origine Universi, pages 18, 19: “The verb בָּרָא/bara, to create, used in Genesis 1:1, in its native, proper, and primary signification denotes the Production of a Thing out of Nothing, in this form attributed to God alone, never to creatures, in favor of which opinion the chief Doctors lend their voices; although it is taken metaphorically and improperly concerning the production of a thing out of pre-existing material, just as Moses himself a little further on makes use of this very term for creation concerning the generation of whales and man, verses 21,[15] 27[16]…. All these things are to me certain and beyond question.” The same MEYERUS, in his Fundamento Theologiæ, part I, book III, chapter III, § 4, 5, by multiple examples proves that the excellent Doctors of the Hebrews were also of this opinion, concerning the term בָּרָא properly indicating Production out of Nothing. To Meyerus join MAJUS, Synopsi Theologiæ Judaicæ, locus III, § 5, where he affirms that the term בָּרָא clearly indicates Production of things out of Nothing, inasmuch as it, with the Hebrews affirming with one mouth, if perhaps you might except Ibn Ezra, signifiesהוצאת היש מן האין, the production of a thing out of nothing: see the many things found in that place. It is at least evident, that sometimes this verb is extended more broadly to the many Works produced by divine command, than to those things that obtain their existence out of Nothing through Creation; but, 1. it is asked, when it is used of divine Works, whether it is primarily and most properly attached to Creation, but secondarily and metaphorically to other divine Works on account of a certain agreement that they have with Creation. 2. It is certain that God’s omnipotent Decree and Command is seen in a more illustrious manner in no work than in the Production of a thing by divine Command out of pure Nothingness.

But, as בָּרָא in the Qal is attributed to God alone, so it always denotes a Work in which divine Power shines forth in an extraordinary manner. Therefore, if the verb בָּרָא in the Sacred Codex does not absolutely denote Production out of Nothing, although sometimes it be used concerning that also, “yet such production,” as I say with the Most Illustrious VRIEMOET, Adnotationibus ad Dicta Classica Veteris Testamenti, part I, chapter V, page 219, “it shall denote, what comes to pass by the nod and command of the consummately powerful divine will, whereby He produces something new, whether in its very matter, or at least its form, either specific,[17] or also individual, not previously existing. Which notion agrees with all the passages (thus the celebrated Man continues) of the Sacred Codices, wherein this verb is used, whether concerning the first Creation of all things, properly so called; or concerning the preservation of mankind through generation; or again of creation improperly so called, which is done through miracles, whereby certain new things are produced beyond the normal laws of nature; or even spiritually, no less by marvelous divine power, through the renewing of man’s mind.”[18] On Creation, HILARY most aptly conjoined a consideration of divine Power with Production out of nothing, libro de Synodis, chapter XVII, column 1161, “Now, Creation takes its beginning from the power of the Creator, that is, from the powerful Creator, to make the Creature out of Nothing…. For the Creator has no need of the passion either of intercourse or of parturition. For, what is created out of Nothing begins to be at a particular moment. And the Creator brings to pass according to His power what He makes: and Creation is a work of power, not the birth of nature from begetting nature.”

[1] Titus Maccius Plautus (254-184 BC) was a Roman playwright. Only twenty-one of his nearly one hundred and thirty comedies survive. [2] Æneas Silvius is said to have been a descendant of Æneas, and to have reigned over Alba Latium about 1100 BC. Latinius Silvius was his son and successor. [3] Gaius Julius Phædrus (first century AD) was a collector of fables, and the first to render some of Æsop’s fables into Latin verse. [4] Pieter Burmann (1668-1741) was the Professor of History, Greek, and Eloquence at the University of Leiden (1715-1741). He also served as Librarian. [5] Theodor Hase (1682-1731) was a Reformed theologian and philologist. He served as Professor of Theology at Bremen from 1708 to 1731. [6] Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things (יוֹצֵ֥ר אוֹר֙ וּבוֹרֵ֣א חֹ֔שֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂ֥ה שָׁל֖וֹם וּב֣וֹרֵא רָ֑ע אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה עֹשֶׂ֥ה כָל־אֵֽלֶּה׃).” [7] Psalm 104:30: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are createdתְּשַׁלַּ֣ח ר֭וּחֲךָ) יִבָּרֵא֑וּן): and thou renewest the face of the earth.” [8] Ezekiel 21:30: “Shall I cause it to return into his sheath? I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created (בִּמְק֧וֹם אֲשֶׁר־נִבְרֵ֛את), in the land of thy nativity.” [9] Joshua 17:15: “And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there (וּבֵרֵאתָ֤ לְךָ֙ שָׁ֔ם) in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.” [10] Joshua 17:18: “But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down (וּבֵרֵאתוֹ): and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” [11] Johannes Cocceius (1603-1689) was born in Bremen, Germany, and went on to become Professor of Philology at the Gymnasium in Bremen (1630), held the chair of Hebrew (1630) and Theology (1643) at Franeker, and was made Professor of Theology at Leiden (1650). He was the founder of the Cocceian school of covenant theology, bitter rival to the Voetian school. [12] Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089-1164) was a renowned Spanish Rabbi. Although a universal scholar, at the heart of his work is his commentary on the Hebrew Bible. He commented on the entirety of the Old Testament, and his exegesis manifests a commitment to the literal sense of the text. [13] Johann Heinrich Heidegger (1633-1698) was a Swiss Reformed theologian, serving as Professor of Theology at Steinfurt (1659-1665), and then at Zurich (1667-1698). [14] Psalm 51:10: “Create (בְּרָא) in me a clean heart, O God; and renew (חַדֵּשׁ) a right spirit within me.” [15] Genesis 1:21: “And God created (וַיִּבְרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֔ים) great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” [16] Genesis 1:27: “So God created (וַיִּבְרָ֙א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀) man in his own image, in the image of God created he him (בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ); male and female created he themבָּרָ֥א) אֹתָֽם׃).” [17] That is, with respect to kind or species. [18] See Romans 12:2.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 28, 2023
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