CHAPTER IAgnes M. Lawson
Elohistic Account of Creation
Gen. 1:31; Gen. 3:1-3
Hints to Bible Study
The Colorado College of Divine Science
The creation allegories stamp the Hebrew as pre-eminently artistic. A true artist, of necessity, must be a seer. Recently a prominent American said, “The greatest thing one can do is to see a truth and tell it in a plain way.” The Hebrew saw a truth and told it in an artistic way. Is not this the greater faculty? Truth is always beautiful, why not give her a garment becoming to her loveliness? A pleasing melody of rythmic sound or phrases satisfies us and makes an impression upon us, while a bald statement of scientific facts fails to penetrate our consciousness, and we pass it by unnoticed. A beautiful and valuable gem should have an appropriate setting.
The Hebrews (they who cross over), when they emigrated to Canaan, brought the Babylonian myths with them. The myth is the infantile speech of the infantile nation. Those myths were skeletons, bare events, plain, definite statements, told without grace or beauty. The Hebrew did for those myths what Shakespeare did for the old stories and legends he picked up here and there. He passed them through his spiritualized and artistic consciousness and they came out not myths, but allegories of personal interest to each of us. As Shakespeare took the old skeletons of former stories and clothed them with sinew, muscle and flesh, and then breathed a living soul into them, so the Hebrew does for the Mesopotamian myths.
I was asked in my Bible Class recently: “Are those creation stories true?” I answered: “They are truer than if they were true.” If something is true of and applicable to every member of the race all of the time it is certainly truer than if it were an historic event of a fixed time, a definite locality, and confined to one man and one woman.
The first chapter of Genesis is a dignified and impressive account of creation. It is full of the characteristics which mark the Priestly account. The word translated God here is plural, Elohim. It is both masculine and feminine, and most appropriately can we call it the Supreme, Father-Mother, for in this duality we find the creative principle of expression and unity.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was waste and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. Then God said: “Let there be Light.” The eternal brooding of our Father-Mother God, over the face of the deep with life-giving power as the bird broods over the eggs to which she had previously given existence, this is something to feel. This brooding Love over the vast void never ceases. It broods through its majestic seven days continuously; seven is the mystic symbol of completion, and every cycle ends in the commencement of another.
Seven is written in the constitution of the universe. The moon changes every seven days, there are seven notes in music, and seven primary colors. There are seven stages in the evolution of every living thing. There are seven steps in the soul life, found in the life of the Nazarene, the only one who completed his soul cycle. This is the history of every soul that is true to itself. These seven steps correspond to the seven “days” of creation. They are conception, birth, unfoldment, testings, self-renunciation, self-elimination, and resurrection. These days, periods or cycles, are the spiritual experiences of every soul from birth to resurrection.
It is the warmth of the brooding mother that woos the chick from the shell. It is the everlasting Love and Light of the Father-Mother which breaks the shell of our selfish and material isolation into the warmth and light of spiritual expression.
This chapter does not describe God as creating the world out of nothing, but of forming it out of pre-existing chaos. Man has not been created by God, he is the eternal consequence of God. Infinite Mind and its ideas co-existed eternally. Chaos is man not conscious of himself nor his own power. Spiritually we could interpret this creative fiat: Let there be consciousness. The spiritual and physical worlds are reality and manifestation. What light is to the world, intelligence or consciousness is to the spiritual world. Illustrations of the physical world are employed to teach spiritual truths. The spiritual includes the physical.
“And there was evening and there was morning one day.” There is a sublimely beautiful meaning to this description of the day. The evening in the Hebrew means a blending and the morning means a coming forth. As the only intelligence is the Infinite Intelligence, we must blend in prayer into it as we appropriate it, and come forth with it in the morning. Jesus gives this same idea in another illustration as the one method of effective prayer: “When thou prayest enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Our description of the day, commencing with the morning and ending with the evening, is lacking in this spiritual significance.
In the Court of the Universe, in the Panama-Pacific Exposition, this concept was superbly illustrated. On either side of the court at the main entrance huge figures stood on illuminated pedestals. Evening, a female figure with great wings overshadowing and half enclosing the curved body, reverently closed eyes and folded hands, stood on the right hand side of the entrance. I invariably greeted Evening first and would then turn to Morning, and the glory of this masculine body, with open wings spread wide, face gazing forward and upward, lightly poised on the globe which held him aloft, will always linger as one of memory’s greatest treasures. He had stepped forth on the ledges of the world, for he owned it. And so do we make “evening and morning one day.”
How did this unknown Hebrew author know what science found out so many centuries later, that life begins in the water? How did he know that the bird is a flying fish, making it follow in the order of creation? If this is not “inspired,” then I know not what inspiration is. God never leaves himself without a witness. He who is “closer than breathing, and nearer than hands or feet” is whispering his truths into the ear of everyone who is able to hear and comprehend them.
While we may not have anything better than man to look forward to, we shall gain a very much better conception of man as the ideal of infinite Mind unfolds upon us. This body to which there is nothing more to add is to be spiritualized. Confronting man as a task yet to be accomplished by him, is the transfiguration of his body into a spiritual one. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we daily rise to new air in our lungs, new food in our bodies, we must have new thoughts in our minds continuously, new concepts of mind and body. We are acted upon from above, because God has never ceased His creative process, and so it doth not yet appear what we shall be. We know, however, that we can never be anything but like Him. Listening to the Spirit as did this Hebrew of old, the image will form in our minds, and the likeness be expressed in our bodies. As we have appropriated our bodies out of the infinite whole, so our mind must be appropriated also.
On the seventh day there is rest. “On every height there lies repose,” and we gain insight for our next ascent. But God rests. His creation is eternally complete. He is singing the order and beauty and harmony of it into the heart of man. Watching over Israel, He slumbers not nor sleeps. We are never alone nor comfortless. Until the “last day” of our darkness and all is light and life, will He keep vigil.
* * * * *
Hints to Bible Study
Table of Contents