Bereshit I – synopsis, references & sources

Bereshit I

Genesis 1:1-31

Synopsis

In this episode – which is the first of two episodes dedicated to the first reading (parasha) of the year and of Scripture in general – we study Genesis 1 and the account of creation: the creation of all physical and spiritual realities as well as the revelation of the very foundations of our faith. In these verses we will find the DNA of all of Scripture and the seeds of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

The first chapter of Genesis is an extremely complex chapter and we will touch upon many of its complexities in a way that – we hope – will be accessible to any listener. The two episodes dedicated to Bereshit (Gn 1:1-6:8) are essential to the understanding of all that follows: from the rest of Genesis and all the way to the very end of the book of Revelation. Here we find God acting sovereignly, alone, with perfect deliberation and wisdom. We find the creation of man, of the Sabbath, of the woman. In these lines we also find the fall of man and the amazing grace that follows it and already points to our personal salvation. We find the stories of the first humans and the first genealogies. In short, in these verses we find the history of our own salvation.

 

In this first episode, we will spend a lot of time on the first verse of Scripture – Gn 1:1 – and on the mysteries of creation in general. We will talk very little on the creation of man. This, however, will be the topic of our next episode: the creation and fall of man and the beginnings of the history of salvation.

 

What does Scripture reveal to us here about the very nature of the Godhead?

What is time? What is space? How do they relate to God?

What does Scripture teach us about a ‘day’?

What is the act of creation?

How is Christ revealed already in the first verse of Scripture? – indeed in the first word (in the Hebrew version).

How are we to understand the ‘flow’ of creation?

 

We will try to answer these and additional questions in this episode.

 

Scripture references from the episode

“and I covenant to give you, as my Father has covenanted to give me” (Luke 22:29) 
  • (Note that in the Greek the verb used here is “to covenant” but in many versions it is translated as “to appoint” or “to confer”)
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; 
his understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28)
“You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the LORD 
your God that you shall make.” (Deuteronomy 16:21)
“The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. 
Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God 
and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming 
down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.” (Revelation 3:12)
“for the covenant from the beginning is, 
Thou shalt die the death.” (Sirach 14:17b)
“Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the LORD;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance” (Isaiah 66:7-11)

External Sources

St. Irenaeus The demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching #43.

So then we must believe God in all things, for in all things God is true. Now that there was a Son of God, and that He existed not only before He appeared in the world, but also before the world was made, Moses, who was the first that prophesied, says in Hebrew: Baresith bara Elowin basan benuam samenthares. And this, translated into our language, is: “The Son in the beginning: God established then the heaven and the earth.” This Jeremiah the prophet also testified, saying thus: Before the morning-star I begat thee: and before the sun (is) thy name; and that is, before the creation of the world; for together with the world the stars were made. And again the same says: Blessed is he who was, before he became man: Because, for God, the Son was (as) the beginning before the creation of the world; but for us (He was) then, when He appeared; and before that He was not for us, who knew Him not. Wherefore also His disciple John, in teaching us who is the Son of God, who was with the Father before the world was made, and that all the things that were made were made by Him, says thus: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made: showing with certainty that the Word, who was in the beginning with the Father, and by whom all things were made, this is His Son.

 

Philo – on Creation III

And he says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time (for it is natural that God should do everything at once, not merely by uttering a command, but by even thinking of it); but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement; and, of all numbers, six is, by the laws of nature, the most productive: for of all the numbers, from the unit upwards, it is the first perfect one, being made equal to its parts, and being made complete by them; the number three being half of it, and the number two a third of it, and the unit a sixth of it, and, so to say, it is formed so as to be both male and female, and is made up of the power of both natures; for in existing things the odd number is the male, and the even number is the female; accordingly, of odd numbers the first is the number three, and of even numbers the first is two, and the two numbers multiplied together make six. (14) It was fitting therefore, that the world, being the most perfect of created things, should be made according to the perfect number, namely, six: and, as it was to have in it the causes of both, which arise from combination, that it should be formed according to a mixed number, the first combination of odd and even numbers, since it was to embrace the character both of the male who sows the seed, and of the female who receives it. (15) And he allotted each of the six days to one of the portions of the whole, taking out the first day, which he does not even call the first day, that it may not be numbered with the others, but entitling it one, he names it rightly, perceiving in it, and ascribing to it the nature and appellation of the limit.

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