Creation ex nihilo? Not in my Bible!
The opening lines of the Torah lend themselves to more than one interpretation and may well have absolutely nothing to do with creation ex nihilo. So, for example, ...</p><hr/>
The common translation reflects that of the early Jewish Publication Society (JPS - 1917)
- In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.
- Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the water.
- And G-d said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.
However, according to the highly proclaimed and authoritative Stone Edition Tanach renders the 1st verse as ...
- In the beginning of God's creating the heavens and the earth
... and treats verse two as a parenthetical.<br /><br />
Similarly, Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary offers ...
- When God began to create heaven and earth
- -- the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water --
- God said: "Let there be light"; and there was light.
... and notes in its commentary:
<blockquote>1. When God began to create The conventional English translation reads: "In the begining God created the heaven and the earth." The translation presented here looks to verse 3 for the completion of the sentence and takes verse 2 to be parenthetical, describing the state of things at the time when God first spoke. Support for understanding the text in this way comes from the second half of 2:4 and of 5:1, both of which refer to Creation and begin with the word "when".<br />
2. unformed and void The Hebrew for this phrase (tohu va-vohu) means "desert waste." The point of the narrative is the idea of order that results from divine intent. There is no suggestion here that God made the world out of nothing, which is a much later conception.</blockquote>
Also concurring with this second rendering are ...
- JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH, Standard Edition - July 1999
"When God began to create heaven and earth-the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water-God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light."
- Commentary on the Torah - by R. E. Friedman, author of Who Wrote the Bible
"In the begining of God's creating the skies and the earth -- when the earth had been shapeless and formless, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and God's spirit was hovering on the face of the water -- God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light."
- The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary - Alter's highly acclaimed translation
What we have in this 2nd rendering of the Torah is not creation ex nihilo but the creation of order out of chaos; "First Cause" is simply not addressed.
Similarly the case in the Book of Enoch.
In Jeremiah is the only other occurance of "Tohu va Bohu" (xlated without form and void), but in Jeremiah the implication is that God destroyed the world once, and it was not "without form and void" but "desolate and wasteland" (incapable of sustaining life).
The 'brooding' of the Spirit of God as He flys over the dead waters is also eirily forboding. Not a happy moment. God creates another world, but obviously this world is again destroyed by floods, and is currently threatened by Fire.