As there were multiple cultures, countries, and cities in the early days, it also follows that there were multiple creation myths. While fascinating, it is also important to have an overview of these various stories. They were stories that the Hebrews would have been familiar with. People that lived around them would have subscribed to these stories just as much as the Hebrews subscribed to their beliefs. While a complete description of all creation myths could fill a book, I’m going to try to give a brief overview of some of the major beliefs that the Hebrews might have come in contact with. In today’s post, we’ll cover the basic Hebrew creation concept. Future posts will cover Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman beliefs.
From St. Joseph: “God’s heavenly seat rests above the superior waters. Below these waters lies the firmament or sky which resembles an overturned bowl and is supported by columns. Through the openings (floodgates) in its vault the superior waters fall down upon the earth in the form of rain or snow. The earth is a platform resting on columns and surrounded by waters, the seas. Underneath the columns lie the inferior waters. In the depths of the earth is Sheol, the home of the dead (also called the nether world).
While studying the Hebrew conception of the world, we have not only do have the Biblical example of creation to read, but graphics developed by scholars. Genesis: Chapter 1 has a description of the formation of the world, giving an outstanding view of how the Hebrews would have viewed the world. I suggest reading various Bibles to see how the word descriptions vary (not to argue about various points, but to appreciate the adjectives, and expand ones’ view).
From the “Archaeological Study Bible, p. 5, ‘Ancient Creation Narratives’” (which I recommend to everyone to buy! This is an indispensable resource!) “The Genesis account implicitly challenges the claims of these ancient creation myths by affirming God’s unity and sovereignty, by portraying the heavenly bodies and great sea creatures as his creations and by presenting humans as God’s stewards—and indeed image bearers—rather than as an after-thought born of divine need or laziness.”
Catholic Book Publishing, “St. Joseph Edition, New American Bible.” New York, NY: Catholic Book Publishing.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, “New International Version: Archaeological Study Bible.” Zondervan Corporation: Grand Rapids, MI, 2005.