Creatio ex nihilo? No?

"Creatio ex nihilo."

That means “create from nothing.” It's Latin. I don't speak Latin, but I have assurances this is a good translation.

I do speak English, though, being as I am American. Also as an American, I both am aware of and have some significant distaste for the Westboro Baptist Church. And in that light I have a better translation of creatio ex nihilo: it means “well shit-dang boys! We got us a pissin' contest right here!"

See, posted an article back on the 8th of October stating a professor and scholar of The Old Testament, Professor Ellen van Wolde, states that the first line in a relatively popular series of books was translated incorrectly. The line was: “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.”

Professor van Wolde says that's not the correct translation, deducing from the way the verb was used, the context, and the period it was written all conspire to make the first sentence of the bible read thusly: “in the beginning, God separated the Heaven and the Earth.” All these years and now this comes out?

The article at one point mentions that this finding would likely spark a “robust debate.” Uh huh. I have a funny.

See, all this stuff transpired over in Europe, where they have open marriages and girls don't shave their armpits and they all speak funny languages and make really, really good bread and beer and they typically (recently, anyway) discuss their differences before they amble off and bomb the bloody bejesus out of some third world heathen nation to protect their business interests. I imagine they might be able to have a robust debate about it, so long and the Vatican isn't involved, because let's face it: news like this could really fuck up their business model, you think?

The real outcome? Oh, God I can see the CNN footage now: sixty, seventy of those funky mean inbred people from Topeka, all tithing for tickets and flying in tow of Fred Phelps to the Netherlands where the good Professor van Wolde will be delivering a thesis on this subject, marching through Radboud University with those awesomely unmissable neon signs, each saying something like “God hates fags and Europeans!”

Which all totally makes me want to sing “I'm Proud to be an American.”

Meanwhile, this could put a large caliber bullet in that whole Genesis thingie, I think, at least until it gets swept under the carpet. I mean, someone had the audacity to speculate that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was of Jewish ancestry – yeah, try to keep THAT one going. He could have a Torah and a yarmulke hidden in his broom closet, but THAT ain't coming out soon. The truth may set you free, but political nature abhors the truth.

I'd like to see this one generate yet another version of whatever bible would adopt it: Jesus would have a rather different view of dad in this version, with a few new family squabbles. “You made this ass I rode into Jerusalem, sure, but you didn't make the water I can walk on now did you? Embarrassing, isn't it?”

Creatio ex nihilo? How about creatio ex calamitas?


  1. OK, there's an interesting story! It has to do with splitting things apart and putting things together.

    I am not surprised that at the beginning god/s split up heavens from waters (I always thought it was the water, but perhaps it's earth --my newest translation of the bible is burried under my anthropology books which could form a pile high enough for Noah's arch to make land on).

    So yes, I'm an anthropod, aka anthropologist, though I came to it rather late in life and got to brainwash students only for a few years (brainwashing topic: arguing is always good!).

    Oh and also a translator of pretty arcane books, though also a couple of funny ones (google me! --that is the name that came with my e-mail to Messy the First). So yes the bible is a translation of many translations of translations of ..well you get the picture...

    So god separated things, and thus we have creation. It-he/she-- even separated ideas, so we have words (though if memory serves --yes I was there, of course-- the word came first) (but not to worry we fooled god, because words carry their meaning outside of them so they tend to cling and blend together, as any translator will tell you).

    So look back at Genesis: It does state that the sons of gods came down to earth to make woopi with the daughters of men. How uppity these humans were! They were even more uppity building that tower of Babel. Both of these things are attempts to put back together what god had split assunder. So said god, I'll show you what happens when things are put together when they shouldn't be (=harmful conjunction). Besides getting everyone to speak different languages and thus give work to future translators, god caused the water from above to cover the earth --voila! heaven and water back together and no earth in between.

    Ah, but Noah and wifey got away but only if they separated all living things into distinct categories (=beneficial disjunction).

    The flodd story is widespread. In Ancient Greece it was the son of Promotheus (=harmful conjunction from the gods's perspective because he gave the fire that was reserved for the gods to human beings)and his wife daughter of some other prominent demi-god or goddess who got to build an arch and eventually made land on Parnassus. Then they felt terribly lonely, so the woman threw a rock over her shoulder and a bunch of fully grown women were born out of it. Then the man, a copycat obviously --but no Schuylercat, threw a rock over his shoulder and, well guess what happened...
    If you ever thought the bible is the gospel (ha ha) truth, that would explain why you're pissed at it. But trust me, it's actually very interesting if you take it as any other myths (I'm using myth in the technical sense: a narrative that purports to explain cosmic things and that endures because it's made to be interpreted any way you want to...)

  2. Kati - In a major rush, so I missed about half of that...or more...but I printed this out and intend to review later - veeeeery interesting, and thanks for not telling me I am gong immediately and directly to hell for spreading these vicious rumors... :-)

  3. I wish more people would look at the bible that way. Damn it everyone, stop telling me to "get religion", "become saved", "read the bible and have faith".

    It's a frigging story, or better as you put it a myth in the technical sense. Le Sigh.