Our first reading is the first chapter of Genesis. It gives us the Bible’s account of the creation of the world. It is a most puzzling account in that it speaks of God, not creating from nothing, but from “a formless wasteland. “ It’s more puzzling elements are the way God created the sky as a hard dome, and of his relocating half the earth’s ocean waters up above the dome.
Now, Archaeology over the last two centuries has unearthed hundreds of thousands of baked clay tablets that recorded the creation myths of the Babylonian, and of the Sumerians, going back to 3000 b.c.. But, from before 600 b.c. they have not uncovered any tablets containing a Jewish creation story.
All the evidence tells us how the Genesis account of the creation came to be written. For seventy years after 600 b.c. the Jews were captives in Babylon where they were mostly employed in repairing the dikes that kept the Tigris and Euphrates from flooding Mesopotamia’s farmland. However, every year they were freed to take part in a ten day re-enactment of the Babylonian creation myth.
The Jews had no scientist who could figure out how the creation of the world actually came about. But what they did have was an acquaintance with God that told them where the Babylonian myth couldn’t be right.
Now that ancient myth, known as the “Enuma Elish,” spoke of two creators: one good, and one evil. The Jew’s acquaintance with the one God told them that everything he created was good. With that sure knowledge, the Jews rewrote the Babylonian myth in a way that insisted there was single creator who made all things by the power of a single word. In their Genesis account the Jews told the world that everything God crested was good.