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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Genesis

(OT). The name of the first book of the Bible. Its title derives from the Greek version of the Bible which states, “This is the book of the genesis of heaven and earth” (ii, 4). The dating of the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) has not been determined to close limits, but it is reasonable to assume that they are of the era 800 BCE to 400 BCE. The traditional view that Moses was the author of Genesis is discounted by modern scholars who are of the opinion that it is derived from a number of sources of varying dates. This article will deal with the early chapters which describe the creation according to Judaism and certain theosophical views of this account.

No rational viewpoint can be expected to accept as factual the account of creation in Genesis. There are confusions of data as well as contradictions. The following are examples:

  1. Night and day were created on the first “day” (1:4-5) even before the Sun, which causes day and night, was created. The Sun and the Moon were created only on the fourth day (1:14-19).
  2. There are two quite distinct accounts of the creation. In Gen. 1:1, it states: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Several verses later, it is again stated that God created Heaven on the second day (1:8) and Earth on the third day (1:9-10). These are thought to have been written about 450 years apart.
  3. There are two contradictory accounts of the creation of woman. The first time is mentioned on the sixth day of creation (1:27-28) and the second one was after the seventh day when Eve was created from the ribs of Adam (2:20-23). This gave rise to the Jewish myth that Adam had a first wife prior to Eve (see LILITH). The second account is chauvinist in that woman was only made as a last resort after the animals had failed to satisfy Adam’s need for companionship.

The theosophist Gottfried de Purucker has pointed out one of the crucial difficulties facing the early translators of the Hebrew texts. In ancient Hebrew the words were not separated by spaces, but ran on without a break; furthermore, there were no vowels. De Purucker gives as an example the first lines of text in Genesis where a perfectly logical variation of the way in which the text is divided into words gives an entirely different sense; it becomes: “the gods or cosmic spirits, through wisdom, through knowledge, through being the chief or first formative forces, made themselves to become the heavens and the material sphere” (Studies in Occult Philosophy, p. 151).

Helena P. BLAVATSKY in her The Secret Doctrine, writes, “The introductory chapters of Genesis were never meant to present even a remote allegory of the creation of our earth. They embrace a metaphysical conception of some indefinite period in the eternity, when successive attempts were being made by the law of evolution at the formation of universes. This idea is plainly stated in the Sohar: ‘There were old worlds, which perished as soon as they came into existence, were formless, and were called sparks. Thus the smith, when hammering the iron, lets the sparks fly in all directions. The sparks are the primordial worlds, which could not continue, because the Sacred Aged (Sephira) had not as yet assumed its form (of androgyne, or opposite sexes) of king and queen (Sephira and Kadmon) and the Master was not yet at his work.’” (Zohar, Indra Suta, Book iii. p. 292; IU II: 421). Thus one Jewish source contradicts the other.

P.S.H.

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