Creation & Chaos In The Ancient Near East

Chaos in the Beginning

For cultures of the Near East, the process of creation began with chaos, the Greek word used to signify the undifferentiated material out of which the universe was made. Chaos was imagined as water in darkness, much like a stormy sea at night, that filled everything. There was no concept of nothingness or empty outer space — there was not even the number zero.

Creation Out of Nothing

The concept of creatio ex nihilo, “creation out of nothing,” didn’t yet exist. That idea was a much later invention, not gaining full expression until the Christian period. It was a concept that developed after and because of monotheism, in controversies about what was eternal: Was God alone at the beginning, or was the “stuff” out of which the world was made there also? Was there one eternal principle or two, God and chaos?


The River of God
Gregory Riley

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