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A Study of the Old Testament’s Testimonies to Creation: ‘Chaos-Overcoming Creation’

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2022, 28(4), pp.11-40
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2022.28.4.11
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : October 4, 2022
  • Accepted : November 28, 2022

YUNJUNG KIM 1

1숭실대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The present study explores three major biblical texts dealing with God’s creation in the Old Testament: Gen 1, Job 38, and Ps 74. They demonstrate three kinds of means that God utilized to create the whole universe: fiat in 3rd person (jussives, Gen 1), orders given to primordial waters in 2nd person (imperatives, Job 38), and God’s Chaoskampf against abysmal monsters such as Leviathan and Rehab (Ps 74). Based on the analyses of these texts, this study argues that they testify “God’s creation overcoming chaos” rather than creatio ex nihilo. Most of the Old Testament’s testimonies to God’s creation, taken together, witness to God’s chaos-neutralizing creation. Even some texts that have been said to show God’s fiat creatio. Also Several texts that are seen to depict God’s creation out of the chaotic circumstance with focus on two subcategories: God’s creation of the world out of the chaotic circumstances through God’s command for the primordial waters (Ps 29:3-10; Jb 38:8-11; Ps 104:5-9) and God’s creation of the world through His chaoskampf with the abysmal monsters (Ps 74:12-17; Ps 89:7-13; Isa 51:9-16). Like this, God created the world and its creatures out of chaos, the primordial realm that intermingles the abysmal waters with formless and uninhabited land. Chaos in the Old Testaments indicates (1) darkness and waters flooding over the land (Gen 1), (2) a newly formed sea threatening God’s creation with its proud waves (Job 38), and (3) sea monsters signifying strong empires such as Assyria and Babylonia devouring smaller countries (Ps 74). Several accounts of creation in the Old Testament analyzed in this study show that God’s creation is not a singly completed work all by Godself. One of the reasons behind this unfinished creation is that God wanted creatures to take part in the co-work with the Creator. The ongoing creation by God should be preserved and continued through the participation and obedience of the created beings, especially of humankind. Here one can get a glimpse into the roles of chaos in creation; it functions as a mediator that invites humanity to obey God’s commands in order to take part in God’s creating works. God did not eliminate the chaotic waters (chaos) once and for all instead held them from the realm of life. Several Old Testament’s creation texts show that God’s creation is not a singly completed work but should be preserved and continued by the participation and obedience of God’s creatures, especially human beings. Here one can get a glimpse into the aim of God’s creation of humanity and the roles of chaos.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.