Genesis Chapter 1

1 In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth,

2 the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

3 God said, ¡°Let there be light¡±; and there was light.

4 God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.

5 God called the light ¡®Day¡¯ and the darkness ¡®Night¡¯. There was evening and there was mor ning: the first day.

6 God said, ¡°Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.¡±

7 So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was.

8 God called the firm ceiling ¡®Sky¡¯. There was evening and there was morning: the second day.

9 God said, ¡°Let the waters below the sky be gathered together in one place and let dry land appear.¡± And so it was.

10 God called the dry land ¡®Earth¡¯, and the waters gathered together he called ¡®Seas¡¯. God saw that it was good.

11 God said, ¡°Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.¡± And so it was.

12 The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good.

13 There was evening and there was mor ning: the third

14 God said, ¡°Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days and years;

15 and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.¡± And so it was.

16 God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well

17 God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth.

18 and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good.

19 There was evening and there was morning: the fourth day.

20 God said, ¡°Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth under the ceiling of the sky.¡±

21 God created the great monsters of the sea and all living animals, those that teem in the waters, according to their kind, and every winged bird, according to its kind. God saw that it was good.

22 God blessed them saying, ¡°Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds increase on the earth.¡±

23 There was evening and there was morning: the fifth day.

24 God said, ¡°Let the earth produce living animals according to their kind: cattle, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals according to their kind.¡± So it was.

25 God created the wild animals according to their kind, and everything that creeps along the ground according to its kind. God saw that it was good.

26 God said, ¡°Let us make man in our image, to our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild an imals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.¡±

27 So God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, ¡°Be fruitful and in crease in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.¡±

29 God said, ¡°I have given you every seed-bearing plant which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food.

30 To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.¡± So it was.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. There was eve ning and there was morning: the sixth day.


Comments Genesis, Chapter 1

• 1.1 We have to make an effort to look at this first page without prejudice. For the past hundred and fifty years, there have been too many debates on the theme ¡°creation according to the bible and according to science.¡± This problem, poorly presented and resolved in an even worse way, usually leaves us dissatisfied. We are not looking here for historical or scientific data: those who wrote this chapter had many other things to tell us and God had the right to endorse their work even if they saw the sky as a blue ceiling on which someone attached the stars. Therefore, we have a Word of God here, but we do not read them as if they were ¡°the¡± last word on the understanding of the universe. Just as all ancient religions have their own account of the origin of the world so has the Bible; but it has more to say and says it where many do not look: in the New Testament. For the revelation of the mystery of God-Creator it was necessary to wait for the coming of Christ: see Jn 1 and Eph 1.

This rhythmic account, with its repetitions and its liturgical form, is like a preface, the overture of the first nucleus of the Bible produced in the fifth century before Christ as the Jews came back from their captivity in Babylon.

But what does it mean? That God made everything? Of course. God, one God, different from the universe and who exists before it. However, what matters for the author is to show that God is beyond this creation which may either amaze or crush us, beyond a nature so rich and dominating that we are overwhelmed by its beauty.

The Spirit of God hovered over the waters. We have to know that in Hebrew, it is the word ¡°breath¡± or ¡°wind¡± which signifies ¡°spirit¡± (see John 3:18). Here we have the Spirit of God, as breath, named just before the Word. Word and Spirit are like the two hands of God the creator. This is precisely what we profess in the Creed: The Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets.

God works through his Word bearer of his will. From that moment the Word, called in other places the Wisdom, organizes the universe, but not as a foreign land which God would look from on high; it is a place He will visit one day.

God said. This is like a divider put between God and his creatures. The world is not God and is not a face of God; it did not come out from God as from an Infinite which lets its riches slip away without knowing nor dominating them. Somehow the world is in God, but God is outside the world and does not depend upon it. We should not forget that when later the New Testament speaks of communion with God: such a communion can only occur if God personally calls us.

God creates¡ªthis means first of all that God puts order. First day¡­ second day¡­ seventh day. All the creatures are not at the same level. First a material universe where life will appear later on, with its thousands realizations, diversified and ordered. The Hebrews divided the world into three regions: the sky, earth and water. We discover this order: days 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6. Everything comes at its appointed hour.

God organizes the world and gives meaning to our existence. See how the sun and moon are not there only to give light: in measuring time they provide the basis of a calendar. There is no human life, no family life without feasts, without discipline and regularity in rising and going to bed, in hours for work and hours for meals.

God saw that it was good. There is nothing bad in all that God created even though the author does not deny the existence of evil forces in the world: to the Israelites the sea and the night were evil forces. But now, all these forces are contained: the sea has its limits and night gives way to light every day. However, we will have to raise the question: Who put evil in the world? (See Gen 3; Wis 1:14; Sir 13:1; James 1:17.)

God¡¯s work is completed with the creation of humanity. The text provides us with three decisive statements which are at the root of the Christian concept of humankind. In time these convictions brought about modernity and they gained credence well beyond the Christian world.

¨C God created man in his image. Here we have one of the most important statements of the Bible: human beings are not hopelessly confined to the world of their fantasies and illusions; they are not prisoners of their own categories and structures, instead they are created for the Truth. God can communicate essential things to them in human language and through human experiences: we are not condemned to doubt forever. We are created in God¡¯s image and, of course, to respond to God.

¨C Male and female he created them. Where the Bible states that God created man, it does not speak of man nor of woman alone, but of the couple. The image of God is not that of an individual prisoner in his solitude and his sufficiency, but of the couple.

So we avoid simplistic images of materialist theories: the division of the sexes would be nothing more than the product of chance in the transformation of chromosomes, and also by chance love would follow from the division of the sexes. But love has first place in God¡¯s plan and the long evolution of sexuality has been its preparation.

¨C Let them rule¡­ This is not intended for human beings to be tyrannical or domineering, endangering human existence on a garbage-can planet. God gives them the entire universe. Human beings will use everything, even life itself, to grow, to mature and to bring the human adventure to completion before returning to God.

Be fruitful and increase in number. God blesses them. It would be wrong to use this bles sing to preach procreation without responsibility (see Wis 4:11 praising families whose children are well educated, useful and good be fore God). However, on many occasions, the Bible will show that a people who no longer has children has lost the road of divine blessings.

I have given you every seed-bearing plant. With these words the author expresses the ideal of a non-violent world in which not even animals would be killed. But later, a concession is made (Gen 9:3) because God takes into consideration the true condition of sinful humanity.

God rested on the seventh day. Respect for this seventh day, called ¡°sabbath¡± in Hebrew, that is to say, ¡°rest,¡± is one of the pillars of Is raelite and Christian practice. It is a holy day, that is to say, a day entirely different from the other days, a day which makes us holy and dif ferent from others. Thanks to that day, people escape from their enslavement to work and they are available for an encounter with God, with others and with themselves (see Ex 20:8 and the promises expressed in Is 56:4; 58:13).


When the Bible says that God creates everything and is before all things, it exalts man who comes from God and is no longer a product of chance.

The Bible frees people from anguish. Pri mitive peoples thought they were dependent on the caprice of their gods; even the Greeks, so proud of freedom, accepted the weight of a destiny from which no one could escape. Their aim to dominate nature was blocked by fear of offending these gods, their masters.

The Bible, on the other hand, presents believers not afraid of the hidden power of the stars (they are ¡°lamps¡± at God¡¯s service), nor of any curse in their destiny when they look for the secrets of the universe; it is no accident that the great thrust of civilization originated in the Christianized West.


This first page of the Bible lays the foundation of a Christian view of life. But we also say that it has a prophetic value in the sense that if we reread it now after having received the Gospel, these ancient words let new truths show through. Here are a few examples:

Genesis says: In the beginning, speaking of creation which appears outside of God in time, but John will tell us more clearly about that beginning (Jn 1:1) which does not cease for God. Because God is not subject to time: God lives in that permanent fullness which we call eternity and in which there is no before or af ter, no duration, no fatigue and no boredom. In the beginning, God projects himself in his Son who is both the image of God and his Word (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). Yet in this same beginning God creates the world outside of him self in order to place in it the richness that he contemplates in his Son. It is at that point that the universe and spirits, space and time do be gin.

This universe which defies our imagination by its dimensions and its duration is then an expression of God¡¯s profound mystery. All human his tory that will take place there will be ¡°sacred history¡± where God will fulfill an eternal desire: his will to love us, to lead us to maturity and unite us in Christ.

Rule over¡­. Despite their frailty, their human beings have been chosen by God to be the link between God and the universe. From the first moment of creation God planned that his Son would become man (Eph 1:1-14); to him refer the words of Psalm 8: What is man that you should remember him? You crowned him with glory and honor and gave him the works of your hands. (See 1 Cor 15:24.)

On the seventh day God rested. This rest of God doesn¡¯t mean that since then God regards his creation from afar (Jn 5:17). We should rather understand that God¡¯s creation and even the work of humans lead to the endless day when we shall rest in God and share his happiness. (See Heb 4:1-10.)