News

Writers of the Bible got it wrong: God did NOT create the world, says expert

DUTCH Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis “in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” is not a true translation of the Hebrew.

She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world – and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.

Profssor van Wolde

Professor van Wolde

The Telegraph reports that Prof Van Wolde, 54, will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies.

She claims to have re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia.

She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb “bara”, which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean “to create” but to “spatially separate”.

The first sentence should now read:

In the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth.

According to Judeo-Christian tradition, God created the Earth out of nothing.

Prof Van Wolde, who once worked with the Italian academic and novelist Umberto Eco, said her new analysis showed that the beginning of the Bible was not the beginning of time, but the beginning of a narration.

She elaborated:

It meant to say that God did create humans and animals, but not the Earth itself.

She writes in her thesis that the new translation fits in with ancient texts. According to them there used to be an enormous body of water in which monsters were living, covered in darkness, she said.

She said technically “bara” does mean “create” but added:

Something was wrong with the verb. God was the subject (God created), followed by two or more objects. Why did God not create just one thing or animal, but always more?

She concluded that God did not create, he separated: the Earth from the Heaven, the land from the sea, the sea monsters from the birds and the swarming at the ground. She explained:

There was already water. There were sea monsters. God did create some things, but not the Heaven and Earth. The usual idea of creating-out-of-nothing, creatio ex nihilo, is a big misunderstanding. God came later and made the earth livable, separating the water from the land and brought light into the darkness.

She said she hoped that her conclusions would spark “a robust debate”, since her findings are not only new, but would also touch the hearts of many religious people.

She said:

Maybe I am even hurting myself. I consider myself to be religious and the Creator used to be very special, as a notion of trust. I want to keep that trust.

A spokesman for the Radboud University said:

The new interpretation is a complete shake up of the story of the Creation as we know it.

Prof Van Wolde added:

The traditional view of God the Creator is untenable now.

47 responses to “Writers of the Bible got it wrong: God did NOT create the world, says expert”

  1. Stoneyground says:

    The traditional view of God the creator is untenable to anyone who has studied the Bible even a little bit. God is too stupid to create anything worthwhile at all, a petty mindless little tyrant with the manners of a spoilt toddler.

  2. Jo says:

    Here comes another small step in the continuous climbdown of religionists as science lays evidence for the eternal and infinite nature of the world.

  3. Angela_K says:

    Prof van Wolde has merely demonstrated that a work of fiction has been mis-translated; we already know this, and about the re-writing over the centuries to add more bigoted and nasty bits. I'm looking forward to the religious tearing each other apart over these findings from one of their own.

  4. Elainek123 says:

    Great. I went yesterday to see Ricky Gervais new film Invention of Lying.
    So brilliant yet so simple to the point. I had a great laugh so loud, a laugh not reciprocated by many..
    How god was created is the theme.I will not tell you any more as you have to see it for yourself. I believe if it was not Ricky that made the film this would not have been shown.

  5. Elainek123 says:

    Great. I went yesterday to see Ricky Gervais new film Invention of Lying.
    So brilliant yet so simple to the point. I had a great laugh so loud, a laugh not reciprocated by many..
    How god was created is the theme.I will not tell you any ore as you have to see it for yourself. I believe it was not Ricky that made the film this would not have been shown.

  6. Theophage says:

    That's actually a more elegant way to look at it than creation – God took a preexisting system and decreased the entropy in order to make it function. It's somewhat analogous (in my mind) to winding up a toy to make it go. I'm still not converting over, mind, I just think it's a much more awesome way to have your creation mythology go.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Here we go again – the Bible says this, but in reality it's saying something else! "Bible – Believing Christians" are very fond of versions which "expand" the original, or else have different translations alongside one another, so that you can choose the wording which best reflects your own particular point of view. ( Pity Woolworths didn't do a "Pick-And-Mix-Bible" – it might have saved their bacon!) This is crying out for a good comedy writer like Paul Merton to lampoon it!!

  8. barriejohn says:

    Ellen Van Wolde = O Well, Venal End

  9. Tom Estes says:

    Barry,

    There is no way someone who is intellectually honest would print this garbage.

    Think about it, for the last 4500 years EVERYONE has got it wrong but this dimwit?

    This is beneath you, Barry.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Yes, and how many times in the past have fundamentalist religious bigots tried to suppress the dissemination of knowledge, merely because it might have challenged the world view which they were promoting! After banning critical commenters from his goddamned awful blog, this retard now suggests that news reports should be censored in future so that anything that might reflect badly on his cherished beliefs is ignored. The guy is absolutely unbelievable – but, sadly, I fear that there are plenty of others with just the same idiotic outlook!!

  11. Tom, firstly there is nothing intellectually dishonest about reporting scholarly opinion.

    Secondly, the argument that a proposition can’t be right because that would mean lots of people have been wrong for many years does not stand up to scrutiny. You think about it – how many times has this happened in the past?

    I’m not arguing for or against this new hypothesis. I’m just saying your reaction to it is ill-considered.

  12. barriejohn says:

    PS Tom Estes obviously only reads Set Tomes!

  13. Tim_Danaher says:

    I've been working for ages, trying to get an anagram of 'Pastor Tom Estes' to come out to 'Dunning-Kruger Syndrome'.

    Anyone want to pitch in? BarrieJ?

  14. Tim_Danaher says:

    And, Pastor Estes, I wonder if 'Dimwit' would be a reasonable translation of the word normally translated from the Greek as 'Fool' in the bibble?

    After all, you know what they say about hellfire and calling someone a fool?

    Is anyone else revelling in the delicious irony of Estes calling an established & respected bibble scholar a 'dimwit'?

  15. Bubblecar says:

    If God separated the earth from the sky, where's the gap? Can't see one, myself.

  16. barriejohn says:

    That's odd – there's a Gap in most of the almost identical high streets and "shopping malls" that I visit!

  17. Talitha says:

    Finger pressed firmly in each ear, blindfold over eyes…………. "Lalalalalalalala………. I can't hear you"
    I always deal with this kind of thing like that. It's the Christian thing to do.

    What nonsense once again spouted by these God hating ScIeN tists.

    If it says it in my Bible, it's true.
    God wrote the Bible and God and the Bible is always right. It says so in my Bible.

    My Pastor says these Scientifical types are all going to Hell.

    It says that in the Bible too.
    1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

  18. Talitha says:

    Finger pressed firmly in each ear, blindfold over eyes…………. "Lalalalalalalala………. I can't hear you"
    I always deal with this kind of thing like that. It's the Christian thing to do.

    What nonsense once again spouted by these God hating ScIeN tists.

    If it says it in my Bible, it's true.
    God wrote the Bible and God and the Bible is always right. It says so in my Bible.

    My Pastor says these Scientifical types are all going to Hell.
    It says that in the Bible too.

    1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

  19. barriejohn says:

    I think you might just not be following the rules properly there, Tim! I did see Dunking Gurner Syndrome almost immediately, though!!

  20. Stoneyground says:

    Bible scholars have actually been aware that the Bible is not what the believers claim it to be since the nineteenth century. This is perhaps a new piece of information but against the background of existing biblical scholarship not much of a surprise.

    It is interesting to note the vast gulf that exists between what Bible scholars know about the Bible, its origins and its background, and the comparative ignorance of the regular clergy and their sheep. Also there seems to be no will whatsoever to diseminate this deeper understanding to the ordinary believers, can't think why.

  21. barriejohn says:

    How right you are again, Sister Talitha. All born-again believers will know better than to depart from the sacred text of the King James Version, as dictated by the Good Lord to his faithful followers over two thousand years ago, and just as relevant today! These "scholars" tamper with the inspired words at their eternal peril!!

  22. barriejohn says:

    Just look at the reception that David Jenkins got when HE tried to inject some common sense into the debate a few years ago! And some of you may be old enough to remember how Bishop John Robinson was pilloried back in the Sixties, when "Honest To God" was first published. Strangely enough, they are about the only two prelates who have ever made me sit up and take notice of their ideas!

  23. "There is no way someone who is intellectually honest would print this garbage." I guess his blog is not actually printed out, so maybe he can pass his own test?

  24. OurSally says:

    The gap is alive and well in the London Underground. that's why they tell you to Mind The Gap.

  25. OpenMind says:

    Interesting article. I have no issue with either side of the debate but would like to point out the fact the headline

    "Writers of the Bible got it wrong: God did NOT create the world, says expert."

    is misleading i.e. not in accordance with the point the scholarly expert was trying to make.

    This is a journalistic issue – the headline should really reflect the heart of the piece particularly when representing the opinion of the scholar in question.

    I believe a more appropriate headline would have been

    "Writers of the Bible got it wrong: God did not CREATE the world, says expert."

    As simple shift of emphasis destroys the intent of the scholars research and effectively robs them of their intellectual endevours to forward a view they don't necessaily share.

  26. OpenMind says:

    I am new to reading freethinker, logging in daily. For the most part I think its a great site and will be coming back again and again.

    I disagree with Tom Estes who states publishing the scholar's "findings" are beneath Barry. As others have stated its perfectly approprite to report scholarly opinion. I do however feel a little more care should be taken in representing the scholar's opinion and editorialising (which I would naturally expect to see differentiated somewhere within the piece itself).

    Not meaning to sound too critical Barry (please keep up the generally good (IMO) work) , but a point I felt important enough to raise.

    Some may agree / disagree with me raising it. I make no apology , I came to the decision myself as I had no historical text to make the decision for me……

  27. barriejohn says:

    They're not going to accept this anyway, Open Mind, even if her analysis is correct. They will just say that there was ANOTHER "beginning" before this one, when God DID create everything from nothing. Other parts of the Bible teach this ("The things which are were not made from things which do appear."), so even if WE can see that this is an old creation story which assumes that the material world was in existence before God fashioned it to His liking, THEY will not accept that! To them, the Bible is not a collection of the ideas of different men down through the ages, struggling to make sense of human existence, but the inerrant, non-contradictory, seamless, inspired Word of God!!

  28. OpenMind says:

    I happen to agree with your point, however by more accurately representing the scholar's opinion (after all the scholar suggests she is still religious herself) it gives a more reasoned view i.e. that although the freethinker still holds his usual position on the existence / non existence of god that the scholar's position on the matter is clear. The implication is that the scholar is of the opinion she's disproved the existence of god but within the body of the text this is not the case. I think the implication of the headline is unfair to the "debate".

    Thanks for the reply, look forward to reading more of your comments on other articles.

  29. barriejohn says:

    I see what you mean now – I wasn't reading that into it at all. I thought you were being rather pedantic, in fact!

    (PS You'll be sick of the sight of my comments soon, I shouldn't wonder – hahaha!!!I

  30. barriejohn says:

    I see what you mean now – I wasn't reading that into it at all. I thought you were being rather pedantic, in fact!

    (PS You'll be sick of the sight of my comments soon, I shouldn't wonder – hahaha!!!)

  31. barriejohn says:

    If you visit Tom Estes's blog (it carries a health warning for the mentally stable amongst us!) you will soon see where he is coming from! Just click onto his name above for an entertaining evening – you won't be disappointed!!

  32. Francis says:

    Simply, "progress", so-called, is destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Miracles, Faith, etc.) ;-(

    And The Creator(G-D, Father,Spirit) has promised that HE would "destroy those who destroy the earth(HIS Creation)!" (Rev11:18c)

    Yet there is a Living, Lively Hope!

    However, such Hope is not for that which is of the earth, earthly and fleshly, but there is a Living, Lively Hope for that which is Spirit, Heavenly and Spiritual.

    Hope for that which is Spirit is Alive because "progress", which is the product of mankind's "imag"ination, can pervert, yet not destroy that which is Spirit! For that which is Spirit is Real, and only that which is Real is Forever!

    (continued @ website)

  33. barriejohn says:

    Oh, no! Mary Baker Eddy has been reincarnated! ("I didn't really have a toothache, because my body doesn't REALLY exist. The "toothache" was all in my mind, and because my "mind" told me that the dentist had treated my tooth, the purely imaginary "pain" went away"!) What a load of cobblers!!

  34. Francis says:

    MBE was just another pagan christian who followed catholicism's "imag"ined 'jesus' ;-(

    Sad to hear that your toothache will be forever ;-(

    Sadder yet to hear that you will be confined to your decaying fleshly body forever ;-(

    Yet there is hope!

    For Miracles do happen……..

  35. andrea says:

    if you want to find out where the gap went, just peer into the ear of the next christian you meet.

  36. Biblical scholars also seem to ignore the fact that the word translated as "God" is "Elohim" which is a plural (like Seraphim and Cherubim) so it was "The Gods" wot done it not Yahweh alone. Surely this shows that at the time Genesis was written the Hebrews were polytheists. Of course they get round this my claiming it's a royal we (as in We are Henery the Eighth We are) or that the plural is being used as a magnificatory suffix, or summat like that.

  37. barriejohn says:

    I have no idea what you are talking about, and it sadly seems that neither do you!

  38. barriejohn says:

    It was The Trinity, George! They invented it centuries before the Church thought up the idea!!

  39. Francis says:

    Sadly, you are but a natural man ;-(

    So it is you have no idea what Truth IS ;-(

    Honest, you attempt to be, however you have naught to do with Truth, for only that which of The Truth is Real, and only that which is Real is Forever……. (continued)

  40. Francis says:

    And most certainly you are not of The Brethren who "have received, not the spirit of the world, but The Spirit which is of The Father and Creator of ALL, so that we might know the things that HE freely gives us. Which things we speak of, not in the words that the wisdom of man teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

    But the natural man can not receive the things that are of The Spirit of The Father and Creator of ALL, for they are foolishness unto the natural man, neither can the natural man know them, because they are spiritually discerned……."

    Simply, sad for you ;-(

    Yet there is hope!

    For Miracles do happen…….

    Hope is you would cease living in the shadows that are of your own "imag"ination, for mankind's "imag"ination is destroying Creation(water, air, land, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Truth, Life, Love, Peace, Faith, Grace, Mercy,,,etc.) ;-(

  41. Francis says:

    Simply, pagan catholicism and her harlot christian daughters, as well as all other systems of religion that are of this world, are anti-messiah…….period…….

    i bear witness against the systems of religion and not individuals yet held captive by them.

    Sadly, those not "set free" are but serving 'time' in the prison that is this world, just as you are ;-(

    Hope is there would be those who "come out from among them"…….

  42. barriejohn says:

    I USED to be a member of the Brethren, but I saw the light and left them!

    Are you another member of Landover Baptists? This all reads like a complete windup again, but it's very funny!!

  43. OpenMind says:

    As Smokey Robinson may have said

    "I second that emotion"

  44. Francis says:

    "Pure And Undefiled Religion"

    "Pure religion and undefiled before G-D The Father is this, to visit the fatherless (those children who know not their Father, HE WHO is The Only True G-D, Father{Creator} of ALL) and widows(those who have not "experienced The Messiah and The Power{Our Father} that raised Him from among the dead") in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world……." (James 1:27)

    Simply, all other religion is impure and defiled…….

    And notice that "pure and undefiled" religion is "oneself(individual)", a Brother or Sister doing The Will of Our Father, led of The Holy, Set Apart, Spirit…….

    Simply, corporate "religion" is pagan and of this wicked world…….

    And "Brothers and Sisters" is not "religion", for what are Brothers and Sisters if not Family?

  45. Francis says:

    That which, what or whom you desire and seek to serve is your 'god'…….period…….

    Every humanoid has a 'god'…….

    Yes, even athiests serve a 'god'!

    For they are of the mutitudes who see their 'god' each and every time
    they see their own reflection in a mirror ;-(

    Your life'style' is your religion…….period…….

  46. barry_duke says:

    Francis, you are a gibbering idiot. Please go elsewhere to post your insane comments!