God in Genesis 1 — Further Thoughts
This is a follow-up to a previous article. It can also be seen as part of my ongoing theme Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Also relevant is that Jack Preston King writes on the theme that all religions are (or could be) the same. I subscribe to this view, which is often called the Perennial Philosophy. If all religions can be shown to be the same, that would be a good reason to take religion more seriously.
I noted that in the opening line of the Bible “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…”, the word used for God is Elohim, a plural word which is nevertheless followed by a singular form of the verb. I therefore suggested that “God in its (or his if you prefer) plural form created…” might be a better, albeit confusing, translation. I said that Elohim “sounds like some kind of committee, and it would make sense if we understand the Elohim as high-level spiritual beings, emanations from the Divine Oneness”.
Since writing that I have come across this interesting passage in a book by Robert E. Cox, where he is describing creation as outlined in the Vedic texts of Hinduism: “…the Creator¹ became the embodiment of all the universal gods directly responsible for upholding the created appearance of the universe and of all the virtual vacuum states that exist on different scales of space and time. Having awakened or warmed the universal gods, the Creator then directed them to create the universe by transforming the virtual universe into the real universe… Through his own divine will (which is nonlocal), by means of pure intention, he directed the gods to create the universe. In this way, the gods created all the material worlds and all the beings that inhabit them…”².
This would seem to be in line with my interpretation above; the first line is almost a paraphrase of “God in its plural form”. It would further suggest that the ‘God’ of Genesis 1, in the text as it has come down to us, is not what is usually understood by Christians as the Creator, rather some kind of emanations from the Creator.
Part of Cox’s purpose is to establish a common ground linking Indian, Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek traditions which, he believes, are different strands of one Ancient Wisdom, which is one way of looking at the Perennial Philosophy. Perhaps Genesis 1 should be seen as an important contribution to that.
(1) In the Hindu system the name of this God would be Brahma.
(2) Creating the Soul Body, Inner Traditions, 2008, p79