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Chapter XXXII.—The Account of the Creation in Genesis a General One, Corroborated, However, by Many Other Passages of the Old Testament, Which Give Account of Specific Creations. Further Cavillings Confuted.

This is the answer I should give in defence of the Scripture before us, for seeming here to set forth 6456 the formation of the heaven and the earth, as if (they were) the sole bodies made.  It could not but know that there were those who would at once in the bodies understand their several members also, and therefore it employed this concise mode of speech. But, at the same time, it foresaw that there would be stupid and crafty men, who, after paltering with the virtual meaning, 6457 would require for the several members a word descriptive of their formation too. It is therefore because of such persons, that Scripture in other passages teaches us of the creation of the individual parts. You have Wisdom saying, “But before the depths was I brought forth,” 6458 in order that you may believe that the depths were also “brought forth”—that is, created—just as we create sons also, though we “bring them forth.” It matters not whether the depth was made or born, so that a beginning be accorded to it, which however would not be, if it were subjoined 6459 to matter. Of darkness, indeed, the Lord Himself by Isaiah says, “I formed the light, and I created darkness.” 6460 Of the wind 6461 also Amos says, “He that strengtheneth the thunder 6462 , and createth the wind, and declareth His Christ 6463 unto men;” 6464 thus showing that that wind was created which was reckoned with the formation of the earth, which was wafted over the waters, balancing and refreshing and animating all things: not (as some suppose) meaning God Himself by the spirit6465 on the ground that “God is a Spirit,” 6466 because the waters would not be able to bear up their Lord; but He speaks of that spirit of which the winds consist, as He says by Isaiah, “Because my spirit went forth from me, and I made every blast.” 6467 In like manner the p. 496 same Wisdom says of the waters, “Also when He made the fountains strong, things which 6468 are under the sky, I was fashioning 6469 them along with Him.” 6470 Now, when we prove that these particular things were created by God, although they are only mentioned in Genesis, without any intimation of their having been made, we shall perhaps receive from the other side the reply, that these were made, it is true, 6471 but out of Matter, since the very statement of Moses, “And darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters,” 6472 refers to Matter, as indeed do all those other Scriptures here and there, 6473 which demonstrate that the separate parts were made out of Matter. It must follow, then, 6474 that as earth consisted of earth, so also depth consisted of depth, and darkness of darkness, and the wind and waters of wind and waters. And, as we said above, 6475 Matter could not have been without form, since it had specific parts, which were formed out of it—although as separate things 6476 —unless, indeed, they were not separate, but were the very same with those out of which they came. For it is really impossible that those specific things, which are set forth under the same names, should have been diverse; because in that case 6477 the operation of God might seem to be useless, 6478 if it made things which existed already; since that alone would be a creation, 6479 when things came into being, which had not been (previously) made. Therefore, to conclude, either Moses then pointed to Matter when he wrote the words: “And darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters;” or else, inasmuch as these specific parts of creation are afterwards shown in other passages to have been made by God, they ought to have been with equal explicitness 6480 shown to have been made out of the Matter which, according to you, Moses had previously mentioned; 6481 or else, finally, if Moses pointed to those specific parts, and not to Matter, I want to know where Matter has been pointed out at all.



Quatenus hic commendare videtur.


Dissimulato tacito intellectu.


Prov. viii. 24.




Isa. xlv. 7.


De spiritu. This shows that Tertullian took the spirit of Gen. i. 2 in the inferior sense.


So also the Septuagint.


So also the Septuagint.


Amos iv. 13.


The “wind.”


John iv. 24.


Flatum: “breath;” so LXX. of Isa. lvii. 16.


Fontes, quæ.




Prov. viii. 28.




Gen. i. 2.


In disperso.


Ergo: Tertullian’s answer.


Ch. xxx., towards the end.


Ut et aliæ.






Generatio: creation in the highest sense of matter issuing from the maker. Another reading has “generosiora essent,” for our “generatio sola esset,” meaning that, “those things would be nobler which had not been made,” which is obviously quite opposed to Tertullian’s argument.





Next: Statement of the True Doctrine Concerning Matter. Its Relation to God's Creation of the World.