The Professor Explains Creation (Frag. 2)

Submitted by Ken Watts on Thu, 01/11/2007 - 11:13

"The first story describes a process of creation through the spoken word—'And God said, let there be light…' you remember?"

She nodded.

"…and the second one describes the creation of the world through the metaphor of a garden. They are completely different. Does that clear up your problem?"

She was twisting a curl of hair around her pencil.

"Well, not exactly."

"Then what, exactly?"

"Well, it's that thing you said, in class, about how they—the ancient Hebers…"


"Yeah—how they said the same thing twice instead of rhyming…"


"Yeah. Well, don't the two stories kind of do that para… that rhyming thing? I mean, don't they sort of say the same thing twice, in like, in two different ways—like you said in class?"

He decided tact and understanding was the best approach.

"I see what you mean, Miss Simple. Perhaps I was not clear enough when I discussed parallelism. It's not just a matter of two lines or passages having the same general subject. It involves a parallel structure, as well. The passages would have to take up the same, or parallel points, in the same order, or in some sort of pattern based on the same order. Understand?"

She stared at him blankly.

"Okay. Let me give you an example. In the first chapter of Genesis, right after it says, 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,' there are two lines that are real parallelism:

'The earth was without form, and void.
And darkness was upon the face of the deep.'


She nodded.

"Good. Now these two lines play upon the ideas of formlessness and emptiness, which is the definition of chaos, or nothingness—having no shape and no content. You still with me?"

She nodded again.

"You sure?"


"The first line puts formlessness first and emptiness—the void—second. But darkness is a kind of emptiness—emptiness of light—and the deep was a symbol of formlessness—the crashing waves, and liquid nature of the ocean—so the second line repeats the idea of chaos, and it uses the same basic ideas to do it, only putting darkness—emptiness—first, and the deep—formlessness—second, for poetic effect."

He grabbed a pad and scribbled.

"Here. Look at this:"

The earth was without form (shapeless), and void (empty).
And darkness (empty) was upon the face of the deep (shapeless).


"Yeah, I think so."

So our little problem is solved, then."

She screwed her face into a knot.

The professor sighed.

"Alright, Miss Simple, what's the difficulty?"

"Don't be mad at me, okay?"

He unclenched another fist. Tact and understanding, he told himself, tact and understanding.

"Why would I be mad at you for wanting to learn?"

"You sure?"

"Of course. What's the problem?"