Big History Project
- Activity: Intro to Origin Stories
- Origin Story: Modern Scientific
- Origin Story: Chinese
- Origin Story: Judeo-Christian
- Origin Story: Iroquois
- Origin Story: Maya
- Origin Story: Greek
- Origin Story: Zulu
- Origin Story: Efik
- Cosmology and Faith
- Quiz: Origin Stories
Judeo-Christian Origin Story: Genesis
Compiled by Cynthia Stokes Brown
This story comes from the first book of the Old Testament, the sacred source book of both Judaism and Christianity.
This biblical story comes from Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, which is the sacred sourcebook of both Judaism and Christianity. In Genesis this story is followed immediately by a second creation story, in which humans are created first, followed by plants and animals.
These stories were written down in the first millennium BCE and evolved into the form in which we know them around 450 BCE, some 2460 years ago.
Genesis: Chapter 1
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a dome between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the dome and separated the water under the dome from the water above it. And it was so. God called the dome “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the second day.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, of every kind.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed of every kind and trees bearing fruit with seed in it of every kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the fourth day.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing of every kind that moves in the teeming water, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the fifth day.And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures of every kind: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of every kind, the livestock of every kind, and all the creatures that move along the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.
Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, with all their multitudes. And on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.*
For Further Discussion
How is the Judeo-Christian origin story similar to the Greek origin story? How is it different? Share your answers in the Questions Area below.
New International Version, Genesis retrieved May 2011 from www.biblegateway.com
Detail of God from Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti© Alinari Archives/CORBIS
A detail from The Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plantsby Michelangelo Buonarroti© Bettmann/CORBIS
Want to join the conversation?
- In the Greek origin story, there are many gods and many generations of gods, where in the Christian one, there is only one god.(10 votes)
- First paragraph - "In Genesis this story is followed immediately by a second creation story, in which humans are created first, followed by plants and animals." The second story in chapter 2 of Genesis isn't another world creation story but a more detailed account of the creation of man. The order of the creation is the same. Plants were created on the 3rd day still. Chapter 2 just points out that they had not yet sprouted out of the ground until after God placed Adam in the garden. Same with the animals. NIV translation reads "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." Had formed is pluperfect tense.(8 votes)
- so this is implying that there were no stars before,''god made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also created the stars-''(5 votes)
- Yes, God did create the stars, the sun, and the Moon.
We Judaists and Christians believe that stars are not just flaming gas balls, but are part of Gods divine council, Gods helpers, if you will.
as for Demons, they are also Gods divine council, but they are the ones who broke off from God, thinking that they can define good and evil, we are controlled by them, the main thing they tell us is that Sex, Money, and Military Power are good things.
the only thing that can defend us is the Bible.
so yeah I hope that answered your question and more!(5 votes)
- When it says asks me to identify the source of the world in this story does the word "World" mean Earth, or the Universe?(5 votes)
- it means Universe and Earth,the creation story is about God (Jehovah) creating the earth and the universe in perfectness. until The Satan came and ruined it all (then became king of the Earth and Death ETC)(3 votes)
- The only true commonalities between the Judeo-Christian origin theme and that of the Greek is that the world began as emptiness. From there, the world was made, among other things--but in very different ways, overall. Did anyone see another similarity?(6 votes)
- By which calendar is being used for measure, especially even if Judaism and Christianity are being grouped together, despite having vastly separate origin points. If you are using the stories of the Torah, then your originating the creation story makes sense. Your use of the Bible to date the creation story wouldn't make sense when the traditional Julian calendar timeline was reset around the "birth" of Christ, and Judaism had existed for hundreds of years already. So saying "These stories were written down in the first millennium BCE and evolved into the form in which we know them around 450 BCE" would probably apply to the Torah, but not the bible, given that the Nicene council determined what would go into the Bible almost a millennium from that point. I'm just wondering about clarification of the time frame when attempting to use two similar creation stories from two different religions, even if certain personalities are shared between the two.(5 votes)
- how can you call it a Christian myth if Christian didn't exist at 450 BCE(3 votes)