Taken from: Bibliotheca Sacra and Theological Review
By Rev. Samuel Hopkins, Milton, N. Y.
§ 4. Cosmogonic Days.
We now suspend our critical examination of the Mosaic text. Before taking up our study of the creative day, we wish to present some thoughts about the "cosmogonic day," so-called, which throws itself into conflict with our previous reasonings and conclusions. While doing this, however, we shall ignore those reasonings and conclusions, and shall look at this matter of cosmogonic days, in its relation to our general subject, on independent grounds. We state our present business thus:
Given — the organization of universal matter, by natural processes, from its crude state of torpidity and darkness into the present cosmos; To find — its genesistic days, and their agreement or disagreement with the Mosaic genesis.
Before taking up our problem, it devolves upon us to show, as definitely as we can, what we are to understand by the vital term, "genesistic days"; or, as they are more commonly called, "cosmogonic days"; or, as we prefer to call them, "aeonic days." As nearly as we can ascertain, a cosmogonic day denotes: 1. The phenomenon — cosmic light; 2. Some one creative work — cosmogonic; 3. The time — indefinite — from the initiation to the termination of any one such creative work.1
These are the best definitions of the word "day" which we can find; of the word used in a cosmogonic sense. Had they been more concise, probably they would have been more lucid.
I. Our first object is, to find these cosmogonic days, if we can; that is, to find their development in the processive construction of the vast congregation of worlds. The two extremes are: primal matter, astronomic perfection. Cosmogony proper does not include inhabiters of worlds nor furniture of worlds. It terminates with construction and position. It comprehends only the process or processes by which the crude matter of the universe was brought into that beautiful arrangement of individualities which we call the cosmos.
The question now is: In this one grand creative work were there definable divisions — one definite creative work, a pause; another definite creative work, a pause; and so on, until, by one after another, the grand work, cosmic construction, was completed? If so, then were there cosmogonic days — successive times, momentary or aeonic, in each creative operation.
We will now frankly state — but disclaiming all scientific pretensions — how our thoughts take hold of the question before us. In doing this, we avail ourselves of a few elementary data borrowed from cosmic science.
Primordial matter was dormant. The first divine act towards its cosmic organization was its stimulation — infusing it with activity. At the moment of activity, and by it, light was evolved, and incandescence, and chemical action, and centripetal action (synthesis), and centrifugal action (analysis) or separation, and separation of separations, and cooling, and condensation, astronomic position and functions. Yet all these phenomena were but one — different names for that same activity which was the Creator's one creation. When we have activity we have the whole of cosmogony. Light is no more the manifestation of activity than these other phenomena are. Nor are the other phenomena anything else than matter's activity. This point seems to us very clear. The point is suggestive. We utilize it by following out its suggestions.
All the phenomena of nature — all her forms of life, all her gestations, all her births, all her deaths, all her catastrophes, all her mutations — are resolvable into her one omnipresent phenomenon, motion. Her organic units and her inorganic, her solids, her fluids, visible and invisible, tangible and intangible, and all her varieties of light are but her various manifestations of her birthday gift. They have been nothing else; they ever will be nothing else. We may classify her combinations as we please, and analyze her elements as we may be able, and give out for her as many cosmogonic or geogonic names as we can frame. But motion is the substratum and the reality of the whole. It clings to all alike; it makes all alike — atom, molecule, dust, light, planet, comet, nebula, vital organism, death. Whatever we can predicate of one or of all is comprised in motion.
But motion in matter is more than universal; it is perpetual. From the first flash which announced activity to the present moment, that activity has never ceased. It has never intermitted; it has never been suspended; it has never "paused," anywhere. It has always sustained its virgin glory, and worn its vestal robe, and put forth its genial day as a token of its ceaseless, tireless, wakeful, energizing presence. And should it once collapse and stop to be, darkness would again be the universal shroud, and death the universal doom. It was this one creation which evolved light, which sent off the countless scintillations from the grand incandescent mass. It was this one creative operation which ranged these several fragments into groups, and poised them in space, and sped them on their several ways. It was this one creative operation which did sustain the luminosity of each sun, which did reduce the bulk and exhaust the light of other masses, till each became a planet or a planet's satellite; all doing homage to their central world, which was yet glowing, yet throbbing as at its first impulse from the creative word. It is this one creative operation which has ever impelled that grand alleluia which is without speech, without language, without voice. This one creation of God is material nature's only force, and she never drops it. She knows no rest; and her everlasting unrest is her everlasting secret, and God's. Nature's motion is nature's operation. It is her dowry from the hand of God — her exhaustless and perpetual dowry, because perpetually sustained; without parts, without periods, without suspensions, without resumptions, without days. And if her operation does not recognize such things, neither can the science of her operation. Activity in decay, as well as in growth. Activity in decay — analytic; activity in formation — synthetic; activity every where; activity unpausing.
Cosmic light, cosmic separation, cosmic arrangement, cosmic harmony, cosmic oneness, cosmic symmetry, cosmic beauty were not so many distinct creations. They were only so many "appearings" of that sole and perpetuated creation which woke the first pulsation "under the ribs of death." In the grand creating — the cosmic — there was but one creation — the cosmos. Nor can the keenest eye fix upon a point in the calendar of the universe at which there was any halting in the universe-process. Cosmic creating was one, and knew of no "pause" until the grand result. Nor has the cosmic creation known any " pause " of its activity since the point of its culmination. When God woke up universal matter he charged it with one mission — to do, and to do, and to do. That was his creative act, and that creation was his creative behest. Universal matter obeyed. No pause after light; no pause after separation; no pause after the individualization of worlds; no pause after their astronomic perfection. The mission of universal matter was to do, and not to pause. Universal matter, we say, has obeyed, and yet obeys. That is the whole of cosmogony.
To be sure, the cosmos was made, and the world was made, and each was a distinct and complete "event" of creative power, each a separate and complete "event " of nature's indefeasible activity. But, if we will have it that each " whole event " creative had its own " great period of development," — that is, its cosmogonic day in the cosmogonic calendar, — then from the point of primal activity there were as many cosmic days as creative events; not one, or three, or six, but millions of millions. From primal activity to the creative event, this world in its astronomic relations, was a cosmic day, an aeonic day. From the same point to the creative event, Adam, was also an aeonic day. From the same point to the creative event, Eve was also an aeonic day. For, all the while, matter in all its parts was in constant motion, and in some of its parts was in constant motion toward each resultant event (compare Ps. exxxix. 15, 16). Yet, all the while, there were no days, in the sense of any "divisions," suspensions, "pauses," or termini of cosmic toil or divine operation; for the one was without ceasing or completion, and the other (if we will discriminate) was concurrent. As time, the first creative day, like a mathematical point, was below measurement; for there was no point where there was neither light nor darkness, motion and no motion. But as time, the creative day of this world, or the creative day of any other world, or the creative day of Adam, was above measurement.
We think we are not mistaken in all this. We think, too, that we shall have the concurrence of every reflecting mind which takes up the matter manfully and by itself. But if such is the secret of nature, — if there was no suspension of activity during the construction of the universe, — then there were no stages of activity, no distinct " periods of development," no " solemn pauses " in the work of cosmogony, " marking off epochs " creative; that is, marking off that activity into parcels. And if so, then (in reality) there were no such things as dies ineffabiles, cosmogonic days. But if this be true, then the biblical interpreter has no authority from natural science for claiming that the " days " of the Mosaic creating denote ages of time.
We are not aware that natural science, free from the bias of a timorous theology, does recognize any such distinctly marked phases in the process of cosmogony as are signified by the expression " a cosmogonic day," or any pauses between one cosmogonic phenomenon and a succeeding one. Therefore we put the question, and with as much preciseness as we can: In cosmic creation — that is, in the processes by which the worlds were individualized and solidified — can science show us any points where processive and formative motion was suspended upon the completion of any one cosmic phenomenon? If so, then between the points of that motion begun and that motion stopped, we have found a " cosmogonic day," and if the period be immense, an aeonic day. If science return a negative answer, then does she not only not sanction, but she does explode, the cosmogonic interpretation of the Mosaic narrative. If she return an affirmative answer, on good grounds and honestly, she does not touch our interpretation. She only explodes the structure of discursive thought which we have just now interjected; so that we have only to confess, and to accept the cosmogonic day, and to pursue our problem under the incumbrance.
II. We therefore proceed upon the postulate that there were cosmogonic days such as have been defined; and we now attempt to find their agreement or disagreement with the genesistic narrative of Moses.
1. When the vast mass of the primitive nebula was first moved, it gave forth light. This mass was separated by natural processes, and while in a state of intense and glowing heat, into innumerable globular masses, ultimately forming the various astronomic systems of the universe. Some of these gradually lost their light and heat; others still retain them, and now perform the offices of suns. These facts we receive as being well established through the investigations of modern science. Therefore throughout the universe light has never ceased. Even the masses (worlds) which have ceased to be self-luminous are illumined by the light of the suns. This perpetual light, which with reference to its birth and universality we call cosmic light, is the same which God at some time called " day." Or, the light primal, which shone during the vast ages of cosmogony, and which still shines, is cosmogonic day. The one day, and the only day, which now pertains to the entire cosmos is no fable; but a perpetual and universe-al reality. The true cosmogonic day existed before our sun. It existed before our world was astronomically arranged. It is aeonic in so large a sense that it existed on the eve of cosmogony (properly so-called), and during its progress, and now exists. It is independent of all astronomic phenomena. It is ubiquitous.
Although the cosmogonic day, in its academic and theologic sense, contains the other essential elements which we have named in its definition, yet the light which it comprises is light so conditioned as we have just described, whether ante-solar or post-solar.
Now, according to the Mosaic writing, at the very point of time when God did invoke and evolve light, he did separate between it and the darkness. Not that he did "divide" the light or day, nor that he did blend the light and the darkness, but that he did "separate between" the two. Each was then. Of course, at the same time, the one was in some one place; the other (no light), in some other place.
If the Hebrew historian is writing about cosmogony, — the genesis of the universe, — then he is here writing of cosmic light, or cosmogonic day; and this is necessarily the construction of all his cosmogonic expounders. We therefore transfer the Mosaic words, " God did separate between the light and between the darkness," to the precise point, the birth of cosmic light.
Where was the darkness? The light had dispossessed it, displaced it, dispersed it, annihilated it. It was nowhere; it was not. The light had monopolized the grand nebulous mass, — the universe, — and there was no place for it. The co-existence of the two was a physical impossibility; for there was no opaque matter to serve as separator (Ante § iii. 1), beyond which might be cast a shadow of great darkness. Therefore, at this initial point of cosmic time, any separation between the light and between the darkness annihilated was, in a double sense, a physical impossibility. There was then no such separation; and thus there is a stern conflict between the ante-solar universe-light and the textual statement that the light and the darkness, being co-existent, were separated. If both are true, then the language of Moses must refer to some other state of things than that created by primal cosmic light.
2. Another matter for comparison. It is really out of place under our present postulate; but we present it parenthetically, because no better opportunity may occur. To bring it out clearly, we are obliged to re-present the unity of the cosmic day (light), but in a form somewhat modified.
Cosmogonic ante-solar day, so far as its light-element is concerned, does not admit of successions. That light did not shine and go out and shine again. Nor did it admit of successions by shining and expiring and giving place to other created lights. While as yet there was no cosmos, even in incipient outline; while as yet there was no one phenomenon but light's monocratic self; while, through after ages, its offspring spheres were yet self-radiant, like their grand source; and while, through ages yet succeeding, world after world did subside into planets with their satellites, and by their own motion did acquire to themselves successive days — this cosmic light, this cosmic day, was yet, as it had ever been, a unit, without mutation, without loss, perpetuating itself in the princely suns which had kept their princely estate. Thus, from the grand era of the universal morning, notwithstanding the mutations of spheres, there has been but one cosmic day, with never a cosmic evening or a cosmic night. From the morning of primal creation to our historic sunshine, and hence till now, ever the same.
Such is the cosmic light of science. Such is the true cosmogonic day — a stupendous, changeless, solitary day. In no sense can it have been duplicated and reduplicated, or numerated, or calendared. Yet if we will read cosmogony in the Mosaic creating, we must invent a science of numbers by which one shall be equal to six, by which six shall be shrunken to one.
In other words, the' true cosmogonic day (or light) being but one continuous and changeless fact, there could not have been successive days or lights, in any sense whatever, upon any topos, until after astronomic arrangement and astronomic motion. Therefore, as our writer does enumerate days before his mention of celestial luminaries, he does thereby emphatically, although tacitly, represent that cosmogony had been perfected before that creating which he narrates.
3. The evenings of the Mosaic days must be brought into comparison with cosmogonic days. Each Mosaic day had its evening. If these days were cosmogonic, then we want to find evenings in cosmogonic days.
The word "evening," when not used tropically out of the realm of visible nature, always (in Hebrew as in English) designates the fading part of the light of day, just as Moses applies it. Would we apply it to cosmic light, or to cosmogonic, periodic days? But how can we? The primal light may have increased, but it never has decreased. It never has lapsed to a minimum. In respect to their light-element, cosmogonic days have been of uniform volume and uniformly ubiquitous. In the several detachments from the primal nebula which have become planetary worlds, the light has faded and failed and gone out forever. But the grand cosmic light has not failed nor fainted. The universal day has remained in its strength. It has remained corporate and unabated in countless suns. It has remained re-illumining all bankrupt orbs to the outmost cosmic verge. It has remained without mornings of increase, without evenings of diminution.
With respect to the other elements of cosmogonic days (ante p. 716), did they diminish? Had they their evenings? Did time know stages of subsidence? Did each creative work diminish? Creative time did always advance, and so did each creative work. But if no one of its elementals did glide into diminution, — neither light nor time nor phenomenal event, — neither, of course, did anyone cosmogonic day. In other words, there were no evenings in the stupendous processes of cosmic creating; and the creative Mosaic days, which had them, must have been days in some other sense. And yet cosmogonic scholarship has devised an evening phase even for cosmogonic days! Let us examine these devisings.
"The evening of each day was a diminution of the darkness which went before."2 This is certainly unlike our usual way of speaking. We always call the "diminution of darkness," morning, and always call the "diminution" of its light, the "evening" of a day. But this is a minor matter.
Looking at the statement from a very different point, we judge it to be a mistake — a mistake, because the cosmic darkness (if we may so express it) was gone. Cosmic light had usurped its place, had ostracised it absolutely, had abolished it. As we have before stated and illustrated, since the first cosmic illumination there has been no cosmic darkness, save those tiny spots of shadow behind lightless worlds. And even that shadow-darkness could not have been until the expiry of photospheres had come to pass, and astronomic perfection also. How, then, could there have been darkness within the universe when, at the birth of light, universal matter was all ablaze? How could there then have been any " diminution of darkness," when, on the first day, there was no darkness to be diminished?
But cosmogonic exposition of this Hebrew text goes a step farther: "The evening of the first day was that dark, chaotic time preceding."3 The purport of this is large and peculiar, and being so very definite, we will try and unfold it.
(1) If it mean anything, it means that a preceding "time" was co-present with a succeeding time, and even that the preceding did overlap the succeeding in order to get at five more succeeding " times "! So that the evening which we thus extort from chaos for the first aeonic day cannot serve for the complement of the latter five, without a wrenching more and more amazing, more and more cruel, as each day is more and more remote from the ante-creative darkness. And then, how about the reserved "chaotic darkness," the portion of that seventh and sabbatic aeonic, at whose " evening the last hour of humanity will strike"?4 Will "the dark chaotic" overleap the vast interim between the day- spring of the universe and the knell of mankind?
(2) This making the first day — God's first cosmic work — to consist in part of ante-creative darkness is only making a part of God's creative work to be in existence before he wrought creatively at all.
(3) This is making the first day, and the others too, to be part darkness and part light; although God, as by the record, said that it was light.
(4) Moreover, whereas Moses certifies that the first day was evening (עָרָב) and morning, this exposition says that it was darkness (השָׁןְ) or night (לַרְלָה) and morning.
But the Mosaic evenings have a peculiarity which must be brought into comparison with cosmogonic days. "Evening" always stands in connection with "morning." They are presented uniformly as "the two contrasted states "of that" one completed period"5 denominated a day. We do not propose to bring them into comparison with cosmogonic days as being periods of time. Every day — whether a solar day, or a lunar day, or a life-day, or a hey-day, or a day of grace, or a six-day day (Gen. ii. 4) — has its beginning and its ending, as has also any event which may pertain to either of such days.
Our eye is not fixed upon the words themselves, — "morning" and "evening," — but upon the order in which the sacred writer uniformly places them. It is the reverse of the common order. It is the reverse of the apparent order in which these natural phenomena occur. It is an order to which the writer cleaves persistently throughout the series of creative days; an order which he elects deliberately, purposely, solemnly, emphatically, descriptively, definitively; an order which he drops as soon as the creative series is concluded. There is, unquestionably, a meaning in all this, and also a reason for it — a point which we reserve, however, as not within the scope of our present topic. It will come before us in the regular course of our investigations.
By his very peculiar allocation of these words, the writer presents this idea — that the days of which he writes had their evenings before their mornings, and their mornings after their evenings. Now, how can any day, or any event of any day, have its evening (its ending) first, and its morning (its beginning) last? The problem may, or may not, be solved when we come to examine the Mosaic days. But the question now is simply: Is it solvable in its application to cosmogonic days, strictly so-called? Let us make our comparison with the day's several elements — light, time, and phenomenal event, or creative work.
"Evening" in its primary sense could not pertain to cosmic light at all, either as its first state or as its last; for, if there were any change in the primal day, it could only have been in the way of its greater intensity. And as for its latter state, it has as yet had no evening.
As for "time." There is no such thing as a time, Lilliput or Brobdinag, having its ending in advance of its beginning, and its beginning in the rear of its ending. The same is true of any "creative event." No sophistry, no word-craft can fit such a coat upon a cosmogonic day. The impossibility is so clear that it neither admits of proof nor of illustration.
It will be conceded on all hands that the Hebrew writer did not use these descriptive terms to represent either an impossibility or an absurdity. As interpreters, we are not at liberty to reverse his reversion of their common order, that we may make them decently applicable to cosmogonic days; but we are at liberty to say, — or, rather, we are under an exegetical necessity of saying, — that the day which he describes in such style, and with the intense emphasis of persistent repetition, could not have been, in his mind's eye, a cosmogonic day, which does not correspond to his peculiar description.
In other words, when we come to test cosmogonic days by this descriptive language of the Mosaic text, we find that the Mosaic wrestle hard and mortally with the aeonic days, which would usurp their royalty in the text. Thus we find, beyond a peradventure, that the aeonic are not applicable there, that they do not belong there, that they are essentially and entirely different from the Mosaic creative days. In short, they do utterly lack, and by no legerdemain can they be made to develop, this unique feature of the Mosaic day. Thus they themselves do prove that the Mosaic days, whose endings were first and whose beginnings were last, belong to some other creating than that of the cosmos.
4. We suggest another comparison. The seventh day is mentioned without the remarkably descriptive formula which is attached to the others. Yet it is linked to them, and classed with them, by its rhetorical position, by its ordinal number, and by its definite article. Thus it is necessarily taken to be just such a day as the others — one of a series. We are not aware that it has ever been regarded otherwise. If the six were solar days, so was the seventh; if the six were aeonic, so was the seventh.
(1) The narrator does not state, in express terms, that morning and evening were (or are) pertainings of the seventh day; but he strongly implies it. And he implies as strongly, and in the same way, that the terms should be supplied, as having here the same meaning and the same relative order as before. But if, in this respect, the seventh day be represented as like the six, then it has had its evening before its morning. Now, if one persist that the six days were aeonic, then he must claim (and all cosmogonic interpreters do, of course, claim) that the seventh day, being aeonic, is now in progress. Now, it is simply impossible to conceive that an aeonic day in which we live, and which is now in progress, has already had its evening or close, and is also advancing towards its beginning or morning. And if we do not admit that its close has already past, then, following out the analogy of the six days, we must logically admit that the seventh day has not yet begun! And then, by logical necessity, come the unpleasant corollaries, that the Creator's sabbath has not yet begun, and that the narrator describing it as begun does not tell the truth.
There can be but two ways of avoiding all this nonsense, and of also avoiding the impeachment which it involves, which, in turn, impeaches the whole story. At least, so it seems to us.
The one is, to desert the analogy of the six days (which makes the narrative a confusion), by reversing the order of evening and morning. This method, bold as it is, is now in the ascendant. We find it most distinctly and publicly avowed. Thus: " Each day begins with an evening followed by a morning. . . . . . . At the end of each of the six working days of creation we find an evening. But the morning of the seventh is not followed by any evening. The day is still open." A very remarkable method of leaping the landmarks of the text to get at an aeonic sabbath with its evening and morning transposed!
The other method of avoiding these absurdities and impeachments is, to make them our expounders of the seventh day, — to see how imperatively they point out to us that this day, like the others, must have been of such a nature that its evening could have preceded its morning — a phenomenon utterly impossible for an aeonic day, which has no relation to astronomic facts. By this method we do no wrong to the text. But we find, in so doing, that the seventh day does testify, in a way peculiarly its own, that the days creative were not aeonic.
(2) A cosmogonic day, we remind ourselves, includes not only time and light, but some one cosmic creation begun and completed. The one is as essential to the reality as are the others. Besides, it not only includes time, but diuturnal time. Therefore, in every cosmogonic day we must find its several complements — light all along, a cosmic creative event, and time aeonic. We mean, of course, a creative event in the physical sense, and not in the psychical.
Now the historic and essential feature of the seventh day is simply this — that during that day God did suspend creative work. Both cosmogony and geogony had been completed. Moreover, the superficies of our world had been " created, even unto an inhabiting "; and this completeness was attained at the point when God did imbreathe "the glory of the man," and did bring her to him. God had ended the work which he had made. On the seventh day he had ceased from it; and this day was not marked by any creative event. Surely, then, the seventh day, being a non-creative, a divine sabbatic day, is not cosmogonic; for it lacks an essential characteristic of a cosmogonic day — a creative event.
It may be rejoined: "That a literal cosmogonic day was, indeed, impossible; because cosmogony had ceased, and the creative element drops out, of course. But that dropping out of the creative does by no means involve the dropping out of the aeonic." Very well. But we claim the privilege of taking some exceptions to this adroit change of front.
The aeonic character of cosmogonic days is based upon an aeonic necessity. But if that necessity cease, then it is but an illogical and a false exegesis which claims that the aeonic stage is still to be recognized. Now, from what arises the aeonic necessity in cosmic creation? (We admit the necessity, though not the periodicity.) The necessity of an aeonic duration of a cosmogonic day arises from cosmogony itself — from the acknowledged fact that the cosmos was created by natural processes. Perceiving this, we perceive at once that these processes, in the creating of such a structure from such diffused material, must have been of immense duration; and, through the paucity of our data (if for no other reason), the ages which must have been involved are utterly beyond our calculation. Hence it is that we are obliged to say that a cosmic creative day is "without any computed duration." We cannot compute the measure of time required for any one given creation.
Now, if we postulate definite or indefinite days or stages as belonging to cosmogony, we do logically and necessarily. postulate aeonic stages or days. It is the processive creation which creates the aeonic necessity. If, therefore, there be no processive creation, there is nothing by which or for which to mark out an aeon. In such a case, to speak of aeonic time is a simple and obvious misnomer. The necessity, the propriety, the very possibility of an aeonic day are gone, if aeonic creatings have ceased. The moment we have duration (time) passing along without any creative event in progress, we are out of the range of aeonics, and must grope hopelessly to find an aeonic day. No creating, no aeon. It is, therefore, but a delusion to predicate "aeonic " of "day," as an equivalent for "cosmogonic day," when that very creating is lacking which only can create aeonic day.
That the seventh Mosaic day stands creationless is con ceded by the common voice. Therefore the reasons for assigning aeonic time-periods to cosmogonic days are not true in this case. Consequently there is no sense in which the seventh day can consistently or plausibly be denominated a cosmogonic day, or even an aeonic. The aeonic element may not be supposed to exist where the cosmic creative does not.
Therefore we rejoin to the rejoinder which we have extemporized, that "the dropping of the creative" does "involve the dropping of the aeonic." What then ?
Why, it follows not only that there is no reason why the seventh day should be accounted an aeonic, but that there is every reason, in its non-creativeness, why it should not be so accounted. We are therefore compelled, even on cosmogonic grounds, to write it down a non-aeonic day; and we do so. But if it was a non-aeonic day, then it was either akin to the six in respect to time-likeness, or it was not.
If it was not, the unlikeness is serious; because it spoils the textual fabric before us. That fabric (as we have already illustrated) indicates, almost with the force of a distinct and positive assertion, that day was wholly like each one of the six, and yet instantly reveals that it was wholly unlike, being non-creative and non-aeonic. What are we to think of such a narrative? We have been deluded by the very structure of the text! We are all afloat and bewildered !
If we would find harmony, consistency, or even literary respectability in the document, we must find that the seven days are alike in respect to light, in respect to duration, in respect to evening and morning, in respect to evening before morning, in respect to every particular save that one in which we are told that there was a difference.
We have, then, our exegetical choice — either to hold that the seventh day is wholly unlike the six (thus impeaching the entire story); or else to hold that the uncreative seventh was not aeonic, and that, therefore, and like it, its fellows were not. But in this latter case we must give up the traditional tenet that Moses is describing cosmogony. Dare we?
(3) Another statement about the seventh day taps us on the shoulder. If the six days were aeonic, then the day which God did "bless and sanctify" was aeonic; and this seventh aeonic was, and is, and is to be, the sabbath of God, " until a new creative aeon arises in the divine counsels."6
But where is the Sabbath which was " made for man "? Where, in this outline of the seventh aeonic, is there any reference to that Sabbath-day which man is to " remember and keep holy "? Surely his Sabbath is not the same as God's! Surely, his Sabbath is not this aeonic seventh, which has never been intermitted, and which is perpetually evolving?
Well; was it the seventh nature-day, or astronomic? By no means; for (by the aeonic reading) no such day is brought out in the whole creative discourse, nor even where the seventh day is announced. It may not be said that, as the seventh aeonic opened, the seventh solar opened with it; that while the latter lasted it did coincide with the former, and was included by it; and that, therefore, the seventh solar was " blessed and sanctified " with it and for man. The assertion of such a coincidence is purely hypothetical, and unworthy the name of exegesis. There is no evidence, textual or otherwise, that such was the fact. But even if it was, the seventh solar did not lose its identity under the aegis of the seventh aeonic. Though the greater did include the less, nevertheless, they were two; and the naming of the one by our writer is not the naming of the other. Nor were the blessing and sanctifying of the aeonic the blessing and sanctifying of the astronomic. Only one was so distinguished — the day (aeonic) of God's rest. Therefore we have no textual right to say that both wore so distinguished. Nay, more, the text itself forbids us to say so — expressly, distinctly, positively, sharply. One is not two. Nor is "it" any other than the self-same day on which God did rest. "He did rest on the seventh day, and did bless and sanctify it."7
It is very easy to say that God did bless and sanctify
both days; but that does
not make it true. Besides, here is a bit of grammar, involving a bit of
arithmetic, in the text, which says that it is not true — which says that God
did bless and sanctify one day — one day only — the day of his own rest. That
simple pronoun "it" (peculiarly emphasized in the Hebrew) has the authority,
the sanctity, the integrity, and the inviolability of a unit. It has, too, the
authority of grammatic rigidity, as unyielding as that of the numeral which it
expresses. The "it" locks out the seventh solar day absolutely, if it be the
pro-noun of the day aeonic.
If the major and the minor propositions are true, the con clusion, being inevitable, is also true. Well, this leaves us but a step to our final conclusion:
5. We present one more point of comparison. The He brew writer states that the creative work which he describes was performed on six days.
While looking at this statement, let us keep in view that a cosmogonic day comprises time "without any computed duration," and also comprises some one creative event or work produced within that time. An aeonic time to each work, an aeonic work to each time, — solar days only occur ring, by the bye, as enlivening episodes, during the last three. In the comparison we now make, the element of time is of no importance. We bring into view only this point: That, in a given series, the cosmogonic days correspond to the number of the phenomenal creations. In the series before us, if the writer uses the word "day" in the cosmogonic sense, then there must be as many creative days as creative products, and as many creative products as creative days. No more and no less of the one, no more and no less of the other.
Let us explain. There might, indeed, have been two or more distinct creative operations — that is, two or more distinct creations — in progress at the same time, or on the same day, whether cosmogonic or solar. But in that case, the one must have been begun when the other was begun, and must have been completed when the other was completed, else their respective times or days would not have coincided. If the day of the one began before the day of the other, or ended before that of the other, or if it began and ended before that of the other, then the day of each would have been not the same, but different; although for a while the days would have run along in parallel, that is, each processive fact would have been proceeding over the very same time.
But no two or more of the creative products herein nominated did share the same creation-time; for they did neither begin together, nor end together, nor did they begin and end together. They are laid before us by the writer, not only as having been diverse entities, but as having been successive entities — first one, and afterwards another. This is true of every one of the creative facts named. Therefore, as the facts were different and successive, the days of ' the facts should be different and successive also, provided only that the days were cosmogonic. Or, throwing our meaning into a more condensed and perhaps a more lucid form: While different creative products may have been evolved on the same cosmogonic day, yet successive products must have been evolved on successive cosmogonic days, that is, on different days.
With this unquestionable truth in hand, we now turn to the Mosaic creating. We perceive that no two or more of the creative facts were simultaneous. All were successive — one after another. On one of the days two creative facts occurred — the gathering of the waters into seas and the outgoing of vegetation — facts as entirely distinct as were the light-fact and the expanse-fact. On another day land- animals were brought into being, also the man, also the woman — three creative facts as entirely distinct as were the light-fact and the expanse-fact and the sea-fact. Indeed, taking up the different creative phenomena here presented as successive creations, we have no less than nine creative facts or "appearings" or "whole events" or "great works" — light, the expanse, the gathering of the seas, vegetable life, sunshine, aquatic life, brute life, Adam, Eve. Thus, according to his own definition, the cosmogonic reader ought to find here nine days; but Moses has given him only six.
Corollary. — Unless the sacred writer has made clerical blunders, or unless he could not count nine, it is impossible that he should use the word " day " in a cosmogonic sense. His very numerals are his vouchers for this. His common capacity being conceded, he must have meant such "days" as did admit within their limits different and successive events.
Yet, upon this matter of numbers, our comparison is by no means limited to the creative events specified in the Mosaic text. In each successive phenomenon down to the creation of man, cosmogonic interpretation professes to recognize a cosmic day. But, instead of so reckoning all the phenomena, it coolly elects such six of them as are most convenient for its purpose. But science is not made dumb by being deftly fingered. Even if admitting, for courtesy's sake, that " day " may stand for creative event, and creative event for day, she rebukes the interpreter who trims the Mosaic account in her name. She tells him openly that he is not honest; that he has not taken even a moiety of the cosmic phenomena or days which stand on her list; that for his special purpose he writes down six, and yet, away from this purpose, writes down more.
And he does. As a secular writer, he counts off thus: Light, separation of primal matter, condensation of separations into solid globes, mineral incandescence, subsidence of incandescence, geogonic formations, recession of the world's deluge, invertebral life, fish-life, plant-life, reptile-life, inferior mammals, man.8 Thirteen distinct and successive creative developments which, by the rule, should be counted as so many cosmogonic days. In the rôle of a religious writer, however, he counts only six days.
We do not notice the disagreement, under the rule, between the chronological order of certain creations as specified by science and as specified by Moses. But we insist upon the very serious disagreement between the catalogue of creative phenomena furnished by theologic craft and that furnished by wratheologic science. It is useless to wince under this fact. It is useless to talk Jesuit about it. If a creative event be a day, these thirteen creative events (there may have been many more) are death to the cosmogonic interpretation of the Hebrew story.
And yet the story is not touched; because, even if cosmogonic days are not fancies, Moses could not have been so demented as to write of them, and yet put two into one and three into another. Because, also, although cosmic creatings and geogonic creatings are historic facts, Moses does not specify one single development of either kind, not even (as we expect to show) of primal light. Because, also, these creatings themselves, not able to find themselves in his story, do thereby bear witness that he has nothing to do with them.
Let us now turn back to the proposition which has impelled us to this discussion. It was proposed: To find whether, in the construction of the cosmos by natural processes, there were any proper cosmic days; and whether, if there were, they do or do not correspond to the days of the Mosaic creating.
On the first point, we have failed, rightly or wrongly; and have given reasons, sound or unsound, for our failure.
Upon the second point, we have proceeded upon the sup position that, notwithstanding our opinion to the contrary, there may have been such days; and have therefore brought them into comparison with the Mosaic text.
We have found that the cosmic day, or cosmic light, could not have been the day or light spoken of in the text; because the latter was co-existing with darkness, which could not have been the case, in any sense or degree, with the primal cosmic light.
We have also found that cosmic light or day has always been one, never admitting of succession or of enumeration in any possible sense; while each was true of the Mosaic light or day.
We have found that cosmic days, so-called, could not have had any evening or waning in regard to their element of light, even though it might be predicable of their respective times and events. More especially have we found that they could not have had, in any sense whatever, any evenings or endings in advance of their mornings or beginnings. Whereas the Mosaic days did have their evenings in advance of their mornings.
We have found, also, that to receive as aeonic the seventh Mosaic day, with evening first and morning last, involves a gross absurdity, which, in its turn, implicates the integrity and trustworthiness of the whole narrative; that, being avowedly a non-creative day, it could not, like cosmogonic days, have been aeonic, because — no creating, no aeon; and that, being confessedly like the six, it does therefore itself bear witness that they cannot be aeonic, and by consequence are not cosmogonic.
We have found also, that the seventh day, being the very same which was appointed as a sabbath for man, must have been an astronomic day, and that thus it does again bear witness that its six fellow days were also astronomic, not aeonic, not cosmogonic.
Finally, we have found that, if a cosmogonic day is coeval and co-extensive with a cosmogonic creative event, then the Mosaic narrative does distinctly disavow such days; because it specifies more such events than its number of days; and also that cosmic history contains a still larger excess of cosmogonic days.
Here, then, we have very many and very serious reasons — all independent of each other, and all evolved by textual comparisons — for concluding, as we do, that, even if there were proper cosmogonic days in cosmic history, they do not concur with the days of Mosaic history; and that, therefore, if this history have any claim to credence, it cannot be a history of cosmogony. The creation which it designates must have been some other and some minor creation.
Such are the results of our investigation. If our comparison of cosmogonic days with the Mosaic text is made under mental defect or mental illusion, then is our conclusion defective or illusive. We make no effort to prove our sufficiency of personal parts. At least, we have been honest. We gladly take leave of a course of thought which has necessarily been somewhat polemic — too much so to suit our taste or our habit. And more gladly do we resume our simpler, safer, and more congenial task of trying to unfold the true meaning of the Mosaic text itself. We have digressed to this discussion only that we may be as free as possible from any annoyance which the general subject might occasion us in the more quiet and simple work yet before us. The discussion itself will stand or fall according to its own merits or demerits.
We take leave of this particular theme with a word which may stimulate to reflection, or to investigation, or to both, any whom it may concern. Unless we have greatly slipped in our watchful examination of the entire Hebrew scriptures, there is no one instance out of two thousand (bating this opening chapter) in which the word רוֺם, "day," stands to express indefinite time. On the contrary, it denotes, in every case, some definite and describable time. We are also quite sure that it always points to astronomic day as the concrete unit of time, or, more strictly speaking, of light- measure. If we are right, then to assume that the word has an aeonic sense in this brief narrative (to say nothing of four other senses) seems to us very bold and very arbitrary.
1) "Creative pauses, or successive natures." "First the phenomenon, the appearing itself; then a period to denote the whole event." "The ante-solar day, marked by no sunrising or sunsetting, or any astronomical measurement, and without any computed duration." "The light is still evolving in the second day." — Lewis, in Lange, pp. 131-134, passim. "A great period of development of that world of matter just created, — the immeasurable body of gaseous matter. A day measured not by any definite time, but by the work assigned to it." "The first day's work was the production of light." — Guyot, Proceedings of Evangelical Alliance, 1873. p. 290. col. 2. 1.
2) Professor Lewis, in Lunge, p. 134.
3) Professor Guyot, "Evangelical Alliance," p. 280, col. 2.
4) Professor Guyot, "Evangelical Alliance," p. 286, col. 2.
5) Professor Lewis in Lange, p. 133.
6) Professor Lewis, in Lange, p. 196, col. 2.
7) The expression אֺהוֺ is very definite and emphatic. The אֵה is what Nordheimer calls an illustrative particle, "corresponding nearly in its use to the Latin scilicet" (§ 676. and § 862). This would give the suffix וֺ the force of a demonstrative; the two being equal to self, self-same. See Gesenius אֵה I. 1; who calls it a demonstrative pronoun equivalent to αἀτός, ipse. In a) he refers to "the reflexive use of אֵה as אֺהוֺ ἐαύτον." In the text, equivalent to "blessed the seventh day and sanctified the very same." See also references in Noldius's Concordance, p. 134, col. 2. "In אֺהוֺ."
8) Guyot, " Evangelical Alliance," pp. 240-234, passim.