How Genesis 1:1 Was Changed to Protect Aristotelian Cosmology, and No One Noticed

Until 1986 no one knew that Genesis 1:1 was corrupted long ago, so that the Hebrew verb was changed from *bara *to *b’reshit*. The *bara *verb should indicate that God created something out of nothing, but *b’reshit *is a preposition meaning “in the beginning.” This shift explains why later books of the Bible picture creation as reshaping pre-existent matter (e.g., Isaiah 45:18, Deuteronomy 32:8, Prov 8:22-31, etc.). .

In the original text, “In the beginning God *bara* the heavens and the earth” would have meant that God made the universe out of nothing. But when the Jews translated their Torah into Greek beginning in the mid-third century B.C.E., they used the verb *poieo* in the Septuagint. This Greek verb does not mean “to create out of nothing,” but simply “to make,” “to fabricate,” or “to produce.”  .

When the early church began using the Septuagint as their standard Bible, they adopted its understanding of Genesis 1:1. The church Fathers interpreted *poieo* as a verb of shaping, molding, or organizing rather than creating out of nothing. This view harmonized with the cosmology of the time, which held that matter was eternal and uncreated. .

For more than 1,500 years, the church taught, based on Genesis 1:1, that God did not create the universe out of nothing, but rather shaped it from pre-existing material. The church even added “*ex nihilo* (Latin for “out of nothing”) to the Nicene Creed, so as to deny the heretical belief that God created the world out of nothing. The church did concede that God created the intelligent metaphysical principles in the beginning, such as the laws of physics. The medieval church made this distinction between God creating both physical matter and metaphysical principles out of nothing, and God organizing matter into particular forms by shaping it from pre-existent material. .

It was not until 1986 when a team of Hebrew and Greek scholars published the Chicago-Aramaic Bible, which revealed that in the original Hebrew the first word of the Bible was not *b’reshit *(“in the beginning”) but *bara *(*“created”). This startling revelation overturned centuries of church dogma and opened up new possibilities for understanding God’s creative act. .

In 2002 Hugh Ross attempted to minimize the impact of the discovery of the *bara *verb in the Chicago-Aramaic Bible by claiming that even though God created the universe out of nothing in the beginning, he introduced “God particles” into the primordial void which immediately produced matter (a theory he and Gordon J. Van Wylen called CSR, or the cosmological stepwise refinement model). But this theory requires that God  break the laws of physics he has created in order to create the God particles, which would have been the first matter in the universe. So one of the key presuppositions of CSR—that God always acts in harmony with his own laws—is false. .

Fortunately, we have an alternative. Since the verb *bara *occurs more than 50 times in the Old Testament and always clearly indicates creation ex nihilo, it is safe to conclude that the biblical view of creation is decidedly different from that of secular astronomy. The Genesis record shows us that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. And this is exactly the kind of God who could design and execute a plan to bring human beings into perfect communion with him for all eternity through Jesus Christ. .

The discovery of the *bara *verb should have rocked the Christian world, but few seem to have even heard about it. The reason for this is obvious: the church is fiercely resistant to any change, especially one that would challenge its long-held beliefs about creation and the nature of God. But the truth is the truth, no matter how inconvenient it may be. And the truth is that Genesis 1:1 teaches that God created the universe out of nothing. This is a profound and awe-inspiring truth that should fill us with wonder and gratitude for our Creator..

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