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Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Scripture called heaven and earth that formless matter of the universe, which was changed into formed and beautiful natures by God’s ineffable command…. This heaven and earth, which were confused and mixed up, were suited to receive forms from God their maker.
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Basil the Great

AD 379
[The Manichaeans assert that] the form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer; matter came to the Creator from without; and thus the world results from a double origin. It has received from outside its matter and its essence and from God its form and figure. They thus come to deny that the mighty God has presided at the formation of the universe and pretend that he has only brought a crowning contribution to a common work, that he has only contributed some small portion to the genesis of beings. They are incapable from the debasement of their reasoning of raising their glances to the height of truth. Here below arts are subsequent to matter—introduced into life by the indispensable need of them. Wool existed before weaving made it supply one of nature’s imperfections. Wood existed before carpentering took possession of it and transformed it each day to supply new wants and made us see all the advantages derived from it, giving the oar to the sailor, the winnowing fa...

Basil the Great

AD 379
3. Do not then imagine, O man! That the visible world is without a beginning; and because the celestial bodies move in a circular course, and it is difficult for our senses to define the point where the circle begins, do not believe that bodies impelled by a circular movement are, from their nature, without a beginning. Without doubt the circle (I mean the plane figure described by a single line) is beyond our perception, and it is impossible for us to find out where it begins or where it ends; but we ought not on this account to believe it to be without a beginning. Although we are not sensible of it, it really begins at some point where the draughtsman has begun to draw it at a certain radius from the centre. Thus seeing that figures which move in a circle always return upon themselves, without for a single instant interrupting the regularity of their course, do not vainly imagine to yourselves that the world has neither beginning nor end. For the fashion of this world passes away 1 ...

Basil the Great

AD 379
10. There are inquirers into nature who with a great display of words give reasons for the immobility of the earth. Placed, they say, in the middle of the universe and not being able to incline more to one side than the other because its centre is everywhere the same distance from the surface, it necessarily rests upon itself; since a weight which is everywhere equal cannot lean to either side. It is not, they go on, without reason or by chance that the earth occupies the centre of the universe. It is its natural and necessary position. As the celestial body occupies the higher extremity of space all heavy bodies, they argue, that we may suppose to have fallen from these high regions, will be carried from all directions to the centre, and the point towards which the parts are tending will evidently be the one to which the whole mass will be thrust together. If stones, wood, all terrestrial bodies, fall from above downwards, this must be the proper and natural place of the whole earth. ...

Basil the Great

AD 379
9. Do you suppose that a heavier body prevents the earth from falling into the abyss? Then you must consider that this support needs itself a support to prevent it from falling. Can we imagine one? Our reason again demands yet another support, and thus we shall fall into the infinite, always imagining a base for the base which we have already found. And the further we advance in this reasoning the greater force we are obliged to give to this base, so that it may be able to support all the mass weighing upon it. Put then a limit to your thought, so that your curiosity in investigating the incomprehensible may not incur the reproaches of Job, and you be not asked by him, Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Job 38:6 If ever you hear in the Psalms, I bear up the pillars of it; see in these pillars the power which sustains it. Because what means this other passage, He has founded it upon the sea, if not that the water is spread all around the earth? How then can water, the fluid...

Basil the Great

AD 379
8. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. If we were to wish to discover the essence of each of the beings which are offered for our contemplation, or come under our senses, we should be drawn away into long digressions, and the solution of the problem would require more words than I possess, to examine fully the matter. To spend time on such points would not prove to be to the edification of the Church. Upon the essence of the heavens we are contented with what Isaiah says, for, in simple language, he gives us sufficient idea of their nature, The heaven was made like smoke, that is to say, He created a subtle substance, without solidity or density, from which to form the heavens. As to the form of them we also content ourselves with the language of the same prophet, when praising God that stretches out the heavens as a curtain and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in. In the same way, as concerns the earth, let us resolve not to torment ourselves by trying to find ou...

Basil the Great

AD 379
7. Among arts, some have in view production, some practice, others theory. The object of the last is the exercise of thought, that of the second, the motion of the body. Should it cease, all stops; nothing more is to be seen. Thus dancing and music have nothing behind; they have no object but themselves. In creative arts on the contrary the work lasts after the operation. Such is architecture— such are the arts which work in wood and brass and weaving, all those indeed which, even when the artisan has disappeared, serve to show an industrious intelligence and to cause the architect, the worker in brass or the weaver, to be admired on account of his work. Thus, then, to show that the world is a work of art displayed for the beholding of all people; to make them know Him who created it, Moses does not use another word. In the beginning, he says God created. He does not say God worked, God formed, but God created. Among those who have imagined that the world co-existed with God from all e...

Basil the Great

AD 379
11. We might say the same thing of the heavens. With what a noise of words the sages of this world have discussed their nature! Some have said that heaven is composed of four elements as being tangible and visible, and is made up of earth on account of its power of resistance, with fire because it is striking to the eye, with air and water on account of the mixture. Others have rejected this system as improbable, and introduced into the world, to form the heavens, a fifth element after their own fashioning. There exists, they say, an æthereal body which is neither fire, air, earth, nor water, nor in one word any simple body. These simple bodies have their own natural motion in a straight line, light bodies upwards and heavy bodies downwards; now this motion upwards and downwards is not the same as circular motion; there is the greatest possible difference between straight and circular motion. It therefore follows that bodies whose motion is so various must vary also in their essence. B...

Basil the Great

AD 379
1. It is right that any one beginning to narrate the formation of the world should begin with the good order which reigns in visible things. I am about to speak of the creation of heaven and earth, which was not spontaneous, as some have imagined, but drew its origin from God. What ear is worthy to hear such a tale? How earnestly the soul should prepare itself to receive such high lessons! How pure it should be from carnal affections, how unclouded by worldly disquietudes, how active and ardent in its researches, how eager to find in its surroundings an idea of God which may be worthy of Him! But before weighing the justice of these remarks, before examining all the sense contained in these few words, let us see who addresses them to us. Because, if the weakness of our intelligence does not allow us to penetrate the depth of the thoughts of the writer, yet we shall be involuntarily drawn to give faith to his words by the force of his authority. Now it is Moses who has composed this hi...
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Basil the Great

AD 379
We are proposing to examine the structure of the world and to contemplate the whole universe, not from the wisdom of the world but from what God taught his servant when he spoke to him in person and without riddles.
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Basil the Great

AD 379
6. Such being the different senses of the word beginning, see if we have not all the meanings here. You may know the epoch when the formation of this world began, it, ascending into the past, you endeavour to discover the first day. You will thus find what was the first movement of time; then that the creation of the heavens and of the earth were like the foundation and the groundwork, and afterwards that an intelligent reason, as the word beginning indicates, presided in the order of visible things. You will finally discover that the world was not conceived by chance and without reason, but for an useful end and for the great advantage of all beings, since it is really the school where reasonable souls exercise themselves, the training ground where they learn to know God; since by the sight of visible and sensible things the mind is led, as by a hand, to the contemplation of invisible things. For, as the Apostle says, the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clea...
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Basil the Great

AD 379
It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea but of which we can say nothing, because it is too lofty a subject for men who are but beginners and are still babes in knowledge. The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe perfected his works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names. They fill the essence of this invisible world, as Paul teaches us. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” or virtues or hosts of angels or the dignities of archangels....
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Basil the Great

AD 379
5. It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea, but of which we can say nothing, because it is too lofty a subject for men who are but beginners and are still babes in knowledge. The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe perfected His works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names. They fill the essence of this invisible world, as Paul teaches us. For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers Colossians 1:16 or virtues or hosts of angels or the dignit...
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Basil the Great

AD 379
I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the stren...
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Basil the Great

AD 379
4. One day, doubtless, their terrible condemnation will be the greater for all this worldly wisdom, since, seeing so clearly into vain sciences, they have wilfully shut their eyes to the knowledge of the truth. These men who measure the distances of the stars and describe them, both those of the North, always shining brilliantly in our view, and those of the southern pole visible to the inhabitants of the South, but unknown to us; who divide the Northern zone and the circle of the Zodiac into an infinity of parts, who observe with exactitude the course of the stars, their fixed places, their declensions, their return and the time that each takes to make its revolution; these men, I say, have discovered all except one thing: the fact that God is the Creator of the universe, and the just Judge who rewards all the actions of life according to their merit. They have not known how to raise themselves to the idea of the consummation of all things, the consequence of the doctrine of judgment,...

Ephrem The Syrian

AD 373
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," [ Gen 1:1 ] that is, the substance of the heavens and the substance of the earth. So let no one think that there is anything interpretive (turgama) in the works of the six days. No one can rightly say that the things that pertain to these days were symbolic, nor can one say that they were meaningless names or that other things were symbolized for us by their names. Rather, let us know that just as heaven and earth were created in the beginning, so they were truly heaven and earth. There was no other thing signified by the names "heaven" and "earth". The rest of the works and things made that followed were not meaningless significations either, for the substances of their natures correspond to what their names signify. "In the beginning God created heaven and earth." [ Gen1:1 ] At this point these comprised the only things that had been made, for there was nothing else created along with heaven and earth. Even the elements tha...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Beginning. As St. Matthew begins his Gospel with the same title as this work, the Book of the Generation, or Genesis, so St. John adopts the first words of Moses, in the beginning; but he considers a much higher order of things, even the consubstantial Son of God, the same with God from all eternity, forming the universe, in the beginning of time, in conjunction with the other two Divine Persons, by the word of his power; for all things were made by Him, the Undivided Deity. (Haydock) Elohim, the Judges or Gods, denoting plurality, is joined with a verb singular, he created, whence many, after Peter Lombard, have inferred, that in this first verse of Genesis the adorable mystery of the Blessed Trinity is insinuated, as they also gather from various other passages of the Old Testament, though it was not clearly revealed till our Saviour came himself to be the finisher of our faith. (Calmet) The Jews being a carnal people and prone to idolatry, might have been in danger of misapplying ...
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Hippolytus of Rome

AD 235
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. This is a transcript of the excellent law. But before beginning to give the transcript of the book of the law, it will be worth while to instruct you, O brother, as to its excellence, and the dignity of its disposition. Its first excellence is, that God delivered it by the hand of our most blessed ruler, the chief of the prophets, and first of the apostles, or those who were sent to the children of Israel, viz. Moses the son of Amram, the son of Kohath, of the sons of Levi. Now he was adorned with all manner of wisdom, and endowed with the best genius. Illustrious in dignity, remarkable for the integrity of his disposition, distinguished for power of reason, he talked with God. And He chose him as an instrument of value. By His leader and prophet, God Most High sent it down to us, and committed it to us (blessed be His name) in the Syriac tongue of the Targum, which the Seventy translated into the Hebrew tongue, to w...
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Hippolytus of Rome

AD 235
And the blessed prophet, indeed, the great Moses, wrote this book, and designated and marked it with the title, The Book of Being, i.e., of created beings, etc.
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Jerome

AD 420
I have received the desired letters of my Desiderius, who in a foretelling of things to happen has obtained with Daniel a certain name [see Vulgate Daniel 9.23: quia vir desideriorum es tu, "for you are a man of desires"], beseeching that I might hand over to our hearers a translation of the Pentateuch in the Latin tongue from the Hebrew words. Certainly a dangerous work, open to the barkings of detractors, who accuse me of insult to the Seventy to prepare a new interpretation from the old ones, thus approving ability (or "genius") like wine. As has very often been testified by me, I, for my part, am able to offer a portion in the Tabernacle of God, without the riches (or "abilities") of one being damaged by the poverties of others. But that I may have dared, the effort of Origen provoked me, who mixed the translation of Theodotion to the ancient edition, with asterisk and obelus, that is, star and spit, a work distinguishing everything, while he either makes to shine those things whi...
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
Let us accept what is said with much gratitude, not overstepping the proper limit nor busying ourselves with matters beyond us. This is the besetting weakness of enemies of the truth, wishing as they do to assign every matter to their own reasoning and lacking the realization that it is beyond the capacity of human nature to plumb God’s creation. ...
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
Why does it proceed, first heaven then earth? The temple’s roof made before its pavement? God is not subject to nature’s demands nor to the rules of technique. God is the creator and master technician of nature, and art, and everything made or imagined.
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
Notice this remarkable author, dearly beloved, and the particular gift he had. I mean, while all the other inspired authors told either what would happen after a long time or what was going to take place immediately, this blessed author, being born many generations after the event, was guided by the deity on high and judged worthy to narrate what had been created by the Lord of all from the very beginning. Accordingly he began with these words: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” He well nigh bellows at us all and says, “Is it by human beings I am taught in uttering these things? It is the one who brought being from nothing who stirred my tongue in narrating them.” Since we therefore listen to these words not as the words of Moses but as the words of the God of all things coming to us through the tongue of Moses, so I beg you, let us heed what is said as distinguished from our own reasoning. ...

Nemesius of Emesa

AD 390
Even if it is granted that the God of all things followed an order [in the creation], he is shown to be God and Creator and to have brought all things into being out of nothing.
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Tertullian of Carthage

AD 220
It is to the order of the works that the word beginning has reference, not to the origin of their substances. The Greek term for beginning, which is aρχh, admits the sense not only of priority of order, but of power as well; whence princes and magistrates are called aρχοντες . Therefore in this sense too, beginning may be taken for princely authority and power. It was, indeed, in His transcendent authority and power, that God made the heaven and the earth. [Against Hermogenes 19] With respect to the heaven, it informs us first of its creation—"In the beginning God made the heaven:" Genesis 1:1 it then goes on to introduce its arrangement; how that God both separated "the water which was below the firmament from that which was above the firmament," Genesis 1:7 and called the firmament heaven,—the very thing He had created in the beginning[Against Hermagenes 26] ...

Thomas Aquinas

AD 1274
1) "Of time." Things are said to be created in the beginning of time, not as if the beginning of time were a measure of creation, but because together with time heaven and earth were created. 2) In the Son." In the Son by reason of wisdom, in order that, as it is said (Psalm 103:24), "Thou hast made all things in wisdom," it may be understood that God made all things in the beginning--that is, in the Son; according to the word of the Apostle (Colossians 1:16), "In Him"--the Son--"were created all things. 3) Before all things--Nothing is made except as it exists. But nothing exists of time except "now." Hence time cannot be made except according to some "now"; not because in the first "now" is time, but because from it time begins. God: That is to say the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Hebrew original has "Elohim," which may be rendered "Gods" or "Judges": Various languages have diverse modes of expression. So as by reason of the plurality of "supposita" the Greeks said "three hyp...
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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