Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries, Translation : A.N.
One issue that has troubled many interpreters of Genesis is the confusion that appears to exist, regarding the Creative “day” in which man was created.
1. On what “day” was man created?
The first anthropological narrative of Genesis (1:27-36) informs us that man was created at the “end” of the 6th Creative “day”, and also that he was God’s last creation. However, the second narrative in Genesis clarifies the following:
“And the heavens and the earth were completed, and all of their adornment. And God completed on the sixth day His works that He had made, and He rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, for in it, He had ceased from all His works which He had begun to make”. (Genesis 2:1-3)
The problem that arises here is posed by archimandrite Fr. Jeremiah Foundas, in his book 'Genesis', published in 1985, p. 68:
“The way that verse 2 appears in the Hebrew text, presents difficulties, because it says: ‘On the seventh “day” God completed His work which He did. And He rested on the seventh day...’. But we know that the creative work of God was completed on the sixth and not on the seventh “day”. For the sake of reconciling the antithesis, various interpretive attempts were made and corrections were proposed.”
Fr. Jeremiah then proceeds to mention the various attempts that were made to “correct” the Bible excerpt which appears to be so contradictory....
In reality, however, there is no contradiction. The contradiction exists, only in the way that we are accustomed to perceiving Time, and in our interpretation of the two “conflicting” narratives of human creation. But let us make things clearer.
2. Creation “according to the image” and “according to the likeness”
Man was indeed created during the 6th Creative “day”, along with the rest of material Creation. Well, God’s material work may have been completed, but His full purpose was not fulfilled! His intention was to make man “according to His image and according to His likeness”. However, when He made man during the 6th Creative “day”, it was only “according to His image”, because the “according to His likeness” was still a forthcoming feature of mankind, as evident in Genesis 1:26, 27. With that 6th Creative “day” ends the first, anthropological narrative; the second one, however, goes beyond it.
According to the description in Genesis 2:7, as soon as God “breathed” the Holy Spirit into man, from the initial “dead” soul (=lacking the Holy Spirit) that he was, man became a “living soul” - according to the likeness of God.
[ “...but when the Spirit here is merged with the soul in a creature of God, then man is rendered spiritual and complete, on account of the diffusion of the Holy Spirit, and is thus one who was made by God “according to the likeness of”. But if the Spirit is absent from the soul, then the one who is thus, is actually with an animal's nature, and, having remained in the flesh, will be an incomplete being, albeit bearing “the image of” (by God) during his formation, but by not having received "the likeness of" -through the Spirit - in that way, this being will be incomplete.” Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, "Against Heresies", 5:6 ]
Man was not yet complete; he was merely on the course for becoming perfected; thus, after having received the “breath” of the Spirit inside him, God placed him in “Paradise”, and from that moment, found himself inside God’s Eternal State of Rest!
3. Entering God’s Eternal State of Rest
But let us examine for a moment exactly what God’s “Eternal State of Rest” involves. (In Greek, it is the term κατάπαυση, where παύση = pause, pronounced kat-a-paf-see, and it implies the final pausing of God's Creative works; the term is also used for describing the state of blessedness, and also a term that relates to the Sabbatical "rest".)
In his Epistle to Hebrews, the Apostle Paul expounds the topic, by clarifying Psalm 94 (Masor.95):7-11. In there, the Holy Spirit among other things addresses the Israelites, who had sinned and as a result had wandered in the desert until their death:
“.... Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, like the bitterness during the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers had tested Me and tried Me, and they saw My works. Forty years I was grieved by that generation, and I said: “they forever go astray in their hearts, and they did not learn My works. So I swore in My wrath whether they will enter My κατάπαυση .”
In his Epistle to the Hebrews 3:7 – 4:11, the Apostle explains that κατάπαυση is not a simple reference to the terrestrial Promised Land being inherited by the Israelites, but that the terrestrial Promised Land is just a template of God’s true “Promised Land”: His κατάπαυση. Specifically, verse 4:3-11 says:
“For, we who have believed shall enter the κατάπαυση, as He had said: ‘as I had sworn in My wrath whether they will enter My κατάπαυση’, even though the works were completed since the beginning of the world. For He had spoken regarding the seventh day thus: ‘And God had ceased on the seventh day from all His works’; and again with this: ‘whether they will enter My κατάπαυση.’ Since therefore it still remains for some to enter it - since the previous ones who were evangelized did not enter for their disobedience - He again designated a day, saying in David, ‘Today, after so much time - like it was said then - ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For, if Joshua had actually led them into the κατάπαυση, he would not have spoken of another ‘day’ after those days. Therefore there still remains the Sabbath for the resting of the people of God. For the one entering His κατάπαυση will himself have also ceased from his own works, just as God had, from His. Let us therefore hasten to enter that κατάπαυση .”Here, after explaining that there are still some who must enter into God's κατάπαυση (since those disobedient, past Israelites had not entered it) and after clarifying that the terrestrial Promised Land was NOT the far more important κατάπαυση of God, the Apostle in v.7 then mentions “David” (=Psalms), elucidating that if Joshua had actually led the Israelites into God’s κατάπαυση, David would not have inserted the word “today” when he was composing his text, so many years AFTER the Israelites' disobedience. Therefore, since David was referring to another κατάπαυση, he clarified: “for the people of God, there still remains the Sabbath”. Then in v.4:11, the Apostle urges Christians to strive to enter into God's κατάπαυση: Let us therefore hasten to enter that κατάπαυση so that no-one may fall into the same example, through their disobedience”. (Hebrews 4:11)
Thus, according to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the κατάπαυση of God is not something that has ended, nor is it something that pertains only to God, but pertains to all Christians - also according to verse 14:13 of the Apocalypse: “... blessed are the dead who have died in the Lord. Yes, says the Spirit, so that they shall REST from their labors, while their works follow along with them.”
Thus, when the Apostle had written these words - as of the first century - those who have “slept in the Lord” (=Christians) have already entered God’s κατάπαυση and are finally resting from their works – just as God had rested from His.
Now let us go back to Adam for a moment, to remember what God had said to him, after he had sinned through disobedience: “.... may the earth be accursed in your works, in sorrows eat from it, for all the days of your life; let thorns and thistles rise up to you, and may you eat the grass of the field, and in the sweat of your brow may you eat your bread, until you are returned to the earth, from which you were taken...” (Genesis 3:17-19).
According to these words, when Adam was in the terrestrial Paradise of Eden, he was simultaneously within God's κατάπαυση; this κατάπαυση was God's “final pausing” - the completion of all His creative works - in which Adam had participated.
Then what is meant by the “work with the sweat of his brow” that Adam had to undergo after his Fall from that κατάπαυση? Naturally it was THE EXACT OPPOSITE of God's final rest from His material works! Having “earned” hard labour due to his disobedience, Adam would naturally be receiving the opposite of what “the deceased in the Lord already enjoy”, i.e., that they are “resting from their works”: (‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” - Revelation 14:13).
This is about Adam's exodus (his “fall”) from God's κατάπαυση, which he was enjoying while he was “in the likeness of”; It is about his fall from the 7th Creative “day”.
It is the same κατάπαυση that Lamech had hoped for, when he prophetically named his son: “Noah”, saying: “And he named his name Noah, saying: This one shall relieve us from our works, and from the sorrows of our hands, and the earth’s - which the Lord God had cursed.” (Genesis 5:29). Lamech “knew” that -regardless of this curse by God- His κατάπαυση was perpetual; hence the reason Lamech had prophesied that Noah would have a role in the Divine plan for the righteous to enter into the “κατάπαυση” of God.
This is where we need to focus on the critical element of “Time” and the association between the Creative “days”: If - after sinning - Adam had “fallen” from the 7th Creative “day” (God’s κατάπαυση), in which “day” did he land?”
It is of great importance to note that of the 7 Creative “days” mentioned by Genesis, the only one that has not “ended” is the 7th! For all the preceding “days” of Creation, we read: “and evening came, and morning came, and it was “day” so-and-so” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). On the contrary, for the 7th “day” (but more so for the 8th “day” – that is, the first “day” of New Creation), the verse of Zechariah 14: 6,7 states that they are BOTH never-ending; that it will be the eternal, never-setting “day” of the Lord: “In that “day” there will be no need for illumination, and cold and ice; it will be one “day” – and that “day” is known to the Lord, and it is not just a day with no night; even towards dusk there is light”.
The indirect reference of the verse to the Creative “days” of Genesis is obvious. The verse purposely indicates its differentiation from the first six Creative “days” - which have an “evening” and a “morning” - because it then says: “...even towards dusk there is light”. This is clearly the “day” of the Lord and His saints, as seen in the preceding verse, Zechariah 14:5: “.....and the Lord my God and all the saints shall be with Him”.
But how do we know that Zechariah is also referring to the 7th “day”, and not exclusively to the 8th Creative “day”, which certain Fathers have referred to?
The answer is that he is referring to both “days” simultaneously, because the 7th and the 8th are parallel! However, this requires clarification:
Let’s take the “week” as an example. The Israelites began it on the 1st day and “ended” it on the 7th, which was their Sabbath. They didn’t work on that day, because it was a form of God’s 7th Creative “day” during which He had “rested from His works” and had “sanctified it” (Exodus 20:8-11)
In the Christian era, we mainly have Sunday** as our “day of rest” (because the Lord was resurrected on a Sunday), thus acquiring the “value” of a salvific “day” (κατάπαυση) for man, and also because it prefigured as the first “day” of the Age to come. Thus, apart from being the first day of the week, Sunday is also the “day of rest” for Christians - that is, a “Sabbatical” (for resting)! But Sunday is simultaneously the day after Sabbath/Saturday, as the culmination of the week – in other words, the 8th “day”! This means that, depending on how one counts, Sunday can be regarded as first day of the week, a Sabbatical, or as the 8th day of the week; in fact, the Bible mentions it as “one of the Sabbaths”. (Acts 20:7)
**Sunday, in Greek = Κυριακή, meaning “of the Lord”; Lord = Κύριος in Greek
How could this apply to the 7th Creative “day”? It has to do with the way that we perceive Time; in God's Creative plan, Time can be perceived in two different ways: 1. As Linear time, and 2. (and more Christian) as Crucial time.
4. “Linear” and “Crucial” Time (Go to visual of "Timeline")
Linear Time is the perception of events lined up in order - a fixed sequence of events. According to Linear Time, after the first 6 Creative “days” comes the 7th “day” (of κατάπαυση), from which, however, Adam had “fallen”. But with this Linear logic in mind, the 7th Creative “day” should likewise have an end to it, with no sequel or continuance (since Time moves linearly); this would make people have their sights “after” it, on the “age to come”: on another, new “day” (of κατάπαυση) that would replace the 7th – just as Sunday replaced the Jewish Sabbath. This is the “day” that certain Fathers refer to as the 8th, identifying it with the “day of the Lord”.
This perception is not incorrect. It is the customary perception of Time, as we humans perceive it. But there is also another, more accurate way of perception:
Crucial time (i.e., per the Crucifix). This is the most accurate –Christian– way of perceiving the divine plan. According to this, events do not necessarily move in linear fashion only, with the one following the other; the Creative “days” can exist in parallel, and they can alternate during the procession of human history. This is the most fitting way to perceive the divine plan, not only because it flows smoothly and seamlessly with God’s Time-less state, but also because expiration of the 6th “day” is not a requirement for acknowledging commencement of the 7th “day”; just as expiration of the 7th “day” is not a requirement for acknowledging commencement of an 8th “day”. Quite simply, these two “days” can exist - in parallel. In other words, we don't have a compulsory temporal succession, given that, as of the 7th “day”, created Time has “dissipated” - leaving only a “modal” succession: a succession involving the manner that beings exist there.
So, how would we describe God’s Creative week, on the basis of the Crucial perception of Time?
According to this perception, the never-setting, blessed 7th “day” of the Lord does not vary, in spite of our Linear perception of Time. We find it very significant that in Genesis 2:4, immediately after expounding all that pertains to the 7th “day” (God’s κατάπαυση), the 6 preceding “days” are then merged into one “day” – seeing how Genesis 2:4 says: “This is the book of creation of heaven and earth when they were created, on the day that God made the earth and the heavens...”. Notice how Creation is previously described with 6 “days”, which are then suddenly unified and are regarded as one, uniform period, clearly separated from the 7th.
This is because the 7th “day” (like the 8th) intersects (crosses through) the other creative days - without replacing them - because it is a loftier kind of “Timeline”, which is characteristically for the saints.
When all creations were originally living within Linear Time, Adam was suddenly given a “taste” of something superior. On receiving the “breath” of the Holy Spirit, he was elevated to another kind of Time: God’s κατάπαυση. After his disobedience, Adam fell back into Linear Time, where people continued to live until the Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ in History, after which, the door of God's κατάπαυση opened once again.
This is beautifully showcased by Matthew at the beginning of his Gospel. In verses 1:1-17, Matthew divides the names of the forefathers of the Lord Jesus Christ into three groups of 14 names. These three groups, however, consist of 6 heptads (sevenths), which represent the six (Linear) Creative “weeks”, corresponding to the 6 Creative “days”. It was at the end of these 6 (Linear) Creative “weeks” that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ appears: it was the specific point in Linear Time that human nature was deified, through the Person of Jesus Christ, and was elevated into the 7th Creative period of God's κατάπαυση.
From then on, “... blessed are the dead who have died in the Lord. Yes, says the Spirit, so that they shall rest from their labors, for their works follow along with them.” (Revelation 14:13). These saved saints partake of the paradise from which Adam had fallen, back into Linear Time. And while for ordinary people Time moves linearly, in a dimension “loftier” than Time the saints partake of God's Time-less rest.
These parallel “dimensions” of Time can be seen in various formulations within the Bible, such as in the verse of Ephesians 1:4: “... for He Himself selected us, before the world was made, to be saints and spotless before Him, with love”.
We believe that the aforementioned are rendered in the best manner in the Orthodox article by Professor V. Bakouros, on the topic: “Christmas: The celebration of the person”, which was hosted in the magazine “Trito Mati”, edition No.66, pp. 22,23, where among other things he wrote the Following:
“... Paradise [...] was in reality another kind of ‘Time’ - if these words could ever describe qualities that shatter the potentials of the intellect. For us to capture more accurately the upheaval brought upon Creation by the human choice of the Fall, a single example suffices: The creation of the Cosmos took place in 6 completed and successive “days”. Man was created on the last “day”, however his paradisiacal communication with God was not completed mainly on the 6th “day”, but on the 7th. This explicitly blessed “day”, however, was profoundly disturbed by the ancestral fall, and we could say - quite boldly – that it was left “pending” - without succession and continuation! By implementing his freedom as autonomy, Adam's human will abruptly warped the dimensions of Creation, thus introducing a “human Time” (within this “Time” of Creation) as a linear succession of acts, namely: History! Precisely because God respected this free choice in humans, He would never have initiated another way to approach His creations, except only one: for Him to (Personally)enter “human Time” as a (corporeal) event. Man absented himself from the Divine’s Creation and continued to live in his own one!Of course it is self-understood that this entrance had disturbed the historical development of events and had grafted a new outcome within human Time: the trend towards a trajectory that would lead man back to his original “cradle” - Creation - from which he is in essence absent after the fall, as we shall see further down. A necessary prerequisite of course, was for the man of this “fallen” Time to freely adopt this new form of life, and to strive to reunite his revolted will with the Providence of God. The purpose of History will then again be Creation’s original purpose, from which Man had consciously distanced himself, albeit explicitly warned by God... It follows therefore that the incarnation of God was not a metaphysical event. It was a “natural” one, to the degree that it restored the Cosmos to the state that is its “natural” dimension, before Man's intervention created a “contra-nature” reality. Of course, because of our finite intellect, we experience this reality as something permanent.
The birth of God provided an essential (in the literal sense of essence) content to History (human creation), which had no “essence”, as it was not assembled by an act of God, but is basically superficial, an illusion of a “secreted” reality....”.
In conclusion, we must re-stress that Adam's “according to the likeness of” implies a course, not a (stationary) state. It was not a “terminal point”, but the beginning of a course.
Related articles: Parallels in Genesis and the Apocalypse