Cosmology and Worldview: The Creation Myth in the First three chapters of Genesis are pivotal in that for the first time we have a tradition of “one god”, a universal god, a transcendent god. Indeed the Hebrew scribes rewrote their early history to retroject monotheistic beliefs into their past. The Hebrews had been polytheistic and surrounded by polytheistic religions. This God was all powerful and could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted despite the constraints of history or nature. And what he did as we shall see is create the world out of nothing by thought, word and deed. He literally speaks the world into existence.
Hebrew Creation Myths
The first three chapters of Genesis contains two creation stories from two different dates in Hebrew history.
Creation Myth 1 – This is Genesis Chapter 1 verse 1 to Chapter 2 verse 3. It ends with ‘God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. This myth is the newer myth and dates after 530 BCE and is credited to a priestly author. This is the Familiar story of God creating the heaven and the earth from the formless void and darkness. And it begins with God saying “let there be light” and there was light, and so Day and Night created (first day). In turn the waters and the sky and dry land are created (second day) and vegetation, plants and fruit (third day) and the day light and the night light and the seasons (fourth day) and the living creatures (fifth day) and then God said ‘let us make humankind in our image’ and ‘let them have dominion over everything’. And male and female be created (sixth day). And on the final day he rested (seventh day).
Creation Myth 2 – The older creation myth is that of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. This dates to 950 BCE. In this myth (divine revelation) God creates man from the dust of the ground. He creates the Garden of Eden from which four rivers flow. He then creates woman from one of Adam’s ribs. They were naked and not ashamed. He commands them not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. But the woman does and gives some to her husband. They then knew they were naked and cover themselves.
Eve then blames the serpent for tempting her. God then curses the serpent. He says he will put Enmity between ‘you’ and the woman, increase the pangs in childbirth and that ‘he shall rule over you’. The man (Adam) names his wife Eve and God sends them forth from the Garden of Eden. They now know the difference between good and evil.
If we take the sequence of the Journey, Cesaire had already been exposed to Egyptian myth and the powerful Isis and her healing role in reconstructing Osiris. She had experienced the powerful Tiamat in Babylonian Myth and her fury at the demise of her consort Apsu. What would she have made of the portrayal of Eve in Hebrew Myth?