The Traditional Greek Account of Creation Given in Hesiod

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The traditional Greek account of creation given in Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days bears remarkable similarities to the account of creation given in Genesis. One form of Mesopotamian myth about the world's beginnings, transformed by Israelite monotheism, appears in Genesis; another form, reshaped by Greek storytellers, appears in Hesiod. Given their common origin the similarities are not surprising; however even more interesting are the distinct views of the origins of the universe that each approach puts forth. In the Theogony, creation begins with Chaos and according to Genesis, "the earth was a formless void." However even though both stories begin the universe in an ambiguous formlessness, there are striking differences. Hesiod's Chaos is a spontaneously created entity—in Athanassakis' translation, her beginnings are in the passive voice, "Chaos was born first" (line 116). Chaos, like Gaia who came into being after her, gives birth to new entities or gods. These entities further, through mating, give birth to even newer entities. The beginnings of the universe in Genesis is vastly different in that creation is not the result of the actions of various non-eternal beings whose own beginnings are a mystery; rather, the existence of all created beings is explained as dependent upon an eternal, uncreated principle, and being eternal the creation of this principle is not explained. In other words, while Hesiod sets out to explain the evolution of the universe as it is while bypassing how existence came to be in the first place, this issue of existence is the first question addressed by the book of Genesis, which in contrast leaves the mystery of an eternal Supreme Being for the reader to ponder. This principle difference of beginnings leads to other differences in the two accounts. In the Theogony, creation results from the actions of many gods, whereas in

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