As the New Year begins, it is a good time to think about the creation of the world and the idea of new and renewal. Below is the creation narrative from 2 Esdras 6:38-48 for the first five days of creation. You can compare or contrast it with the Genesis 1 account of creation to gain an appreciation of how the creation story was understood by another biblical writer and was not just read in a wooden, literal fashion. The same basic story is there just read through a different lens, giving different details.
I said, “O Lord, you spoke at the beginning of creation, and said on the first day, ‘Let heaven and earth be made,’ and your word accomplished the work.
Then the spirit was blowing, and darkness and silence embraced everything; the sound of human voices was not yet there. Then you commanded a ray of light to be brought out from your store-chambers, so that your works could be seen.
Again, on the second day, you created the spirit of the firmament, and commanded it to divide and separate the waters, so that one part might move upward and the other part remain beneath.
On the third day you commanded the waters to be gathered together in a seventh part of the earth; six parts you dried up and kept so that some of them might be planted and cultivated and be of service before you.
[Just a note: scientifically speaking, 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, whereas the author of Esdras claims only 14% of the earth’s surface is under water. Esdras had no way to determine this number, but assumes since God gave dry land for humans to occupy, God would have made the vast majority of the earth’s surface habitable for humans. Just as 6 of 7 days of the week are for humans to work, so Esdras thought the same portion of land would be arable. For humans (or life as we know it) to exist on the planet, however, we need a lot more water than Esdras thought.]
For your word went forth, and at once the work was done. Immediately fruit came forth in endless abundance and of varied appeal to the taste, and flowers of inimitable color, and odors of inexpressible fragrance. These were made on the third day.
On the fourth day you commanded the brightness of the sun, the light of the moon, and the arrangement of the stars to come into being; and you commanded them to serve humankind, about to be formed.
On the fifth day you commanded the seventh part, where the water had been gathered together, to bring forth living creatures, birds, and fishes; and so it was done. The dumb and lifeless water produced living creatures, as it was commanded, so that therefore the nations might declare your wondrous works.
O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
I hope you can get out and explore God’s wonderful creation in 2022.