Western Literature lesson 35

Write 500 words on this topic: “What are the main differences between Genesis 1 and Theogony?”

Nothing Good Comes from Chaos, a Strange and Gelatinous Substance

If you are ever struck with an insatiable desire to know where man cam from, here’s two handy references: Genesis 1 and Hesiod’s Theogony. Of course every culture has its own ideas about creation but these two stand out. The Bible is widely acknowledged to be the true and ancient story of the beginning of the world while Theogony was written in the time of the Ancient Greeks, considered by many to be the foundation of today’s western civilization. They do have many differences but the main conflict between the tales is the portrayal of the Big Dudes up in the sky.

In both stories, the first event is the creation of the world. In this creation, the Hebrew’s Yahweh existed before the world began; in fact, He was the one who created the world. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And God then proceeded to create Day and Night, Land and Sea, Plants and the Seasons, the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and all Animals on land and in the sea, “…and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25). When he was finished, He saw that it was beautiful and good and supplied humans in His own image to care for it. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). God also specifically gave man dominion over the earth. In contrast, Theogony’s words paint an R-rated picture of how Chaos, a nebulous, gelatinous substance of fantasy, spewed out otherworldly entities, the most important being Gaia, the Mother Earth. Notice Gaia is Mother Earth and her children Ourea, Pontus, and Ouranos were the Mountains, the Sea, and the Sky. From union with Ouranos, Gaia conceived more and more beings until the gods of Mt. Olympus were finally formed. There was strife and incest until the gods defeated Gaia’s other children and took over the world. Into this world Zeus created and placed man, adding women as an afterthought to punish their wrongs. Obviously the creation story of the Hebrews was borne of the love of one god while the Greek story of creation was a messy and hot affair of mischievous numbers.

Speaking of messy and hot affairs, the ethics of both Hebrew and Greek gods could not contrast more sharply. Yahweh was the embodiment of love and righteousness. Everything he made was good. In the King James Bible, the phrase “It was good” appears no less than seven times during God’s DIY creation session. His biggest and greatest creation, man was a mirror of God. This implies that man was a child of God and therefore was good. Theogony’s creation was not good! The Greek god’s incest only begins to cover the beginning of their complete ignorance of basic ethics. Selfishness and fear were the words of the day. The citizens on Mt. Olympus also rained down a flood of sanctions purely based on their whims. And much like a real flood, they washed everyone away. Using mortals as unfortunate puppets to enact their squabbles, the gods were constantly engaged in petty warfare. How different from Yahweh of the Hebrews!

What do you think of when you look at the sky? Do your thoughts turn to a gentle creator, or Gaia, Ouranos and monsters, oh my! Which would you prefer to believe in? The loving, thoughtful creator who would never leave us companionless or the darkly appealing Greek gods who brought hellacious despair and confusion wherever they traveled? (And as far as we can tell from Hesiod’s writings, the Greek deities are still up there having steamy and torrid affairs today.)

One thought on “Western Literature lesson 35

  1. Lily

    I enjoyed reading your essay. Your writing style sure is entertaining! You conveyed some important facts in your essay in a very interesting way – much different from the mediocre dry -fact essays I see so often. Keep up the good writing!


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