CREATION (Lit. creatio, from creare, to create), The. Creation is the act of creating or bringing into existence, also something created or caused to exist; specifically, the act of bringing into existence the universe, likewise the universe itself. The Old Testament account of the creation contained in Genesis i-ii, 4 (first clause), is received by those who accept the literal authority of the Bible. Genesis ii, 4-7 (second clause), contains, according to many of the later biblical critics, another and quite distinct narrative of the creation. According to the first and generally accepted account, God created the heaven and the earth in the course of six—or, including the rest-day, seven — suc cessive days. On the first day he created light, and called the light day and the darkness night; on the second day he made the firmament and divided the waters; on the third day appeared the dry land, while the waters were gathered together in seas, and plants began to grow upon the earth; on the fourth day the lights were set in the firmament; on the fifth day God created aquatic and bird life; on the sixth day he made land animals and created man. On the seventh day God rested from his work, and from this part of the account came the institution of the Sabbath, as having been hallowed for man by the example and decree of God himself. Vari ous attempts have been made to bring this nar rative into harmony with the discoveries and speculations of modern scientific and philo sophical thought; but at the present time there appears to be a feeling, as well among scholars as among people at large, that such endeavors can only be unprofitable; while the record of primitive theorizing upon the origin of the world may well be left to tell its own story, however variously interpreted, to the modern mind.
Other ancient cosmogonies have long en gaged the attention of students, and in the different early accounts of creation brought to light from the literary and monumental re mains of antiquity much valuable material has been found for the study of comparative records bearing upon history and religion. Among the old cosmogonies, that contained in the Baby lonian and Assyrian legend of creation is espe cially interesting, from the points of resemblance between itself and the account above given from the book of Genesis. The two are variously
regarded by specialists, some treating them as independent variants of one original tradition or myth, while others hold that the narrative of Genesis is a borrowing from the Babylonian legend.
It is now more than 30 years since the learned world was startled by the announce ment that Assyriologists had discovered a remarkable version of the history of the crea tion, which closely resembled the main narra tive of Genesis, and appeared to be based upon the archetype from which one of the earliest editors or writers of the Hexateuch drew many of his statements. The credit of the discovery of the cuneiform creation records in the British Museum belongs, undoubtedly, to Sir Henry Rawlinson. L. W. King, of the British Mu seum, has continued and completed, as far as is possible, up to the present time, the work begun by Rawlinson. As the result of his labors we are able to form a connected idea of the whole of the Babylonian story of the creation. For merly only 21 tablets and fragments inscribed with portions of the legend were known, but now no less than 49 separate tablets and frag ments have been identified as containing por tions of the cuneiform texts of the creation series, and the details of the story can now be followed consecutively.
The great Babylonian poem of creation was divided into seven sections, or tablets, and the whole work was known by the title 'Enuma Elish,> which also forms the opening words of the text. It contained 994 lines. Each of the seven sections on an average, 140 lines, and each section was intended to describe the events of one of creation. It is diffi cult not to think that such artificial divisions of the legend indicate that we are dealing with a comparatively late recension of it, and this may well be the case when we remember that the oldest copies of it which we possess date from the reign of Assurbanipal (668-626 a.c.) ; no one who takes the trouble to read the seven tablets and who is familiar with ancient cos mogonies and theogonies will have the slightest doubt that the original fond of the Babylonian and Assyrian history of creation is many thou sands of years old. It is very probable that the Semitic Babylonians were only the borrowers and not the inventors of this remarkable work.