Does the Book of Wisdom contracict Church teaching?


#1

Can someone help me understand this verse from Wisdom that appears to contradict the Church's teaching of creation ex nihilo (from nothing)?
Wisdom 11:17

"For not without means was your almighty hand,
that had fashioned the universe from formless matter,
to send upon them many bears or fierce lions," (NAB)
"Your almighty power, Lord, created the world out of material that had no form at all. You could easily have punished those people by sending an invasion of bears or savage lions." (GNT)
"For thy all-powerful hand,
which created the world out of formless matter,
did not lack the means to send upon them a multitude of bears, or bold lions," (RSV-CE)

verses Catholic teaching which says:

I said to her, "Dost thou now convict me?" "Nay, not so," said she, "but hear the words, that I shall say to thee. God, Who dwelleth in the heavens, and created out of nothing the things which are, and increased and multiplied them for His holy Church's sake, is wroth with thee, for that thou didst sin against me."
Shepard of Hermas 1:6

296 We believe that God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine substance. God creates freely "out of nothing":
If God had drawn the world from pre-existent matter, what would be so extraordinary in that? A human artisan makes from a given material whatever he wants, while God shows his power by starting from nothing to make all he wants.
297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages them for martyrdom:
I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.

Please help me understand why Wisdom and Church teaching (as well as other Scripture such as the 2 Macc. passage the Catechism alludes to) are not contradicting each other?
Thanks and God bless,
Matt


#2

The passage from Wisdom does not contradict the doctrine of creation ex nihilo as long as it is understood that God created the "formless matter" out of nothing. The passage from Wisdom fits with the description in Genesis.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void.

We know from this chapter that God did shape things which were not yet formed. He did not instantaneously zap everything into being in its final shape.


#3

There is no contradiction here surely... God created the world from nothing.

If you adopt the Theistic Evolution theory; God created everything from his own hands, before him there was nothing. He started this creation from the first creation of something; the Big Bang.


#4

no.

Simply the way the secondary author of Wisdom put it.


#5

Wisdom is merely elaborating upon the first page of the Bible, when in the beginning, God created the universe and the Spirit of God was present hovering over the formless matter of the world (Genesis 1:2).

Science has confirmed that *Wisdom * is correct (not that's its scientific but in essence it hits upon the reality): When the Big Bang first occurred the early Universe was a cluster of hydrogen and helium gas, as well as dark matter that was without form. Over time dark energy stretched it out and galaxies began to form out of this formless mass.

God created the universe first as a formless mass and then guided its evolution over billions of years to become the formed network of galaxies with suns surrounded by planets that we see today.

All life has its genesis in that primordial mass of formless gas and dark matter, which in turn has its genesis in God.

As far as I know (and I'm no scientist) there is apparently no agreed consensus yet as to how galaxies started to form out of the primordial formless mass. We can presume as believers that God was behind the "progression" from formless to form as The Book of Wisdom tells us :)


#6

[quote="MattofTexas, post:1, topic:324154"]
Please help me understand why Wisdom and Church teaching (as well as other Scripture such as the 2 Macc. passage the Catechism alludes to) are not contradicting each other?
Thanks and God bless,
Matt

[/quote]

Your contradiction comes from assuming that all knowledge is known by all mankind in every age. Take the Immaculate Conception as an example. Some say that the Church Fathers wrote against this. The reason they did was because of the medical knowledge they possessed at the time. St. Augustine wrote that he did not know when ensoulment occurred and wrote in another place that ensoulment occurred when the baby began to move. By St. Aquinas' time, ensoulment was still thought to occurr sometime after conception. Medical knowledge increased over time and this was put to rest by the Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, stating that ensoulment occurred at the moment of conception.

So, also, the understanding of God creating everything from nothing. This concept cannot be found in the books of the Bible before 2 Maccabees 7:28, because it is a later development of Jewish religious thought. Thus, you have a contradiction when you impose your understanding of creation into a text that would have no knowledge of your understanding of creation.


#7

In context, this chapter speaks of how God's power has manifested itself. It does not deal with creation specifically. Have a read of the same verse (which is verse 18 in the Douay-Rheims and Knox bibles):

Wisdom 11:18
Knox Bible (KNOX)
18 Thy power knows no restraint, the power that created an ordered world out of dark chaos. It had been easy to send a plague of bears upon them, or noble lions;

Reading this translation, it is clear that this is a post-creation ex nihilo account, and makes no attempt to explain the origin of the universe. It explains how formless created matter received order and took the shapes that God gave it during the creation process.

Personally, I do not read either the NAB or the GNT. IMO, both are rather weak translations. I believe that you would be better off with a Douay-Rheims, a Confraternity Bible, or a King James (with Deuterocanon).


#8

[quote="po18guy, post:7, topic:324154"]
In context, this chapter speaks of how God's power has manifested itself. It does not deal with creation specifically. Have a read of the same verse (which is verse 18 in the Douay-Rheims and Knox bibles):

Wisdom 11:18
Knox Bible (KNOX)
18 Thy power knows no restraint, the power that created an ordered world out of dark chaos. It had been easy to send a plague of bears upon them, or noble lions;

Reading this translation, it is clear that this is a post-creation ex nihilo account, and makes no attempt to explain the origin of the universe. It explains how formless created matter received order and took the shapes that God gave it during the creation process.

Personally, I do not read either the NAB or the GNT. IMO, both are rather weak translations. I believe that you would be better off with a Douay-Rheims, a Confraternity Bible, or a King James (with Deuterocanon).

[/quote]

Thanks for the answers. I generally use many translations when trying to understand a specific passage or verse. My go-to Catholic Bible is the RSV-2ndCE.


#9

Re: The Shepard of Hermes, it is not on an equal footing to compare with Wisdom. The Book of Wisdom is canonical. On the other hand, as W.A. Jurgens states in Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1 (p.33), The Shepard is believed to be "a work obviously much fictionalized." (p. 33)


#10

[quote="trevor1055, post:9, topic:324154"]
Re: The Shepard of Hermes, it is not on an equal footing to compare with Wisdom. The Book of Wisdom is canonical. On the other hand, as W.A. Jurgens states in Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1 (p.33), The Shepard is believed to be "a work obviously much fictionalized." (p. 33)

[/quote]

It's not canonical, but it is sometimes regarded as a writing akin to those of the Church Fathers. My point in quoting it was to establish a first century writing reflecting the orthodox Catholic teaching on creation, and juxtapose that with a verse of Scripture that seemed to contradict it. I now see that Wisdom does not contradict creation from nothing.


#11

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