Light & Darkness, And All That They Signify In Genesis A & B

(Group 6)

Reading Genesis A and B in light of the conversation we had on Tuesday, we were quite interested in the idea of Angel’s being fallible and capable of evil, and the way that the text uses light and dark so heavily to contrast good vs. bad, life vs death, and God’s sight vs what is not being seen.

Particularly because angels are often conceived of as being more god-like (if not fully deities) than humans and therefore infallible, lines 47-64 can be particularly jarring in their description of angels as “foolish and wicked” (line 51). In line 59, as the description of God stripping the angels of their power, status, and physical location in heaven continues, we  see the description of the angels glory as “bright”, a characterization that seems to be purposely juxtaposed with the following paragraph in which hell is called “dark tribulation” (line 73). Skipping a few lines in order to highlight an interesting parallel between the text’s description of the angels and their unexpected fallibility, I want to highlight lines 176-191; Just as the angels had been described as falling from light to dark, and just as angels are sometimes though to to be incapable of sin or mutiny against God, Eve is here called an angel. At this point I had already begun to consider that this might be a foreshadowing for Adam and Eve’s betrayal of God and subsequent fall from grace, and the following lines seemed to confirm this by noting that Adam & Eve, as the angels, were “brightly beautiful” (line 188), and that the pair had no ability to accomplish evil acts, but having seen the similarities between the descriptions of Adam & Eve and the angels, it is plausible to assume that the logical conclusion to this story will be an exile from the light and an entrance into the dark.

Concerning the ubiquitous, almost overwhelming use of light and dark to signify multiple things throughout this text, I was particularly drawn to a passage that extended the meaning of darkness to also signify the simple lack of God’s attention, either meaning simply that darkness can signify the absence of God, or quite possibly that darkness can signify the absence of God and therefore the presence of evil. Lines 103-116a begin to tell of the creation of earth, or rather the unveiling of it from darkness; as God fixes his gaze onto the earth, the text says that he sees the earth, “the dark blackness hovering in perpetual night” (line 110), and as God begins to survey earth he is “borne over the waters with mighty speed” (lines 120-121) and as this happens, light begins to flood the earth. An open-ended question, then, would be: If light and dark represent good and evil, but in other contexts denote where God’s vision is or is not directed, is the absence of God’s gaze/vision inherently indicative of evil?

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