17. (2) in Time. The Beginning of Creation.
Again, there is a beginning in a matter of origin, as might appear in the saying: 4531 “In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.” This meaning, however, appears more plainly in the Book of Job in the passage: 4532 “This is the beginning of Gods creation, made for His angels to mock at.” One would suppose that the heavens and the earth were made first, of all that was made at the creation of the world. But the second passage suggests a better view, namely, that as many beings were framed with a body, the first made of these was the creature called dragon, but called in another passage 4533 the great whale (leviathan) which the Lord tamed. We must ask about this; whether, when the saints were living a blessed life apart from matter and from any body, the dragon, falling from the pure life, became fit to be bound in matter and in a body, so that the Lord could say, speaking through storm and clouds, “This is the beginning of the creation of God, made for His angels to mock at.” It is possible, however, that the dragon is not positively the beginning of the creation of the Lord, but that there were many creatures made with a body for the angels to mock at, and that the dragon was the first of these, while others could subsist in a body without such reproach. But it is not so. For the soul of the sun is placed in a body, and the whole creation, of which the Apostle says: 4534 “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,” and perhaps the following is about the same: “The creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but on account of Him who subjected it for hope;” so that bodies might be in vanity, and doing the things of the body, as he who is in the body must. 4535 …One who is in the body does the things of the body, though unwillingly. Wherefore the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but he who does unwillingly the things of the body does what he does for the sake of hope, as if we should say that Paul desired to remain in the flesh, not willingly, but on account of hope. For though he thought it better 4536 to be dissolved and to be with Christ, it was not unreasonable that he should wish to remain in the flesh for the sake of the benefit to others and of advancement in the things hoped for, not only by him, but also by those benefited by him. This meaning of the term “beginning,” as of origin, will serve us also in the passage in which Wisdom speaks in the Proverbs. 4537 “God,” we read, “created me the beginning of His ways, for His works.” Here the term could be interpreted as in the first application we spoke of, that of a way: “The Lord,” it says, “created me the beginning of His ways.” One might assert, and with reason, that God Himself is the beginning of all things, and might go on to say, as is plain, that the Father is the beginning of the Son; and the demiurge the beginning of the works of the demiurge, and that God in a word is the beginning of all that exists. This view is supported by our: “In the beginning was the Word.” In the Word one may see the Son, and because He is in the Father He may be said to be in the beginning.
Gen. i. 1.306:4532
Job xl. 19.306:4533
Job iii. 8.306:4534
Rom. 8:22, 20.306:4535
The text is defective here.306:4536
Phil. i. 23.306:4537