Sunday, 10 February 2019

Jussi Junni: Creation out of Nothing or out of Really Nothing? Uses of μὴ ὤν and oὐκ ὤν in Pre-Nicene Theology.

The Platonic distinction between being and becoming was a crucial notion even in Christian theology of the very first centuries. The demiurge of Plato, a lower-class deity who shaped the unformed matter by looking at the eternal ideas, was promoted to the Highest Being, God the Father in Christianity. For Plato, also the matter was eternal, not only the immutable ideas. The Platonists knew the concept of non-being (μὴ ὤν), by which they meant unformed matter that had potential to be formed according to the intelligible and thus becoming into the state of being. Since the matter was eternal according to their thought, there was no room for the concept of true non-existence (οὐκ ὤν) of the matter. The first Christian authors adopted this Platonic view of the pre-existent matter but the later theological development led to notion of the creatio ex nihilo, God creating the world out of really nothing, without anything pre-existent but himself.This paper challenges the traditional view that creation by shaping the formless matter is characterised as ἐκ μὴ ὄντος and creation out of non-existence is characterised as ἐξ ούκ ὄντος. A selection of pre-Nicene theologians, e.g. Philo, Justin, Theophilus, Clement, and Origen, are treated as regards to their uses of these formulas when expressing their notions on creation of matter. This paper thus contributes discussion about the appearance of the creatio ex nihilo in Christian theology.

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