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Anachronism or Illumination? Genesis 1 and Creation ex nihilo

Susannah Ticciati


The aim of this article is to explore the relation between scriptural interpretation, ambiguity, and truth, with a view to testing the following hypothesis: “Christian doctrine has the role of preserving scripture’s generativity by holding open its ambiguity.” The hypothesis is tested by way of a case study focused on the opening of Genesis and the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. The article challenges the assumption that the use of the latter as a hermeneutical rule for the former is anachronistic, arguing that such an assumption involves a category mistake, and offering (by contrast) a semiotic account of interpretation according to which a text’s truth unfolds over time. The article responds to a more specific theological and hermeneutical critique of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo by showing how it generatively holds open the ambiguity of Genesis 1:1–4, making way for life-giving readings of scripture that heal contextually specific sin.

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