On The Verdict “Good” -- By: Charles B. Warring
BSac 58:232 (Oct 1901) p. 778
On The Verdict “Good”
Poughkeepsie, New York
“And God Saw That It Was Good.”5
Of the many who have written on the Bible story of creation, none appear to have attached importance to the presence or absence of the verdict “good “after the divine acts. A very few have noticed its omission after the work of the second period. Some have said this was due to the fact that the devils were created on the second day; while others, like Professor Cheyne, think it was merely a copyist’s error. But neither suppo-
BSac 58:232 (Oct 1901) p. 779
sition suffices to explain the remarkable circumstance, that, out of the eleven divine acts recorded, five, the most important ones of all, are not called good. If the reader will turn to his Bible, he will find four things done in the first period,—the creation, the “moving” of the Spirit, the production of light, and the division between light and darkness,—only one of which is pronounced good, viz. light. The second period has no such word. The third tells of two works, each separately pronounced good. The next two periods have each that verdict. The sixth relates the production of cattle, beasts, and creeping things, and pronounces them good; then comes the creation of man, but it is not said that he was good. Lastly, creation being now ended, and all handed over to Adam, God saw everything that he had made,—the five which had not been pronounced good, as well as the six which had been thus honored,— and “behold it was very good.”
What is the explanation of these remarkable peculiarities in the use of good? They cannot be accounted for by the requirements of Hebrew poetry, for they are so arranged as to do violence to the measured parallelism which is one of its chief characteristics. An error of a copyist might perhaps account for one omission, but not for five. Three such accidents in the first few verses would have been impossible without detection. Nor can we conceive it as a matter of mere caprice, certainly not if we regard the character and order of all else in the story.
Dropping then all that has been offered in the way of explanation, our only recourse is to the study of the account itself.
We find that good is there applied only to things without life and to animals; hence it has no reference to moral character, since they have none. Another common use of this word is in the sense of advantageous, or beneficial; as, when we say, meat is good for the laboring-man, oats are good for horses, exercise is good for one’s health, and the like. This throws no light on the cause of the five omissions, since those...
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