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Creation ex nihilo (or what?) in the Johannine Prologue?

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  • Horace Jeffery Hodges
    I also participate in the Society of Christian Philosophers listserve, and they re discussing creation ex nihilo over there. I posted a message on this topic
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2000
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      I also participate in the Society of Christian
      Philosophers' listserve, and they're discussing
      creation ex nihilo over there. I posted a message on
      this topic and alluded to John's prologue as an aside.
      Now, this "aside" is turning around in my head, and
      I'd appreciate any thoughts. Here's my SCP post:

      -------------------------------------------------------

      Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2000 06:24:01 -0700 (PDT)
      From: Horace Jeffery Hodges <jefferyhodges@...>
      | Block address
      Subject: CREATION EX NIHILO
      To: scp@...

      The recent topic has set me to considering something
      that I had never before considered, so this will,
      doubtless, be naive, but here goes...

      If God were not transcendent but purely immanent
      (whatever that might mean prior to creation), then
      creation ex nibilo could NOT truly occur because some
      portion of God's immanent power would necessarily be
      transformed into the subsequently created world.

      Since God is transcendent (I am assuming), then his
      power must also be of a transcendent kind, and one of
      two things could happen:

      1) Creation NOT ex nihilo occurs if God chooses to
      create by allowing some portion of his transcendent
      power to be transformed into the subsequently created
      world. (It would be interesting to know what the
      fourth evangelist thought about this possibility since
      in his prologue he both refers to creation by the
      Logos and writes that the Logos BECAME [egeneto] flesh
      -- which would suggest the possibility of transcendent
      power becoming immanent.)

      2) Creation ex nihilo occurs if God chooses to create
      while simultaneously preventing any portion of his
      transcendent power from being transformed into the
      subsequently created world. (This would seem to be the
      more orthodox view, but perhaps I need correcting.)

      Even in case 2, of course, the step from nothing to
      something requires power -- so, you get something from
      nothing but not for nothing. No free lunch.

      Only if something could spontaneously spring from
      nothing would you get something from AND for nothing.
      Since I assume the principle of sufficient reason
      here, then I can't conceive of such an unreasonable
      event occurring.

      -------------------------------------------------------

      The portion relevant for this Johannine listserve
      would be Case 1 above. How does the author of the
      fourth gospel understand creation? Is there any way of
      reading his cosmogony from the little that he says? Is
      the world a kind of emanation from God? Or is it a
      shaping of a pre-existent material substatum? Or is it
      ex nihilo? Has anybody done any work on this?

      Jeffery Hodges

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