Creation in the book of Genesis
The Lord God created heaven and earth in six days. However, he took rest on the seventh day blessing, sanctifying and admiring everything he had created and appreciated it. In both the bible and Michelangelo’s interpretation, we see that God creates by using commands (‘Let there be…’). In contrast the bible identifies God’s personal name as Yahweh, Michelangelo does not refer to Him anywhere by that name. In either case, God did create man in his own image and likeness. Much as the bible mentions man was moulded from clay/dust, Michelangelo’s interpretation does not mention this form of moulding. Much as the bible and its tradition attributes the Genesis story as the birth to Moses, scholars especially the likes of Michelangelo consider it a composite work, a product of many hands and periods brought and added up together. The genesis story consists of eight acts of creation over six days, framed by an introduction and a conclusion in both cases. There is an act of division: day one divides light from darkness, day two the “waters below” from the “waters above”, whereas day three land from sea. Day four populates darkness and light with sun, moon and stars; day five populates seas and skies with fish and fowl and finally land-based creatures and mankind populate the land.
Man is given the dominion to rule over all living creatures on earth, given the order to go forth to multiply and fill the earth. Adam goes ahead to name all creatures and everything that exists on earth. Having created man (Adam and Eve), God places them in the Garden of Eden. However, God forbids them from eating of the tree of knowledge of evil and good. Satan goes ahead to hoodwink Eve who eats a fruit from the forbidden tree. She shares the same with Adam. Through this disobedience, God gets mad and casts them out from the Garden of Eden. In contrast, Michelangelo paints an artistic scene in which God appears twice. On one side, God creates the heavenly bodies. On the other side, back to the viewer, God exposes the dual moons of his own posterior that balance nicely with the celestial moon to the far right. Even though God’s posterior is integral to Michelangelo’s idea of the Divine, it is used as just one element in the interpretation of the narratives of Genesis story of creation. The bible show cases the fall of man when they disobey God and are cast out from the Garden of Eden, similarly Michelangelo’s artful representations are about the entry of sin through the fall of Adam, cleansing of humanity by Noah’s flood waters and persistence of sin after the flood. In contrast, the Christian understanding of the fall and the immediate removal from the Garden of Eden is evidence of man’s own sinfulness, instead of a celebration of one’s innermost emotional growth and a show of maturation. The Christian interpretation is captured by Michelangelo whereby the retaliatory angel thrusts the point of the sword into Adam’s jugular as the banished pair cringe in fear. Expressions of sheer dread and pain cover their faces. The busy, yet mute God has also been banished by the point of that sword having been thrust into the jugular of Adam, which in this case is the crown of God’s creation.
In yet another comparison, God punishes Adams generation by making a covenant with Noah to build an ark as He prepared to bring a flood to sweep away everything. In contrast, we find that through this cleansing by the flood waters, man does not however stop sinning.