1.1.14 “What precaution is here signified regarding good work.” Hugh offers up a series of three “precautions” or applications of the foregoing discussion to our good works. First, make sure that you have the divine light in you, “so that all your works may be of light and not darkness.” Second, make sure that the light in you is not mixed with any darkness. Third, make sure that the works which you do in that unmixed light are good. Hugh concludes the chapter with the observation that he has been “touch[ing] upon a certain few mysteries of light,” but that it is now time to “return to the systematic exposition” of Genesis.
1.1.13 “Why Scripture says: ‘God saw the light.’” The question of this chapter is by or in what light did God see the light that he made at first and by which he called it “good,” given that “nothing can be seen without light.” His answer is that this first created, changeable light was seen by God in an uncreated, unchangeable light. It is by this same divine light, moreover, that God sees all of his works, and “by which we also should see every light.”
1.1.12 “The sacrament of the divine works.” Hugh here reflects on the allegorical significance of the previous chapter’s discussion of why the original light preceded the sun’s own light. He had said that the reason the lesser light was allowed to precede the “clear” or “full light” was because the original confusion of the created order was such as to make it “not worthy of full light,” and he begins this chapter by observing that in this “a great sacrament is commended.” In this context, and for Hugh generally, sacrament refers to the mysterious, allegorical, or spiritual meaning of a thing. The sacramental meaning of the sequence of creation is the way in which the individual fallen soul, like creation in the beginning, is in “a kind of darkness and confusion,” a state that it cannot arise out of and “be disposed to the order and form of justice, unless it be first illumined to see its evils, and to distinguish light from darkness, that is, virtues from vices, so that it may dispose itself to order and conform to truth.”
1.1.11 “That light illumined three days; and why it was made before the sun.” Hugh returns to the existence of light preceding that of the sun, stating that “the light itself made those first three days before the sun was made, and illumined the world.” While this and his previous discussions might have given the impression that the light which preceded the sun was on that account superior to the sun’s own light, Hugh goes on to imply just the opposite. In response to the question of why generic (if you will) light was created before what he calls the “clear light” of the sun, he answers that it was possibly due to “the confusion” (of the original unformed matter) that “was not worthy of full light; yet it received some light, that it might see how to proceed to order and disposition.”
1.1.10 “That visible and invisible light were made simultaneously, and equally divided from darkness.” The argument of this chapter is an odd and even troubling one. According to Hugh, when God was dividing visible light from darkness, at that same moment he was also dividing the “invisible light” of angelic moral goodness from the fallen or falling angels’ moral “darkness of sin.” This separation occurred through the good angels “being turned toward the light of justice and illumined by light.” This concurrence of the separation of visible and invisible light, however, was no mere coincidence, for Hugh suggests that it was in some sense necessary or fitting that these two events coincide, indeed, that the separation of visible light from visible darkness was in some sense even dependent upon the separation of the good angels from the bad: “For thus the exemplars of God’s work had to be in harmony, so that those works of wisdom which were visible might follow the productions of the invisible.”
This I find very strange and disturbing. In 1.1.5 Hugh made the claim that the “likenesses” of corporeal creatures were “preceded already in the angelic spirits,” suggesting that the angelic natures exercise some kind of exemplar causality relative to corporeal creation. It would seem, therefore, to be precisely this dependence of the visible order upon the invisible that Hugh has in mind when he states that the separation of light from darkness in the visible world must have its antecedent exemplar in the invisible world. This by itself would be fine, except that what Hugh identifies as the exemplar for the separation of light from darkness in the visible world is a separation of moral light and darkness in the invisible world. The problem with this, of course, is that it implies that something negative, namely sin or evil, specifically the sin or evil of the fallen angels, is an exemplar or positive pattern for an otherwise created good, namely physical darkness. Evil, in short, has been unwittingly enfranchised and elevated to the level of form: the moral darkness of the fallen angels is what provides the formal pattern upon which physical darkness is said to depend. Put differently, angelic evil is what makes physical darkness possible, is what gives physical darkness its darkness? The irony, however, is that Hugh himself seems to see his thesis about invisible, moral light and darkness providing the exemplary pattern for physical light and darkness as being required rather than contradicted by his otherwise Augustinian privation theory of evil: “God indeed divided both, and named both; but He did not also make both. For God is not that author of darkness but of light, because sin is darkness and sin is nothing… God said: ‘Be light made.’ … God never said: ‘Be darkness made.’”
Brisbois, Michael J. “Tolkien’s Imaginary Nature: An Analysis of the Structure of Middle-earth.” Tolkien Studies 2 (2005): 197-216. A semi-systematic examination of differing aspects of and relations to “nature” in Tolkien’s legendarium. Interesting topic with great potential, but somewhat imperfectly executed here. Summary of Randall Helm’s five “internal laws” is interesting and helpful, but Brisbois’s categories of Passive, Active, Essential, Ambient, Independent, and Wrathful seem to obscure as much as they reveal.
1.1.9 “Of what nature this light was made and where.” Light was the first thing created, but it was not created out of nothing but out of the original matter (which was created out of nothing). With the creation of light the first day was begun (though time preceded even this). Light is not only material, but also corporeal (because able to illumine corporeal, visible things), spatial (because corporeal or bodily), and mobile (because distinguishing day and night, and being able to “complete a space of time”). Hugh clarifies that light was indeed made before or, as he puts it, even “instead of and in place of the sun” with the consequence that it was light and not the sun that was first “circulated by its motion” and responsible for “distinguishing night and day.”
Because light was first created in the place and course of the sun, it follows that, upon its creation, light also must have made its first appearance in the same place where the sun first appears each day, and like the sun, thereafter “traveling around in the same path, and descending first to its setting” so that “it might make the evening, and then, on being recalled to its rising, it might illumine the dawn.” This would seem to suggest that the sun, in rising and setting where it does, is merely following the light which precedes it.
Hugh’s explanation for why Scripture says that “there was evening and morning one day” is clever. As he points out, the first day, which began with the creation of light, was not and could not be preceded by any dawn, since before the creation of light there was only darkness. Therefore scripture includes the dawn following the first evening with the first day (the first evening taking place before the first dawn). Dawn, therefore, “must always refer to the preceding day.”
Hugh concludes the chapter by correlating his present teaching about light and the first day with his earlier discussion about time. Time (because change) began when the visible and invisible things were created, but until there was light, there was in this time neither night nor day. With the introduction of light, however, darkness and light could be differentiated, and so time could now be divided by day and night.