De Sacramentis 1.1.9

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.

 

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