On “Afternthe Big Bang”nI read with great interest Bryce Christensen’sn”Before the Big Bang” in thenMarch 1986 issue. In what is otherwisenan excellent review, I must bringnyour attention to a most grievous error.nMr. Christensen writes:nAfter all, before then no onenexcept Chrishans had believednthat the physical universenappeared suddenly fromnnothing.nThe obvious reference to Genesis as annexclusively Christian possession is startling.nJews revere and have reverednGenesis as one of the five books ofnMoses for nearly 3,500 years, thusnantedating the Christian claim byn1,500 years or so. May I assume Mr.nChristensen’s error is one of historicalnnaivete rather than insensitivity?n—David B. MeltznAtlanta, GeorgianMr. ChristensennRephes:nI understand why Mr. Meltz might benoffended if he thought that I was tryingnto expropriate Genesis as an “exclusivelynChristian possession.” On thencontrary, it is generally agreed amongnOld Testament scholars that the Christianndoctrine creatio ex nihilo is anninterpretive innovation by the earlynChristian fathers, and is a doctrine thatnis not only not spelled out in the text ofnGenesis but seems to contradict thatntext. (Don’t tell the Fundamentalistsnthis, however. They like to think thatnseveral doctrines they’ve borrowednfrom the Catholic tradihon can bendefended from “Scripture alone.”)nKarl Rahner’s Encyclopedia of Theologyntraces the doctrine of creatio exnPOLEMICS & EXCHANGESnnihilo back to “the middle of the 2ndncentury, as in the confession of faith innHermas” and notes the polemical usenof this doctrine in the Christian fightnagainst Gnoshcism. In the more pedestriannbut accessible Eerdmans’nHandbook to Christian Belief, JamesnHouston observes that “the churchnfathers developed the notion of creationn’out of nothing’ . . . [as] a formnof theological shorthand to indicatenthat God is sovereign over creation.”nIn his Commentary on The Holy Scriptures,nJohn P. Lange argues that creationex nihilo is a specifically Christianndoctrine, noting that for Aben Ezra,nRabbi Schelomo, and other “learnednJewish commentators,” “creation (thenMosaic creation) is regarded as formationnrather than as primal originationnof matter.” Lange notes that AbennEzra specifically opposed the readingnof the Genesis text to mean “the bringingnout of nothing.”nJohn Milton (who, as I noted in mynreview, rejected creatio ex nihilo)npointed out in his Christian Doctrinenthat the Hebrew text cannot signify “toncreate out of nothing.” “On the contrary,nthese words uniformly signify toncreate out of matter.” In his study ThenOld Testament Since the Reformation,nthe Christian scholar Emil G. Kraelingnconcedes the real possibility thatn”the writer of the creation story holdsnmatter to be co-eternal with God” butnadds that if this is so “we would have tonreject that aspect of its presentation.”nOn the other hand, a careful Jewishnscholar has recentiy pointed out to menseveral citations from rabbinical literaturensuggesting Jewish development ofnthe doctrine oi creatio ex nihilo at leastnas early as the early Christian fathers.nIn closing, I think it fair to note thatnas a Latter-day Saint, I side with JohnnMilton and with Aben Ezra in acceptingnthe original text of Genesis on thisnpoint and rejecting creatio ex nihilo,ndespite the scientific evidences nownbeing adduced for it. Might God havennninitiated the primal Bang by suddenlynintroducing pre-existent matter-energyn(perhaps from some other dimensionnof being) into the time-space of ournuniverse? I don’t know. He does. Andnneither the latest Grand Unified Theorynnor the creation account in Genesisndoes more than very partially bridgenthe gap.nOn ”AcademicnFreedom”nPlease allow me to comment on yourncolumn in the Cultural Revolutionsnsection of the January 1986 issuenwherein someone states: “During then60’s and 70’s, while other universitiesnwere committing academic suicide byneliminating all merely ‘academic’ requirements,nFordham held firm.”nMy dear sir, if Fordham held firm,nthen Idi Amin is a disciple of MothernTeresa. As a student at Fordham betweenn1965 to 1969, I can attest to thenfact, more out of disgust and bitternessnthan sadness, that that once noblenJesuit institution became, with unimaginablenease, a nesting place for NewnLeft activists and that it was for allnpractical purposes run by the SOS.nThe president of the university atnthat time, one Leo McLaughlin, was anblack-robed jellyfish more interestednin importing the likes of MarshallnMcLuhan, Margaret Mead, Ivan 111ych,net al., than in “holding firm.” If Inam not mistaken, the good reverendnhas long since left the order and hasnmarried a former nun. Perhaps he,ntoo, writes for Screw magazine. Inwould not be surprised. The onlynthing that does surprise me is thatnanyone could write that “Fordhamnheld firm.” To what?nThomas R. NassisinGrand View, NYnJUNE 19861 nn