QUESTION 74: ON ALL THE SEVEN DAYS IN COMMON
We next consider all the seven days in common: and there are three
points of inquiry:
(1) As to the sufficiency of these days;
(2) Whether they are all one day, or more than one?
(3) As to certain modes of speaking which Scripture uses in narrating
the works of the six days.
Article 1: Whether these days are sufficiently enumerated?
Objection 1: It would seem that these days are not sufficiently enumerated.
For the work of creation is no less distinct from the works of
distinction and adornment than these two works are from one another. But
separate days are assigned to distinction and to adornment, and therefore
separate days should be assigned to creation.
Objection 2: Further, air and fire are nobler elements than earth and water.
But one day is assigned to the distinction of water, and another to the
distinction of the land. Therefore, other days ought to be devoted to the
distinction of fire and air.
Objection 3: Further, fish differ from birds as much as birds differ from the
beasts of the earth, whereas man differs more from other animals than all
animals whatsoever differ from each other. But one day is devoted to the
production of fishes, and another to that of the beast of the earth.
Another day, then, ought to be assigned to the production of birds and
another to that of man.
Objection 4: Further, it would seem, on the other hand, that some of these
days are superfluous. Light, for instance, stands to the luminaries in
the relation of accident to subject. But the subject is produced at the
same time as the accident proper to it. The light and the luminaries,
therefore, ought not to have been produced on different days.
Objection 5: Further, these days are devoted to the first instituting of the
world. But as on the seventh day nothing was instituted, that day ought
not to be enumerated with the others.
I answer that, The reason of the distinction of these days is made clear
by what has been said above (Question , Article ), namely, that the parts of the
world had first to be distinguished, and then each part adorned and
filled, as it were, by the beings that inhabit it. Now the parts into
which the corporeal creation is divided are three, according to some holy
writers, these parts being the heaven, or highest part, the water, or
middle part, and the earth, or the lowest part. Thus the Pythagoreans
teach that perfection consists in three things, the beginning, the
middle, and the end. The first part, then, is distinguished on the first
day, and adorned on the fourth, the middle part distinguished on the
middle day, and adorned on the fifth, and the third part distinguished on
the third day, and adorned on the sixth. But Augustine, while agreeing
with the above writers as to the last three days, differs as to the first
three, for, according to him, spiritual creatures are formed on the first
day, and corporeal on the two others, the higher bodies being formed on
the first these two days, and the lower on the second. Thus, then, the
perfection of the Divine works corresponds to the perfection of the
number six, which is the sum of its aliquot parts, one, two, three; since
one day is assigned to the forming of spiritual creatures, two to that of
corporeal creatures, and three to the work of adornment.
Reply to Objection 1: According to Augustine, the work of creation belongs to the
production of formless matter, and of the formless spiritual nature, both
of which are outside of time, as he himself says (Confess. xii, 12).
Thus, then, the creation of either is set down before there was any day.
But it may also be said, following other holy writers, that the works of
distinction and adornment imply certain changes in the creature which are
measurable by time; whereas the work of creation lies only in the Divine
act producing the substance of beings instantaneously. For this reason,
therefore, every work of distinction and adornment is said to take place
"in a day," but creation "in the beginning" which denotes something
Reply to Objection 2: Fire and air, as not distinctly known by the unlettered,
are not expressly named by Moses among the parts of the world, but
reckoned with the intermediate part, or water, especially as regards the
lowest part of the air; or with the heaven, to which the higher region of
air approaches, as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii, 13).
Reply to Objection 3: The production of animals is recorded with reference to
their adorning the various parts of the world, and therefore the days of
their production are separated or united according as the animals adorn
the same parts of the world, or different parts.
Reply to Objection 4: The nature of light, as existing in a subject, was made on the first day; and the making of the luminaries on the fourth day does not mean that their substance was produced anew, but that they then received a form that they had not before, as said above (Question , Article  ad 2).
Reply to Objection 5: According to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. iv, 15), after all
that has been recorded that is assigned to the six days, something
distinct is attributed to the seventh---namely, that on it God rested in
Himself from His works: and for this reason it was right that the seventh
day should be mentioned after the six. It may also be said, with the
other writers, that the world entered on the seventh day upon a new
state, in that nothing new was to be added to it, and that therefore the
seventh day is mentioned after the six, from its being devoted to
cessation from work.
Article 2: Whether all these days are one day?
Objection 1: It would seem that all these days are one day. For it is written
(Gn. 2:4,5): "These are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when
they were created, in the day that the Lord . . . made the heaven and the
earth, and every plant of the field, before it sprung up in the earth."
Therefore the day in which God made "the heaven and the earth, and every
plant of the field," is one and the same day. But He made the heaven and
the earth on the first day, or rather before there was any day, but the
plant of the field He made on the third day. Therefore the first and
third days are but one day, and for a like reason all the rest.
Objection 2: Further, it is said (Ecclus. 18:1): "He that liveth for ever,
created all things together." But this would not be the case if the days
of these works were more than one. Therefore they are not many but one
Objection 3: Further, on the seventh day God ceased from all new works. If,
then, the seventh day is distinct from the other days, it follows that
He did not make that day; which is not admissible.
Objection 4: Further, the entire work ascribed to one day God perfected in an
instant, for with each work are the words (God) "said . . . . and it was
. . . done." If, then, He had kept back His next work to another day, it
would follow that for the remainder of a day He would have ceased from
working and left it vacant, which would be superfluous. The day,
therefore, of the preceding work is one with the day of the work that
On the contrary, It is written (Gn. 1), "The evening and the morning
were the second day . . . the third day," and so on. But where there is a
second and third there are more than one. There was not, therefore, only
I answer that, On this question Augustine differs from other expositors.
His opinion is that all the days that are called seven, are one day
represented in a sevenfold aspect (Gen. ad lit. iv, 22; De Civ. Dei xi,
9; Ad Orosium xxvi); while others consider there were seven distinct
days, not one only. Now, these two opinions, taken as explaining the
literal text of Genesis, are certainly widely different. For Augustine
understands by the word "day," the knowledge in the mind of the angels,
and hence, according to him, the first day denotes their knowledge of the
first of the Divine works, the second day their knowledge of the second
work, and similarly with the rest. Thus, then, each work is said to have
been wrought in some one of these days, inasmuch as God wrought in some
one of these days, inasmuch as God wrought nothing in the universe
without impressing the knowledge thereof on the angelic mind; which can
know many things at the same time, especially in the Word, in Whom all
angelic knowledge is perfected and terminated. So the distinction of days
denotes the natural order of the things known, and not a succession in
the knowledge acquired, or in the things produced. Moreover, angelic
knowledge is appropriately called "day," since light, the cause of day,
is to be found in spiritual things, as Augustine observes (Gen. ad lit.
iv, 28). In the opinion of the others, however, the days signify a
succession both in time, and in the things produced.
If, however, these two explanations are looked at as referring to the
mode of production, they will be found not greatly to differ, if the
diversity of opinion existing on two points, as already shown (Question , Article ; Question , Article ), between Augustine and other writers is taken into
account. First, because Augustine takes the earth and the water as first
created, to signify matter totally without form; but the making of the
firmament, the gathering of the waters, and the appearing of dry land, to
denote the impression of forms upon corporeal matter. But other holy
writers take the earth and the water, as first created, to signify the
elements of the universe themselves existing under the proper forms, and
the works that follow to mean some sort of distinction in bodies
previously existing, as also has been shown (Question , Articles ,4; Question , Article ). Secondly, some writers hold that plants and animals were produced
actually in the work of the six days; Augustine, that they were produced
potentially. Now the opinion of Augustine, that the works of the six days
were simultaneous, is consistent with either view of the mode of
production. For the other writers agree with him that in the first
production of things matter existed under the substantial form of the
elements, and agree with him also that in the first instituting of the
world animals and plants did not exist actually. There remains, however,
a difference as to four points; since, according to the latter, there was
a time, after the production of creatures, in which light did not exist,
the firmament had not been formed, and the earth was still covered by the
waters, nor had the heavenly bodies been formed, which is the fourth
difference; which are not consistent with Augustine's explanation. In
order, therefore, to be impartial, we must meet the arguments of either
Reply to Objection 1: On the day on which God created the heaven and the earth,
He created also every plant of the field, not, indeed, actually, but
"before it sprung up in the earth," that is, potentially. And this work
Augustine ascribes to the third day, but other writers to the first
instituting of the world.
Reply to Objection 2: God created all things together so far as regards their
substance in some measure formless. But He did not create all things
together, so far as regards that formation of things which lies in
distinction and adornment. Hence the word "creation" is significant.
Reply to Objection 3: On the seventh day God ceased from making new things, but
not from providing for their increase, and to this latter work it belongs
that the first day is succeeded by other days.
Reply to Objection 4: All things were not distinguished and adorned together, not
from a want of power on God's part, as requiring time in which to work,
but that due order might be observed in the instituting of the world.
Hence it was fitting that different days should be assigned to the
different states of the world, as each succeeding work added to the world
a fresh state of perfection.
Reply to Objection 5: According to Augustine, the order of days refers to the
natural order of the works attributed to the days.
Article 3: Whether Scripture uses suitable words to express the work of the six days?
Objection 1: It would seem the Scripture does not use suitable words to
express the works of the six days. For as light, the firmament, and other
similar works were made by the Word of God, so were the heaven and the
earth. For "all things were made by Him" (Jn. 1:3). Therefore in the
creation of heaven and earth, as in the other works, mention should have
been made of the Word of God.
Objection 2: Further, the water was created by God, yet its creation is not
mentioned. Therefore the creation of the world is not sufficiently
Objection 3: Further, it is said (Gn. 1:31): "God saw all the things that He
had made, and they were very good." It ought, then, to have been said of
each work, "God saw that it was good." The omission, therefore, of these
words in the work of creation and in that of the second day, is not
Objection 4: Further, the Spirit of God is God Himself. But it does not befit
God to move and to occupy place. Therefore the words, "The Spirit of God
moved over the waters," are unbecoming.
Objection 5: Further, what is already made is not made over again. Therefore
to the words, "God said: Let the firmament be made . . . and it was so,"
it is superfluous to add, "God made the firmament." And the like is to be
said of other works.
Objection 6: Further, evening and morning do not sufficiently divide the day,
since the day has many parts. Therefore the words, "The evening and
morning were the second day" or, "the third day," are not suitable.
Objection 7: Further, "first," not "one," corresponds to "second" and "third."
It should therefore have been said that, "The evening and the morning
were the first day," rather than "one day."
Reply to Objection 1: According to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. i, 4), the person of
the Son is mentioned both in the first creation of the world, and in its
distinction and adornment, but differently in either place. For
distinction and adornment belong to the work by which the world receives
its form. But as the giving form to a work of art is by means of the form
of the art in the mind of the artist, which may be called his
intelligible word, so the giving form to every creature is by the word of
God; and for this reason in the works of distinction and adornment the
Word is mentioned. But in creation the Son is mentioned as the beginning,
by the words, "In the beginning God created," since by creation is
understood the production of formless matter. But according to those who
hold that the elements were created from the first under their proper
forms, another explanation must be given; and therefore Basil says (Hom.
ii, iii in Hexaem.) that the words, "God said," signify a Divine command.
Such a command, however, could not have been given before creatures had
been produced that could obey it.
Reply to Objection 2: According to Augustine (De Civ. Dei ix, 33), by the heaven
is understood the formless spiritual nature, and by the earth, the
formless matter of all corporeal things, and thus no creature is omitted.
But, according to Basil (Hom. i in Hexaem.), the heaven and the earth, as
the two extremes, are alone mentioned, the intervening things being left
to be understood, since all these move heavenwards, if light, or
earthwards, if heavy. And others say that under the word, "earth,"
Scripture is accustomed to include all the four elements as (Ps. 148:7,8) after the words, "Praise the Lord from the earth," is added,
"fire, hail, snow, and ice."
Reply to Objection 3: In the account of the creation there is found something to
correspond to the words, "God saw that it was good," used in the work of
distinction and adornment, and this appears from the consideration that
the Holy Spirit is Love. Now, "there are two things," says Augustine
(Gen. ad lit. i, 8) which came from God's love of His creatures, their
existence and their permanence. That they might then exist, and exist
permanently, "the Spirit of God," it is said, "moved over the
waters"---that is to say, over that formless matter, signified by water,
even as the love of the artist moves over the materials of his art, that
out of them he may form his work. And the words, "God saw that it was
good," signify that the things that He had made were to endure, since
they express a certain satisfaction taken by God in His works, as of an
artist in his art: not as though He knew the creature otherwise, or that
the creature was pleasing to Him otherwise, than before He made it. Thus
in either work, of creation and of formation, the Trinity of Persons is
implied. In creation the Person of the Father is indicated by God the
Creator, the Person of the Son by the beginning, in which He created, and
the Person of the Holy Ghost by the Spirit that moved over the waters.
But in the formation, the Person of the Father is indicated by God that
speaks, and the Person of the Son by the Word in which He speaks, and the
Person of the Holy Spirit by the satisfaction with which God saw that
what was made was good. And if the words, "God saw that it was good," are
not said of the work of the second day, this is because the work of
distinguishing the waters was only begun on that day, but perfected on
the third. Hence these words, that are said of the third day, refer also
to the second. Or it may be that Scripture does not use these words of
approval of the second days' work, because this is concerned with the
distinction of things not evident to the senses of mankind. Or, again,
because by the firmament is simply understood the cloudy region of the
air, which is not one of the permanent parts of the universe, nor of the
principal divisions of the world. The above three reasons are given by
Rabbi Moses [*Perplex. ii.], and to these may be added a mystical one
derived from numbers and assigned by some writers, according to whom the
work of the second day is not marked with approval because the second
number is an imperfect number, as receding from the perfection of unity.
Reply to Objection 4: Rabbi Moses (Perplex. ii) understands by the "Spirit of the
Lord," the air or the wind, as Plato also did, and says that it is so
called according to the custom of Scripture, in which these things are
throughout attributed to God. But according to the holy writers, the
Spirit of the Lord signifies the Holy Ghost, Who is said to "move over
the water"---that is to say, over what Augustine holds to mean formless
matter, lest it should be supposed that God loved of necessity the works
He was to produce, as though He stood in need of them. For love of that
kind is subject to, not superior to, the object of love. Moreover, it is
fittingly implied that the Spirit moved over that which was incomplete
and unfinished, since that movement is not one of place, but of
pre-eminent power, as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. i, 7). It is the
opinion, however, of Basil (Hom. ii in Hexaem.) that the Spirit moved
over the element of water, "fostering and quickening its nature and
impressing vital power, as the hen broods over her chickens." For water
has especially a life-giving power, since many animals are generated in
water, and the seed of all animals is liquid. Also the life of the soul
is given by the water of baptism, according to Jn. 3:5: "Unless a man be
born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom
Reply to Objection 5: According to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. i, 8), these three
phrases denote the threefold being of creatures; first, their being in
the Word, denoted by the command "Let . . . be made"; secondly, their
being in the angelic mind, signified by the words, "It was . . . done";
thirdly, their being in their proper nature, by the words, "He made." And
because the formation of the angels is recorded on the first day, it was
not necessary there to add, "He made." It may also be said, following
other writers, that the words, "He said," and "Let . . . be made," denote
God's command, and the words, "It was done," the fulfilment of that
command. But as it was necessary, for the sake of those especially who
have asserted that all visible things were made by the angels, to mention
how things were made, it is added, in order to remove that error, that
God Himself made them. Hence, in each work, after the words, "It was
done," some act of God is expressed by some such words as, "He made," or,
"He divided," or, "He called."
Reply to Objection 6: According to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. iv, 22,30), by the
"evening" and the "morning" are understood the evening and the morning
knowledge of the angels, which has been explained (Question , Article ,7). But,
according to Basil (Hom. ii in Hexaem.), the entire period takes its
name, as is customary, from its more important part, the day. And
instance of this is found in the words of Jacob, "The days of my
pilgrimage," where night is not mentioned at all. But the evening and the
morning are mentioned as being the ends of the day, since day begins with
morning and ends with evening, or because evening denotes the beginning
of night, and morning the beginning of day. It seems fitting, also, that
where the first distinction of creatures is described, divisions of time
should be denoted only by what marks their beginning. And the reason for
mentioning the evening first is that as the evening ends the day, which
begins with the light, the termination of the light at evening precedes
the termination of the darkness, which ends with the morning. But
Chrysostom's explanation is that thereby it is intended to show that the
natural day does not end with the evening, but with the morning (Hom. v
Reply to Objection 7: The words "one day" are used when day is first instituted,
to denote that one day is made up of twenty-four hours. Hence, by
mentioning "one," the measure of a natural day is fixed. Another reason
may be to signify that a day is completed by the return of the sun to the
point from which it commenced its course. And yet another, because at the
completion of a week of seven days, the first day returns which is one
with the eighth day. The three reasons assigned above are those given by
Basil (Hom. ii in Hexaem.).