First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…
FOLIO II recto

In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And the earth was void and empty. And darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters.[The Incipit is that of Genesis 1:1-2, according to the Vulgate.] Moses, the divine prophet and historian, who lived almost 700 years before the Trojan War, teaches that when God, the Creator and Ordainer of all things, was about to undertake this work, he first made of heaven a throne for himself as Creator, and raised it on high; and thereafter he established the earth and subordinated it to heaven. He invested the earth with darkness, and it is without light except as it derives light from the heavens; for there he placed the eternal light, the celestial spirits, and the eternal life; but to the earth he assigned darkness, the mundane spirits, and death. When Moses states that God created, etc., he abrogates the errors of Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus; for Plato held that God and the creatures in his image, and Yle, have existed for all time, and that in the beginning the world was made of this same Yle. The Greeks say that Yle was the first shapeless mass out of which all things were created, and that these visible things were formed of elements that were in harmony with each other; or (as others say) of matter and form, or were made of the finest dust that sparkles in the sunlight. But God created the world without available or previously prepared material; for he is to be regarded as having been a most wise and Intelligent maker before he undertook the Creation, and as a fountain of perfect and accomplished goodness, that springs from graciousness like a brook. Of all beings he first created the angels, and these out of nothing; for by reason of his immortality he is strong, and by virtue of his strength his power is infinite and without end, as is also his life. Therefore, why wonder whether he who undertook to create the world, first provided himself with material from that which was not. This was probably also understood by the Saracens, who say that the angels were brought by God from the darkness into the light, and filled with eternal joy; but some of them did not retain the conception of their divine origin, and through their own errors deserted good for evil, and became devils. The earth was void, that is, (as Jerome and the Seventy["The Seventy" (also written as "LXX") refers to the Koine Greek version of the Old Testament translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE in Alexandria, Egypt.] interpret it) invisible and chaotic, and because of its chaotic condition it was called an abyss; and this the Greeks called chaos, which consists of a material of three dimensions scattered about in the great deep. Ovid, the poet, gives elegant expression to this in his poems. And the Spirit of the Lord, an instrument of divine art, moved over the waters like the will of a master-builder, who orders all things done; and so the work is of divine perfection and is expressed in the figure six, whose component parts are 1, 2, and 3.

Moses in his account of the six days devotes the first to the creation, the second and third to the order and disposition, and the remaining days to the adornment of the world.


This woodcut, covering more than half of Folio II recto, represents the first step in the creation of the world, but is a strange confusion of ancient Greek theories with the Bible account. The design, like the succeeding ones, representing the six days of work and the one day of rest is circular in form. The center is a circle within a circle; the inner one, about three inches in diameter, was undoubtedly intended to represent the nothingness out of which the world was created by the hand of God. Apparently the artistic sense of the woodcutter rebelled against this blank space and he inscribed the word "YLE" upon it in large ornamental script of the period of the Chronicle, thereby introducing the ancient Greek theory into the midst of his Christian setting; for "YLE" is surrounded by the angelic hosts of the kingdom of God, acting as witnesses to the act of creation. Above them is suspended a dove with outspread wings and a nimbus, symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit. To the upper left, but outside the circular design, appears the hand of the Creator.