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

And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.[Genesis 1:3-5.] With divine and not with human assiduity, Moses wrote a wonderful masterpiece upon all the mysteries of nature—a book which excels all others in utterance and ingenuity; for the glorious God, who is the true light, and who loves the light and made all light-giving things, very fitly began the creation with light. In three days and before the fourth (on which the great lights were formed) he placed the same in their spheres, and thus brought about the natural day. Among all physical things light is the noblest and, next to spiritual creation, the best. Its bounty is most general, and it reaches the smallest places throughout the world. By it all the world is made good and beautiful; for without doing any harm it penetrates all unclean things. God saw that the light was good; for the light is nothing other than a symbol—a tender, thin and hazy image of the initial Goodness. Now, when the Spirit drew up the waters and penetrated the nether matter, light was created by the command of the Architect; and it shone forth like a bright cloud, lighting upper regions with its brilliance, as when the morning sun bursts forth and lights up half the heavens. Thereafter God separated the darkness from the light, and made two hemispheres. Because of its brightness he called the light Day; for it clarifies the darkness. The darkness, which is detrimental to man’s sight, he called Night. And thus he created day and night, by which the endless cycle and course of time were to be marked off, and of which the years were to be made up. And it was a day—the first day of the world, but not the first of all days; wherefore it is not called the first day, but a day. On this day God made shapeless matter, the angels, the heavens, the light, the earth, the East (Aufgang, or rise), and the West (Niedergang, decline). The East is ascribed to God; for he is the fountain of light, and an enlightener in all things, who opens up to us eternal life. The West, or decline, is ascribed to the wrathful and those of wicked disposition; for it conceals the light and brings on darkness, and aims to destroy man by sin. As the light emerges from the East, and understanding soars in the light, so darkness comes from the West, and within it death and destruction are comprehended. Thereafter God established other regions, namely the South (Mittag, noon) and the North (Mitternacht, midnight), determined by like means. These are related to the other two regions; for the region which is warmer through the heat of the sun is closely related to the East; but the region which is cold, and suffers eternal frost, is related to the West. Just as light is opposed to darkness, so cold is opposed to heat. Therefore, as warmth is related to light, so South is related to East; while cold and darkness, and North, are related to the West.


The woodcut is in the form of a square, wherein are inscribed two large concentric circles, apparently intended to represent single band—a day, the first day. There is no attempt to depict light, and except for this linear design, and the creative hand at the upper left, the illustration is entirely blank. The subject may have proved too elusive or abstract, although light has frequently been represented by rays proceeding from a common center or a given point. The woodcut has an unfinished appearance as though the artist had lacked time to work out details.