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While asking this question on music at Christianity Stack Exchange, I had simply assumed that Job 38 described music as more primordial than matter, but then I realized I wasn't sure whether the phrase "foundations of the earth" in Job 38:4 referred only to the earth or not. If so, then I do not know if the Bible supports the idea that music is more primordial than matter. (It may be, but one wouldn't know if the Bible says so.)

Does Job 38 support only the idea that music precedes the creation of our planet, and not suffice to support the idea that it precedes the creation of matter? If only the former, is there any other Biblical justification to support the possibility that music precedes matter?

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The first half of your question is right on target here. I'm wondering if the second half of this might need a doctrinal focus on Christianity. There is probably something to be pursued along the lines of Satan having one been the choir master of heaven before his fall, which we also believe to be before creation. Combine that with any textual evidence from this question, and maybe... –  Caleb Sep 23 '12 at 17:39
@Caleb Yes, I think there are two questions here. –  Kazark Sep 24 '12 at 1:17
I think the Hebrew compound word refers to "founding of the earth" rather than the "foundation of the earth". –  Blessed Geek Oct 3 '12 at 6:16
As music is part of the worship prescribed in the original temple, and we know that that worship is a shadow of the things patterned in Heaven (Hebrews 9), it is quite reasonable that our music is quite similar, though obviously not as good, as that in heaven. –  stephen Dec 17 '13 at 23:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The reference to singing comes a few verses later:

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast the understanding.
5 Who determined the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner-stone thereof,
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

We know that God preceded creation, of course, and there is reason to believe that a "heavenly court" (ministering angels) also preceded the completion of creation, for God uses the plural in Genesis 1. That could just be the "royal we" but it probably refers to the existence of other beings. This statement occurs after the creation of the earth but before the creation of man.

If other beings existed then, could those beings not be capable of singing?

I don't think Job 38 is saying that music is somehow foundational, but just that singers existed at the time of creation. God is chastising Job and saying he doesn't have the complete picture; he's not asserting that music is somehow special, only describing events that predated the creation of man.

As for a distinction between the creation of matter and the creation of the earth specifically, the text does not seem to draw a distinction. The first line of Genesis is "When God began to create the heavens and the earth" (ha-aretz). The text doesn't seem to consider matter in the abstract.

Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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Yes. Dealing with matter in the abstract is very Greek. The Scriptures have a radically approach to ontology than the philosophers; I would be tempted to answer this question with a simple N/A! Moreover, music as we know is only possible via sound waves, so whatever this singing is it is not music as we know it anyway. Which is more primordial is not even a question within the realm of possibility in Bible. Rather God is the Creator and has preëminence over man, and in this case specifically, Job. +1 –  Kazark Sep 24 '12 at 1:24

To answer the first part of your question, the foundations and pillars of the earth were thought to be distinct from the earth itself. These were the structure which actually held up the earth. It may be helpful to visualize the Ancient Middle Eastern conception of cosmology to better understand:

enter image description here

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