Let there be light

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The phrase "Let there be light" used metaphorically over the door of Central Library, a Carnegie library in Edinburgh

"Let there be light" is an English translation of the Hebrew יְהִי אוֹר‎ (yehi 'or) found in Genesis 1:3 of the Torah, the first part of the Hebrew Bible. In Old Testament translations of the phrase, translations include the Greek phrase γενηθήτω φῶς (genēthētō phōs) and the Latin phrase fiat lux.

Genesis 1[edit]

The phrase comes from the third verse of the Book of Genesis. In the King James Bible, it reads, in context:

1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4And God saw the light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

Origin and etymology[edit]

In the Torah, the phrase in Genesis 1:3 which is typically translated in English as "let there be light" is in Hebrew וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי אוֹר‎ (vayo'mer 'Elohim, yehi 'or vayehi 'or).

In the Koine Greek Septuagint the phrase is translated "καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Θεός γενηθήτω φῶς καὶ ἐγένετο φῶς" — kai eipen ho Theos genēthētō phōs kai egeneto phōs. The original Latinization of the Greek translation used in the Vetus Latina was lux sit ("light – let it exist" or "let light exist"), which has been used occasionally, although there is debate as to its accuracy.[1]

In the Latin Vulgate Bible, the Hebrew phrase יְהִי אוֹר‎ is translated in Latin as fiat lux. In context, the translation is "dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux" ("And said God let there be light, and there was light"). Literally, fiat lux would be translated as "let light be made" (fiat is from fieri, the passive form of the verb facere, "to make" or "to do"). The Douay–Rheims Bible translates the phrase, from the Vulgate, as "Be light made. And light was made."

Use by educational institutions[edit]

The motto "Fiat lux" on the Sather Gate at the University of California, Berkeley
The emblem of Cornway College with the motto "Let there be light".

Fiat lux or Sit lux appears in the motto and on the seals of a number of educational institutions, including:

Fiat Lux also appears on the outside of Kerns Religious Life Center at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. The second half of the same verse, Et facta est lux appears on the seal of Morehouse College.

In October 1973, a Portland, Oregon business owner delivers a message to Governor Tom McCall in response to his executive order curtailing commercial lighting during the 1970s energy crisis.

In literature[edit]

For works which use the phrase as their title, see Let there be light (disambiguation)#In literature and Fiat lux (disambiguation)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "But What Does It Mean?". The Daily. The University of Washington. 1999-05-25. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  2. ^ Fiat Lux Academe (official), Facebook .

External links[edit]