The term Hexameron (Greek: Ἡ Ἑξαήμερος Δημιουργία) refers either to the genre of theological treatise that describes God's work on the six days of creation or to the six days of creation themselves. Most often these theological works take the form of commentaries on Genesis 1. As a genre, hexameral literature was popular in the early church and medieval periods. The word derives its name from the Greek roots hexa-, meaning "six", and (h)emer(a), meaning "day".

Using the Genesis account as a template, the days of creation are claimed as follows:

  1. Light
  2. The firmament of Heaven
  3. Separation of water and land, created plant life;
  4. Sun, moon, and stars
  5. Marine life and birds
  6. Land animals, and man and woman.
  7. The seventh day is reserved for rest (Sabbath), and so is not counted.

Based on this framework, Christian and Jewish authors have written treatises that cover a wide variety of topics, including cosmology, science, theology, theological anthropology, and God's nature.

Saint Basil wrote an early and influential series of homilies around 370 AD which figure as the earliest extant Hexameron. Basil originally performed the work as a series of sermons, and later collected them into a written work which was influential amongst early church leaders. Through Hexaemeron, we get many clues about the scientific knowledge of 4th century AD (Spheric Earth, Atmosphere, Stars and Suns, a primitive form of the theory of Evolution) and we can understand that science and religion was harmonically blended in the early church.

Among the Latin Fathers, Ambrose and Augustine wrote some of the earliest extant hexameral literature. Ambrose's Hexameron is heavily influenced by Basil's work of the same name. In contrast, Augustine of Hippo wrote several works that serve as commentaries on the Genesis narrative, including The Confessions and The Literal Meaning of Genesis (written around 391). One of the more influential elements of Augustine's writings is his argument that God created the world all at once. At the same time, this instantaneous creation included a progression of events. Thus, creation happened over six days and in one single event.

Following these figures, medieval writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, and Robert Grosseteste wrote hexameral literature.


  • E. Grant. Science and Religion, 400 BC-AD 1550: From Aristotle to Copernicus. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
  • F.E. Robbins. The Hexaemeral Literature: A Study of the Greek and Latin Commentaries on Genesis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1912.

See also

External links

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