DID A FORM OF "EVIL" EXIST BEFORE THE FALL?
by
Daniel J. Dyke

    The problem with answering this question is to define the term evil.  If we mean by the term moral evil, then the answer is an emphatic no.  There are two possible ways that evil could have existed, but only if we use an alternate definition such as:

    According to Isaiah 45:7 God himself claims to be the one who creates evil ((r).  Multiple questions surround this text.  Was Isaiah speaking of the original creation or an ongoing creation in the present world order?   Is the evil in question moral evil, the disasters of  judgment, or natural evil?  Note the variations in the following translations and how some translations attempt to answer the question1:
 
King James Version (1611)
I form the light, and create darkness:  
I make peace, and create evil 
I the LORD do all these. 
Jewish Publication Society Version
I form the light, and create darkness;  
I make peace, and create evil 
I am the LORD, that doeth all these things.
New American Standard Version (1995)
The One forming light and creating darkness,  
Causing well-being and creating calamity 
I am the LORD who does all these.
 New Revised Standard Version
I form light and create darkness,  
I make weal and create woe 
I the LORD do all these things.
American Standard Version (1901)
I form the light, and create darkness;  
I make peace, and create evil 
I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.
The Berkeley Version
I form the light and create;  
I make peace and create calamity;  
I am the LORD who does all these things.
New International Version
I form the light and create darkness,  
I bring prosperity and create disaster 
I, the LORD, do all these things.
New World Translation 
of the Holy Scriptures
Forming light and creating darkness,  
making peace and creating calamity 
I, Jehovah, am doing all these things.
New English Bible
I make the light, I create the darkness, 
author alike of prosperity and trouble. 
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Good News Bible
(Today's English Version)
I create both light and darkness;  
I bring both blessing and disaster. 
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Septuagint (LXX)
(Uses the Silvermountain SGREEK font)
Egw\ h( kataskeua/saj (Aor. Act. Part.) fw=j,  
kai\ poih/saj (Aor. Act. Part.) sko/toj,  
o( poiw=n (Pres. Act. Part.) ei)rh/nhn,  
kai\ kti/zwn   (Pres. Act. Part.)  kaka/ 
e)gw\ Ku/rioj  o( Qeo\j,  
o( poiw=n  pa/nta tau=ta 
Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton
(A Literal Translation of the LXX)
I am he that prepared light, and formed darkness;  
who made peace, and create evil; 
I am the Lord God, that does all these things.
Latin Vulgate
(St. Jerome)
formans lucem   et     creans  
forming    light    and   creating  
tenebras      faciens    pacem    
darkness;   fashioning   peace   
 et      creans       malum  
and    creating        evil;  
ego     Dominus          faciens   
  I,        the Lord,    (am) fashioning  
omnia     haec  
   all         these
 
    The words for creating and making ()rB/h&(/rcy) are found in Genesis 1 and later biblical creation passages.  This would suggest that Isaiah was putting the genesis of evil in the original creation.
 
     In opposition to this is pointed out that:     The rejoinder would be that there was chaos and violence in the original creation and it is this that Isaiah is referring to in his song to Cyrus.  Let us examine some of the creation texts that picture these things.

I.    A Violent or Chaotic Creation

    Notice the language of chaos:     In creation the work of God and man, as the image bearer is to bring order out of chaos.  For three creation days God forms the formless world into a habitation fit for man and thus he removes formlessness.  For three days He fills the void with appropriate occupants with the sixth day climaxing in the creation of the image bearer.
 

 The Creation Event (1:1-2)
The Removal of tohu 
The Removal of bohu
Day #1: The creation of light
Day #4: The creation of sun and moon
(the stars also)
Day #2: The separation of sky and sea
Day #5: The creation of sea and sky creatures
Day #3: The separation of land and water
The appearance of vegetation
Day #6: The making of land creatures
The creation of man
Day #7: Creation Rest (2:1-3) 
 
    Each cycle of days performs two tasks:     Man's role according to the creation mandate was to "subdue" the earth.  Subdue is the preferred translation of Gen 1:28 in many popular English versions.  It implies a certain amount of chaos that man, as the image bearer, is to bring into submission.  This is a radically different picture than the idea that he lived and would live forever in a tranquil world. II.    The Creation of the Potential for Evil     How does God who is good create evil?  He creates things that in and of themselves are good and necessary then by his permissive will allows these to function.  These would include:     The second creation  account (Genesis 2:4-25)  and the fall narrative (Genesis 3) deal with this.  In them man is presented as having  freedom to eat from any tree he desires except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Freedom is real!  Man can eat anything, but must make the choice to avoid the one tree.  Both Adam and Eve have desire for food.  Eve sees the tree as a delight to the eyes. She has self esteem that has been tempted into becoming pride--she saw that it was  something that could make her wise, knowing good and evil and thus she would become like God.


Footnotes
1The original Hebrew word ra' ((ar) was ambiguous in that it could be used of either natural or moral evil. The two early translations, the LXX and the Vulgate, left ambiguity in the text, but many of the modern translations remove the ambiguity in favor of a less offensive translation (cf. NIV).
2Apparent evil is when something initially appears to be evil, but upon a closer examination of the facts or the acquisition of additional facts is not really evil.  Sawing off a leg by a sadist is different than the amputation of a leg by a surgeon.