Latin language series: Genesis 1:1-8, in principio

This post begins your study of the Latin found in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, or Liber Genesis, from the Biblia Sacra Vulgata (Stuttgartensia). You will find a link in the index where you can read this Bible online.

In this post, you will examine verses 1-8. These verses cover the first and second day of creation.

In all the posts pertaining to the Latin Bible, I have, to the best of my knowledge and ability, translated the verses literally into English, whilst simultaneously striving to produce an intelligible wording. I have often preferred to use Latin derivatives in English, except when the choice of a derivative would have unduly obscured the translation. In any case, the translation is provided as an educational tool above all else.

The principal parts of the verbs that appear in these verses are listed at the end of this post, for your reference.

Verses 1-8 read as follows:

1in principio creavit Deus caelum et terram


2terra autem erat inanis et vacua et tenebrae super faciem abyssi et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas


3dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux


4et vidit Deus lucem quod esset bona et divisit lucem ac tenebras


5appellavitque lucem diem et tenebras noctem factumque est vespere et mane dies unus


6dixit quoque Deus fiat firmamentum in medio aquarum et dividat aquas ab aquis


7et fecit Deus firmamentum divisitque aquas quae erant sub firmamento ab his quae erant super firmamentum et factum est ita


8vocavitque Deus firmamentum caelum et factum est vespere et mane dies secundus

Genesis 1:1-8 (Vulgata Stuttgartensia)

Versus 1

in prīncipiō (in the beginning) creāvit Deus (God created) caelum et terram (the heaven and the earth)

  • in, in
  • prīncipium, prīncipiī, n., beginning
  • creāre, to create
  • Deus, Deī, m., God
  • caelus, caelī, m., heaven
  • et, and
  • terra, terrae, f., earth

In prīncipiō means in the beginning, where prīncipiō is the ablative of prīncipium (beginning). In the beginning can also be expressed simply as prīncipiō. Creāvit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of creāre (to create).

Caelum is the accusative of caelus (heaven). Terram is the accusative of terra (earth).

caelus, m., heaven
caelum creāvit Deus
God created the heaven

terra, f., earth
terram creāvit Deus
God created the earth

Versus 2

terra autem erat inānis et vacua (and the earth was void and empty) et tenebrae super faciem abyssī (and darkness upon the face of the abyss) et spīritus Deī ferēbātur super aquās (and the Spirit of God moved over the waters)

  • autem, and
  • esse, to be
  • inānis, inānis, ināne, void
  • vacuus, vacua, vacuum, empty
  • tenebrae, tenebrārum, f., darkness
  • super, upon
  • faciēs, faciēī, f., face
  • abyssus, abyssī, f., abyss
  • spīritus, spīritūs, m., spirit
  • ferre, to move
  • aqua, aquae, f., water

Super faciem means over the face, where faciem is the accusative of faciēs (face). Super aquās means over the waters, where aquās is the accusative of aquae (waters).

Ferēbātur is the third-person singular, imperfect passive indicative of ferre (to move).

Versus 3

dīxitque Deus (and God said) fīat lūx (let be made the light) et facta est lūx (and was made the light)

  • dīcere, to say
  • facere, to make
  • lūx, lūcis, f., light

Dīxit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of dīcere (to say). Dīxitque is synonymous with et dīxit (and He said).

Fīat is the third-person singular, present passive subjunctive of facere (to make). Facta est is the feminine, third-person singular, perfect passive indicative of the same.

Versus 4

et vīdit Deus lūcem (and God saw the light) quod esset bona (that it was good) et dīvīsit lūcem ac tenebrās (and He divided the light and the darkness)

  • vidēre, to see
  • quod, that
  • bonus, bona, bonum, good
  • dīvidere, to divide
  • ac, and

Lūcem is the accusative of lūx (light). Tenebrās is the accusative of tenebrae (darkness).

lūx bona est
the light is good

lūcem vīdit Deus
God saw the light

Vīdit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of vidēre (to see). Esset is the third-person singular, imperfect active subjunctive of esse (to be). Dīvīsit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of dīvidere (to divide).

Versus 5

appellāvitque lūcem diem (and He called the light day) et tenebrās noctem (and the darkness night) factumque est vespere et māne (and it was done evening and morning) diēs ūnus (day one)

  • appellāre, to call
  • diēs, diēī, m., day
  • nox, noctis, f., night
  • vesper, vesperī, m., evening
  • māne, -, n., morning
  • ūnus, ūna, ūnum, one

Diem is the accusative of diēs (day), and noctem is the accusative of nox (night). Factumque est is synonymous with et factum est, which you will also see in the verses ahead; the style alternates between the two forms.

The English in the evening is expressed in Latin as vespere, and in the morning as māne.

Appellāvit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of appellāre (to call). Appellāvitque is synonymous with et appellāvit (and He called).

Versus 6

dīxit quōque Deus (God also said) fīat firmāmentum (let be made a firmament) in mediō aquārum (in the middle of the waters) et dīvidat (and let it divide) aquās ab aquīs (the waters from the waters)

  • quōque, also
  • firmāmentum, firmāmentī, n., firmament
  • medium, mediō, n., middle
  • ab, from

The aquārum of in mediō aquārum is the genitive of aquae (waters). Mediō is the ablative of medium (middle).

Dīvidat is the third-person singular, present active subjunctive of dīvidere.

The aquās of dīvidere aquās ab aquīs (to divide the waters from the waters) is the accusative of aquae, and aquīs is the ablative of the same.

Versus 7

et fēcit Deus firmāmentum (and God made the firmament) dīvīsitque aquās (and divided the waters) quae erant sub firmāmentō (that were under the firmament) ab hīs quae erant super firmāmentum (from those that were above the firmament) et factum est ita (and it was done so)

  • quae, that
  • sub, under
  • ab hīs, from those
  • ita, so

Fēcit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of facere. Quae is the feminine of quī (that). Hīs, in the phrase ab hīs, is the ablative of hae (these).

There are two examples here of firmāmentum in the accusative: fēcit Deus firmāmentum (God made the firmament) and super firmāmentum (above the firmament). An example of firmāmentum in the ablative is found in sub firmāmentō (under the firmament).

Versus 8

vocāvitque Deus firmāmentum caelum (and God called the firmament Heaven) et factum est vespere et māne (and it was done evening and morning) diēs secundus (second day)

  • vocāre, to call
  • secundus, secunda, secundum, second

Vocāvit is the third-person singular, perfect active indicative of vocāre (to call).

In verse 5, you encountered factumque est; in this verse, the wording is et factum est.

Principal parts of verbs

  • appellō, appellāre, appellāvī, appellātum
  • creō, creāre, creāvī, creātum
  • dīcō, dīcere, dīxī, dictum
  • dīvidō, dīvidere, dīvīsī, dīvīsum
  • faciō, facere, fēcī, factum
  • ferō, ferre, tulī, lātum
  • sum, esse, fuī, futum
  • videō, vidēre, vīdī, vīsum
  • vocō, vocāre, vocāvī, vocātum