This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

Let there be light

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

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

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" — kaì eîpen ho Theós genēthḗtō phôs kaì egéneto phôs. 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 the third person singular present passive subjunctive form of the verb facio,[2][3] meaning "to do" or "to make"). The Douay–Rheims Bible translates the phrase, from the Vulgate, as "Be light made. And light was made."

Use by educational institutions

The motto "Fiat lux" on the Sather Gate at the University of California, Berkeley

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

  • The English phrase concludes Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question", symbolizing the godlike growth in power of an extremely advanced computer as it creates a new universe from the ashes of a dead one, drawing comparisons and suggesting an explanation for the biblical Book of Genesis.
  • Hugo, Victor, Les Misérables [The Miserable ones] (in French) speaks about the importance of daring and writes "That cry, 'Audace,' is a Fiat Lux!"
  • "Fiat Lux!" is the activating phrase in the setting of a Ward Major in Kurtz, Katherine, Chronicles of the Deryni.
  • The Fiat Lux Agency is the name of Nestor Burma's private detective agency, in Malet, Léo, New Mysteries of Paris (novels).
  • One of the three main divisions of Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz (book) is titled "Fiat Lux."
  • Pope, Alexander, Nature and nature's laws (couplet), Nature and nature's laws lay hid in Night. / God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light.
  • "Fiat Lux" is also used in Thelen, Albert Vigoleis (1982), Die Insel des zweiten Gesichts (novel) (in German), DE.


  1. ^ "But What Does It Mean?". The Daily. The University of Washington. 1999-05-25. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  2. ^ Wiktionary entry for facio, wiktionary:facio#Conjugation.
  3. ^ "Verbix, verb conjugator".
  4. ^ Fiat Lux Academe (official), Facebook.

External links