JF Ptak Science Books Post 1624 (Part of the series on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things.)
Perhaps "everything" wasn't missing, but almost everything was. Certainly the ancients and even the more-moderns, even the scientists of the 16th and into the 17th centuries (until von Guericke in 1672), could not abide the idea of the existence of nothing. The vacuum, a space in which there was nothing at all, was seen to be an anathema to the creations of the great creator, that the vacuum was antithetical to what was understood to be the nature of nature. (I wrote a post here earlier on when nothing was almost something.)
But what we see here, above, is the third day of creation as presented in one of the most significant books printed in the 15th century, and it is somewhat problematic, because it depicts almost-northing. That, or almost-everything.
The book was written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel (1444-1514, with the German translation by Georg Alt) , with the illustrations under the control of Michael Wohlgemut (1434-1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (c. 1450-1494), .and was published in Nuremberg in 1493 by Anton Koberger as Liber Chronicarum--known best to English-pseaking readers as the Nuremberg Chronicles (and to Germans as Die Schedelsche Weltchronik). It is perhaps one of the greatest illustrated works in the first half-century of movable type printing, using more than 1800 woodcuts to tell the story of the world--according to the Bible, mostly. (The book deals with the history of world in its seven ages--the first five of which deal with cumuulative history to the birth of Jesus Christ, while the sixth ages handles the history from Christ to the present day, and teh seventh carries along the future history of the world to the Last Judgment. Not much then is devoted to the 1500 years preceding the publication of Koberger's book. The author, Schedel, was a very religious man, and considered the work of teh Bible to come from the hand of god and therefore was infallible; on the other hand (so to speak), everything written outside of the Bible was that of humans, and so fallible, and therefore open to interpretation.)
Here is a colored version of the third day in the creation cycle mythology, which opens itself to much more visual congruence. ("On the third day God gathered together unto one place the waters under the firmament; and the dry land appeared. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas; and God saw that it was good, and said, Let the earth bring forth the green grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit trees yielding fruit after their kind.[Genesis 1:9-13.]")
And the uncolored version, third day:
This sort of "nothingness" is not unique, as we can see in this example from the Mantegna Tarocchi, showing the creator as Primum Mobile, the First Mover, holding what may well be our universe in its hands (and standing on another sphere of nothing, god knows what that might be):
Perhaps I'm missing the larger picture, and that the circles/spheres are the things created, and that they are contained in the square surrounding them; and that the boundaries marked by the circular lines are not necessarily empty, and that it is the suggested of the circles that is the stuff created, placeholders, contained within the square of the creator's domain. Or maybe not. Perhaps the circles are signifiers for the elements--earth at the center, surrounded by water/air/fire. Perhaps the woodcut was just waiting for some color.
Here's the rest of the cycle, in color:
"For he spoke and they were made: He commanded and they were created" (Psalm 33)., so says the legend (IPSE DIXIT ET FACTA SUNT; IPSE MANDAVIT ET CREATA SUNT Psalm 32) which floats above god enthroned--but it is difficult to see the progress in the un-colored version of day three.
The first day:
The second day:
The third day:
The fourth day (translation):
The fifth day:
The sixth day:
The seventh day: