02 January, 2007

How Many Creations?

Bible skeptics claim Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are so different that they exclude each other and cannot be reconciled. Some believe that they are so dissimilar in teaching that they actually contain two different accounts of creation. Does the Bible contradict itself? Were there two creations?

Starting at the beginning, we know Genesis 2 is not a simple retelling of Genesis 1. How can we determine this to be true? First, we examine the overall context. Genesis 2 is considerably different in regard to the emphasis of the content. Genesis 1 dedicates four verses (13%) to the creation of humans, beginning with verse 26. However, Genesis 2 dedicates nineteen verses (76%) to the creation of humans, beginning with verse 7. Since there are no real chapter breaks in the original Hebrew manuscripts, the story of the creation of humans continues throughout Chapter 3 (another 24 verses). Obviously, the emphasis of the two "versions" is quite different. Keep this in mind as we continue forward.

Secondly, Genesis 2 isn't an account of another creation. Why do we know this? Because of what's 'missing' in Chapter 2: heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc. Specifically Chapter 2 mentions only things directly relevant to the creation of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden God prepared specially for them. This is in keeping with the emphasis mentioned above.

In summary so far, Chapter 1 can be understood as creation from God’s perspective; it is ‘the big picture’, an overview of the whole. Chapter 2 views the more important aspects from man’s perspective. Since Chapter 2 is viewed from the perspective of man after he was created, this would explain why so many of the elements listed in Chapter 1 are 'missing' (creation of the sun, moon, etc.) and more of an emphasis on things relevant to an individual's viewpoint (e.g. Gen 2:9 - trees that were "pleasant to the sight and good for food"). This is further highlighted by the geographic descriptions of the placement of Eden outlined in the text that follows. If Chapter 2 describes man's perspective, then surely this chapter should only describe events that occur in Adam & Eve's immediate environment (Eden), right? Correct. All the events of Genesis 2 occur in Eden.

1. Adam was placed in the garden to cultivate it.
2. God brought to Adam the animals He had already created for him to name.
3. Since a suitable companion was not found for Adam, God created Eve.
4. The narrative concludes with the initiation of the first marriage.

All the creation descriptions in Genesis 2 can be attributed to the preparation of a place in which the first humans will live.

But what about the apparent contradiction between Chapter 1 & 2 in regards to the creation of animals? Between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve, the KJV/AV Bible says (Genesis 2:19) ‘out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air’. On the surface, this seems to say that the land beasts and birds were created between Adam and Eve. However, Jewish scholars apparently did not recognize any such conflict with the account in Chapter 1, where Adam and Eve were both created after the beasts and birds (Genesis 1:23–25). Why is this? Because in Hebrew the precise tense of a verb is determined by the context. It is clear from Chapter 1 that the beasts and birds were created before Adam, so Jewish scholars would have understood the verb ‘formed’ in Genesis 2:19 to mean ‘had formed’ or ‘having formed’. If we translate verse 19 as follows (as the popular NIV does), ‘Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field …’, the apparent disagreement with Genesis 1 disappears completely.

Genesis 1 is the account of the creation of the universe and life on planet earth as it happened in chronological sequence, with day 1, day 2, evening and morning, etc. Genesis 2 is simply an expanded explanation of the events that occurred at the end of the sixth creation day – from the viewpoint of earthbound man and woman. The order of events is not the major concern of Genesis 2. In recapping events they are not necessarily mentioned in chronological order, but in the order which makes most sense to the focus of the account. For example, the animals are mentioned in verse 19, after Adam was created, because it was after Adam was created that he was shown the animals, not that they were created after Adam.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hola Jason, I'm the Tyre man, the one who sent you the satellite map.

I'd like you to debunk what this Mohammedan's blog says: http://inshallahshaheed.wordpress.com/2006/12/09/to-all-the-christians-you-need-a-new-religion/#comments

And this: http://www.levant.info/BAI-I.3.html

And this:

Also, I read your exposition on Christ's nature and couldn't help but notice that your views on Christ are similar to Islam's.

I use to ask my Christian pals who do they think Christ is, and then I show them Matt 27:46, Matt 19:16-17, John 14:28, etc. They aren't Catholics but they still believe Christ is god. What about YHWH? I ask them. They just give me a blank stare.

Is Christ God? Should I consider you a follower of Arianism, that heresy of old? Are Christians polytheists? I don't want to start another tiring discussion I'd just like to know what do you think.

I hate the way Mohammedans lecture westerners about morals, and bitch about the Crusades even though the Crusader States lasted less than 200 years and were meant to retake the former Christian territories taken by the Ummayads. The Ummayads also invaded Iberia for 8 centuries, the Turks brought the Christian Byzantine Empire to an end, besieged Vienna two times, other Muslims enslaved Europeans (Barbary Coast), and sold African slaves to the Atlantic Slave Trade. Yet there are idiots such as Tony Blair claiming the Koran is practical and far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance.

January 04, 2007 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were the original Hebrew texts of Genesis written before Noah's Flood? How can you be sure Genesis is a real account of the Creation?

Also, you're making suppositions on what the writer/writers of Genesis would have thought.

January 04, 2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Tyre Man,

I'm not Islamic and I'm not a Trinitarian. There is a link on this site to the Christadelphian statement of faith.

January 04, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

How can you be sure Genesis isn't a real account of Creation?

The Bible is the inspired (God-breathed) word of God. It's irrelevant what the writers might have thought.

January 04, 2007 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Jacques said...

The Bible is the inspired (God-breathed) word of God. It's irrelevant what the writers might have thought.

How do you know that?

January 04, 2007 3:11 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

How do I know what, that the Bible is inspired by God?

2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

January 04, 2007 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Jacques said...

That's the point.

The Bible is God's word because the Bible says it's so.

The Mohammedans say the Koran is God's word because the Koran says it's so.

Etc., etc., etc.

January 04, 2007 5:02 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I challenge you to find another religious book of the same age of the Bible which has accurately predicted global events, contains proven historical fact and passed textual criticism.

But this is a topic on Creation. Let's try and stick to the subject.

January 05, 2007 12:09 AM  

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