A Conversation for The 'Genesis' Creation Account

Which Genesis account?

Post 1

Gilgamesh of Uruk

The accounts given in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are incompatible. They also conflict with the "account" at the beginning of John's telling of the Good News. Isn't there evidence that the early part of the Bible took shape during the captivity in Babylon by fusing the J and P texts together? Unfortunately, the Word of God has been filtered through the inherently fallible mind and hand of man for so many generations that the version we have received is, in my opinion, unreliable. God created us reasonable (or arranged His creation so that we would become reasonable) and thus I consider it tantamount to sacrilege simply to accept the literal truth of the bible.


Which Genesis account?

Post 2

And Introducing... A Leg

It is generally accepted among scholars that Genesis does not have a single author. Chapter 1 is a rather beautiful poem about the power of God in the creation, in which he makes animals and then humans. Chapters 2 & 3 (though the chapters were deliberately arranged to hide the differing authorship) are a much earlier prose, and less well written, account of the creation, as a parable to explain why there is suffering in the world. Here, the animals are created after man (though before woman).

Thus what we have is indeed a hymn, followed by a parbable, which merely contains a creation myth. Neither is intended as history.


Which Genesis account?

Post 3

Gilgamesh of Uruk

That accords pretty well with my own feelings on the matter. Isn't there a theory that Genesis I is a rewriting of an earlier 8-day creation myth (there's a day when 2 things get created IIRC.)


Which Genesis account?

Post 4

Researcher 248180

It says that animals were created after man? I'd like to see that one...

I think too many people are just automatically biased against these things, which really blinds you...


Which Genesis account?

Post 5

Giford

Hi 248180,

They're referring to the section in Gen. 2:19: "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof." The point is that God has spent the previous few verses putting Man in the Garden of Eden and instructing him not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Thus, creation of animals occurs after creation of Man, contradicting Gen. 1.

Gif smiley - geek


Which Genesis account?

Post 6

Stephen the Sane

My understanding of it is that there are 2 creation accounts, one for the universe and one for the garden of eden. So God creates the universe, and towards the end of the "week", he creates eden. But the point is that God created it, not the mechanisms involved.


Which Genesis account?

Post 7

Offi_McSpin

"They're referring to the section in Gen. 2:19: "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof." The point is that God has spent the previous few verses putting Man in the Garden of Eden and instructing him not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Thus, creation of animals occurs after creation of Man, contradicting Gen. 1."

Not wanting to sound too picky here but there's a had missing in the first sentence your quoting.

And out of the ground the Lord God _had_ formed every beast of the field

And now that its there it can be seen that creation of animals didn't occur after the creation of man, not contradicting Gen 1.

As an aside, chronologically, the events of Gen 2 are interspersed with that of Gen1, complementary, rather than contradictory, similar to the gospels covering the same timeline, but differently.


Which Genesis account?

Post 8

Giford

Hi Offi,

Only if you use the NIV. The NIV translators added the word 'had' to remove the contradiction. Other translations (such as the King James I was using) use the present tense here. See for yourself:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%202:19-20;&version=78;

Besides, past tense would make no sense here. In the previous verse, God says "It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper for him." So by the NIV version, we have God declaring he will make a helper for Adam (v18), then seemingly changing his mind and parading all the already-existing animals before him (v19-20), only to declare that none of them is suitable (v20), then making Eve (v21-22). Why do all that parading of already-existing animals if He's already (correctly) declared that he will have to *make* a helper?

(Actually, come to that, why would an all-knowing God have to make a series of duff helpers anyway? Why didn't he get it right first time?)

Hope that helps. smiley - smiley

Gif smiley - geek


Which Genesis account?

Post 9

Offi_McSpin

Hi Gifford

I take your point about it not being in some translations, but it’s not just in modern versions to remove the contradictions as you put, the had features in older versions too, such as the 1535 Coverdale bible, nearly 80 years older than the king James. or the 1568 bishops bible.

http://www.studylight.org/desk/?l=en&query=Genesis+2&section=0&translation=mcb&oq=Genesis%25201&new=1&nb=ge&ng=1&ncc=1

But then again it’s not in the Geneva bible of 1587 or the king James as you pointed out.

And, if you can decipher it, it’s not in the 1395 Wycliffe bible below

'18 And the Lord God seide, It is not good that a man be aloone, make we to hym an help lijk to hym silf. 19 Therfor whanne alle lyuynge beestis of erthe, and alle the volatils of heuene weren formed of erthe, the Lord God brouyte tho to Adam, that he schulde se what he schulde clepe tho; for al thing that Adam clepide of lyuynge soule, thilke is the name therof. 20 And Adam clepide bi her names alle lyuynge thingis, and alle volatils, and alle vnresonable beestis of erthe. Forsothe to Adam was not foundun an helpere lijk hym.

21 Therfore the Lord God sente sleep in to Adam, and whanne he slepte, God took oon of hise ribbis, and fillide fleisch for it. 22 And the Lord God bildide the rib which he hadde take fro Adam in to a womman, and brouyte hir to Adam.'

It might seem strange to put this quote from a very old fashioned version in, but it makes the point of the four verses best, if not clearest.

18, God says he'll make Adam a helper. 19-20, God shows Adam that there isn’t one around, so in 21-22 God delivers on what he said and makes Eve. You rightly pointed out that he'd already declared he'd make a helper, but the parading is to show Adam that.
As a further point, the reasons for the appearing/disappearing hads is down to, though it sounds an odd thing to say, different vogues in the scholarly world. If you look at the bottom of most pages in any written bible, you'll find half a dozen, (at least) variant words or phrases, due to there quite frequently not being exact English matches for Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic words/phrases. And as with all scholarly fields there are fashions, and one or the other gets chosen.

Normally these differences are minute, like using anger instead of rage, but others can alter the meaning of a sentence slightly. Thus the only way to read the gospel truth in its ‘gospel truth’ form is to read its constituent books in the original language. Now this isn’t practical for most people, so here enters the field of bible study, that all Christians are called to do daily, though most are more than slightly laczidazical when it comes to this. To read a passage multiple times in multiple translations, converse with others and meditate over it to devise its meaning. That’s what they should be doing, but sadly too many don’t.

Hope I’ve not been too long winded
Hope to continue this stimulating conversation.

Offi_McSpin


Which Genesis account?

Post 10

Giford

Hi Offi,

Yes, what you say is true regarding alternate readings (though slightly incomplete - often different manuscripts have different readings in Greek or Hebrew, so it's not just a problem of translation - but that's more of an NT issue than an OT one). Written ancient Hebrew contains frustratingly little information for someone used to dealing with modern languages such as English - it may have acted more as a prompt or aide memoire than English does.

Looking into this particular case further, it's made worse because written ancient Hebrew doesn't have tenses in the way that we use them. From my (admittedly very limited) understanding of Hebrew grammar, you simply can't say 'had' - you can either use the perfect or imperfect tense, indicating past or future/present respectively. So this idea that you can switch tenses in the middle of a paragraph simply isn't possible in Hebrew. Nor does the text say anything to support your idea that God is demonstrating to Adam that none of the existing animals are suitable. So although your idea might be tempting if you're coming to the text with preconceptions of what it ought to say, it's not what it actually does say to a plain reading, and nor is it a technique that is possible in ancient Hebrew.

Nor are the contradictions the only reason to think we have two separate creation accounts here. There are two main words used for God in the Hebrew OT - 'el'/'elohim' (meaning 'God' or 'The Gods') and the four letters that represent the personal name of the Hebrew God, usually rendered in English as YHWH, Yahweh or Jehova. Translators traditionally use different words for each - in the KJV and NIV they use 'God' for El and 'LORD God' for YHWH. Try taking two highlighters and going through your Genesis - you'll find that Gen 1 (plus the first few verses of Gen 2 - remember the verses are a later tradition) use El and Gen 2/3 use YHWH. (The only exception being when the Serpent talks about God.)

Now I'm sure you can think of many reasons why that might be if you're not a fan of the Documentary Hypothesis - but whatever reason you go for, it shows a separation between Gen 1 and Gen 2/3. Nor is this the only part of the Bible that shows two different versions using the two different names of God. It looks suspiciously like two similar but different sets of scripture have been edited together to make a whole - and that is true throughout the first five books of the OT (and in some later books also).

Gif smiley - geek


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