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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why are there two contradictory creation accounts in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-25?

Sure seems that way, doesn’t it? The answer lies in the very text itself!

When you look at a novel, what do you see? You see a book with a title. What’s it about? Depending on the publisher you may either flip the book over or look at the inside leaf to find more information about the novel—what is it about? Now that you have been informed, you read the novel! How many novels are there in what you just read? Just one, with the story told three different ways: title, synopsis, and body.

This is very much like what happens in Genesis. The author tells what he wants to communicate and then he communicates it. When he is done, he gives a synopsis of what he just said! Now that the audience understands what is on the author’s mind, he can lift one detail from what he just shared and can expand on that one detail.

  • He tells us what he wants to say in Genesis 1:1: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the title.
  • Now he gives details in Genesis 1:2-3. This is the “body.”
  • Then he concludes by reminding us what he just said, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4). This is the synopsis of what he just said.
Can you see how the phrasing of this verse “bookends” the account?

Now that we are all on the same page (as it were), the author can move on to a new detail he did not give us before by telling a different story. To do so, he is going to build on what he has already said by lifting out one detail of the previous story and expanding it. He says, in effect: “remember that part in the first story when nothing was growing on the earth? Well, man wasn’t around then either. Let me tell you about the creation of man.” This is what happens in 2:5-25!

Patterns like this are found all throughout the Bible and makes for some excellent reading!

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