Genesis 1 & 2

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Dec 1 09:42:50 EST 1999


Jonathan,
> I have to say that I completely fail to see how Genesis 2 can be called an account of 
> creation of the world. The account lacks any mention of astonomical bodies, speaks 
> only of beautiful trees producing edible substances (thereby lacking mention of the 
> vast majority of plant life), and completely fails to mention swarming things, creeping 
> things, sea things, etc. in the account, restricting itself to fowls, cattle, and beasts of 
> the field.

It's clearly a narrower account, zeroing in on the man and his 
interaction to the world in which he found himself.

> Mentioning of the rivers seems to locate the story in a specific geographical area, and 
> the type of trees and animals seem to indicate to me that the story is relating the 
> creation of the Garden of Eden. This supposition is STRONGLY reinforced by Gen 2:8. 
> The sequence of events, creation of man, creation of garden (which did not meet all 
> his needs), the creation of animals (which did not meet all his needs), and finally the 
> creation of woman (who met all his needs) seem to tell me that, from a literary stand 
> point, the theme of the account is the creation of woman, using the creation of the 
> garden as plot device.

Rather than suggest that its focus is the creation of the garden or 
the creation of woman, I would submit that its focus is building the 
setting in which the man and his eventual mate would ultimately be 
tested for obedience, the test that takes place in chapter 3.  The 
combination of the garden, the plants, the animals and the woman 
work together to build an idyllic setting in which this test occurs, 
so in a real sense it's possible to see chapter 2 as setup for the 
pivotal event in chapter 3.

> This is opposed to the first chapter, which is the creation of man, using the creation 
> of the universe as a plot device. Or the 1st chapter can be what it most plainly seems 
> to be, the creation of the world, which mentions the creation of man as a plot 
> element, and the 2nd chapter is thematically the creation of man and woman, given 
> form through the creation of the garden.
> 
> Anyway, back to my opening sentence, I really fail to see that the 2nd chapter can be 
> considered an account of the creation of the world, and am wondering what makes 
> this illustious fraternity of PhD laden Hebrew scholars think that Gen 2 is an account 
> of the creation of the world that has any place being compared to Gen 1 at all? 

I'm hardly illustrious and I'm certainly not PhD laden, and I agree 
with you.  I frankly reject the JEDP hypothesis wholesale, and I 
also reject the evolutionary approach that you mentioned further in 
this paragraph.  IMO that kind of approach died several years ago, 
it just didn't have the good sense to roll over and stop breathing.


[snip]
> My next question is, even if the accounts are two separate accounts pieced together 
> (as I believe), does that dictate that they both be considered contending and 
> contradictory accounts of the creation of the entire world?

I don't think they are contradictory.  The supposed contradiction 
most frequently pointed out (at least pointed out to me) is the 
sequence of creation between Adam and the animals; chapter 2 
supposedly says that the animals were created after the man, 
because the mention of the animals' creation uses a waw-
consecutive verb.  But my grammatical research has found that the 
waw-consecutive isn't consecutive at all, and more and more 
approaches are starting to realize this.  In fact, the suggestion of 
such a blatant contradiction is an insult to the ancient editors: are 
we really supposed to imagine that these fellows, pious and 
concerned about what they were doing, were also so stupid that 
they didn't realize that one put animals before man and the other 
put man before animals?  And that in the space of a relatively few 
sentences so that it would have been glaringly obvious to anybody 
but a complete moron?  "I don't think so, Tim."  The problem is not 
that the scribes, editors etc. were idiots, the problem is that we 
don't understand the function of the verb form in question.

[snip]
> But I would really appreciate answers to some of these questions. Not one soul on 
> here responded to my post about the possibility of supposedly older OT books written 
> in Late Biblical Hebrew being late translations of older works. How this post is 
> received will combine with the absolute lack of response to my last one to form my 
> opinion of how modern scholarship deals with ideas that do not conform to 
> established dogmas of biblical criticism.

Um, I was with you up to this point, but issuing this kind of 
challenge is unnecessarily inflammatory.  If you want a discussion, 
stick with the material above and eliminate this.  If you want a fight, 
this paragraph is the surest way to get one.  Not from me, but I'm 
sure there are some who will gladly oblige.  We've had too many of 
those lately, so I would ask you to retract this and instead call for 
discussion as you did above.  I suspect the reason there was no 
answer to your previous question about translation is because we 
really don't have any way to know.  That hardly constitutes 
rejection.


Dave Washburn
http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
                                   Psalm 86:11



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