Genesis 1 & 2 (trying again)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Wed Dec 1 11:16:05 EST 1999

Sorry about the previous post. The terminal I was using fouled up my
response. )-:

At 10.19 01/12/99 +0100, Jonathan Bailey wrote:
>I have to say that I completely fail to see how Genesis 2 can be called an
account of 
>creation of the world. 

Why? It's quite similar in creation logic: the world was in a certain
(unformed) state and God acts upon that state. The motivations seem very
different from the "first" account, but I see no reason to overlook the
creative activities.

>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.

The first account doesn't mention Venus or Mars, comets or asteroids, it
doesn't mention flies or bees, jellyfish or elephants, in fact there are a
lot of things it doesn't mention. It either didn't know about them or
wasn't interested. This is also the case for the "second" account. You
don't have any problems with the first account, why the second?

>Mentioning of the rivers seems to locate the story in a specific
geographical area, 

The known world.

>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.

The second account has different purposes in its writing from those of the
first. The second is much more interested in sociology than the theology
and cultus seen in the first.

>This is opposed to the first chapter, which is the creation of man, using
the creation 
>of the universe as a plot device. 

The plot device in the first account is the turning of the formless and
empty world into a formed and filled world, the first three days forms the
world and the second three fills the corresponding parts of the world.

  1 light & dark       4 sun, moon, stars
  2 sea & sky          5 fish and fowl
  3 land               6 animals & humankind

And day 7, the sabbath.

>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
>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
>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

(This is great tone.)

If you mean by creation of the world, creatio ex nihilo, then neither
account fits your expectations.

I fail to see any other possibility for the second account than an account
of the creation. One of the things that seems to be constantly ignored is
how the texts were used in those times. The texts were usually read from
orally: people listened to the text one didn't do then what we do now, ie
start from the beginning and go till you drop. At the same time one needs
to take into consideration how the texts were developed: noone set out to
write a Genesis as it is today. It developed over numerous revisions and
copyings. That the first account was written later than the second is clear
for a number of reasons. The first account was written with a Palestinian
context, ie dry and barren, while the first account was written with clear
reference to the Babylonian creation account -- note the importance of the
watery chaos (flooding was very dangerous in Mesopotamia).

>If my 
>presumptions are correct, the culprit is the religionsgeschichtliche
worldview, which 
>causes scholars to believe that Gen 2 is a much older account of creation
of the 
>world than Gen 1, as it cannot be as highly evolved, because it completely
fails as an 
>account of the creation of the world. 

The logic is not correct. The reason why the second account is seen as
older is the vision of God it contains. God physically forms man out of the
clay. It's a very sleaves-rolled-up creation, whereas the first account
shows that all that is necessary for God is to say and it is (though there
are a few examples that indicate that divine fiat was imposed on the text).

>But isn't the fact that Gen 2 seems to be a 
>primitive failure of an account of the creation of the world also evidence
that it is not 
>an account of the creation of the world?
>My next question is, even if the accounts are two separate accounts pieced
>(as I believe), does that dictate that they both be considered contending
>contradictory accounts of the creation of the entire world?

It's very normal, given the construction of the biblical texts, that there
come to be "contending" or "contradictory" accounts of things. How many of
each animal did Noah bring into the ark? Who killed Goliath, David or
Elhanan? (Look at how Chr obscured the problem by making Elhanan kill
Goliath's brother!) Who was the king who the patriarch tricked into
thinking his wife was his sister, pharaoh or Abimelek? Who was the
patriarch, Abraham or Isaac?

>Fundamentally speaking, I would like to know what causes modern
scholarship to 
>reject the plainest and most logical conclusion that Genesis 2 is an
account of the 
>creation of Eden taking place sometime during or after the events of the
last parts of 
>chapter 1-2:4? 

Because it is neither plain nor more logical. You would like God to have
created everything in the first account then go on to recreated things
specifically for the garden of Eden. The second account cannot be taken
literally: it is richly emblematic. It later wants you to understand that
all human beings were the children of Adam (and Eve), yet the first account
has the creation of humankind (in God's image) as the last act of creation.
(Either they all came from Adam or they were all created on day 6.) But you
seem to want God to created human beings and animals on day 6 and then go
on to specially create them again for the garden of Eden.

>Am I right about it being the suppositions about various stages of 
>evolution of early Canaanite religion? If so, from where does this view
get its staying 
>power? It certainly has the strength to stifle any other analytical venues
that modern 
>scholarship could produce, and has indeed become a sacrosant monolith among 


>For me, the logical thematic development of Genesis 2 did not even become
>until I had discarded the notion that Gen 2 is a creation account. Only
after doing this 
>was I able to see the account as an account of the creation of woman, and/or 
>mankind, and/or paradise was I able to view the story with any kind of
respect, for 
>these tasks it accomplishes with beautiful organization. 

To get here you sublimate the creativity in Gen2. What you say doesn't have
any reflection on Gen2 as a creation account. Ignoring the fact that it is
a creation account -- we get the four rivers of the world, the garden, all
the plants and animals , and naturally humankind. The bits you don't get
are basically the cosmological bits. Neither account talks of creation of
mountains and valleys, islands, etc., but they never wanted to. How does
the fact that Gen2 is a creation account impinge on the sociological
content that you note? How does the first creation impinge on the fact that
it institutes the sabbath? No creation account I know of was written only
to be an account of a creation. They are usually attempts to deal with the
world that is, with aetiology -- how it came to be.

>As an account of the world is 
>it indeed a primitive rambling of the creation of a few random subjects
and oddly 
>described phenomenon. 

I read this to mean that you don't appreciate the interests in creation
shown in the second account.

>Apparently the primitives that wrote it lived in an area of only 
>beautiful and edible trees? With no fish or bugs? 

Where are the bugs in the first account? And where is the opportunity to
talk about fish in the second?? And where exactly in the first account are
any trees created?

>Nice place! Completely contradictory 
>to every creation account the world has ever known, however, which state
that we 
>came from Chaos.

Would you like to list some of these accounts that are contradicted?

>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.

(Tone. I don't think you should continue this sort of tone. It is plain
rude. I'm sorry that no-one has responded to some of your posts. This
happens. It has happened to me often enough. People don't necessarily react
the way you'd like them to. It doesn't mean that you have to write stuff
like this.)



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