Genesis 1 & 2 (trying again)

Jonathan Bailey jonathan.bailey at
Fri Dec 3 04:57:35 EST 1999

---------- Original Message ----------
>This is what I was talking about, you project your own understanding into
>the past. You want the second account to be something more satisfying to
>your understanding of creation for it to be a creation. As it isn't you
>relegate it to some nice box.

Sir, it is impossible to avoid projecting one's own understanding into the past, as 
one's own understanding is a lense which cannot be avoided. Take your notion 
(completely unsupported by any evidence) that the mentioning of the 4 rivers in 
chapter 2 describe the limits of the world. You do this because you were taught in 
school that we evolved from primitive hunter gatherers who initially expressed their 
local terrain as the whole world. Your desire to see the second account as a creation 
of the world leads you to this interpretation as well.

>>>>Mentioning of the rivers seems to locate the story in a specific
>>>geographical area, 
>>>The known world.

>Clutching at straws.


>>>If you mean by creation of the world, creatio ex nihilo, then neither
>>>account fits your expectations.
>>The second account is obviously not ex-nihilo, 

>As is the first account. Please note the ancient understanding in Wisdom

The first account can be understood as ex-nihilo if Gen 1:1 is interpreted as a creation 
of the formless and void of 1:2. You are arbitrarily interpreting it as a summary of the 
later verses. If you do this, then the actual events of the chapter actually begin with 
verse 2, and it is not an ex-nihilo account. But you are under no circumstances bound 
to this. The first account is NOT obviously not ex-nihilo. You can interpret it how you 
want. I (and the majority of people who concern themselves with the issue) see it as 
an ex-nihilo account.

>>and while I agree that the 1st need no 
>>absolutely be interpreted as an ex-nihilo account, a plain and logical
>reading will lead 
>>you to such a conclusion. It does meet my expectations of an ex-nihilo
>account. If you 
>>think it is not, then can you show me an account that IS ex-nihilo?
>>>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?
>>Well, the old "are there contradictions in the bible" question 


Certainly you have run into this question before.

>Oh my. Not of contradictions. Of variations in traditions. Groan.

Speaking of the finished text as we have it, contradictions. Are you really suggesting 
with your groan that I am unaware as to the JEPD explanation for the contradictions 
in our finished text? (that they are the result of varying traditions edited together) 
Please give me some credit.

>>>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.
>>Both accounts are emblematic. Now if reality is also emblematic, which it


I expected as much.

>>>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.
>>You get four rivers, not necessarily the whole world. Where does your
>conjecture that 
>>that was the known world come from? What evidence do you base that on? Yuo 
>>most certainly do not get all the plants and animals. You get pretty and
>edible plants, 
>>and some large domesticatable animals. Where are the fish? Even the
>>fished. Chapter 2 is obviously a complete failure to explain the existence
>of the world.

>When you expect more than you get, you make the result a failure. It
>doesn't reflect on the failure of the reader, does it? You want kangaroos
>and wombats.

I have no expectations. I just read the text and understand that a garden is being 
created. Your expectation that it is a second account of the creation of the world just 
happens to fit well with your notion that early man was a primitive beast and so 
nothing seems to get in the way of your expectation. I do not take these 
preconceptions with me to the text, so when I read it, I do not force it to be an 
account of the creation of the world, then beat down my rejection of such an analysis 
with my second preconception that early man was an idiot.

>>>>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?
>>remes make good bugs. And though the question is loaded (because the
>second is 
>>not designed to talk about fish because it is not an account of the
>craetion of all 
>>animal life) 

>Neither is the first, though it is more comprehensive. You seem to want the
>second creation account to be more comprehensive and so, as it is not, you
>then want to turn it into a local creation, ie God creates the whole world
>then recreates animals and humans especially for the garden, making all
>humankind come from the specimens created in the garden -- let's forget all
>about those created in the first account.

Actually I believe that the description of the man created in the 2nd account is a 
redescription of the creation of the man in the 1st account. The animals and plants 
are specially created a second time. Anyway, it is obvious that you want such a 
scenario not to be in the text, and I can't claim any greater bias than you. Here we just 
have different interpretations. Here I reject the charge of my desires warping my ability 
to see the text as it is. According to you, that would only be through my understanding 
anyway, which makes the whole excercise moot. Now if I saw everything through your 
understanding, then apparently I would be able to see everything as it really was. 

>>I would, if describing the creation of all animal life, mention fish
>>around verse 19.

>Perhaps you should have written the account, then you would now be happy.

I will take this moment to slap the back of your hand and chastise you about tone 
here. I was only responding to your question. I have no need to change the account at 
all. You wanted me to. I mentioned this in my response when I said that the question 
is loaded, as these elements are only needed if the account is an account of the 
creation of the world, which it is not. Sorry if I walked into a trap that you laid. Don't 
harrass me about it.

>>>>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?
>>Egypt starts with nun, Greece starts with chaos, etc. ad nauseum.

>The world was formless and void. What does formless mean to you? Remember
>the KJV: "waste and void" -- waste = chaos. Very Greek to me.

If you read carefully, you will see that THE SECOND ACCOUNT does not mention 
such things, and therefore is contradictory to every creation account there is, which 
says that we came from chaos. The first account is not Greek, however, as it 
describes the creation of the chaos in verse 1:1. Greek chaos is pre-existing. It is, 
however unified with all other creation accounts in that it names chaos as primeval 
stuff that everything came out of. The second account has no mention of chaos, and 
is therefore contradictory to every account that I have read. This reinforces the 
evidence that the 2nd account is not an account of the creation of the world.

Jonathan Bailey
MA Kandidat
Hochschule für Jüdische Studien

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