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Don Stewart :: Does Genesis Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 Contain Contradictory Accounts of Creation?

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Don Stewart
A charge that is often brought against the early chapters of Genesis is that there are two different accounts of creation. The first account is in 1:1 to 2:4a while the second account is from 2:4b until the end of chapter two. The accounts supposedly contradict each other in a number of ways. These alleged contradictions are used to prove two different authors composed these accounts.

Complementary Not Contradictory

A close examination of the text will find these so-called two accounts are complementary rather than contradictory. We have already seen that the two different names for God used in Genesis 1 and 2 have to do with the perspective of the author. The same is true with the other details presented in these two chapters.

General Account

Genesis 1:1-2:4a is a general account of God creating the heavens and the earth. This section gives an overall picture of God preparing the land for humanity to dwell in it. There is a simple statement in 1:26 that God created humankind, male and female, in His image. No more details are given. We are not told anything specific about who these people are, where they lived, or anything else about them from this general picture of creation. We are told only that God made them.

Fill In Details

Once the general overall picture has been given us, the author then begins to fill in the details about God's creative work. Thus in Genesis 2:4b, through the remainder of the chapter, the specific details of the creation of man and woman are now given. The author goes back to fill in the details that are not mentioned in the first chapter. Thus we are told the names of the first man and woman - Adam and Eve. We are informed where they were placed - the Garden of Eden - and we are provided with God's explanation on how they were created.

Omission Of Formation Of Sun, Moon, And Stars

In addition, chapter two has no mention of the creation of the sun, moon, or the stars. This also shows that it was not attempting to be a second account of creation.

Common Practice

Finally, the practice of writing an account of some story, first with a general outline, and then filling in the details of the story, was common practice in the ancient world. There are many such examples in both biblical and secular writings as to this practice.

Summary

As we look at the first two chapters of Genesis we do not find two separate creation accounts. We find one general account in 1:1-2:4a and then a more specific account in 2:4b through the end of chapter two. This practice of first giving a general outline, and then going back and filling in the details was common literary practice in the ancient world.


CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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