Comparing the Similarities and Differences Between the Two Creation Stories in the Book of Genesis

Some people say the book of Genesis is the easiest to read. If one were to carefully read the text, they would be able to tell that there are two different creation stories conveyed in chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Genesis. Genesis means “birth” or “beginnings” in Greek. It conveys the birth of mankind and the beginning of God’s creation. The very first verse in the first chapter begins with the words, “In the beginning.” From these words, it led to the creation of heaven and earth.

Many people know about the story of the creator and his works; however, not all may know that there are two different stories of creation. Both stories vary and are similar even in the smallest details. The two stories of creation are similar in portraying the creator’s work; however, there are several aspects that make the concept of both stories different. One of the differences between the two creation stories is the sequence or order of events.

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In the first account, seven days of creation are set out and numbered specifically.

In the first chapter of Genesis, God starts in the order of plants, animals, and then creates a man and woman, as stated by the bible, “in his image.” The animals are created before man and woman are created, as stated in Genesis 1:21, “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

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” Unlike the first account, the second account implies that man was created before the living creatures. Genesis 2:19 says, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” By mentioning Adam, it is clear that God created man first in this story making it completely different from the first account. In addition, animals were made on the sixth day according to Genesis 1: 23-30, and it is rightly before the creation of man. Genesis 2:18-20 describes Adam first into existence before the creation of birds and other creatures.

The contemplated scholar says in his article, “In the first story, all of creation is good. In the second story, even the garden of Eden is not a place of relaxed enjoyment, but a place of work (Gen 2:15), and a place where something is off-limits (Gen 2:16-17). God tells Man that if he does eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he will die that very day (Gen 2:17). But later, that’s not what happens” (“Two Creation Stories”, 2006). Both accounts have different aims that they primarily talk about. The first chapter of Genesis talks solely about God and positions him as the protagonist. God is talked about and highly praised as the creator.

An article by Mark Roncace and Joseph Weaver states that God is being highly acclaimed for his tremendous deeds. In the second account; however, talks about several different people as protagonists. Roncace and Weaver says in their article that the point of the second story is that “man has to toil hard for his living, woman suffers, and wild animals threatening man existence.” This gives an ethological explanation as to why the world is the way it is today. Another difference in the two creation stories is the power of the word of God. From the beginning of the first chapter, the power of speech is evident as God uses his words to spur the start of his works. “Let there be light” he said, and from then on light dispersed the universe.

It is as if the power of his words was his tool. God used his words to name his creation. The description of God is implied by how the first account places all attention on him for being the “creator”. The first book glorifies God for his work. In Genesis 1:5, it states, “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” His words blessed his creatures and marked the end of creation. Only God speaks. In the second story, God uses the power of words to “impose his own supremacy”. Genesis 2:19 says, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he could name them.”

God does not use the power of words to name his creation as he did in the first story. He gave the animals over to Adam for him to name. In other words, the first account makes it seem as if language is seraphic, indicating it is an aspect of creation, while the second story is as Weaver states, a “man-created phenomenon.” There are some key issues in both stories that contradict each other. Plant life is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis verse 11, on the third day where the bible says, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” However, in the second chapter, it clearly states in Genesis An article by Mark Roncace and Joseph Weaver states that God is being highly acclaimed for his tremendous deeds. In the second account; however, talks about several different people as protagonists.

Roncace and Weaver says in their article that the point of the second story is that “man has to toil hard for his living, woman suffers, and wild animals threatening man existence.” This gives an ethological explanation as to why the world is the way it is today. Another difference in the two creation stories is the power of the word of God. From the beginning of the first chapter, the power of speech is evident as God uses his words to spur the start of his works. “Let there be light” he said, and from then on light dispersed the universe. It is as if the power of his words was his tool. God used his words to name his creation. The description of God is implied by how the first account places all attention on him for being the “creator”. The first book glorifies God for his work. In Genesis 1:5, it states, “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” His words blessed his creatures and marked the end of creation. Only God speaks. In the second story, God uses the power of words to “impose his own supremacy”.

Genesis 2:19 says, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he could name them.” God does not use the power of words to name his creation as he did in the first story. He gave the animals over to Adam for him to name. In other words, the first account makes it seem as if language is seraphic, indicating it is an aspect of creation, while the second story is as Weaver states, a “man-created phenomenon.” There are some key issues in both stories that contradict each other. Plant life is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis verse 11, on the third day where the bible says, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” However, in the second chapter, it clearly states in Genesis 2:5, that “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground.” Some have said this to be contradictory and others say otherwise. Dr. Jason Lisle says in his article, “The phrase “of the field” is translated from the Hebrew word sodeh, which in this context refers to cultivated plants—those that were planted by man in ground tilled by man. There were plants on Day Six, just no cultivated plants. And the rest of the verse gives the reason—because there was no man to till the ground.” (“Two Creation Accounts”, 2015)

There are several interpretations from different people and there is no correct way of viewing these different concepts. The first account is greatly structured, almost as if it is a poem. With God as the protagonist, all focus is on him and the structure of the writing in the first chapter is just simply divine. The second account is slightly different. It is composed of all different people and this makes the second account lack the structure and formality of the first account. In the first chapter of Genesis, God is looked at as somewhat distant. Unlike the first chapter, the second chapter tells of the moment God walked through the garden as if he acquired man-like features. This depicts him as a figure who is not as distant as he is in the first chapter.

In his book entitled, “The Two Creation Stories in Genesis”, James S. Forrester, says that internal evidence shows that the story of the second creation comes down from a later period than the story of the first creation. He describes how in the second story, the creator is no longer spoken of under the name ‘Elohim, but Jahveh Elohim. In page 111 of his book, James conveys how the verse in Genesis 2:14, “is not very clear as it stands. Some modern critics maintain that however, many still are puzzled by the different sequence of events told in both chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. As some may say that in the first story, man and women were created at the same time, James Forrester explains that in regard to the creation of “man”, it did not mean that a man was actually created but it is a symbol for humanity- male and female included.

The similarities and differences in these chapters may be an indication that the way these authors wrote was based on the time frame they were in and their surroundings. Maybe they had different ways of writing because they were highly influenced by their environment. After all, it is our environment that influences or shapes the way we view things or others. What do these similarities and differences tell us about scriptures? Maybe they tell us a bit about the people who wrote them. As mentioned before, the authors may have written them based on their fields of study. If a person who works in sociology writes a piece, maybe he would interpret events in a sociological way. If a person was a mathematician, they would incorporate their findings through numbers. The authors of the book of Genesis may have engaged in different fields; therefore, generating different texts and different structures. This does not mean, though, that it makes their work inaccurate. The two stories of creation may differ in several aspects, but they both talk about how God, the creator, created the universe and blessed it as he saw that it was beautiful.

Bibliography

  1. “The Two Creations in Genesis by David Bokovoy.” Two Creations in Genesis, www.bibleodyssey.org/passages/related-articles/two-creations-in-genesis.aspx.
  2. Evans, Craig A., et al. The Book of Genesis Composition, Reception, and Interpretation. Leiden, BRILL, 2012.
  3. FORRESTER-BROWN, JAMES S. TWO CREATION STORIES IN GENESIS: a study of their symbolism. FORGOTTEN BOOKS, 2016
  4. . Hargreaves, John, et al. A Guide to the Book of Genesis. London, S.P.C.K., 1969.
  5. Leakey, Richard E., and Ambrose Video Publishing. In the Beginning. New York, N.Y., Ambrose Video Publishing, 1982.
  6. Scholar, Contemplative. “Bible Wonderings.” Two Creation Stories, 1 Jan. 1970, www.bible-wonderings.blogspot.com/2006/01/two-creation-stories.html.
  7. The Holy Bible: King James Version. Thunder Bay Press, 2000.
  8. Six Differences between Two Creation Stories in Genesis www.faculty.biu.ac.il/~barilm/articles/publications/publications0116.html.

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Comparing the Similarities and Differences Between the Two Creation Stories in the Book of Genesis. (2021, Sep 24). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/comparing-the-similarities-and-differences-between-the-two-creation-stories-in-the-book-of-genesis-essay

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