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Are Genesis 1 and 2 two different creation stories?

Some who hold to the ideas of theistic evolution allege that the two creation accounts recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 are different. The claim is that they reflect different authors, different time periods, themes and accounts of creation, as though two completely different texts had simply been compiled together and placed side by side. It is further alleged that the narratives contradict each other in several key areas. This reasoning is taken as the basis for the suggestion that neither account should be taken as literal or historical, rather that they should be viewed as stories with a teaching purpose – more like a parable – as opposed to a historical narrative that gives details of real events of the past.

This study, prepared by Brethren Matt Davies and Mark Allfree shows that this idea is flawed, and has to be read into the text. Simply on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ’s usage of Genesis 1 and 2 in Matthew 19, and on the apostle Paul’s usage in 1 Corinthians 11, we must see Genesis 1 and 2 as the same account, speaking of the same events at the same time period. They are historical and literal accounts, and we can and must believe and trust them.

Introduction

Most theistic evolutionists allege that the two creation accounts recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 are different. The claim is that they reflect different authors, different time periods, themes and accounts of creation, as though two completely different texts had simply been compiled together and placed side by side. It is further alleged that the narratives contradict each other in several key areas. This reasoning is taken as the basis for the suggestion that neither account should be taken as literal or historical, rather that they should be viewed as stories with a teaching purpose – more like a parable – as opposed to a historical narrative that gives details of real events of the past.

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The following ideas have been presented in regards to this concept:1

 

Difference Genesis 1 Genesis 2
Literacy style Poetic Narrative
The time it took Six day creation Single day creation
Order of creation Plants were created on the day 3 and man was made on day 6, Male and female created together Plants and herbs seem not to appear until after the creation of man. Man created then woman in two distinctive acts
Depiction of God Transcendent, creating from a distance A participant in the affairs of man
Method of creating Speech Forms, breathes and plants
Name of God Elohim, translated “God” Yahweh Elohim, translated “LORD God”
Man’s creation In the image of God From the dust of the ground

 

For those who hold such views, the idea that Genesis holds two independent, and supposedly contradictory, accounts of creation is not a problem, because the purpose of the Genesis account is not history. But for those who hold to the traditionally-held view that Genesis is indeed a historical account of creation, then these supposed contradictions are serious, because they affect how the word of God as a whole is viewed, and they strike at the very heart of the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture.

 

The purpose of this study is to examine these ideas in relation to the text of Genesis 1 and 2, and to establish that Genesis 1 and 2 are not completely different creation stories. They are not contradictory, but two complementary parts of the same historical account of the creative work of God. There is no need to dismiss the belief in the teaching of scripture that “in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). 

1  Israel’s Two Creation Stories (3 parts), Pete Enns, http://biologos.org