Archive for April, 2011
The contextual differences between the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 are common knowledge amongst scholars, but what I would like to elaborate on in this article is the specific positive and negative qualities found in these chapters.
Focusing first on verses 26-31 of chapter 1 we find that God creates humans equally, male and female in his image, blesses them and tells them to be fruitful and multiply. God then proceeds to tell the humans that he has created to have dominion over all living creatures and gives to them every plant and fruit for food with no restrictions; ending on a positive note by declaring everything he has made to be very good. The whole of chapter 1 is presented in a positive fashion with not the slightest hint of negativity.
Gen.1:26-31 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
The second creation account given in chapter 2 is quite different from the positive story that was presented to us in chapter 1, so I am going to focus here on the introduction of the negative side of the creation story which starts in chapter 2:5. The story begins with a double negative, where God says there is no rain and no man to till the ground….the second set of negatives appears when the newly created man is put alone in the Garden with a desirable tree that he is told not to eat of, and then he is told it is not good for him to be alone. This negative theme that emerges in chapter 2 continues on into chapter 3 and beyond in striking contrast to the theme of the overall goodness of life presented in chapter 1, giving the strong impression that these two accounts of creation were not written by the hand of the same person, nor given by the mouth of the same god.
Gen.2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground….16-18 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Given the fact that there are two renditions of how God created man, one positive and one negative, and knowing that both cannot be true, it seems likely that neither is true in the literal sense, but rather they are two different mythological accounts influenced by the prevailing ideas of the time periods in which they were written.