Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Same and not the same II

Genesis 1 and 2 present two different Creation accounts. Carlson and Longman  (p. 118-121) point out six significant differences between the two accounts.

1. Relationship to the surrounding Biblical narratives.
Genesis 1 is more of a stand alone account, whereas Genesis 2 is part of the larger narrative of the first generations of Israel.

2. Timelines.
Creation takes place over six days and one day, in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, respectively.

3. Order of events.

4. The name and plurality of God.
In Genesis 1 God is Elohim, and both the singular and plural are used.
God is YHWH in Genesis 2, and the singular is always used.

5. God's action in creation.
The Hebrew word bara is only used in Genesis 1. It is only used for divine creation, and refers to creating something completely new.
The words asa and yasar are also used in Genesis 2, and have a broader scope than bara, and can mean "to fashion" or "to make" something from existing materials.

6. Motivation for the creation events and the first humans.
Genesis 1, uses the plural, "let us make" and creation occurs due to divine consultation. In contrast, in Genesis 2, creation is motivated by existing circumstances, e.g., that man is alone.

So, what is the significance of these differences? They make it hard to argue that Genesis 1 should be read as a historical/scientific account. Furthermore, the different accounts are meant to bring out different facets of the nature of creation, God, and humanity.

Separation of the earth and water, by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling.

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