The theme of creation stands at the centre of much Jewish and Christian theology. It occurs repeatedly in both the Old and New Testament (Job38:4; Psalm 8; John 1), and features as an important part of doctrinal and ethical debate. Consequently, the account of creation given by the book of Genesis has been interpreted in different ways and used to demonstrate a variety of distinct positions. The first two chapters of the Bible—Genesis 1 and 2—describe God’s creation of the Universe and the living creatures. Out of chaos, a new world emerges by the word of God. However, there are two different accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 1:1 it says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” but in Genesis 2:4, a new story of God’s creation commences. The idea of interpretation of the unfolding of events underlying these two creation stories clearly depicts the contradictory scenario in the creation process. Indeed, the order in which things were created disagrees with one another.
Although modern archaeologists and scholars tend to agree that the first account of creation is an account of a general nature that is followed by second account, which gives details on a given aspect, it is clear that the two accounts entirely differ. They argue that in the first account of creation; Genesis 1, God’s creation took six days, and the seventh day He rested. In Genesis 2, the creation account gives details of the first creation—only one day of creation is selected. Therefore, they argue that there is no contradiction in any way as it focuses on the sixth day of creation.
However, it is distinct that in both the two chapters of Genesis, God created the earth, the universe, and the life that is imminent on the earth. These accounts of creation are quite mythical. Apparently, this perception is attributed to the contradiction between the two creation accounts. In Chapter one, it describes the creation of plants, followed by animals’ creation, then creation of human beings. In chapter two, the scriptural description of creation commences with a human being creation, followed by plans, and finally animals. From these two accounts, there is a clear contradiction.
Another distinctive feature in regard to the first creation account is that man is shown to be the climax of creation as he is created in the sixth day. Genesis 1 provides that God created both female and male (Genesis 1:27). However, the second creation account does not explain any other forms of creation other than the creation of man. It states that God “formed man from the dust of the earth” (Genesis 2:7). In the first account, the details about the creation of man are no given. It gives the overview of the whole creation process from the first day to the sixth day. In addition, the second creation account provides that the Lord God created man, and after realizing that the man was lonely, He created a woman from the man’s rib—the woman was a suitable partner for him. However, in the first creation account, this seems not be the intention of God when He created the woman. In Genesis 1:28, God tells Adam that, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it.” His intention, in this first account, was for Adam and Eve to multiply and have a generation after generation, while, in the second account, His intention of creating a woman was for companionship. It is not clearly revealed until when they are banished from Garden of Eden.
Consequently, the two accounts differ from the perception God has towards man. In the first account, God created man in his own image, “in His image, in the image of God, he created them” (Genesis 1:27). In the second creation story, it is only after Eve and Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit that they were able to gain knowledge of evil and good. God said that man has now “become like one of us” (Genesis 3:22). From this scenario, it seems that God is irritated and disturbed from the knowledge that man could be like gods—know the evil and good.
In addition, in the first account, God created man in the sixth day—after creating all other creatures, and gave him authority over them to “rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth” (Genesis 1:28). He also tells him that He has given to all the creatures the seed-bearing plants and all the green plans as their food. However, this is in contrary to the second creation account. Here, God created a single man first before any other creature living in the universe. Then He created trees, land dwelling animals, birds, and finally a single woman. God instructs the man and woman that they should not touch the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
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At the beginning of the Bible, I am convinced that these two creation accounts were placed there to give us a full picture of the relationship between human beings and God. God is, on the one hand, our God, close at hand, one who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23). He is one who, if I ascend to heaven or make my bed in Sheol, He is there with me (Ps. 139). However, this same God is, on the other hand, the God of all time and eternity, infinitely greater than I am, never comprehended by me.
In conclusion, Genesis 1 and 2 represent two different creation accounts that were only later brought together by the person compiling the biblical text. By this view, the differences in detail and divine name are the result of different traditions about how the world came to be and, perhaps, who created it. In addition, Genesis provides an overview of Creation, while Genesis 2 provides the details. This shift is evidenced by the change in the word order from “heaven to earth” (Genesis 1:1) at the beginning of the first account to “earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4b) at the beginning of the second account. As such, regardless of one’s conclusion on the interpretation of the two accounts, these accounts have been read together for thousands of years. It is the combination of these creation accounts that have informed many people’s view of God.