Genesis 1 and 2: Zooming into the Big Picture


I was just listening to a sermon that attempted to say that Genesis 2 is the same as the Genesis 1 story, just in further detail. As in a big picture zoomed into a certain section. Such a metaphor only makes sense if the zoomed in section basically matches the zoomed out area. In the above photos, the zoomed out photo shows hints of the zoomed in photo, the bird house, the fence, the limb at an angle behind the fence. The main difference lies in that the zoomed in picture shows us details that the zoomed out picture could not capture.

Now look at Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Which details are the same? What are the identical markers that serve as ‘anchors’ to unite the two stories?

Genesis 2 says that no shrub or plant had been formed, but that there was day ground.
Genesis 1 says that dry ground and shrubs were created on day 3.
Genesis 2 says that God made man.
Genesis 1 says that God made man on day on day 6.
Genesis 2 says that God made plants and the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 1 does not mention where God put man.
Genesis 2 says that God made all the wild animals and birds of the sky.
Genesis 1 says that God made all the wild animals on day 6 and all the birds of the sky on day 5.
Genesis 2 says that God made man from the dust, woman from the side of the man. Man first, woman last.
Genesis 1 says that God made man, male and female, without any reference to order or time or difference in how it was done.
Genesis 2 says that God told the man not to eat from the fruit of a tree.
Genesis 1 says that God told mankind to rule the world and to multiply.

In order for Genesis 1 and 2 to be the same account, in essence, there must be some commonality in the details. If there’s this much divergence, then the only logical conclusion is that they are not the one and the same story or that if they are the same story, either one or both of them has been changed. But that shouldn’t surprise us. There’s more to creation in Scripture:

Psalm 74:12-17
But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.
It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
It was you who opened up springs and streams;
you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

Job 38 also refers to aspects of creation – such as storehouses where hail and snow are kept. Job 26 notes that God destroyed the serpent Rahab. Being the feat that it is – it would certainly be nice to know the story behind it. Are we talking a sort of Herculean feat here? or something much more?

But what about the creation of Heaven and Hell? God’s angelic army? How do dinosaurs fit into creation? It’s not only that, but Genesis 1 and 2 are really different in the original language. Which isn’t exactly obvious in the English translation. Genesis 1 refers to God as Elohim whereas Genesis 2 calls him by Yahweh-Elohim. Jewish teachers of the law recognized the divergence; almost as if two different authors were at work. One myth explained that Genesis 1 was the creation of the man Adam and his first wife – Lilith. She abandoned him. God decided to make Eve to replace her in Genesis 2. Which makes Genesis 1 and 2 a story and it’s continuation; and not the same story in greater detail. There’s a lot in creation that isn’t mentioned to have been created specifically or indirectly in Genesis 1 and 2. So we know that it isn’t the whole story. So the question is: Why do we use Genesis 2 to teach male headship and biblical marriage when it’s not the whole story? Why does it get more prominence then Genesis 1? Why doesn’t Psalm 74 or the other verses referring to the other creation story get even minimal consideration?

What do you think – is Genesis 1 and 2 the same story? How do you reconcile the differences? What role does God’s conquering the sea and defeating serpents have in creation accounts? Does the teaching of male headship and biblical marriage actually hold any water, at all?


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