Contradictions in Genesis?


#1

So, I came across this page today:
thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions

And I noticed the following text:

Genesis 1:20-21 and 26-27 Birds were created before Adam.
Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Birds were created after Adam.

Genesis 1:24-27 Animals were created before Adam.
Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Animals were created after Adam.

Genesis 1:26-27 Adam and Eve were created at the same time.
Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-22 Adam was created first, woman sometime later.

I looked in the book of Genesis myself, and these contradictions seem to be true, which greatly concerns me. Should I be concerned? Does it matter that these are apparent contradictions? Are they really contradictions, or is this a problem with translation? Is there some connection I’m missing? :confused:

Thanks,
preb34


#2

There is more than one creation story told in Genesis. When the writings were put together, these stories were not blended, but simply related/recorded, one after the other. So, in reality, Genesis 2 is not telling us anything different from Genesis 1, it's merely that Genesis 2 is a more compact version of the same creation story--a Reader's Digest version, if you will. The story says the same things--that God created everything. It's just in the second story it assumes we know the order and doesn't repeat it, that's all.

Really, atheists, bless, 'em, ought to stop cherry picking verses and start studying how the Bible was composed if they want to understand what the Bible is, how the Church understands it, and perhaps, most importantly what the Bible is not and what it was never intended to be--a proof text for either religion or science.


#3

[quote="Della, post:2, topic:315858"]
There is more than one creation story told in Genesis. When the writings were put together, these stories were not blended, but simply related/recorded, one after the other. So, in reality, Genesis 2 is not telling us anything different from Genesis 1, it's merely that Genesis 2 is a more compact version of the same creation story--a Reader's Digest version, if you will. The story says the same things--that God created everything. It's just in the second story it assumes we know the order and doesn't repeat it, that's all.

Really, atheists, bless, 'em, ought to stop cherry picking verses and start studying how the Bible was composed if they want to understand what the Bible is, how the Church understands it, and perhaps, most importantly what the Bible is not and what it was never intended to be--a proof text for either religion or science.

[/quote]

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!


#4

[quote="preb34, post:1, topic:315858"]
So, I came across this page today:
thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions

And I noticed the following text:

I looked in the book of Genesis myself, and these contradictions seem to be true, which greatly concerns me. Should I be concerned? Does it matter that these are apparent contradictions? Are they really contradictions, or is this a problem with translation? Is there some connection I'm missing? :confused:

Thanks,
preb34

[/quote]

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are not intended to be a literal historical text, but rather a theological essay containing "essential truths" about man's relationship to God, told in figurative language. Don't be concerned about these so-called "contradictions".

Pope Pius XII warned us, "What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use. For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East" (Divino Afflante Spiritu 35–36).

This leads us to the possiblity that Genesis 1 is to be given a non-chronological, topical reading. Advocates of this view point out that, in ancient literature, it was common to sequence historical material by topic, rather than in strict chronological order.
The argument for a topical ordering notes that at the time the world was created, it had two problems—it was "formless and empty" (1:2). In the first three days of creation, God solves the formlessness problem by structuring different.aspects of the environment.
On day one he separates day from night; on day two he separates the waters below (oceans) from the waters above (clouds), with the sky in between; and on day three he separates the waters below from each other, creating dry land. Thus the world has been given form.
But it is still empty, so on the second three days God solves the world’s emptiness problem by giving occupants to each of the three realms he ordered on the previous three days. Thus, having solved the problems of formlessness and emptiness, the task he set for himself, God’s work is complete and he rests on the seventh day.

The argument is that all of this is real history, it is simply ordered topically rather than chronologically, and the ancient audience of Genesis, it is argued, would have understood it as such.

Even if Genesis 1 records God’s work in a topical fashion, it still records God’s work—things God really did.
The Catechism explains that "Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine ‘work,’ concluded by the ‘rest’ of the seventh day" (CCC 337), but "nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history is rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun" (CCC 338).
It is impossible to dismiss the events of Genesis 1 as a mere legend. They are accounts of real history, even if they are told in a style of historical writing that Westerners do not typically use.

Rather than trying to provide a scientific or historical exposition of nature, the ancient writers sometimes describe and treat these matters either in a** somewhat figurative language** or as the common manner of speech those times required, and indeed still requires nowadays in everyday life, even amongst most learned people" (Leo XIII, *Providentissimus Deus *18).

More: catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution


#5

[quote="preb34, post:3, topic:315858"]
That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

[/quote]

You're welcome. :tiphat: Please don't read that kind of website. As you can see, the people who point out "contradictions" have no biblical training and usually no theological training, either. Why they want to mess around with Scripture when they claim they don't even believe God exists is unexplanable to me. :shrug: But you need not bother about their flawed ideas/perceptions of biblical/theological matters.


#6

Chapter 1 is about the entire earth, Chapter 2 is about the garden of Eden specifically


#7

Jewish commentaries (Jewish Publication Society, for example) explain how there are these and other places in scripture where there are different accounts, one after the other, or even interwoven. The story of the flood seems to be three different accounts interwoven.

The wrong way to read the Bible is to treat it as a science textbook, which the Catholic Church says, too. We should be looking for religious truth that bears on our salvation.

So much of Bible expertise was developed in those early chapters of Genesis, but all throughout scripture, as well.

The Jewish scholars postulate that, in this case, two main verbal traditions of creation were accepted as valid and incorporated into the text, not wanting to lose anything that they already considered to be inspired.

The Catholic Church (here, ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCJWSCR.HTM) says that the Hebrew Scriptures -- what we commonly refer to as The Old Testament -- ARE a part of the Bible [the heretic Marcion wanted to throw out the OT]. And, this document also says that the gospels and the new testament don't even make sense without the Old Testament, up to and including Genesis.

I've seen a book or two from JPS discussing these "contradictions," The Jewish scholars throughout history have taken the position of always trying to harmonize the apparently contradictory verses. I think it's safe to say that is the Catholic position, as well.

I'll say what might become obvious from reading a lot of Bible commentaries, no one has found that the New Testament fusses over these issues. For sure, endless discussion has taken place over the four gospels which do not agree in every detail. This problem of contradictions does not "go away" once you get to the New Testament.

And, there's more. The Hebrew version of the Old Testament that the Jews accept as most authoritative is the Masoretic text, whereas the New Testament clearly is based on a knowledge of the Greek translation of the OT, called the Septuagint (which was also composed by Jews).

THIS IS why the Catholic Church has a "magisterium" established by Christ, to sort out and teach the true gospel message. Jesus said that whoever hears the Church, hears him. Nothing could make the issue clearer that that, but of course Protestants disagree and don't even believe very strongly in the idea of "church," anyway.


#8

The question should first be asked whether these even ought to be called contradictions to begin with. That the verse recording the creation of Adam precedes the verse recording the creation of animals cannot be taken to mean that the animals were created after Adam. Genesis 2:18 reads,

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

But God would already have known beforehand that for Adam there would not be a suitable helper found among the animals. Therefore, it is impossible that God's statement be in reference to the animals. Rather, I take this promise to look forward exclusively to Eve's creation and it seems it is framed as coming after the creation of the animals. The following mention of the creation of the animals in 2:19-20 is only to point out the unique relationship between man and woman which could not have been satisfied by any animal, but it is in reference to an already past event.

As for the time of the creation of man and woman, Genesis 1 says only that they were created on the same day. There is no indication of an exactly simultaneous creation nor that one was created one after the other. If these two chapters are read critically, I don't think there is anything in them that contradicts a six-day fundamentalist reading.


#9

Thank you all for your replies! They’ve been really helpful.


#10

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