There are clearly 2 separate accounts of creation in Genesis… how do you reconcile the two different stories? How do you explain the two different versions of the 10 commandments?
“There is no one way of interpretation that the Church approves. There are many ways. All the Church insists on is that we don’t see contradictions in the text of Genesis. This is a specific instance of a more general rule that scriptural texts do not contradict one another. The examples you cite are not true contradictions. There are completely rational interpretations of Genesis that don’t involve contradictions.”
The main gist is that the accounts Genesis isn’t necessarily revealing a time-line of how things we’re created, but that above all creations God made, he made Man separate and first from everything else, and first not in the order sense, but in the sense of our importance. As Catholic Christians we are required to believe that God created everything from nothing, and that we have an original set of parents Adam and Eve, and not many sets of parents. We are can believe in certain forms of evolution, or we are permitted to believe in a literal 6 day creation.
I can see that reasoning, even if I think its a bit shifty. Setting aside the timeline issue, the method of the creation of the first humans is still different, which is why Jews created the whole Lillith story way back when…
Personally, I don’t have a problem.
I see the first account as a broad outline of all God created.
I see the second account as focusing in on the creation of man (final work of the 6th day). The creation of the land, plants, animals are spoken of in their relationship to man. I see it also as a more personal revelation by God. By that I mean it reveals God’s personal involvement in the creating of man and His relationship to him afterwards.
Love both accounts. They complete each other.
You’ll find that most histories and emphasized statements in ancient Semitic literature are in pairs, often arranged in symmetrical grammar, in a poetic form called chiasmus. Often one is a close-up or summary of the other. The second Genesis account is a close-up of the first. We can interpret the numeric information in a range of ways but the gist is that there is one God, eternal and uncreated, separate from the Creation, perfect and all-knowing, Who made the universe and the spiritual realms from motives of love, Who gave our original two ancestors a command to obey and a paradise to live in, and Who cursed their disobedience but also already planned humanity’s Redemption. You can interpret the six days any number of ways. You can interpret the location of the garden as just the Tigris-Euphrates jucture or the entire early Middle Eastern Fertile Crescent, or anything in between. You can interpret “eating the fruit” literally or as figure of speech for “accepting the consequnces; buying the whole package”, or in another way. I think there really was a fruit but it was symbolic action, as cutting a ribbon officially opens a building for use, or punching a ballot casts a vote or any other symbolic action; they communicated their intent to separate their will from God’s will through a symbol God explained to them. He said that if they ate a particular food they would be stating their intent no longer to obey and trust Him, and they did so.
I like to think of it in this way.
One story helps us understand who God is.
The other story helps us understand who humans are and our relationship to God.
There is an excellent book by Denis Alexander (Creation or Evolution - Do We Have To Choose?) which deals with this very well in Chapter 7. Dr Alexander is Director of the Faraday Institute and a former Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the American University in Beirut, a PhD in Neurochemistry and also has an excellent working knowledge of Hebrew.
I won’t try to summerise his points (that would make for a very long post and science never was my strong point) but I would recommend reading it.
Thanks =) I’ll check into that.
Thats very interesting… It seems I need more study into the ancient literary forms… thank you for that informative answer!
The Genesis accounts of creation took their present form after the Exile about 600BCE. They are compilations of several Middle East creation myths the Jews learned of when they were in Captivity, coupled with their own creation myth. It has been decades since I read this, so I don’t remember the conplete skinny…but the Genesis accounts seek to draw a distinciton between the Babylonian/Sumerian myths of Tiamet and Murdock with the God of Israel.
They are religious stories…not historical…but religious. God created the heavens and the earth and man is His crowning creation made in His image…it is not an account of dates and times, but of myth and religious truth. The present versions took form from the redactors and editors of the sacred Jewish texts which were compiled after the Exile.
So are you saying our Creation was a myth?
This is an interesting theory, but you might take note that the lion’s share of scholars who believe it also believe there was no such person as Abraham because he doesn’t fit a preconceived timeline of all world religions beginning as polytheistic, then morphing over time - some of them - to monotheistic. But all of that seems to fail the test when placed up against archeological evidence. There are finds all over the middle east that should were such a theory true, have shown us early Hebraic art that reveals this progression. Unfortunately, none like that has ever been found. The story from archeology is that the Jews have since day 1 been monotheistic.
Likewise the idea that the Babylonian myths had to have an influence on the early captive Hebrews and influenced their later-recorded ideas. Author Bryce Christiansen, taking most of his information from Pamela Norris’s book Eve: A Biography, is one such person who promotes this idea. The gist of their works is promote Eve from some subservient role to Adam into some sort of “mother Creator” figure who got a bad rep from hardheaded Jewish rabbis who were intent on keeping or promoting the male dominance thing. In order to justify this role for Eve, they go back to ancient Caananite and Babylonian (polytheistic) myths and pull out the female-fertility-creator parts and simply assign them to Eve. Nowhere do they offer an early writing or examples of art that might justify such a theory. Compounding the problem, early Midrash writings, later the medeval Alphabet of Ben Sira, both subscribe to a do-over of the Genesis 1:27 event. Lilith was the first, according to AoBS, then when she didn’t work out, another was created in her place like Adam, out of the dust of the earth. Adam witnessed this event, and the sight of a human created skeleton first, organs and insides next, and finally skin was too much to take, and Adam, so the story goes, wouldn’t go near her. Only then was Eve made, this time Adam, sleeping, was spared the gory footage.
It is very difficult to wade in amongst all these widely different creaton stories and come up with a “pre” Genesis story that meshes with the Bible on one hand, and doesn’t later fall flat on its face someplace else.
No, our creation is not a myth…but the story around our creation is…it is not science…it is not biology…it is a religious statement…God created the heavens and the earth…God mad man in His likeness…male and female created He them. It is a religious statement of faith…not biology or science or method.