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Two Accounts of Creation

An opinion essay.

People often like to question where exactly it is that they came from. There are many theories, both religious and, of course in this day and age, scientific, but human beings have been wondering about our existence since the beginning; “Why are we here? How did we get here?” There are two accounts of Creation included in Genesis, which is the first section of the Bible. Both accounts deal with the creation of animals, plants, and humans but are rather contradictory in how they present that information. Why would both accounts be included in the Bible, when people clearly want one solid explanation? It's simple; the first account deals with the creation of the world and the heavens, and the second, the creation of humankind.

Genesis 1 presents us with the first story of Creation, a sort of prologue to the narrative, told in a priestly manner. In this account the heavens, the world and all of the animals, plants and trees were created before humankind, and man and woman were created together. The world is presented to the reader as a shapeless form, dark and empty without life before everything else was created, and God is the ultimate sculptor. He fills his newly created world with light to create day, and a sky to “separate water from water”*. This account was likely written after the one in Genesis 2, because it is more structured. You could almost hear a priest reciting the words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”*  before worshipers, as they gather to listen to the word of God. Genesis 1 gives an explanation as to how the world was formed, and that is probably why it was placed as the opening to the Bible; it's a prologue to all that is to come in the great tale of the chosen people. God is imagined to be this hovering spirit, breathing life into the world from a distance, just above the earth. He does not interact with his creations, he simply creates, unlike in Genesis 2 where he walks the Garden of Eden freely.

Genesis 2 is told with a different voice and flow to it. In this version of Creation, Adam was created first, and then Eve from his rib. This part of the narrative is presented to us in the J narrative (Jehovah, or the cult of Yahweh). This is the original voice, the one people used to tell stories orally, perhaps around the fire, using drama and humour to weave the story of how they came to be, and how they were chosen as God's people. It also illustrates the basic patriarchal idea that the people who would have been originally telling the story possessed – that men are of a higher importance than women, as Adam was created before Eve, and Eve was created from Adam's rib. The world, in this version, is made for mankind. Plants are for eating, man has dominion over all animals, and the reader is made very much aware of humankind's status in the world. The God in this Creation story isn't as impersonal, he roams the Garden of Eden and treats Adam and Eve kind of like they're his children; in fact, they technically are his children.

In many ways, both stories compliment each other. Both accounts, while telling the same basic story in slightly dissimilar ways, have been included in the Bible because they are equally important to the narrative and because both answer separate existential questions. the first question is “Where did the world come from?” and the second is, “Where did humans come from?” It is human nature to wonder about our existence, and these stories provide the answers that those long ago were seeking.


Genesis 1:6, 1:1

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