Biblical creation account

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The creation account in Genesis describes the origin of the world, life, and mankind. Much of the rest of Scripture builds on the foundational history recorded in Genesis.

Summary of the creation account

Creation week

For a more detailed treatment, see Creation week.

Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 describes how God created light and darkness, heaven and earth, the seas and plants, the sun, moon and stars, the fishes and birds, the animals and then man over the course of six 'days' (Hebrew yom), before resting on the seventh day.

Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden

From Genesis 2:4 to the end of the chapter, the creation of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, is described, along with the garden into which they were placed. The account also records that God brought various creatures[1] to Adam to name. None of them made a suitable helper for Adam, so God created a woman for Adam.

The Fall

Although God had told Adam that he could eat any of the trees in the garden except one. However, Genesis 3 describes how Eve then Adam disobeyed God and ate from that one tree. In response, God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden and imposed other punishments.


Genesis 4 relates that Cain, one of Adam and Eve's children, murdered his brother Abel. God punished Cain by causing his crops to fail, forcing him to lead a nomadic lifestyle. He did, however, protect Cain from others killing him. Some of Cain's descendants are listed, along with some of the accomplishments of him and his descendants.

Adam and Eve had a replacement son, Seth.


Genesis 5 contains a chronogenealogy of Adams descendants extending to Noah's sons. Biblical scholars have used these and other chronogenalogies and other time indicators to calculate the date of creation backwards from later events to conclude that creation occurred around 4,000 B.C.


The creation account provides the basis for much of doctrine discussed later in the Bible, including the origin of sin, marriage, and clothes.[2]

Original manuscripts

As for the rest of the Bible and virtually all other ancient documents, the original manuscripts have not survived. Instead, we have copies, and various ideas exist regarding what form the originals took.

The traditional view, still accepted by many Christians, is that the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) was written by Moses, possibly by direct revelation from God. Jesus endorses this, referring to Moses' writings.[3]

Citing Moses as the author does not preclude him using older documents as sources, and a related view is that Genesis was compiled by Moses from documents that dated back to the persons whose history they describe. In this view, Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 could have been written by God Himself (as there were no other eyewitnesses), and Genesis 2:4 to the end of chapter 4 would have been written by Adam. These documents would have been handed down generation after generation, until coming into the possession of Moses as leader of the Israelites at his time.

In 1886 Julius Wellhausen promoted the idea that the Pentateuch was written by a number of different but unknown authors at a later time than Moses. This "Documentary Hypothesis", as it has become known, is widely accepted and taught by more-liberal colleges. Conservative Biblical scholars such as Kenneth Kitchen and Gleason Archer and others give various arguments on why the Documentary Hypothesis is not supported by any evidence and also ignores evidence that Moses wrote the Torah.[4][5][6][7][8][9] In addition, Dr. Yohanan Aharoni argues that archaeological discoveries shows that later authors or editors could not have put together or invented the Torah stories hundreds of years after they happened.[10] Christian apologist Josh McDowell in his work New Evidence that Demands a Verdict discusses the development of the Documentary Hypothesis and its presuppositions, discusses various components of the Documentary hypothesis why scholars believe they are invalid, and lastly cites evidence that scholars believe argue for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.[11]

According to the documentary hypothesis, the creation account is a combination of two different and inconsistent original accounts. Supporters of the theory point to what they see as discrepancies, such as Genesis 2:19 being worded as though God created animals and birds after Adam, whereas Genesis 1 indicates that man was created after the birds and animals. Opponents of the Documentary Hypothesis say that Genesis 2 is not intended as a chronological account, and should be read in the context of the preceding narrative, thus reading Genesis 2:19 the way that the NIV translates it: "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air."[12]

See also


  1. All the beast of the field and all the birds of the air, so clearly a subset of all the creatures.
  2. Anglican Church challenges evolution, by Tas Walker.
  3. For example, Mark 12:26 (ESV): And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?, a reference to the events of Exodus 3.
  12. As well as derivatives of the NIV, the English Standard Version includes this translation in a footnote, and Darby's translation also uses this wording.


  • Cruden, A., Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testaments (Lutterworth, 1930)
  • The Holy Bible (King James Version)
  • The New English Bible (Oxford & Cambridge University Presses, 1970)
  • The New Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman & Todd, 1990)
  • Peake, A.S., Commentary on the Bible (Nelson, 1962)
  • Young, R., Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible (Lutterworth, 1939)