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.

According to the first chapter of Genesis (including the first few verses of the second chapter), God (in the form of the plural Elohim) created the world in six days (Hebrew yom), before resting on the seventh. Created on each day were:

  1. Heavens, Earth, and light
  2. Sky and sea
  3. Dry land and plants
  4. Sun, moon, and stars
  5. Fish and birds
  6. Land animals and man[1][2][3][4]

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[5] 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.

Children

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.

Chronogenealogy

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.

Doctrine

The creation account provides the basis for much of doctrine discussed later in the Bible, including the origin of sin, marriage, and clothes.[6]

Disputes

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.[7]

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.[8][9][10][11][12][13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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."[16]

Timeline

There has been much debate about the timeline of creation. Most scholars tend to agree that when the text refers to a day (using the Hebrew word "yom") that it is indeed referring to a literal 24-hour period of time. However, some disagree, saying that while "yom" typically means one day, the word can also be used in reference to a much longer measurement of time. More recently, some have said that there was a significant amount of time (potentially several millennia) in between chapter one and chapter two. This is know as Gap Theory, and it helps to match the creation account with the timeline of earth which secular science has created.

In contrast to the chronological arrangement of chapter 1 (up to verse 4 of chapter 2), chapter 2 describes in greater detail the creation of man and the Garden of Eden.

Some believe that in chapter two, creation appears to take only one day (yom, cf verse 4), with man apparently being created before the plants have grown, and before the animals are created, or at least before they are brought before Adam. Those who take this view usually believe that this apparent contradiction is evidence that the two chapters originated as two separate accounts.

Others see no lack of harmony among the accounts, but believe chapter two is intended to show the sixth day of creation from the view of man in the garden. Perhaps the plants were created already grown. It is also argued that the word 'formed' in verse 19 can legitimately be read as 'had formed' (as used in the NIV translation).[17] Indeed, in that case with the garden (plants) already existing before man and animals already having been formed, but merely being brought before Adam, there is no contradiction at all. This can be seen more clearly when verse 19 is read in context:

And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof.

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Genesis 2:18-20 (KJV)

[18][19][20]

Furthermore, even those that propose that the two chapters began as two separate accounts accept that the two have been together in the Bible for thousands of years. Yet for most of that time, the vast majority of believers have seen no discrepancy. Jesus himself quoted from both chapters at the one time, showing that he didn't see them as two contradictory accounts. This points to the only discrepancy being an imagined one.


See also

References

  1. The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan, 1985)
  2. The New English Bible (Oxford & Cambridge University Presses, 1970)
  3. The New Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman & Todd, 1990)
  4. The Holy Bible (King James Version)
  5. All the beast of the field and all the birds of the air, so clearly a subset of all the creatures.
  6. Anglican Church challenges evolution, by Tas Walker.
  7. 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.
  8. http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/moses.html
  9. http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/apologetics/AP0404W3.htm
  10. http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/13
  11. http://www.christian-thinktank.com/aec2.html
  12. http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/moses.htm
  13. http://answering-islam.org.uk/Campbell/s3c1.html
  14. http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/bible_criticism.htm
  15. http://www.geocities.com/k9ocu/DH.htm
  16. 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.
  17. The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan, 1985)
  18. Cruden, A., Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testaments (Lutterworth, 1930)
  19. Peake, A.S., Commentary on the Bible (Nelson, 1962)
  20. Young, R., Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible (Lutterworth, 1939)
  • 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)