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There are two seemingly contradictory accounts of creation in the Bible.

The first is in Genesis 1:1-2:3.

The second is in Genesis 2:4-25.

Why the differences in the accounts?

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If two people report on an event, does it mean the one person's version is wrong and the other right? –  Michael Wiles Aug 30 '11 at 21:37
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When information contradicts, it doesn't necessarily mean anyone is right. –  rpeg Aug 30 '11 at 21:41
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@rpeg: I have edited your question, to be only one question. I suggest asking "Do apparent contradictions in the Bible make the Bible fallible?" as a separate question. It's too broad to ask for an explanation of this apparent contradiction, and also ask if that makes the Bible fallible in the same question. –  Flimzy Aug 30 '11 at 21:45
    
@Michael If they are different accounts or maybe different order of events, then yes. –  Paul Sep 28 '11 at 12:57

5 Answers 5

After even more study of Genesis, I think I may understand why the original question may have been asked.

Yes, there are 2 different accounts here, but they are of the same creation event. The first part is an account of God creating the universe and everything in it. The second part begins with the creation of Adam (which was mentioned in the first account), but then continues on with the story of Adam.

What I did not understand earlier was why someone would say there were contradictions, but now I believe one thing which may be in question is Genesis 2:19. I had been reading the NIV which says "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." It says God had formed the animals, so it didn't seem contradictory. Other translations do use verbiage which would suggest man was created before animals in this account.

After searching a bit for information on the contradictions, I found that the Hebrew used in this verse does not specify an order. It can be translated as now or as in the past. I would think that people reading this in the original Hebrew language would understand that it was meant that God had already created the animals, since that was the order presented in chapter 1. Reference

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Why would it be thrown in the middle? –  rpeg Aug 30 '11 at 21:55
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I've expanded my response after some more review of Genesis chapters 1 and 2. –  a_hardin Aug 30 '11 at 22:11
    
New answer to address the fact that it is 2 stories and a supposed contradiction. –  a_hardin Aug 31 '11 at 3:29
    
@rpeg I believe, though I don't know, that this was the style of writing used maybe due to the fact it would have first been passed down as a story and later recorded. So one event. –  James Khoury Aug 31 '11 at 3:35
    
I agree I have heard more than one sermon on the two creation accounts –  Neil Meyer Dec 28 '11 at 11:53

These are definitely two different stories of God creating animals and plants. But understand that the first time God created these things, he created them in numbers. The second time that he created the animals He did so, so that Adam could name them.

Sorry for the short answer.

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There are two accounts. The first one is God's account. The second account is that of Adam, and only describes things from his experience on the sixth day.

Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Many places in Genesis when there is a change of author, does the passage begin "These are the generations of..". Genesis is a collection of many personal accounts and includes kept genealogies that were compiled into one book. Examine Genesis 25 for an example of how this works.

If you look at the King James Version, you will notice the change from God being describe as "God" to being described as "the LORD God". This is because God wrote the first account and Adam wrote this second account.

On the sixth day, God creates land animals before creating man (Genesis 1:24-26). Adam sees God create one of each land animal and he named them (Genesis 2:19). One of each animal would not be sufficient to populate the earth; the earth was already full of land animals which were made earlier.

Also Adam's account describes the plants were already in the earth before he was formed, but hadn't started to grow yet (Genesis 2:5). So Adam's account is entirely consistent with plants having been made on day three (Genesis 1:11).

Genesis 2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

After making Adam God then makes a fully formed garden with fruit trees so Adam can eat (Genesis 2:8-9).

Adam witnesses God creating Eden and one of each animal. The two accounts both witness God as the creator. The difference stems from the fact that Adam only witnessed creation from when he was made on day six, and they describe different details of what happened.

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Yes, there are 2 creation accounts. According to commentator and foremost authority on Genesis Gordon J. Wenham in Story as Torah, this is because Genesis 1 is a response to the Enûma Eliš while Genesis 2 is a response to the Egyptian creation accounts. Wenham believes that the first account was added after the second account. Furthermore, it became common literary practice to have a prologue texts and Wenham believes that Geneis 1 may have been added as a prologue as the text of Gen 1 occurs in multiples of 7 and therefore seems to have a poetic structure lending credence to the idea of this being a prologue. This structure is then deviated from beginning in 2:4,

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I can only offer in form of an interpretation:

Genesis 1:1—2:3 is a picture of God's purpose [which is to express Himself through man and to exercise His dominion with man (Gen 1:26)], and 2:4-25 is a portrait of the way to fulfill God's purpose.

This is why we have the second record of creation in Genesis 2. Genesis 1 reveals God's purpose in creating man, it does not show us the way to fulfill this purpose. Therefore, we need the second record to reveal the way (though in a allegorized way), the procedure, God takes to fulfill His purpose [which is by His life].

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