In Genesis 2:18-19, it is mentioned that God created man first and then the animals so the man can't be alone and he can name them.

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God 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.

But in Genesis 1:25-26, it is mentioned that God created animals and THEN man.

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. THEN God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (emphasis added)

So according to the Catholic Church, were humans created before or after animals?

  • @LeeWoofenden There is no had in the verse?
    – Casanova
    Apr 22, 2017 at 10:51
  • Some translations do, some don't. The thing to do is to revert @Lee's edit and add the version that you're quoting from (which you should do anyway under SE's attribution rules). However, a textual question is better asked on Biblical Hermeneutics. I believe I've answered the part about Catholic doctrine. Apr 22, 2017 at 11:18
  • No. Biblical Hebrew doesn't have a pluperfect tense. Technically, it doesn't have tenses at all. But it has the equivalent of "perfect tense" (completed action) and "imperfect tense" (ongoing action). All of the verbs in Genesis 2:18 (except the one translated "to see") are in the imperfect tense, indicating ongoing action. See Genesis 2:18 at Blue Letter Bible. The "had" is added to some translations to harmonize it with Genesis 1, but it doesn't actually occur in the original Hebrew, and there's no good grammatical reason to add it. Apr 22, 2017 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


Read on to Genesis 2 : 20-23 and you will understand that Gen 2:18 is in fact setting the stage for narrating the creation of Eve, the perfect life-companion for Adam. The interlude of Adam's `screening' of the animals and birds to look for a companion , is only meant to reinforce the design of Creation meant for mankind.


I'm going to ignore the textual part of this question because I'm not a Hebrew expert and this aspect of the question is probably better suited to Biblical Hermeneutics. Whichever tense is used in English is an artefact of translation, and different translations treat the Hebrew differently. It does seem that most "Catholic" translations do not use had formed, and retain the distinction and apparent anomaly between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

Turning to the aspect of the question which concerns Catholic doctrine, there is nothing in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church which demands that the Creation story be taken as literal truth or as myth, or whether Genesis 1 is more or less valid than Genesis 2. Both are in the Bible and both are inspired. The order of creation is ultimately unimportant: what is important is that God created the world at all. There's too much to quote here but one seminal paragraph is

  1. Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation — its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source of catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation, fall, and promise of salvation.
  • No, it's not clearly mentioned, as I demonstrated. The tense changes and that's important. Apr 22, 2017 at 8:23
  • The tense does not change in the original Hebrew. Adding "had" is a grammatically unwarranted addition made by some translators specifically to harmonize the Genesis 2 Creation story with the Genesis 1 Creation story. All of the verbs in Genesis 2:18 (except the one translated "to see") are the same "tense" (imperfect), indicating ongoing action. It is normal sequential composition, indicating that God created the animals at that point in the story, not at some previous point. Apr 22, 2017 at 11:24
  • @LeeWoofenden Perhaps this version of the answer is better. Apr 23, 2017 at 18:20
  • Thanks. A definite improvement. However, you might want to add a little more context for the "had" controversy if you're going to mention it at all. As it is now, readers who haven't seen your previous version may wonder what you're talking about. Apr 23, 2017 at 18:49

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