THE EARLY PROPHETIC STORY OF CREATION.
The opening words of the second account of creation, which begins in the fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis, imply that the earth and the heavens have already been created.
“In the day that Jehovah made earth and heaven, no plant of the field was yet on the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up, for Jehovah had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole face of the ground.”
It is possible that here only a part of the original story is preserved. What is the order in the story of creation found in this second chapter? The method of man’s creation?
According to this account, the tree of life was planted in the garden that man, while he lived there, might enjoy immortality. Was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil placed in the garden to develop man’s moral nature by temptation or merely to inculcate obedience?
The love between the sexes is apparently implanted in all living beings primarily for the conservation of the species, but the early prophet also recognized clearly the broader intellectual and moral aspects of the relation. “It is not good for man to be alone” were the significant words of Jehovah. Hence animals, birds, and, last of all, woman, were created to meet man’s innate social needs. Man’s words on seeing woman were:
“This, now, is bone of my bone
And flesh of my flesh.
This one shall be called woman,
For from man was she taken.”
What fundamental explanation is here given of the institution of marriage? Compare Jesus’ confirmation of this teaching in Matthew 19:4-5:
“And he answered and said, Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and the two shall become one flesh?”
A COMPARISON OF THE TWO ACCOUNTS OF CREATION.
The account of creation found in the second chapter suggests the simple, direct ideas of a primitive people; while the account in Genesis 1 has the exact, repetitious, majestic literary style of a legal writer. Are the differences between these two accounts of creation greater than those between the parallel narratives in the Gospels? We recognize that the differences in detail between the Gospel accounts of the same event are due to the fact that no two narrators tell the same story in the same way. Are the variations between the two Biblical accounts of creation to be similarly explained? A growing body of Biblical scholars hold, though many differ in judgment, that the account in the first chapter of Genesis was written by a priestly writer who lived about four hundred B.C., and the second account four hundred years earlier by a patriotic, prophetic historian.