By Katie Habash
Every child is taught that God created “the heaven and the earth,” divided “night and day,” and yielded vegetation (Gen 1:4-11). We are also taught that God created the Human in “his image” and that he placed him in the Garden of Eden to “freely eat from every tree of the garden” except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, from which, of course, Adam and Eve later on eat and, as a result, they are banished from Paradise.
But what your Sunday school teachers did not teach you is that these stories are, in fact, two separate accounts of creation, and not one story as you might have expected or remembered. Julius Wellhausen (May 17, 1844 – January 7, 1918) was a German biblical scholar who formulated the Documentary Hypothesis, which theorizes that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) can be divided into separate and identifiable sources which were later compiled into a unified text by a series of redactors (editors). The first creation account, which begins in Gen 1:1 and ends with Gen 2:3, is attributed to the Priestly (P) source, whose authors are thought to have been a descendent group of Aaronite priests. The second creation story, beginning right after the P version with Gen 2:4 to Gen 3:24, is theorized to have been written by the Jahwist (J) source, the writer living in the southern Kingdom of Judah at the time. You don’t believe me? The proof is in the text itself. Let’s look at the creation(s) of humankind, the most significant aspect of both stories. In Genesis 1, after He has finished creating all nonliving and living things imaginable, God decides to create the Human:
And God created man in His own image,
In the image of God He created him;
Male and female He created them.
In the original Hebrew language, the word for human is adam, male is za’har, and female is ne’keva. As we can see here, man and woman are created at the same time (and in the same verse!) which can signify that they were also created as equals. God leaves the creation of humankind toward the end of the chapter to heighten their importance, saving the best for last. Genesis 2, on the other hand, has an almost completely different account of God’s creation of mankind. God rationalizes that, since “there is no man to till the ground,” he should fashion a human first and then create the rest of the elements (Gen 1:7). The second creation story already differs from the first by creating the human first, and moreover, that it is only one human that God creates, and not two (i.e. male and female). God only creates the female – isha in the J version – later in the story to provide a solution for Adam’s loneliness. The obvious disparities in both the order of the creations and the language used indicate different authorship, which refutes the traditional notion that Moses wrote the first the first five books of the Bible.
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