I was reading Genesis 2 in my Bible study this morning. One objection to the Bible as the infallible word of God is because Genesis 1 and 2 both contain accounts of the creation of the world, but they are different. Which leads some to conclude that if they are different, they are therefore
But Genesis 2 itself tells why they are different. In verse 4, it says,
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.
The word “generations” is toledoth in Hebrew, which Strong’s says means descendants, results, proceedings, generations, genealogies, an account of men and their descendants, or a course of history. The word occurs 13 times in Genesis alone. It is used in conjunction with the heavens and the earth, in chapter 2 verse 4, but also with Adam (Genesis 5:1), with Noah (Genesis 6:9), with the sons of Noah (Genesis 10:1, 32), with Shem (Genesis 11:10), with Terah (Genesis 11:27), with Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-13), with Isaac (Genesis 25:19), with Esau (Genesis 36:1, 9), and with Jacob (Genesis 37:2).
In other words, the phrase containing the toledoth acts as a sort of colophon indicating authorship of the previous section. Genesis 2:4 might just as well read, This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created (indicating all the text preceeding it). Adam wrote the history recorded from Genesis 2:4 through 5:1, and the Lord Himself wrote (or dictated to Adam) the history recorded from Genesis 1:1 through 2:4. The accounts aren’t contradictory, but complementary, with one account authored by one outside of the events, and the other account authored by one inside of the events. Genesis Contradictions? published in Creation magazine goes into more depth on the meaning of toledoth and its implications for the authorship of Genesis.
Another interesting detail I noticed was in the notes of my Bible, which discussed the location of Eden and the four rivers (Genesis 2:10-14). The notes placed Eden somewhere near the modern Tigris and Euphrates rivers, with the other two rivers being possibly the Nile or even the Indus.
The only problem with this is the world that was perished. The global cataclysm of Noah’s Flood was so great that the features of the earth’s surface, her oceans, mountains, and everything else would be completely different post-Flood than they were before. Eden perished too; everything perished, the Bible states, except for those on the ark. There was no way for Noah to know, when he got off the ark, where Eden had been, and where his home had been, when he had gotten on the ark. The survivors of the Flood, upon descending the mountains of Ararat, named the two great rivers they encountered after the two great rivers they were familiar with from their world, just as New Jersey was named after the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. In neither case does it mean that the place now named is the same as the place left behind.
Mistakes like these: the belief that there are two contradictory creation accounts in Genesis, or that Eden can be found in today’s world, are made because we have been subtly trained to disbelieve what we read in Scriptures, and even eminent scholars who write the notes in Bibles can labor under that unconscious bias.
I was reading the same Bible passage with my 11yo son today and wasn’t sure how to explain it to him. Thanks for sharing this explanation! I always learn so much from your blog!
Blessings ~ Diane
Weird. Like the other commentor, I’ve recently read this passage myself.
I have a question for you…Adam wrote Gen 2-5? I don’t believe I have ever heard this before. Is this a common understanding? I thought it was Moses who wrote the first five books and up until that time it was an oral tradition.
My answer in the comments was getting a little long, so I decided to post the answer to your question, LOL. It is the post titled Who wrote Genesis? In the meantime, read the linked article, Genesis Contradictions? It touches on the answer to your question, as well as itself linking to other articles which go into more detail. And you are very welcome.Edited by christinemiller on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 1:52 AM