Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. ” Everyone knows this quote, and everyone understands the creation story, and how Genesis 1 explains it. But what the typical person might not know so well is Genesis 2, the second creation story. Or, the second account of creation. There is debate over why there are two separate creation stories that seem quite different. There are not actually two creation stories, just two accounts of the same creation.
They are told from different perspectives to give readers a better grasp on who God is and what He is like. The ancient Israelites used both accounts to shape how they saw God. The first account explains creation in a very methodical, almost mathematic way. God creates something, sees that it is good, and retires for the day. Next day, same thing, and so on and so forth, until He has created the world. He seems almost distant in this account. The second account shows Him making something, and then realizing it needs to be changed, or something else needs to be there.
He is almost tinkering with His creation, as opposed to the first account in which He went day by day, knowing everything before-hand. The second is more personal, shows how God really does care for us. The first story shows the side of God that omnipotent, omniscient, and meticulous. The second shows the side of Him that is creative, unconventional, and passionate. These are all characteristics of God, but for humans, it is hard to imagine all of those qualities at one time, so they are split up for better comprehension.
Just because there are two accounts of one story that slightly vary, does not mean that they are not true. In Genesis one God creates man in His image, and the purpose of man is to, “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. ” Animals were created, then humans. Humans were created to be caretakers of the animals, to nurture and protect them, to take care of them. In Genesis one, God also creates man and woman at the same time.
He tells them to, “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. ” The use of subdue in today’s world has a negative connotation, but that is not what God meant. God wanted them to take control of the earth, to conquer the challenges he made for them. The use of subdue means only to subdue what is already hostile. Not to meaninglessly attack and kill. In Genesis two, man is created first out of dirt, and then the animals, which he names every single one of, are created, in attempt for God to find man’s helper and partner.
So then God put him to sleep to use his rib to create woman. Once the man sees this he knows she is made out of him. God tells them to take care of the Garden of Eden, which was not mentioned in Genesis one. It also says how the man and woman become one flesh, and how they are naked but not ashamed, which carries on the point from before, that Genesis two is more intimate and personal, and Genesis one is just the opposite. All in all, the first and second chapters do indeed tell two different things.
But those things are two different accounts of the same story. Both are completely true. If that is still confusing, a good way to look at it is “The Super Bowl” analogy. Say there are three people watching the Super Bowl: a die-hard fan of one of the teams playing, someone who is just interested in football, and someone who is just there for the fun of the gathering, or even the commercials. If you ask those three people to recount what happened during the game, all three stories will be different.
The die-hard will know how each of the players did, the final score, and possibly even more statistics. The sports fan will know the final score and maybe how a few players did. The one who doesn’t like sports will maybe know who won, remember some commercials, or nothing at all. All of those accounts are 100% true. They are just told from different perspectives. The same goes for Genesis one and two. Same story, different outlook.