A fresh look at Genesis

by Bruce Magnotti

The Bible's book of Genesis is a history that was orally passed from one generation to the next until it was finally written in the Hebrew language.  The first part deal with the creation of the universe and earth.  It also chronicles divisions between space and atmospheres and water and land.  The first part also describes the appearance of vegetation, sea life, birds, mammals and other land creatures.

The final portion of the first chapter chronicles the appearance of humans on the Earth.  By the end of this first chapter it appears that the entire planet is vegetated and populated with life forms.  According to a literal reading of this story, these air, land and sea creatures, humans as well, seemed to be filling the Earth with life, reproducing and thriving in a verdant environment.  The time and duration of this story is not clear.  The "days" discussed in most translations obviously deal with periods of time.  For example, the first "day" consisted of an "evening and a morning", a clear reading relates that the "morning" discussed is the period of time that the light appeared, making the evening before this light appeared of interminable length.  The second day also comprised an "evening and a morning" so that it is obvious that the light that first appeared was extinguished for a time before it was relit.  The third "day" as well, in fact it was in the midst of the fourth "day" that the sun, stars, and moon appeared.  Since the spinning Earth, in relation to the somewhat static sun, prescribes a set time of light and dark in different places on the planet, this is the first time a 24 hour day could have been possible.

The second part or chapter of this volume deals with a story that dates back approximately 7,000 years according to the inherent genealogical record in later chapters of the text.  It appears that God planted a garden in the Persian Gulf area and saw that "...there was no man to till the ground."  I read that, though there were humans in every corner of the Earth, hunting and gathering was the mode of food collection and agriculture had yet to be a human occupation.

I must insert here that the conflict between "evolutionists" and "creationists" is predicated on the belief that the first two chapters of Genesis are one story and the "Adam" was the first man on Earth and "Eve" was the first woman.  This predication involves many problems, first being the fact that no female children were born of the pair and hence human reproduction would have been impossible.  But let us say that the daughters of Adam and Eve were just not mentioned and Cain, Abel and Seth had sexual relations with their sisters (or mother).  This raises a second problem in that there are only 7,000 years before the present in which to differentiate all of the world's populations.  The Chinese, the Mongolians, the Siberians, the Aborigines, the Negros, the Indians, the American Indians, the Caucasians, to name a few.

Many conflicts arise if the first chapter and the second chapter of Genesis are considered the same story.  Below is an analysis of the events described in each chapter.

 Chapter one

1.  Light
2.  Firmament
3.  Waters gathered
4.  Seed plants, fruit trees
5.  Sun, moon, stars
6.  Fish, sea creatures, birds
7.  Mammals, reptiles, wild animals
8.  Humans

Chapter two

1.  Planting of the garden
2.  Man created from dust
3.  Trees in garden
4.  Wild animals, birds
5.  Woman created from the side of man

There is no concurrence between the two chapters, in the first chapter all the animals, plants and trees were created before man and woman, in the second the animals were created as a companion to man and when this was not satisfactory, woman was created.  The theme of the first chapter was "order from chaos" or "light and life from darkness and void".  The theme of the second chapter is much different, I would call it, the "origin of civilization".

The story begins in the second chapter by indicating that there were no shrubs or plants growing on earth.  From the context we can presume that this was a reference to domesticated plants and herbs.  The story goes on to state that there was no rain to water the ground and no man to till the ground.  It seems that the story is referring to an agricultural emphasis new to the world.

The place of this emphasis is generally agreed on as the Mesopotamian Valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, also the scientifically proposed site of the beginnings of agriculture.  The time, according to the chronology of the genealogies is less than 7,000 years ago, also in line with archaeological discoveries.

What seems to be unfolding in this second chapter is the realization that while the earth is replete with wild animals, wild plants, and wild humans, the urge is toward a civilization and agriculture, written language, clothing, the formulation of laws, manners and customs, the building of structures. The backbone of creation was finished with the first chapter of Genesis and the seventh day, but it seems that in the second chapter, the eighth day, perhaps millions of years later, the work was to encourage humans to be "civilized".

This second chapter leads us to another emphasis, that is the origins of the Semitic peoples and their family lineage from Adam to Noah to Abraham to the Arabs and Israelites in Palestine.
 

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