Does Genesis 2 Contradict Genesis 1?
“…and the scripture cannot be broken;”
As we read Genesis 2, we might get the idea that humans were created before the animals and even before plants. Since this would seem to be a clear contradiction of Genesis chapter 1, some have said that the creation account does not intend to offer literal history. Is this really the case?
The reason for these apparent differences becomes a little more clear to us when we realize that in some languages there is no apparent contradiction. That tells us that the reason for these apparent contradictions has something to do with how English works, not with what the original says.
That is indeed the case. Our English language has time built into our verbs. Past, present and future – we all learned these in school. But Hebrew verbs – the language in which these verses were originally written – do not have time built into them. So this problem always shows up when we try to express these thoughts in a language that has time in its verbs. Genesis 1 is very careful to express time relationships; each day is numbered. Genesis 2 is interested only in focusing on the details of the human story. The other details, covered in sequence in Genesis 1, are mentioned only as they serve to add to the story of humanity.
So there is no contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. It only appears so in English because we have no such thing as a verb that does not express time. God’s Word stands as completely trustworthy!
Notes: Niessen, R., B. Northrup, and D. Watson. 1988. Genesis Stands. Minneapolis, MN: Bible Science Association, Inc.
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