Genesis – Two Different Stories
What are the differences between the two creation stories in the Book of Genesis, and why are they written this way instead of just one account that’s clearer to read through?
The two creation accounts in the Book of Genesis are so different because they were written by different authors who lived centuries apart in time. The second creation account, being written much earlier, is theologically much more primitive than the first one. Dr. Leon R. Kass says, in his 2002 book, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis:
“This so-called second creation story departs from the first not only in content but also in tone, mood and orientation.
“The first story ends with man; the second begins with him.
“In the first, the animals come first and man is to be their ruler; in the second, the beasts come after, as man’s possible companions.
“In the first, man is to be the master of life on earth (1:28); in the second, he is to be the servant of the earth (2:5, 15).
“In the first story, man is made directly in the image of God (1:27); in the second he is made of earthly dust and divine breath (2:7) and only becomes god-like at the end – “now the man is become like one of us” (3:22) and only in transgression.
“In the first, in need of encouragement, man is given a positive injunction, for procreation and dominion (1:28); in the second, in need of restraint, he is given a negative commandment (2:17).
“In the first, God names and blesses (1:22,28, 2:3); In the second, man names but God curses (3:14,17).
“The pious readers, believing that the text cannot contain contradictions, ignore the major disjunctions between the two creation stories and tend to treat the second story as the fuller, more detailed account of the creation of man (and woman) that the first story simply reported.”
Dr. Kass is aware that many readers choose to ignore the differences, because to do otherwise would be to recognize that they cannot both be true accounts of creation: