Skip to content ↓

Does Genesis 2 Contradict Genesis 1?

Resources Collection cover image

Genesis 2 has often been put at odds with Genesis 1. A long list of skeptics have claimed that the content is contradictory in places, especially when it comes to the timing of the events it recounts. Other scholars have argued that stylistic differences indicate that the chapters were written by different authors as parts of entirely separate creation accounts, and that these were later forced together in Genesis.

So how do we answer this while also affirming that “every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5) and that Moses was the sole and inspired author of the Pentateuch (apart, of course, from the description of his death in Deuteronomy 34)?

The ESV Study Bible provides a helpful answer that accounts for both of these convictions:

The panoramic view of creation in ch. 1 is immediately followed by a complementary account of the sixth day that zooms in on the creation of the human couple, who are placed in the garden of Eden. In style and content this section differs significantly from the previous one; it does not contradict anything in ch. 1, but as a literary flashback it supplies more detail about what was recorded in 1:27. The picture of a sovereign, transcendent deity is complemented by that of a God who is both immanent and personal. The two portrayals of God balance each other, together providing a truer and richer description of his nature than either does on its own. In a similar way, whereas ch. 1 emphasizes the regal character of human beings, ch. 2 highlights their priestly status.

(Note on Gen. 2:4-25)

Pentateuch scholar John Sailhamer has a similar take on it (I do not agree with all he says about Creation, but he is helpful here):

It seems apparent that the author intends the second chapter to be read closely with the first and that each chapter be identified as part of the same event. Thus the author explicitly retuns to the place and time of chapter 1 at the point where he links it to chapter 2: “When the Lord God made the land and the sky” (2:4b). It is likely that the author’s central theological interests in chapter 1 would be continued in chapter 2 as well—the theme of humanity’s creation in the “image of God.” Thus we may expect to find in chapter 2 a continuation of the theme of the “likeness” between humankind and the Creator. (The Pentateuch As Narrative, 97)

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (May 21)

    A La Carte: A theology of immigration / Christian catholicity in an online age / Violent pornography’s assault on the marriage bed / Heresy that warrants no apology / Franchising church / With each passing moment / Kindle deals / and more.

  • Why Do I Feel Such Profound Loneliness?

    This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers and is written by Steve DeWitt. The story of human loneliness has its roots in the character of God and God’s purpose in creating us.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created…

  • Stop Swiping Start Serving

    Stop Swiping, Start Serving

    I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that in the past few weeks, you have probably not gotten rip-roaring drunk nor participated in a debauched drinking party. You have probably not given yourself over to rampant sexual immorality or a life obsessed with sensuality. At least, I hope not

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (May 20)

    A La Carte: What media got wrong about supposed Christian self-immolation / We are walking on holy ground / “His Glory and My Good” / How pop Nietzscheanism masquerades as Christianity / Why a full calendar doesn’t necessarily produce mature church members / Thinking biblically about social justice / John Piper Kindle deals / and…

  • One Measure of Greatness

    One Measure of Greatness

    While all of us ought to see evidence of marked growth in our knowledge of God, our relationship with him, and our obedience to him, none of us ever evolves beyond our need for the ordinary means of grace. We never “level up” to such a degree that we gain access to some hidden extraordinary…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (May 18)

    A La Carte: What it takes to survive ministry / The power of prayer / The dog’s game / Why do Christians do bad things? / Does it matter whether seminary education is in-person or online? / Greet one another with a … what? / and more.