Here are 7 interesting things about Genesis 1-3 that came up in relation to my Old Testament Interpretation class at Wake Divinity:
1. Genesis 1:26a says, “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’”
Us?! Our image? Our likeness? Who else is God referring to? The royal “we”? Christ? The earth? Someone or something else?
2. Genesis 1:27 says, “And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
This verse reports the first Biblical act of creating humans. The Hebrew word that is translated as “man” in Genesis 1:27 is “haadam” or “adam” (small a), which can mean humans as a group—“mankind” or “humankind.” So, this might tell us that the first time God created humans, God created a group of them.
3. Genesis 1-3 contains two different accounts of creation. Genesis 1-2:4a is one, and Genesis 2:4b -3:25 is another.
The first calls God “elohim.” The second calls God by a different name. Animals are created before humans in the first, but not in the second. There are lots of other differences. Is it necessarily so that at least two different authors wrote the two accounts? No, but nearly every Biblical scholar says that it is nearly certainly so.
4. Genesis 2:9 mentions two particular trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.
Good and bad? I thought it was good and evil. Most every English translation on the market translates it as good and evil. The latest scholarly thinking holds that the best translation is the “tree of good and bad,” though. Basically, the latest reasoning is that the Hebrew word could mean either bad or evil and that there is no good reason to translate it at the extreme of its potential meaning (evil). “Good and bad” is what the new Jewish Publication Society Tanakh translation uses.
5. After Genesis 2 describes the creation of Eve, it says “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.”
Historians report that in the relevant time-frame, the reverse was true: a woman left her father and mother (to live with the man’s family), rather than a man leaving his father and mother.
6. Part of the story of the Garden of Eden: Eve took of the tree of knowledge’s “fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate.”
The fruit they ate is traditionally described as an apple. Bruce Springsteen: “They say, Eve tempted Adam with an apple. But I ain’t going for that. I know it was her pink Cadillac.” Turns out, historians and archaeologists agree with the Boss on this one (well, in part). There were no apples in the Ancient Near East, per the scholars.
7. When Eve was created, Adam said:
“This one at last
Is bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh.
This one shall be called Woman ….”
If one follows the logic of Young Earth Creationists and concludes that Adam and Eve were created during the same, 24-hour day, a few hours (minutes?!) apart, then doesn’t this passage indicate that Adam is a super-impatient dude? He’s been alive for only a few hours before Eve shows up. When she does, he says “at last”!
At last, this post is over!
(Picture: Yes, I know that the fruit story isn’t technically part of the creation account, but I wanted to take a picture of my apple for this blog post. The picture is one I took earlier this week of an apple sitting on my laptop.)
The Jewish Study Bible 2d ed. 2014. Oxford: University Press (Tanakh Translation).
Collins, John J., Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 2d ed. 2014. Fortress Press. 1-84.
Springsteen, Bruce. “Pink Cadillac,” on the Dancing in the Dark album (Columbia Records 1984) .
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/120.htm (discussing adam and related words), last visited September 23, 2016.