Do the First Two Chapters of Genesis Contradict One Another?
“Can you explain the discrepancy between the first two chapters of Genesis? In chapter two, God decides that Adam still doesn’t have a suitable companion, so he then creates woman. This appears to be in contradiction to chapter one, in which man and woman were created together – after the animals and everything else.”
The “contradiction” exists only if the reader has not properly considered the respective texts, and the purpose each was designed to accomplish.
In the initial chapter of Genesis, Moses wrote:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (vv. 26-27).
This is a very general statement of the commencement of the human family. It affirms that God was the creator of the human family. Man was fashioned in the image and likeness of God (i.e., a spiritual image – not a physical one). Humanity was created male and female. Man and woman were commissioned to exercise responsible dominion over the subordinate creation.
The account in chapter one does not supply the more specific details that are included in chapter two. And there is an obvious reason for this. Chapter two places a greater emphasis upon the origin of the human family. The second chapter supplements the first one, but there is no genuine conflict between the two.
Professor Kenneth Kitchen, who served as Lecturer in the School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies, University of Liverpool, has expressed the matter as follows:
“It is often claimed that Genesis 1 and 2 contain two different creation-narratives. In point of fact, however the strictly complementary nature of the ‘two’ accounts is plain enough: Genesis 1 mentions the creation of man as the last of a series, and without any details, whereas in Genesis 2 man is the center of interest and more specific details are given about him and his setting. There is no incompatible duplication here at all. Failure to recognize the complementary nature of the subject-distinction between a skeleton outline of all creation on the one hand, and the concentration in detail on man and his immediate environment on the other, borders on obscurantism” (Ancient Orient and Old Testament, London: Tyndale, 1966, pp. 116-117; emp. in original).
The alleged discrepancy between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 does not exist in reality. For further study of this matter, see our article: “Critical Theory Attacks Genesis 1 and 2”.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.