The book of Genesis includes two very different creation stories. The first, “Genesis 1” runs from verse 1:1 to the middle of 2:4 (2:4a). The second, “Genesis 2,” runs from verse 2:4b to 2:25.
Beginning in the 18th century, European Old Testament scholars discussed this point in earnest. The next two centuries brought the discovery of numerous creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Canaan. With the discovery of these creation stories, scholars could now see clear evidence to support a nonliteral reading of the Genesis texts, since each biblical story shares characteristics of different Near Eastern stories.
Pete's analyses and those before his give us a clear understanding of the role of humans and their relationship to God. This is a spiritual relationship and the entire purpose of both creation stories is to tell us that God dwells on high but that He created humans to be among them. There is no science here and those who interpret Genesis 1 and 2 that way completely miss the point.
That these and other analyses will be ignored by the leading young earth creation sites is a given. Such analyses are, in a sense, time-inspecific. In this construct, when the earth was created is almost irrelevant, as is how it was created. How humans appeared is only important in the sense of the fact that they are created by God to relate to him. These chapters show that they are not scientific accounts of anything.
I have often thought that this kind of analysis should be central to Sunday school teaching about how we are to relate to God such that the richness of the scripture can be felt. It might also be a way of alerting people to the scriptural vacuity of young earth creationism.
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