The Narrative of Creation
In modern academic studies of the Bible it is common to see Genesis 1 and 2 as different accounts of creation. It is as if you could choose between these accounts and select the text which best fits your own theological viewpoint. However, this would be to rely on human wisdom rather than being submitted to the Word that God has revealed. In fact, as we study these texts we see that they are actually dependent on each other.
Gen 1:27 contains a mystery. It states that “God created the man in His
image, in the image of God He created him (‘oto); male and female He created them (‘otam)” What usually goes unnoticed is that there is a tension here. God created first singularly (‘He created him’) and then there is suddenly a plurality (‘He created them’). We hardly notice this and just go unto the next sentence. The key fact which the text is showing us is that there is a beginning single point but that this point becomes differentiated into male and female forms. The problem is that we don’t know how this happens exactly and Gen 1 does not
explain this process.
This tension is only resolved in Gen 2. “And He took one of his (Adam’s)
ribs …and the Lord God built up the rib into a woman” (2:21-22). Gen 2 shows that there is a first creation, Adam, and from him comes the material which God uses to make the first woman. This second text shows us that there is an original beginning point (the man) but this single gendered being, by God’s grace, then issues forth into the differentiated human that we now know. Thus, Gen 2 explains the mysterious text in Gen 1:27.
What also often goes unnoticed is that Gen 1 only speaks of the fecundity of the primordial couple. This text shows us that the purpose of gender is for the procreation of the race. ‘Go forth and multiply.’ Gen 2 only knows of the complimentarity of the male and female, their need for each other. It knows nothing about procreation. Thus, each text is lacking something
essential about the male-female relationship. But put together they form a single account of creation which provides us with the full vision of the
human person and of marriage. Thus chapters 1 and 2 form the narrative of creation. As we study the Scriptures at ever-deepening levels, the tensions in the text actually become the way we discover the depths of God’s wisdom.