The narratives of the creation of humankind are also marred by contradictions between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2. When was man created? Two biblical texts dispute among them the moment of creation of humankind. In Genesis chapter 1, humankind was created after the creation of animals but in Genesis chapter 2, man was created before the creation of animals and woman after their creation. These are the biblical texts:
“26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind* in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,* and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ 27 So God created humankind* in his image, in the image of God he created them;* male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1; 26-27 NRSV) Genesis 2: “In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when … 7then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground,* and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2; 4-7 abbreviated NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2, man had been formed on Earth in the beginning of creation but in Genesis chapter 1 he was created together with woman at the end, on day six. Even if the creation story in Genesis chapter 2 isn’t divided in sequences or days of creation one can suppose that the entire story took some time and wouldn’t have been consumed in only one day, if by day one should understand a 24-hour day. If we consider the huge number of animal species existing on Earth, naming them by man would have taken more than a 24-hour day. There are radical differences between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2 about when the man was created and where he had to live immediately after his creation.
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Even if in Genesis chapter 2 the man created by God was established in the Garden of Eden immediately after his creation, in Genesis chapter 1 humankind had dominion over “the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”. How could humankind exercise dominion over the whole earth if they were destined to dwell in the Garden of Eden? The two stories contradict each other. Humankind was destined in Genesis chapter 1 to live on the entire earth but in Genesis chapter 2 to live in the Garden of Eden.
The special dwelling for humankind on Earth, the paradise, would have been the Garden of Eden, and living there forever would have been their initial fate.
But if they followed that happy destiny they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to exercise dominion over the entire earth. In other words, disobedience to God about the tree of knowledge would have been a necessary condition for humankind to be able to exercise dominion over the fauna of the entire earth because obedience would have meant an eternal life in the earthly paradise. If disobedience to God was the condition to respect His command in connection with dominion over the animals, the messages of the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis are inconsistent.
In Genesis chapter 1, humankind had to fill the earth as a task given by God but in Genesis chapter 2 the life outside the Garden of Eden was a punishment and not a blessing. God blessed human beings, sending them to multiply and to fill the entire earth in chapter 1, and He cursed them, sending them to live on the entire surface of the earth when they had been thrown out from the Garden of Eden, in chapter 2. This is a discrepancy which devalues both stories of creation from the book of Genesis.
In Genesis chapter 1, human beings had to eat “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit” and all these plants were found uncultivated by man in nature but in Genesis chapter 3 human beings would have fed from agriculture in very heavy conditions.
“17 And to the man* he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it”, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.” (Genesis 3; 17-18 NRSV)
In what way would the curse of God have changed His initial indications? Do we have to understand that after the curse man couldn’t have eaten uncultivated plants or fruits, but only cultivated plants? Why bother cultivating the land in the epoch when there were only two people on the earth and so many uncultivated vegetation good for food was available? According to Genesis chapter 1 the fruit trees had been created on the entire surface of the earth.
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