The Creation

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This article attempts to give an outline account of only the Judaeo-Christian myth of The Creation. It appears that both owe something to older creation myths in the Middle east, and are set in Mesopotamia.

In the Book of Genesis (~ 'origin[s]') in both the Jewish and the Christian scriptures, there are two separate stories of how God ("The Creator") formed the world in which we live. According to current textual scholarship, the first of these (in chapter 1) was written later, during or after the exile of the Jews to Babylon. It was written by a priestly editor of the texts of the scriptures (and thus referred to as 'the P- writer'), building on a tradition (the E- source) from the north of Israel which uses the name 'Elohim' for God. The other account (in Chapter 2) originated probably from the southern part of Israel, where the name used for God approximated to 'Jehovah'; writings from this source are usually designated as being by the J- writer, or 'Yahwist'.

  • In the first chapter, the P- account tells of how God (Elohim) created the heaven and earth, formless, with waters over which the Spirit of God moved.
    • On the first day, He created light, calling the light 'day' and the darkness 'night'.
    • On day 2, He set a 'firmament' ('Heaven') to separate the "waters ... under the firmament from the waters ... above the firmament".
    • On day 3, He separated dry land ('Earth') from the waters below the firmament ('Seas'), and created the vegetation on the earth.
    • On day 4, He set two lights in the Heaven, one for day (the sun) and one for night (the moon), and the other heavenly bodies.
    • On day 5, God created the birds and the fishes.
    • On day 6, He created the animals, and man ("in our image") - "male and female created he them": women and men were created simultaneously. He gave them "dominion" (power. authority) over all other created species.
    • On day 7, God rested. He blessed the seventh day ('Sabbath'), and made it a day of rest.
  • In the second chapter of Genesis, the 'J-writer' sees God, "in the day that [He] made the earth and the heavens", as creating from "the dust of the ground", first, the potential of vegetation; then a mist, to water the ground; then Man, to till it. Then He created the Garden of Eden, containing all good plants, especially "the tree of life ... and the tree of knowledge of good and evil"; and a river that divides into four: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates. To give the Man, who is called Adam "an helpmeet", God took one of Adam's ribs, and made a woman out of it, called Eve. Adam welcomed her as "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh", saying that that is why men leave their parents and unite their flesh. This of course leads to the Fall of Man.

The story of The Creation, double though it is, leads to fundamentalist 'Creationism' - a belief in the factual truth of the Bible story, and thus a denial of the Darwinian Theory of Evolution and a rejection of science: what Browning (2009) calls "an abuse of scripture." He says that the myths of Adam and Eve "are to be regarded as parables ... and should be put into the appropriate literary genre, which is not that of history." Those who put their faith in a literal acceptance of 'the Word of God' will find it impossible to accept this view.