A meme about Gettysburg

This is a response to those who say Genesis 1 and 2 don’t contradict, they “complement” each other.

1st_Minnesota_at_Gettysburg

Click through for a much larger (and downloadable/sharable!) view.

The original image is by Don Troiani and depicts the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and specifically, its heroic charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. If you don’t know their story, you should.

Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • Jake Hughes

  • Professor_Tertius

    Even though I strongly deplore Young Earth Creationist interpretations, I would have to say that the two “creation accounts” are complimentary.

    Firstly, Semitic culture and the Hebrew language is not as chronologically/temporally oriented as we take for granted in our culture. Order of presentation in a Hebrew text is NOT necessarily meant to be understood as chronological order.

    Secondly, and much more importantly, in Genesis 1 ERETZ is simply the opposite of “the heavens” as part of their idiom for “universe” which they expressed as “the heavens and the earth”. However, in ancient Hebrew as well as in English until modern times, “earth” was not understood to mean “planet earth” but that which was below (just as “the heavens” was above.) English Bible translation traditions have been to render ERETZ in early Genesis as “earth” even though most everywhere else it was translated more accurately as “land” or “country” and sometimes “wilderness” or “region”. This is meaning is essential for understanding the purpose of both pericopes.

    Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 (or 2:4) is a six-verse (each with chorus) type of poetic hymn of praise to God as the only master of the various domains claimed by various gods and goddesses of Israel’s neighbors using a 3+3 chiasm structural framework with a seventh YOM denouement. Genesis 2:4(?)ff is a separate oral tradition which focuses solely on a particular ERETZ: the land in the Eden region where God planted a garden for HAADAM and the “Mother of Life”. It is one ERETZ (land) out of many and the four rivers help identify the exact location.

    With that special ERETZ/land in mind, it speaks of pre-garden conditions where there was no human irrigation but there was water available (perhaps a mist each morning?), and thus, it was a good place for planting a garden. It just had to be “developed” and brought to life as a botanical reserve. (This also explains why there were no thorns or weeds there, because one doesn’t want unproductive plants in a garden.)

    Everything in Genesis 1 is about generalities–while in Genesis 2 we are told about conditions in a particular place, the ERETZ where man had fellowship with God and first had dominion over animals and plants. Keep in mind that classical Hebrew has no verb tenses in the inflected sense or through verbal auxiliary words like we take for granted in most Indo-European languages. So even the temporal words in many English Bible translations of Genesis 2 are often debated in their exact meaning. But even without those complications on the table, it is obvious that the two “creation stories” have different ERETZ perspectives in mind.

    Critics would cite Strong’s Concordance as saying that ERETZ in Genesis 1 and 2 refer to “planet earth” but that is because Dr. Strong held to the traditional position of his day. As long as one keeps in mind the heavens+earth=universe general context of ERETZ, I’m not necessarily adverse to ascribing the ERETZ in Genesis 1 to “planet earth”–but it is rather anachronistic to think that the author thought in planetary terms as we would today. At best, ERETZ in Genesis 1 refers to the same “the circle of the earth” we read about elsewhere in the Old Testament, that disk of land which extends to the horizon in all directions. Yet Genesis 2 is a context which demands that ERETZ be understood as a specific region, Eden, one with hydrological features and suitability for a lush and productive garden. (YECs usually assume that the entire planet was tropical and verdant but that is mere tradition also.)

    Of course, the Noah pericope is also best understood by recognizing that ERETZ means “land” or “nation” or “region” and that the singular ERETZ tells us that the Noah’s land/world/region was to be deluged–and seeing how it was only ten generations since HAADAM, the entire Adamic population was most likely in a single region. (Just as after the flood, at Babel, the descendents of Adam had a propensity to stay in one place, with all of the natural advantages inherent in such.)

    As a former Young Earth Creationist “creation science” enthusiast and debater (back in the early days of the movement), I accepted all of the usual traditions about the creation accounts and the Noah story. Not until I studied linguistics and Hebrew exegesis/lexicography did my views on those passages fall in line with my growing doubts about the merits of the Morris & Whitcomb view of origins.

  • Professor_Tertius

    By the way, I commend you on an absolutely wonderful, informative, and very relevant website. I was once part of the “creation science” movement and gradually struggled to find my way out of it before the information bonanza of the Internet made it much easier to evaluate “both sides” of the debate. I wish I could have had your insights available to me around a half century ago.

    I find myself reading virtually every page of your website. What a tremendous blessing! May the Lord use it to bring his people to a better understanding of this magnificent creation and the wisdom and power of its Creator. (For me, every time I learn more about evolutionary processes, I am more impressed by our Creator’s engineering skills!)