Garden of Eden _ Adam and Eve_01

Genesis 1:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Over the past 200 years, the scientific community and the Bible scholars of Christianity have engaged in battle. Scientists believe they have proved the Genesis account as being nothing more than a myth or legend, being no different from the Ancient Near Eastern Text of the Enuma Elish (“Epic of Creation”). The latter is a story from the eleventh century BCE, which tells of a cosmic conflict between the gods. The young Marduk kills the wicked Tiamat, the mother goddess of the ocean. Marduk then creates the universe out of Tiamat’s remains. Because many people have abandoned the belief in a literal creation account of Genesis, one would surmise the atheistic scientific community has won. Sadly, even some Bible scholars have abandoned the creation account found in Genesis.

It is important we resolve this issue, or we may suffer spiritual shipwreck, falling away from the faith. The entire Bible and its writers view the Genesis account as historically true. Therefore, Genesis is much more than a beginning. It is the foundation upon which all Scripture stands. If it is proven to be nothing more than a myth or legend, it would be next to impossible to take any portion of Scripture as being true and the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Read Genesis chapter one and then we will compare it with creation stories of ancient societies. Are we to believe that Moses, the author of Genesis, simply borrowed from these other accounts?

The Creation of the World

Genesis 1:1-2:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The Creation

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 Now the earth was without form and empty; and darkness was upon the face of the watery deep: and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

First Creation Day

3 And God went on to say, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 And God began calling the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the first day.

Second Creation Day

6 And God went on to say, “Let there be an expanse[1] in the middle of the waters, and let there be a separation between the waters and the waters.” 7And God went on to make the expanse, and make a separation between the waters, which were under the expanse and between the waters, which were above the expanse: and it came to be so. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Third Creation Day

And God went on to say, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God went on to say, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Fourth Creation Day

14 And God went on to say, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God went on to make the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Fifth Creation Day

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God went on to create[2] the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

Sixth Creation Day

24 And God went on to say, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds, livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 And God went on to say, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God went on to say, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all his work which God had created and made.

 4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah[3] God made earth and heaven.

Ancient Creation Stories[4]

As we discussed in our opening paragraph, the main creation story comes from the Ancient Near Eastern Text of the Enuma Elish, “Epic of Creation.”

One of the best-known of the ancient texts, Enuma Elish gets its title from the first words of the text, often translated “When on high.” This text, dated to the end of the second millennium BC, is a hymn commemorating the elevation of Marduk to the head of the pantheon. It includes some of the most detailed information about divine conflict and about cosmology available from ancient Mesopotamia. The first tablet opens with a cosmogony [study of the origin of the universe] / theogony [origin of gods] and introduces Tiamat in conflict with the gods and the slaying of Apsu, interwoven with the account of Marduk’s birth. The conflict escalates in tablet two as Tiamat and the rebels threaten the gods. Marduk is finally selected as the champion of the gods with the understanding that if he wins he will be elevated to the head of the pantheon. All the negotiations and preparations come to a climax in tablet four as Marduk defeats Tiamat and lays out the cosmos [universe] using Tiamat’s corpse. Establishing the functions of the cosmos continues into tablet six and concludes with the creation of people from the blood of Tiamat’s partner, Kingu, and the building of Babylon and a temple for Marduk. Tablet seven draws the piece to a conclusion as the fifty names of Marduk are proclaimed to name his attributes, delineate his jurisdiction, and identify his prerogatives.[5]

Genesis 1:3-31 gives the reader an outline of the six creative days and the basic events and creative activities on those days. Genesis 1:1-2 informs the reader of the creation of the heavens and the earth. God proceeded to prepare the earth for human beings. On the first creative day, God said, “‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” On the second creative day, he formed the expanse above the earth, with water both above and beneath the expanse. The third creative day he formed the dry ground, as well as vegetation and fruit trees. After that, on the fourth day, the sun, moon and stars were now discernible so too served “as signs and for seasons and for days and years.” On the fifth day, God caused the waters to “swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” Then, God brought forth the land animals and mankind on the sixth creative day.

IS THE WORD THE WORD OF GODThe question that begs to be answered is: Does it seem reasonable the Genesis creation account is based on the above-mentioned creation story?’ The comparison of these two accounts ends with some similarities. The creative acts in both accounts are in a similar sequence: firmament, dry land, celestial luminaries, and humans. Both accounts start with a watery chaos and Genesis ends with God at rest and Enuma Elish with the gods at rest. These similarities are not because Moses borrowed from the Ancient Near East, but because they are both based on an actual historical account. The Genesis account is God revealing the true historical events to us, while other creation accounts are an embellishment of those historical events. While we have not read the complete Enuma Elish account, there are numerous differences as well. The almighty God of the Genesis account is nothing like the terrified, quarreling, and vulgar gods of Enuma Elish. There is no evidence the Genesis account is dependent on such stories as the Enuma Elish account, but rather the other Ancient Near Eastern stories are based on the Genesis account, which they have simply embellished, leaving only remnants of similarities.

Old Testament Archaeologist Alfred J Hoerth writes,

Archaeologists cannot excavate remains of creation, but from texts like these [Enuma Elish], they know what other ancient cultures had to say about first things. Archaeology does not show that while the biblical account may not be as complete as some might wish,[6] it owes nothing to other ancient cultures or their myths. The complete Enuma Elish reveals many dissimilarities with Genesis. The omnipotent God in Genesis is very unlike the frightened, feuding, and foul gods of the epic. Necessarily there are similarities, but the Genesis account shows no dependence. The fledgling Hebrew nation should have been thankful when God brought them out from the “bewildering variety” of opinions on their origin and, through Moses, told the story as it happened. Viewed only as a creation story, Genesis is not unique but viewed in comparison with these other stories, Genesis is Lucid and complete. (Hoerth 1998, 187)

 

[1] Expanse: (Heb., raqia) is the atmosphere surrounding earth the space above the earth that contains the clouds, planets, and stars. It is where the birds fly and the luminaries reside. God began to call the expanse heaven (or sky). The Psalmist tells us ‘The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and the expanse is declaring the work of his hands.’–Gen. 1:6-8, 14-15, 17, 20; Ps. 19:1; 150:1.

[2] Progressive action indicated by the imperfect state

[3] The first occurrence of God’s personal name, יהוה (JHVH/YHWH), which is found in the Hebrew Old Testament 6,828 times.

[4]A myth is s traditional story about heroes or supernatural beings, often attempting to explain the origins of natural phenomena or aspects of human behavior. “It is generally understood that myths are stories in which the gods are the main characters. Since most people do not believe that “the gods” exist, they consider these stories fanciful and fictional.”―John H. Walton. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Kindle Locations 367-368). Kindle Edition.

[5]John H. Walton. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Kindle Locations 410-417). Kindle Edition.

[6]The Genesis creation account, in fact, the Bible was not written as a science textbook. If God had written exactly how he created the universes, formed the earth to be inhabited, and brought about animal and human life, (1) how many thousands of pages would that have taken, (2) and no one would have understood the science of it for 3,500 years or more, (3) and it would have altered human history.