Why Are There 2 Creation Accounts in Genesis?

If I was part of a different religion (or didn’t hold to one), I’d likely say one of the following things:
– “I told you this faith is a primitive folklore that you people took way too seriously”.
– “Sounds to me the editor couldn’t decide on one so he included both.”
– “Wait, I thought you said this text was inspired, why are there two conflicting accounts? Is God confused? Is there a such thing as inspiration?”

There are probably other things we can say here but that’s an adequate start.

So why the two creation accounts and what we do with some of the conflicting points?

The differences between the two accounts include:
– 1:1-2:3 is a stand alone passage. 2:4-4:26 is apart of a larger narrative that includes creation, the first generations of humanity, the fall, Cain and Abel, etc.
– Timelines – Ch. 1 gives creation in 6 days. Ch. 2 suggests one day.
– Order of events – Ch. 1 has plants, trees, animals, birds then humans. Ch. 2 cites humans first.
– Name and plurality of God – Ch. 1 – Elohim (God) – plural form. Ch. 2 YHWH Elohim (LORD God) – singular form
– God’s action in creation in different Hebrew words that have actual different meanings.
o “bara” 1:1, 21, 27, 2:4 – “to create” – divine creation out of nothing.
o “asa” – 1:24, 26, 31, 2:4, 18 “to do” – to make (out of something)
o “yasar” – 2:7, 8, 19 – “to form, shape or fashion” – like a potter would

The similarities include:
– Both proclaim God is the agent of creation.
– Both tell of creation of life in animals, birds, sea life, and human.
– Both give responsibility to humans.
Be fruitful and multiply
Fill the earth and govern it
Reign over the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, animals scurrying the ground.
– Both have creation has God’s intent.
– Both insist that Creation is very good.

So back to our question, why the 2 accounts?
I am not sure anyone on this side of eternity can perfectly answer that but here are a couple of thoughts. However I find that these two accounts together offers more of a complete portrait of God’s grandeur. Gen 1 offers an overall cosmic picture. Gen 2 concentrates more on humanity – God’s relationship to people. Other scholars and writers have noted the literary features the text provides in the similarities and differences.
Second, when considering the audience in the ancient world, the complimentary passages allows them to see a a relational, monotheistic God. This was a new concept to the ancient world whose gods were pantheistic and devalued the sacredness of human life. A loving God that created humanity in his own image was groundbreaking.
These two chapters do not undermine inspiration but in my mind, acts consistently with it. As many have often said, the Genesis account is not a science book, it is a revelation from a benevolent God that desires to be in communion with us.
And so the two accounts help us to see how God sees us. This is part of creation, part of God’s revelation. God places humanity at the highest place, we are his centerpiece and the Genesis narrative helps us understand this eternal truth.


  1. I have heard numerous reasons for the dual accounts of creation in Genesis. The two I have heard that resonate the most are 1) that the two represent a literary feature and 2) that they were tales told by different parties.

    I often wonder how literally we can take these accounts if there are so many differences between them? Do we view them as parables? Do we think of them as stories to communicate a greater point of God? Are we looking at something through a modern lens though it was not written as a modern piece of literature?

    There is so much more to go through and there are so many wonderful questions!

    God bless brother!

  2. Yes, those two resonate with me as well.

    Great questions that of course, I cannot answer. I do think one of the most significant points that we don’t give enough attention to is that the Genesis account was a point of origin for the Israelites. Certainly more to it but that is an essential point for them (and for us of course).

    Thanks for your comments as always.

  3. Those that are worthy of the Truth must pick up their cross and deny their selfs… When you have died , the Truth will rise in you , and then you will have eyes to see .. When you have eyes to see, you’ll also be given a mouth to ask pertinent questions.. Every description I’ve read on why there are Two creation accounts are totally wrong and completely out of the ballpark of truth.. You should be asking ” What is this self, and how is it denied” ? ( if you want to know the truth)

  4. Hi John,
    Thanks for reading, appreciate your thoughts.

    Respectfully, I disagree. I mean every description you’ve read “is totally wrong and completely out of the ballpark of truth”?? Some are better than others, but I beg to differ on that.

    I don’t think our sovereign and loving God is put off by our questions – I actually think He loves them. For some of us our worship grows in the search, in the wonder, in the questions, in some of the answers we find, build, deconstruct, reconstruct, wait for, pray more, etc. Bear in mind, while our Christian obedience is always pertinent, so is our intellectual integrity.

    Grace and peace

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