Barry Newman's Blog

April 8, 2011

Science and Genesis 2: 4b – 3: 24 (part XXIV)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 3:37 am

What did the author/editor really believe?

This question is asked from time to time in the blog series on the early chapters of Genesis because our understanding of things seems to differ from the understanding being given here.  The account moves smoothly from “no rain” and “no man” to “rain clouds” and a “man” that is made from the soil. Wild and domesticated plants can then develop.  To begin with, the man, who appears on stage already fully developed, is on his own. There has not yet been a woman.  He is provided with a large number of creatures, animals and birds and recognises that they cannot satisfy his aloneness.  God then performs “an operation” on the man and, using what he removes from the man, he makes a woman. 

Did the original writer or narrator of the account really believe that it all happened just this way?  We can’t really tell. However it is not impossible that, as with the earlier material, someone made it up.  The person would have been in contact with cultures that had various accounts about the creation of man and woman and their relationship to the world of other creatures.  However this writer/narrator wanted to remove from such accounts any indication that the creation of humanity was independent of the one and only true God – Yahweh Elohim and in any way contrary to his character and his purposes. 

In this scenario, under the good hand of God who is sovereign over all, the account of man and woman gives Yahweh Elohim his due – an account that portrays him as he should be portrayed.  We read the narrative and see him in control,  bringing to pass whatever he purposes. And man is absolutely dependent on this God for all things including that great necessity – a helper-counterpart.  This God cares for his creation and has a special care for mankind and they have a special relationship with him. He has made man and woman – their differences and their similarities presumably for the benefit of both.  And this writer/editor will soon indicate how man and woman are in the mess they are in because of what in fact they are.   But at this point of the narrative he sets the scene that will enable him to best demonstrate how awful is the actual situation in which mankind finds himself and why it is so appalling.  Yet it will not be a situation without hope.  But I have already encroached upon the next stage of the drama.


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