The Jesus Movement

Compositions for Our Savior

Contradiction in Genesis 1 & 2?

Our first ever question was submitted to our Q & A, and it's a good one!

Robin M. asks, "Why does it look like genesis 1 and 2 (reading from New king james) say the same thing but out of order? Like they contradict each other on when God made things? It looks like when He made man and the plants and animals is out of order or something."

I have seen this type of question arise time and time again, and not just over Genesis.

The main issue is with translation and understanding how the Hebrew language is used and written versus the English language.

For example, the Hebrew language does not often use nouns, verbs and prepositional phrases exactly the same way that we commonly use them in English. Vowels also didn't show up in Hebrew until about the 8th Century. Couple this with the fact that some words in Hebrew have several meanings ranging from past, present and future tenses, and you can see how it is easy to misunderstand reading the English translations and think passages contradict one another, when in actuality they don't.

That seems to be the issue Robin is facing with interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 in regards to the creation time line.

Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 gives us the chronological account of our creation story. It tells us the order in which God created things.

The problem arises when Genesis 2 recounts the same things, but in a different order to what Genesis 1 stated (man, animal and plants are in a different order in Gen 2 vs Gen 1).

Reading both, it certainly seems contradictory, but it's not when you consider the Hebrew translation procedures. In the original Hebrew translation, the word for FORMED in both passages is YATSAR. The translated word, though, holds the meaning of "had formed", and also the past tense, "formed", in the Hebrew writing - it just wasn't translated to English this way in most all versions besides the original Torah Hebrew to English translation, ESV and NIV versions.

By realizing this, it makes perfect sense and reads that, "God had formed.....", meaning that there is no issue with chronology of events because they were referring to what God HAD already done, not the specific order.