“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
Theologian Peter Enns begins an article about the first two chapters of Genesis thus:
“The book of Genesis includes two very different creation stories.”
This is a common statement made by a lot of people – usually those, such as liberal Christians, or atheists – who want to undermine belief in the Bible. But Enns claims to be a Bible-believer. He just accepts the idea of two creation stories as self-evident. Why?
He says that
God meant them to be understood as pointing to realities deeper than the merely historical.
These sorts of statements are of concern to us. The apparent story does not have to be true. The “real truth” is deeper. To me, this sounds like saying: “God is telling a lie in order to tell us the truth.”
“But it’s not meant to be read as history”, they object, to which I reply, “Why not?”
Enns gives a number of reasons why he thinks the two stories are different. We will object to the term “story” and refer to both as “accounts”. He states that the order of events in the first two chapters of Genesis is different. In chapter 1, the creation of plants precedes the creation of man, whereas in chapter 2 the creation of man precedes that of plants. Is this the case?
Most emphatically not! Genesis 2:5 refers to types of plants – not plants in general – that God was to plant in the Garden. Genesis 2 presupposes Genesis 1 and is best understood as an expansion of the events of Day Six.