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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

21 August 2005

Two Different Creations?

Q: What is the LCMS view on two creation stories told in Genesis?

A: The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod teaches that the Scriptures are factually true from Genesis to Revelation and that all these 66 books point to Christ. With this in mind, we don’t talk about “two creation stories,” thus playing Genesis 1:1-2:3 against Genesis 2:4-25. Instead, we talk about two accounts of the same event.

Generally speaking, Genesis 1 gives a day-by-day, blow-by-blow recounting of God’s entire work of Creation. Genesis 2, by comparison, focuses more on relationships (God and man, man and woman). Some of the problem stems from translation issues. Hebrew is nowhere nearly so precise as English in dealing with temporal events. Time sequences aren’t always clearly spelled out. Middle Eastern narratives often follow a circuitous route, retracing previously discussed events but emphasizing different portions.

Also, what happened in Genesis 2 is not global, but specifically located. While God had completed all His work in general, He may have left a “bare patch” in order to lavish special attention while likewise focusing with extra intent upon the making of the first man.

As for the animals seeming to have been made after man in 2:19 but before man in 1:25, again the temporal sense of Hebrew easily allows us to render 2:19 “out of the ground God had formed” (my translation) the creatures mentioned. The focus here may be to show Adam that others have mates in order for him to appreciate more fully the coming gift of a wife.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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