There are a few things to note as we begin to read Genesis 2–3.
First, let us note the first creation account ends where the second one begins… in Genesis 2.4, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” This phrase, “these are the generations” is significant, not only in giving the book its title, but so too in breaking Genesis into sections. There are 10 such colophons:
- “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.” (Genesis 2:4a)
- “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” (Genesis 5:1)
- “These are the generations of Noah.” (Genesis 6:9)
- “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Genesis 10:1a)
- “These are the generations of Shem.” (Genesis 11:10a)
- “Now these are the generations of Terah.” (Genesis 11:27a)
- “And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son.” (Genesis 25:19a)
- ‘This is the account of Abraham’s son Ishmael.” (Genesis 25:12a,)
- “This is the account of Esau (that is, Edom).” (Genesis 36:1)
- “These are the generations of Jacob.” (Genesis 37:2)
There are views of this, of course. This is the “literalist” (young earth) view. This is important because many see the creation stories in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2–3 as the same. But, they are not. Indeed, they are sometimes reversed (pdf). See here as well.
Here is a neat little picture to help with visualizing it:
There are a few key points here that we can focus on in class.
- Why is God only speaking in the first and virtually unseen while in the second, God works, is quiet, and is very much present?
- What is the difference in the creation of people between 1 and 2–3 and does it make a difference with us?
One thing you have to remember is to separate your Christian understanding of this story (what we call theology) from what it was originally meant to represent. For Christians, this is the “Fall,” but how do Jews see it? This is an academic view, but this is not while this one gets into interpretation. If you skip those, that is fine. But, read this one. Why?
Because Genesis 2 and 3 become important as an origin of evil story only in later Christian theology: “The story of the fall of man is never appealed to in the Old Testament either as a historical event or as supporting a theological construction of the nature and origin of sin…The fall of man, as a theological concept, begins to appear only in the late Apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, probably under Essenic (if not Judæo-Christian) influences.”
Finally, ask yourself one question (well, one two-part question:)
- Is there evil in this world and how would you explain it?