Study Guide

Book of Genesis Creation

Creation

Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." (NRSV 1:26)

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (KJV 1:26)

Humankind is pretty powerful here (dominion!). But wait a second—who's with God? What's with the "us"? For some thoughts on that, check out "God" under in our "Figures" section.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NRSV 1:27)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (KJV 1:27)

First came man, then came woman. That's how the story goes, right? So where is it here? Here, man and woman get the go simultaneously. Why do you think people tend to focus more on the second creation story?

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (NRSV 2:4)

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (KJV 2:4)

God already created the heavens and the earth, didn't he? Why the repeat? And what's the difference between this verse and what goes down in 1:1-2:4?

[T]hen the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. (NRSV 2:7)

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV 2:7)

Creation is a pretty hands-on endeavor in this verse. But if you remember back to the first creation story, God just says the word and things spring into existence. What's the effect of these two stories on their own? Together?

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (NRSV 2:21-22)

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (KJV 2:21-22)

Ah, here we go. This is the one where woman is created out of man. Talk about fodder for misogynistic POVs. But let's not overlook God in this passage. Again, he's got a hands-on attitude, playing the part of anesthesiologist, surgeon, and… human builder?

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. (NRSV 6:7)

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (KJV 6:7)

All that hard work God did back in the early chapters of Genesis is wasted. Or is it? Could we have this third creation story without the first two? At least literarily—no. The flood story is chock full of allusions to the original creation stories. We dare you to find 'em all.

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (NRSV 9:1) 

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. (KJV 9:1)

We feel like we've heard this before. Oh, that's right—God said the same thing to the animals and the humans in Genesis 1. And keep your ears open, because it's not the last time God will speak these words.

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