Does the Yahwist Account of Genesis 2 reflect a more primitive account of creation than the Priestly Account of Genesis 1?

This can be a broad topic if anyone else is interested. The Wellhausen Theory, formulated by Julius Wellhausen in the eighteenth century, says that the Torah was not actually written by the Prophet Moses. One should remember that the Torah in the Tenach reports the death of the great Hebrew prophet as well as his burial. How could he report his own burial? It seems to me that the Bible is a Progressive Revelation, a good theological term used in seminaries. It means that God reveals more of himself in various stages of the Bible. The reality of this is seen in the four Gospels of the New Testament. In the oldest Gospel of Mark, Jesus seems to become the Son of God at His baptism. In Matthew and Luke, it appears that he was the Son of God at His birth, and in the Gospel of John, Jesus is the eternal Son of God that uses the term “I AM” in referring to Himself. Remember I AM THAT I AM is in the Book of Exodus. My point is this: Does the Priestly Account of Genesis 1 reflect a higher level of revelation than the Yahwist account in Genesis 2? Can one interpret the beginnings of the idea of Theistic Evolution in Genesis 1? Surely someone must have an opinion on this matter whether you are a theologian/philosopher or not. Everyone is very welcome to take part.

It does seem to be fashionable in contemporary scholarly circles to deny Mosaic authorship, and equally obligatory on the other reactionary side (perhaps rightly perceiving the snub) to deny everything the scholars assert. I’m not in the middle of those debates and so can’t speak for or against their particular defenses, but I don’t sign onto the stark polarization of this choice. In any case, we are all obliged to admit that we certainly don’t have the actual manuscripts penned by Moses, so we are all dependent on translations of later copies or editings of any such writings. And given what we read in the Old Testament itself about the writings of the law being lost (and rediscovered in Josaih’s time) it is evident that already back then they struggled to preserve/find old manuscripts, much less original autographs. Put all that together with the indisputable weight carried by oral traditions, and it seems to be a no-brainer that both sides could carry substantial truth: I.e. Moses no doubt did pen much, using his Egyptian education, and later redactors no doubt did edit/write/compile from everything available to them during the exile as well as add in later inspired commentary. Why their compilations couldn’t have included things passed down (at least orally) that originated from Moses and his now lost writings has never been clear to me, nor do I imagine anybody could ever prove any more one way or the other from extra-biblical sources. And of course, much material (including that about Moses’ burial) could have been part of the later editorializing. So my answer to the question of did Moses write any of the law …would be: yes. And my answer to: did scribes from around the exile compile/edit/and even write into that same material? … yes.

On your later question of differences between Genesis 1 and 2, I would characterize the difference rather as a difference of focus or specificity, rather than a difference of “higher” or “lower”. I.e. the first creation account gives a broader (more “wide-angle”) view, and the second account focuses in a little more on the place of life and specifically humans within that order.


I gave you a like on your answer to me. I hope I may call you Mervin. I am so glad to have received this fine answer. This is truly a great job. I still see something of evolutionary creation in Genesis 1, however. Even though that is the case, I do respect your answer. I wish to thank you for your fine and scholarly statement. I mean that! I must say that I agree with you 99.99%. God bless you and yours.

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You may indeed call me Mervin.

I guess I never spoke to your question of “finding evolutionary creation” in Genesis 1. My take on this (if we can get this to fit into my allotted 0.01% disagreement! :slight_smile: ) is that it is not necessarily profitable (towards the best understanding of Scriptures as given us anyway) to search for such concordances between ancient passages and modern science as if those two things shared any partnership at all (much less equal partnership!) in helping us understand our place in the world and before God. I think the Bible has the more encompassing and important (make that essential!) perspective on everything while science is one facet (an important one, but still just a facet, nonetheless) of everything important for us to consider in these times.



I see your point perfectly. I wish to thank you again for your participation. Great response. I hope to hear from you again. :smile:

Curious why you invited me to participate in this conversation. Regarding Gen 1 and 2, I also see types of writing (not quite sure I’d say literary genres) expressed, one more with refrain while the other more narrative. I too think it is a mistake to read a scientific perspective into the texts. They were not written or preserved for that purpose but to express the glory of God and the beauty of creation, especially man.

My broad observations.

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I just wanted people to take interest, and I wanted to meet more people. We differ slightly; however, I can see your point of view. I believe that theistic evolution can be seen in Genesis 1. Genesis 2 is a more primitive form. In any case, you are right too. It does reflect the glory of His creation. I wish to thank you for responding with your views. I hope our paths will cross again.


Your post asks for comments on the authorship of the Torah, and also on the Biblical teaching of creation. My understanding is the Torah was written according to the teachings of Moses who was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt, as part of the covenant with Abraham. Once we understand this, the rest takes care of itself. I agree with @Mervin regarding artificial disputes and argumentation and I will not add to this.

On accounts of creation, my view is the Bible gives a clear teaching that God created the heavens and earth, and He was directly involved in the creation of Adam and Eve. My view is Orthodox, and I do not see anything from any of the Physical Sciences that would add or detract from the clear and comprehensible teachings on this subject. The controversies we read are IMO motivated by those who wish to argue for its own sake, and more often, by those who are anti-theists, and also those who adopt a heterodoxy (or unorthodox) outlook, and perhaps believe at some level that science provides the truth, while the Bible is some type of old wives tale. I disagree with such outlooks and have as yet not found anything from settled science that would challenge my understanding of the teachings of the Cristian faith.

I am not sure that I can add more to your post, but please feel free to discuss specific points, if you wish.



Tapsi Sarkar


During the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday evening 19 September, Pope John Paul II gave the following address.

  1. With reference to Christ’s words on the subject of marriage, in which he appealed to the “beginning,” we directed our attention last week to the first account of man’s creation in the first chapter of Genesis. Today we shall pass to the second account, which is frequently described as the “Yahwist,” since it uses the name “Yahweh” for God.

The second account of man’s creation (linked to the presentation both of original innocence and happiness and of the first fall) has by its nature a different character. While not wishing to anticipate the particulars of this narrative—because it will be better for us to recall them in later analyses—we should note that the entire text, in formulating the truth about man, amazes us with its typical profundity, different from that of the first chapter of Genesis.

Ancient description

It can be said that it is a profundity that is of a nature particularly subjective, and therefore, in a certain sense, psychological. The second chapter of Genesis constitutes, in a certain manner, the most ancient description and record of man’s self-knowledge. Together with the third chapter it is the first testimony of human conscience. A reflection in depth on this text—through the whole archaic form of the narrative, which manifests its primitive mythical character(1)—provides us in nucleo with nearly all the elements of the analysis of man, to which modern, and especially contemporary philosophical anthropology is sensitive. It could be said that Genesis 2 presents the creation of man especially in its subjective aspect. Comparing both accounts, we conclude that this subjectivity corresponds to the objective reality of man created “in the image of God.” This fact also is—in another way—important for the theology of the body, as we shall see in subsequent analyses.

First human being

  1. It is significant that in his reply to the Pharisees, in which he appealed to the “beginning,” Christ indicated first of all the creation of man by referring to Genesis 1:27: “The Creator from the beginning created them male and female.” Only afterward did he quote the text of Genesis 2:24. The words which directly describe the unity and indissolubility of marriage are found in the immediate context of the second account of creation. Its characteristic feature is the separate creation of woman (cf. Gn 2:18-23), while the account of the creation of the first man is found in Genesis 2:5-7.
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Hello Eddie,

That was a very good and wise answer. I must say that I am glad to hear from you. You are a man of intelligence and I agree that intelligent design are in the chapters. I find nothing wrong with your answer. I need to get ready for church. Have a great Sunday. :smiley:

There is nothing wrong with being orthodox in your theology. I am happy that you took the time to respond. God Bless.

Even though I am a Southern Baptist, I can say that I can agree with Pope John Paul’s statement concerning creation. I even visit the Catholic Church sometimes and I enjoyed the midnight mass of Pope Francis. May God bless. I must get ready for church now. God bless you and yours!

I wish to thank you for your excellent and scholarly response. It is a pleasure to communicate with each and everyone of you. I hope to hear from you soon. May Jesus bless you.

I wish to make a universal statement in reference to the view that I have made, and I am asking everyone to be patient with me. We are scholars that are making statements on how we feel about this subject; however, I wish to quote part of an article made by Old Earth Ministries. All of you know much of what I am going to say; however, I ask each of you to read what I shall write. I am certainly no liberal or neo-orthodox in theology; however, I am willing to consider many Christian Theistic views of philosophy. I quote as follows:

Theistic Evolution is the old earth creationist belief that God used the process of evolution to create life on earth. The modern scientific understanding of biological evolution is considered to be compatible with the Bible. There are varying degrees of theistic evolution. Many theistic evolutionists believe that God set in motion the laws of nature that led to evolution, but He did not take an active role in guiding the evolutionary process. He merely let nature take its course. Others believe that God actively guided the evolutionary process. This is also known as Evolutionary Creationism.

From a theological perspective, there is nothing in the Bible that would prohibit belief in evolution. In fact, the Bible even implies that God used evolution. Concerning Day 3 of the creation, Genesis 1:11-13 seems to support that view. God told the earth to bring forth vegetation, and in verse 12, the earth brought it forth. It is the earth, with its laws of nature that God instituted that did the work.(end of quote).

I wish to say that I believe that God took an active roll in the creation through evolutionary creation. As you can see and know, there are different views of theistic evolution. Evolutionary Creation, which BioLogos seems to support, gives God a greater action in the creation of our universe. Also, Genesis 1 seems to be a newer and more progressive creation statement than the Yahwist view. That is why I called the Genesis 2 creation history more “primitive”, i.e, older than the Genesis1 statement. God had not given as much revelation there. Remember the concept of Progressive Revelation. Benjamin B. Warfield of Princeton Theological Seminary accepted this view, and he was no liberal. He had a very high view of scripture just as I do. Each of you has the right to interpret scripture as you wish. That does not make you wrong; therefore, I have the right to expound scripture as I feel that the Holy Spirit is telling me to do. I believe in the concept of Progressive Revelation, which means that God did not reveal everything at one time, because humans minds were not ready for it then. I hope this explains my view of things. I do invite all to respond. Oh, Billy Graham can accept evolutionary creation; however, he is a literalist.


I believe I understand the distinction that your quote is attempting to make between TE and EC but, if I do read it correctly, then I do not find it very relevant. You see, since God is beyond time and has perfect knowledge of all possible past, present and future outcomes then it is irrelevant whether God “set the universe wheels in motion” with exactly the right parameters at the very beginning of time (often referred to as “front loading”) or whether He achieves the exact same outcomes by “taking an active role in the evolutionary process”. The latter view includes an implicit assumption that God is somehow constrained by the linearity of time and the immediacy of the present as we perceive it, but those are human limitations, not His. As such, whatever God can do by “taking an active role” could also have been done at the very beginning by “setting the dominoes just right” and “just letting nature take its course”.

Note that “setting the dominoes just right” would also include all of God’s responses to all of our free-willed choices and all of His responses to all prayers from creation to the end of our time. There is no need to “sacrifice” our free will nor our Christian experience that God does interact with us - it’s just that our perception of “when” God interacts with us is biased by how we perceive time, and that is a much more limited perception of time than His own.

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If I understand you correctly, you are saying since God is outside of time, it does not matter just how creation was done. I can see you point; however, I still see a more advanced concept of creation in Genesis 1. I am saying that evolutionary creationism can be seen in Genesis 1 whereas Genesis 2 does not seem to reflect this. Since the Bible is believed to be a Progressive Revelation by many theologians and I am one of them, God is revealing more about the creation to the ancient Hebrews. than he did in Genesis 2. In other words, I am a literalist as Billy Graham is. Genesis 1 seems to support that view. In any case, I like your answer since it deals with linear time versus eternity. I, too, believe there is a difference between the two. This is getting into another subject; however, I will mention the concept of instantaneous resurrection of the dead. For those who have passed from this life, they may experience the Second Advent and resurrection. Perhaps that is what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 and Colossians 3:1-4. There will be a Second Coming at the end of the Church Age; however, those who are now dying are experiencing that even though they seem to be asleep in death to us. I must say I know you agree that this is a subject for another blog. However, I do appreciate your comments, and they could be correct. I hope my mentioning of instantaneous resurrection does not confuse the issue. I just mentioned it because I see a relationship beyond the topic of the creation here when you get into time and eternity. I wish to thank you for your wise answer. Please forgive me if I am confusing the issue. My mind is constantly considering all possibilities, and I hope you understand. God bless. I do like your answer.

I can see how the quote’s reference to Genesis 1:11-13 can be compatible with an EC understanding of creation, but other passages (such as Genesis 1:24-25) also seem to suggest that God made “everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind” back in day 6 while nature suggests that “species that creep on the ground” have continued to evolve over time. One possible way to address this is with the TE view of front loading, in which case God could have created everything at the very beginning even if those species would not come to actually live for billions and billions of years.

But while the claim of Genesis “implying” evolution seems to me somewhat strained, if I were to continue the same analysis into Genesis 2 then I cannot help but smile when I read in Genesis 2:4 that “generations” were a part of God’s process of creating “the heavens and the earth” - the same term that is later used to describe the generations of Adam, Noah, etc. I understand the term has other interpretations but I still enjoy its suggestive utilization in this context. So maybe Genesis 2 is not as silent on these matters as you initially thought :wink:

In any event, I do appreciate that your post invoked these thoughts and indeed agree that deeper discussion involved the concept of time would be better saved for a separate conversation. God bless.

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Hello Nuno,

You are a good scholar and I enjoyed your answer. I must say that I can see it your way. It has been truly a pleasure having you with this discussion. I wished I had invited you earlier. Let’s keep in touch. I agree that the time issue really becomes another subject, one that is also interesting. There is much merit to the TE view, and I do see your point.

God bless you and yours. If I do not hear from you before New Year’s Eve, may the Lord Jesus give you strength and peace as well as prosperity for 2016. :laughing: Please include me on some of your topics.

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Happy New Year!