Is Gen. 2 a Recap?

I know that the overall church consensus is that Genesis 2:5- 3:24 is a recap of what takes place in Genesis 1 - 2:4. But I’m just curious on whether or not that is a natural reading of the text, or is it actually a continuous narrative?

For example, in Jewish folklore rabbis created stories about the alleged “missing woman”, in Genesis 1:27. They called her name Lilith.

When I analyze them closely the events recording in each are not perfectly harmonious. God tells the man and woman in Genesis 1:29 that they have full access to the herbs, fruit trees etc. But in Genesis 2 it says they can eat of every tree, but with an added prohibition: don’t eat that one tree. But there’s no prohibition in Genesis 1. Also it says he told “them”… but in Genesis 2 God told just Adam.

The order is not the same either. God makes plants - birds - land animals - then man and woman at the same time. But in Genesis 2 he makes man - then trees - birds and land animals at the same time - then last the woman.

In Genesis 1 there is mention of a garden or a place called Eden. On the seventh day there is a “rest”, but that day of rest is nowhere to be found in Genesis 2 — in fact there’s a whole lot of “unrest” with Adam toiling with the ground, along with Cain, and others.

I’ll lay out the four main positions on this issue.

  1. Genesis 2 is a recap of Days 1 - 6

  2. Genesis 2 is a recap of Day 6

  3. Genesis 2 is more of a “spiritual recap”. Where Genesis 1 was talking about the glory of God, and His best creation for last, etc. Genesis 2 is a more personal story of morality, disobedience, judgement, mercy, the human condition etc.

  4. Genesis 2 is not a recap, but a continuous narrative.


I don’t wish to go into too much detail here, but I like the view of EK Victor Pearce who sees in Gen 1 reference to early homo sapiens from 200ky ago, and in Gen 2 the development of human skills from around 6- 8000 BC, connected with the agricultural revolution. This suggests to me that the historical Adam and Eve were a Neolithic couple who lived in the Middle East (where the Agricultural revolution really took off) and whom God called for a specific task and to whom He gave a particular responsibility. The two accounts are complementary but not contradictory as they refer to totally different situations and periods in prehistory.

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Thanks for your insights Johanne.

I’ve heard other people say, with the description of Tubalcain’s “artificer of bronze and iron”… Puts that culture into the “Bronze Age”.

I see evidence within the Bible that Adam and Eve can’t be the first people on earth (biologically)… But this poses a problem for those that want to make the Bible be a complete history book from the very, very beginning of humanity (and the universe).

If this presumption doesn’t match the evidence then where does that leave us? It means that God wasn’t interested in giving us a fully detailed scientific account from the beginning… But he was interested in having a relationship with us, as well as teaching the “moral history” of the universe and man.

But that’s just me. I like the idea that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are referring to different events. The reason why people call it “two creation accounts” is because of the obvious chronological discrepancies between the two. If they are referring to 2 different events then chronology is no longer an issue.

I think there can be a bit of a difference from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2 because of a shift in focus? Maybe in Genesis 2 God now wants us to focus on the tree that they could not eat from. The tree is important because this is where sin started. Also, the “rest” that is mentioned in Genesis 1 indicates to me that God merely ceased to create since God doesn’t need rest, because He never grows tired or weary. In Genesis 1, the focus is more on the fact that things were created, and in a specific order. In Genesis 2, the order isn’t that important, because the focus of the story and the emphasis on certain things have shifted. I hope this is helpful?

[quote=“TimothyHicks, post:3, topic:2628”]
I see evidence within the Bible that Adam and Eve can’t be the first people on earth (biologically)…
[/quote] Can you please point me to the evidence you mentioned? This is very interesting to me :).

This is a great way to look at it thank you… I have been struggling with accepting evolution and I have been doing a lot of reading. What you said here puts it into perspective for me. Also, I believe that presumptions that does not match the evidence leaves us with a wrong interpretation of the Word. John Lennox said that the truth and authority of the Bible can not be changed, but we can misinterpret it. New scientific evidence can give us a clearer perspective on what the Bible is actually saying.

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Wow this is such an interesting take on it! I was wondering where Adam and Eve fit into everything!

Okay this is fine. But what about the other 100 million people living on five continents throughout the world 6-8000 years ago with vastly different beliefs, cultures, superstitions, gods, spirits, oral and written traditions? The Agricultural revolution actually destroyed the way of life for millions of hunter gather cultures.


The evidence that Tim refers to is the human population genetics data that show that modern humans could not have come from a single couple. We can estimate from these genetic data that the minimum number of people who ever populated the Earth was about 2000 to 10,000 individuals.

BTW, I completely agree with Johan’s interpretation of the meaning of Genesis 2, and it can be seen easily if you consider the words “There was no man to till the ground” to mean that there was nobody who knew how to till the ground, rather than there were no men. The original Hebrew of three words (no, man, to cultivate) can be translated either way, I believe.


Actually I wasn’t really talking about genomics or DNA (although that is a fascinating topic). You might be interested in a couple topics I posted that pose problems for Adam & Eve being the first humans — and by “first humans” I mean specifically the “biological ancestors of all humanity”. I wrote a post called “Cain’s Paranoia” in the Biblical Interpretation section, as well as a post called “Did God Bring About Humanity Through Incest?” in the Theology & Philosophy section (although that one could be closed, but you can still read it).

Yes, I agree with you that there’s a shift in focus: Genesis 1 is more-so how God relates to the Universe, while Genesis 2 is more-so how God relates to Man. The chronological discrepancies I highlighted because I feel as though many (myself included at one point in time) try to “fit the Bible into a mold” i.e., there are certain requirements that the Bible must “fit into” in order to be the Word of God. Some of these requirements is absolute perfect chronology, but from very early on we see that this is not the focus. In my opinion we need to read the Bible on it’s own terms.

I’m a big fan of John Lennox myself… I find many of his seminars very mentally stimulating.

Hope this helps :smile:


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There is also another view of Adam and Eve that view this couple as the “archetypes of Israel”. Representing Israel as a whole. In regards to your question about the other people living on earth with different cultures, and religious practices, that can be a difficult question. However, I think it’s important to know that God’s activity isn’t all inclusive within the Bible — in the Gospels themselves it says, “All the activities of Jesus are not written in this book, and I suppose if they were, the world itself could not contain the amount of books that could be written, about our Lord!”

So when God calls upon Abraham in Genesis 12 (whom is the 20th in line from Adam) it doesn’t mean that he isn’t speaking to other cultures, at other times, in a multitude of ways. God told the Babylonians to attack Israel, and send them into exile, when Israel wasn’t fallen deeply away from God. God also spoke to Abimelech, in a dream, when Abraham was visiting Egypt.


Even the Aborigines in Australia and the Inuits in Alaska?


I don’t see any reason why not. What we have in the Bible is God’s activities in “written down form”… we have no way of accurately knowing (much less comprehending) what God was doing or not doing, in other parts of the world. In any case it says in Genesis 18, with Abraham’s debate with God, that God deals righteously. And Paul says that sin is not imputed when there is no law.

God choosing Abraham out of Ur from the Chaldees (a most likely pagan society), who is really no one special, is really incredibly peculiar … I don’t expect any of us to know absolutely what the reason was in this life. As Paul says “We see through a glass darkly”.


Is there any archaeological evidence of this place? What timeframe is Abraham suppose to have lived? And wouldn’t you expected it to be a pagan society as God hadn’t revealed himself to Abraham yet?

Why at that particular place and time and in that particular language and written for that culture if it was meant for all peoples of the whole world for all human species of all time?


Fair enough, Patrick. You’re correct that I the society should obviously be pagan, out of hand… sorry for my logical misstep there :sweat_smile:

In answer to your other questions, I haven’t done intense research on it. But here’s what I found, rather quickly, on Wikipedia…

Ur - Wikipedia <<< Ur

Cave of the Patriarchs - Wikipedia <<< Cave of the Patriarchs.

On your last question, all I can say is that Israel was a very peculiar people. I can’t 100% know why God chose them, for their particular role, and why not the Chinese? The one general theme of the Bible is the promise made to Eve in the Garden, in Genesis 3:15, alluding to the birth of the messiah… this trend continues for somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 years (not exact of course), until we get to the Messiah in the New Testament. The “messianic line” as it is called. When God tells Abraham “In HIM shall all the nations be blessed…” and “In your SEED shall the nations of the earth be blessed…” He isn’t telling Abraham that these things will be fulfilled in his lifetime. Far from it. They don’t get accomplished for a long time.

Hebrews 11:8-16 NASB (I know you don’t like the Old English so I chose a modern one… lol) “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Believers have to accept the fact that modern humans, Homo sapiens, have, it seems, been around for at least the past 160 000 – 200 000 years or so, and I have no problem with that: hominids whose skeletons are similar to, if not identical with, those of modern man, who have shown increasing creativity with time, and who appear to have developed a degree of spiritual awareness. The anthropological evidence seems quite clear, and no-one who believes the Bible should close his or her eyes to this reality. These discoveries of science are a challenge to believers. What are the implications of such findings? Does the Bible have anything to say about this state of affairs?
These hominids are often referred to as pre-Adamites, but we have to accept that they must also have lived at the same time as Adam and Eve: there does not appear to be a break, genetically speaking, between the earlier hominids and humans living at the present time. If we look closely at Genesis chapters 4 and 5, we find clear indications that there could well have been other humans living on earth as contemporaries of Adam and Eve.
Thus Adam and Eve’s son Cain, after the LORD had pronounced punishment upon him for murdering his brother Abel, was afraid that “whoever finds me will kill me”: the word “whoever” and the word “anyone” in the next verse (see Gen 4: 14, 15) suggest an already populated earth. Cain then moved away eastwards to “the land of Nod”; there he built a city (Gen 4: 17) and married – he presumably married a “local girl” from Nod*. Who helped him build the city? And who populated his city (even if it was just a small town or village by modern standards)?
We are often told that Cain married one of his sisters. But careful reading of the text (Gen. 4: 25, 5: 2 – 3) shows that further children were born to Adam and Eve only after Seth’s birth, long after Cain had moved away to the land of Nod. Their birth is mentioned almost as an afterthought. Similarly, Cain’s younger brother Seth married and had children, and subsequently both Cain’s and Seth’s children found wives whom they married. So the fact that there were other people on earth in Adam and Eve’s day need not affect our faith in the truth of the Bible: the Bible itself hints that this was the case. Note the fact that Cain and Seth could marry and beget children: this suggests that all hominids then alive were members of the same species, namely Homo sapiens. This is confirmed by modern studies in genetics and corroborates the statement in the New Testament scriptures that “(God) made from one common origin, or one source, all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth…” (Acts 17: 26, Amplified Bible).

The problem regarding pre-Adamites who lived before Adam (on my scenario above) is a very real one, but in essence it is no different from the problem – and it is very real – of those who never heard about Abraham or Moses, and those who never heard, and have not yet heard, about Jesus. I cannot add anything to that except to remind readers that the Judge of all the earth will do right (Gen 18: 25 and Rev 16: 7 & 19: 1-2).

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Much of what you say about Cain, I’ve also discussed in the biblical interpretation section, on a post called “Cain’s Paranoia”. For me, that chapter, when analyzed very closely is the most striking Biblical evidence for a world populated with other humans, beside Adam and Eve. And it’s very difficult to get around that, if you’re keen on the traditional view of A&E being biological first parents.

The existence of other humans before Adam and Eve, don’t really bother me. You just have to adjust certain preconceived ideas: (i.e., the image of God is not a physical image, but rather a position of office, or a status… Original sin isn’t “inherited” nor did Adam’s transgression “curse the human race”… Etc.)



You should be aware that there is a scholarly traditi9on that says that Gen 1:1-2:3 and 2:4 and following are two separate literary/historical traditions which have been edited into one narrative. A primary difference in the two accounts is the first uses Elohim as the word for God, while the second uses the Sacred Name YHWH.

As you know the Hebrews were divided into 12 tribes and the North was separated from the Southern tribes. Thus it is quite possible that God revealed somewhat different accounts of the beginnings of God’s world, just as we now have the Four Gospels.

Timothy Hicks: Roger Sawtelle notes the view taken by virtually all non-evangelistic scholars and most liberal evangelical scholars that the Gen. 2-3 narrative and the Gen. 1. story are separate tales which were combined by an editor. The evidence for this view is quite strong and contains many points beyond the simple differences in God’s name alone. In this view, Gen. 2-3 was the original version written during the time of the united monarchy and was an amalgam of different Mesopotamian/Canaanite myths that were changed to reflect the monolatry of the ancient Hebrews. It was intended to be their own story of origins, just as other peoples in the region had their versions. As a result, there is no conflict with Cain finding a wife or worrying about other people since it was not meant to be a universal creation narrative when originally composed. However, by the time of the exile, the situation for Israelites had changed markedly. The diaspora resulting from the destruction of Israel and later Judah resulted in Israelites being located all over the ancient world. Following the lead of Isaiah, God was re-interpreted to be a universal god of the whole world. The Gen. 1 narrative presents this monotheistic view with an all powerful God creating the universe (out of pre-existing matter). The combination of both narratives supposedly took place during Persian times after the return from exile. The editor evidently considered both narratives to be sacred and could not remove words from either original story, but did add words to make the two stories flow better and more consistent in message. For example, the Eden river narrative, Gen. 2:10-14, was clearly added after Gen. 2-3 was originally written in order to show the Israelite god as being the universal giver of life by supplying all of the world’s water. The provision of the four rivers, representing the four directions and thus the entire world, followed from a similar story in the Canaanite/Ugaritic literature and showed the Israelite god as being universal instead of belonging to one group alone.

It makes sense to me that they are neither two separate stories, nor only a continuation, but rather an elaboration which involves more detail, and some continuation. The timing is not the critical thing, but rather the details of Adam and Eve’s creation and action. Thus the stories do not contradict each other but instead complement each other. I believe there is a common error about chronology, which is caused by a misunderstanding of shrubs, trees and plants of the field. What is really meant is that there was no agriculture or cultivated plants, because no one cultivated the fields… that is a clear correlation. The new living translation has this wrong when it says that neither wild plants nor grains were growing. There is a clear distinction made between plants that were watered by springs in the earth and those that depended on rain, which had not yet fallen. The garden depended on these springs to allow the trees to grow.

Genesis 2 does not say that God created these trees, but rather that he planted the garden, and the trees grew out of the ground. This is sequential, and is a result of the natural processes that God created in plants, plus the control that God has over the natural processes, ie. planting seeds or seedlings. However, the animals were created before man, and so verse 2:19 says that God had formed the animals (beasts of the field, birds of the air, and livestock) from the ground, just like it says in Gen 1: 24… “let the land produce living creatures”.