This is a thorough analysis of my views on genesis 1:
The ‘Tehom’ of Genesis 1:2 is cognate with the Babylonian goddess Tiamat. Like Tiamat, the Tehom is split in half. These similarities cannot be coincidental. The writer of Genesis 1 reduced a pagan god to a natural phenomena in order to discredit other god’s from creation. Genesis 1:7-8 cannot be the source of the Enuma Elish and all other creation stories describing a separation of the Heavens and the Earth (Rangi and Papa, Pangu, Nut and Geb, Quran 21:30 etc) if these stories are all derived from a single source it cannot be Genesis 1, which is the black sheep of these creation myths, where the heavenly waters are separated from the earthly waters, rather than the heavens separated from the earth. Most likely then it is a deliberate inversion of this myth, likely polemical against Marduk’s battle with Tiamat, as mentioned before.
The sun and moon are mentioned as being the 'greater and ‘lesser light’. Taken out of context there is no real reason for this. But it suddenly makes more sense when it is realised that in the ancient world the sun and moon were referred to by the same name as their deity. I disagree with interpretations however that this is meant to emphasise that the heavenly bodies are ‘not’ divine beings, for elsewhere in both Testaments this appears to be a belief of the biblical writers (Job 38:7, Judges 5:20 for example), rather I believe it is an attempt to discredit any other deity from the creation process, by avoiding mention of the pagan gods in places where it would be relevant. This shows that Genesis 1 clearly was not written at the beginning of time, for if so it would make no sense.
Genesis 1:16 is also polemical against Egyptian myths. In Egyptian creation myths the sun is created to rule the world in the image of Ra. In contrast, the sun in genesis 1 is a ‘light’ which only rules the day. Rather than having the image of a god, it is merely a luminary. The language used seems directly polemical against Egyptian ideas.
The concept of man being created in the image of the gods is found in the Enuma Elish, yet rather than being created as slaves, as in this creation story, in Genesis 1 they are given dominion over the earth.
The Sabbath day, and creation in Seven Days (including God’s rest) is ‘possibly’ polemical against Babylonian religious views. The Babylonians identified the heavenly bodies as deities. As there were seven visible heavenly bodies (Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn), seven became a sacred number to them, and it is from them that we have derived our seven days from, as well as the idea of naming days after pagan deities (albeit Germanic ones). However, one day out of seven was singled out as an evil day, Genesis and Exodus likewise single out one day of the week, yet it is a sacred day, a day of rest, celebrating when God finished his creation, not an evil day.
The creation of man in most creation stories from all across the world involves man being formed from clay or mud and given the breath of life. The creation of man in Genesis 2:7 is strikingly similar to these ideas, too similar to be a coincidence, it even uses the Hebrew word used for fashioning a clay pot ‘Yatsar’ to describe the formation of man. The only real difference is that man is created from dust, not clay or mud. It is highly unlikely that all these creation myths are derived from Genesis, for once again, Genesis appears to be the black sheep, or anomaly, of these creation narratives. A much more likely hypothesis, I believe, is that this is a deliberate inversion of these myths in order to make a theological message. I share John Walton’s view that ‘dust’ is a statement of human nature, that we are fragile and mortal like dust.
It is worth noting that the many scientific errors in the Biblical creation narrative argue against taking it literally. The sun is created ‘after the earth’ (which is scientifically impossible) and with an earth bound purpose, indicating a geocentric cosmology. The sky in Genesis 1:6-8 is solid, seen as having been literal made with God’s hands, like a blacksmith (Psalm 19:1). In the Ancient Near East the (flat) earth was seen as being solely an area of land floating on, and surrounded by a single sea. This cosmology is evident in how the waters ‘below’ the heaven are gathered into ‘one place’ in Genesis 1:9. According to Psalm 24:1-2 was the whole earth, founded on the ‘seas’ (Yammim) the name given to the gathering of waters in Genesis 1:10. Indicating that the earth consists entirely of dry land which floats on this water, which acts like the foundations of a building.
In conclusion the Genesis creation narrative is certainly not an event which really happened, however, neither was it intended to be, the purpose of the Genesis creation narrative is not to tell ‘how’ god created the earth, but to say ‘that’ god, and only god created the earth, not the pagan gods of other nations. It does this by polemically addressing these foreign creation stories and avoiding mention of pagan gods whenever necessary in order to discredit them from creation.