Do Genesis Chapter 1 and 2 Contradict?

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I must confess that I did more than one double take when I encountered Bart Ehrman’s first problems with the Hebrew Old Testament. He not only complains that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 use different names for God but that the two chapters are very difficult to reconcile.[1] This is of course hardly true.

The notion of different names for God must surely have Ehrman’s language students rolling their eyes in utter amazement and utter disbelief. As Hebrew students will immediately recognize the author of Genesis uses Elohim to identify God in both chapter one and chapter two. The only notable difference is that in chapter two the author adds Lord or Yahweh to Elohim. It is hardly a stretch to suppose that a single author would underscore the power of God in creation in chapter one and then emphasize that God in creation is likewise God in relationship with respect to humankind in chapter two.

Furthermore, I wonder why the consternation over topical recapitulation. Ehrman himself frequently brings up a topic in general terms and then restates the self same topic in different order with added detail and perspective and, frankly, I’m surprised one of his university Hebrew students hasn’t taken the time to unpack the problem for the professor.

One final point, I’m certainly surprised that in added detail and perspective, Ehrman wonders how light could have been created on the first day when the sun, moon, and stars were not created till the fourth day.[2] It seems to me that even a full blown fundamentalist on the left would recognize that electromagnetic radiation inherit in the big bang produces more than a little light and, certainly, Ehrman believes in the big bang.

These are the kinds of objections that professor Ehrman, and other professors around the country, are using to dissuade their students that the Bible could be the infallible repository for redemptive revelation. There are good answers to the objections he raises over and over ad nauseum and ad infinitum. They’re not unusual objections, they’ve been raised before, and we provide those at the ministry of the Christian Research Institute and Bible Answer Man radio broadcast.

To help equip you in the area of doctrine I’ve developed a new resource called Memorable Keys to Essential Christian D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E. It’s available at our Website at www.equip.org or by calling us at 1-888-700-0274.


[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009), 9.

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