Genesis 1-3 and The Documentary Hypothesis

Genesis 1-3 and The
Documentary Hypothesis
Q1) What is the ‘documentary hypothesis’
concerning the first five books of the Hebrew
Q2) Which aspects of chapters 1 – 3 of Genesis
support the documentary hypothesis? How do
the aspects you’ve identified support the
documentary hypothesis?
The Documentary Hypothesis
• Modern scholars, observing what seemed to
be inconsistencies in the text, questioned
whether chapters 2 and 3 (the Adam and Eve
story) had even been written by the same
hand that wrote chapter 1 (creation of the
world in six days).
When did God create woman?
• Chapter 1: 27 So God created mankind in his
own image, in the image of God he created
them; male and female he created them.
Chapter 2: God creates Adam. At first he is
alone. Almost as if the creation recounted in
chapter 1 had never happened. Then creates
all the animals and has Adam name them and
only then creates Eve.
When did God create birds?
• [On the 5th day, prior to creation of man and woman on
the 6th day] 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with
living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across
the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great
creatures of the sea and every living thing with which
the water teems and that moves about in it, according
to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its
kind.” [Man and woman created on the 6th day].
• Gen 2:19 Animals and birds created after Adam, in
conflict with chapter 1.
When did God create plants?
• Gen 2:4-7 seems to announce a wholly new
beginning. Seems to say humanity was
created before plant life but Chapter 1 has
vegetation created on the third day (along
with the earth) and humanity created on the
What is God like?
• Chapter 1: God is a cosmic sovereign.
• Chapters 2 and 3: God is a divine craftsman. He
Himself shapes Adam out of the mud and
breathes air into his nostrils. God walks about the
Garden (Gen 3:8). When Adam and Eve hide from
him, he calls out “where are you?” Apparently, he
does not know. At the end, God makes clothes for
the pair – another hands-on act.
‘God’ vs ‘Lord God’
• God is referred to quite consistently in chapter 1 by the
word “God” (elohim).
• Starting at Gen 2:4, exactly where the story of Adam and
Eve begins, he suddenly becomes “the Lord God”. The word
“God” is now preceded by YHWH (the proper name of the
Hebrew god). “The Lord God” is used consistently until the
end of chapter 3.
• The writer who referred to him as God saw him as a cosmic
• The writer who used the name “the Lord God” conceived of
him in more personal terms, a sort of divine humanoid who
walked around and shaped things and made clothes.
The Documentary Hypothesis
• Story of Adam and Eve a product of the author known
as J: uses YHWH; anthropomorphic conception of God;
focused on humanity; the effect of past events on
humanity’s present condition
• People have to work for food, women have to suffer
the pain of childbirth because of the first humans’
• Human beings are called man (adam in Hebrew)
because that’s what the first created human was
called. This in turn was because he was made out of
the ground (adamah)

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