The creation story

Consider the purpose of the literary presentation of the nature of God in Genesis chapters one to three.

G.J Wenham states that, “Source criticism of the Pentateuch has often been a subject of controversy”. Indeed, the Pentateuch or Torah has been the most questioned section of books in the world. It may also be the most well known group of books worldwide.

The word Pentateuch literally means “five scrolls” and refers to the first five books of the Old Testament in the Bible. These books are, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These five books trace history from the beginning of time to the formation of Israel and its exodus from Egypt.

The initial Act of Creation begins in Genesis chapter one verse one to verse two. The five things revealed in this initial act are time, identity of the Creator, Act of Creation, objects of Creation and the initial state of creation. The revelation of time emphasizes that the specific time of creation is not relevant or important. In chapter one God is identified as “ Elohim” which is the generic term for God in Hebrew and emphasizes the power and creative aspects of God.

In Genesis chapter one verse three to chapter two verse three the days of creation begin. On the first day God created light. On the second day there was a firmament, the space that separates earth from the rest of the universe. The third day had dry land and water separating. On day four God separated the light from darkness with the moon and stars. On the fifth day God created water, animals and birds. On the sixth day God created land animals and man, and finally, on the seventh day God rested, setting the seventh day apart from the rest by declaring His Lordship over all time, thus the seventh day was to be the Sabbath.

In addressing to the question, there are two forms of the creation story. One describes God as Elohim, in chapter one, and another names Him Yahweh, in chapter two. Both of these chapters, one and two seem to contradict one another in form and structure. This oscillation between the divine names of Elohim and Yahweh have been regarded by traditional source critics as initially the most decisive reason for distinguishing J and P in the creation and flood stories. The J source comes from the use of Yahweh in Genesis and the P source comes from the Priestly source of Elohim when priests wrote about the law of Moses in the Old Testament.

When Jewish writers wished to emphasize that something was true, they wrote in poetry. Unlike English poetry, which relies on word rhyme, Jewish poetry uses thought rhyme. In Genesis chapter one, the poem is structured around the prologue that says that "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was ‘unformed and unfilled’ (literal Hebrew)". This sets the pattern of rhymes. On one day, something will be formed. On another it will be filled. Since forming and filling are two halves of the thought of creating, a statement about forming one part of creation will rhyme with a statement about filling the same aspect of the world. Claus Westermann also states that "In Genesis chapter one, we see the beautiful poetry written by the Elohist about the spectacular events of Creation".

In discussing the source analysis of Creation Habel relies on three main criteria which are the literary style, distinctive terminology and the theological perspective. Habel notes that "Genesis one is repetitious, tabular and formal". Throughout chapter one it is repeatedly stated that God saw what he created as "good", the repetition used by the writer of Genesis chapter one creates a sense of poetry. There is an order to the events in Genesis chapter one and the way in which it has been written. The use of a lot of punctuation adds to the sensation of poetry as chapter one has been written as if each sentence and word is to be emphasized and studied because the events taking place are so wonderfully important. God structured creation in a specific order required for the world.

By structuring the account of creation in this way, the author has highlighted the order, planned the structuring of the account and given it a majestic tone with everything going according to God's plan. Habel states "The text