Allegorical interpretations of Genesis
Allegorical interpretations of Genesis are readings of the biblical Book of Genesis that treat elements of the narrative as symbols or types, rather than viewing them as recording historical events. Either way and most sects of Christianity treat Genesis as canonical scripture, believers regard it as having spiritual significance; the opening chapter of Genesis tells a story of God's creation of the universe and of humankind as taking place over the course of six successive days. Some Christian and Jewish schools of thought read these biblical passages assuming each day of creation as 24 hours in duration. Others read the story allegorically, hold that the biblical account aims to describe humankind's relationship to creation and the creator, that Genesis 1 does not describe actual historical events, that the six days of creation can represent a long period of time. Genesis 2 records a second account of creation. Chapter 3 introduces a talking serpent, which many Christians understand to represent Satan in disguise.
Many Christians in ancient times regarded the early chapters of Genesis as true both as history and as allegory. Other Jews and Christians have long regarded the creation account of Genesis as an allegory - prior to the development of modern science and the scientific accounts of cosmological and human origins. Notable proponents of allegorical interpretation include the Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo, who in the 4th century, on theological grounds, argued that God created everything in the universe in the same instant, not in six days as a plain reading of Genesis would require. In the King James version of the Bible, Galatians 4:21-31, Paul describes the Genesis story of Abraham's sons as an allegory. Other translations convey a similar sentiment: Galatians 4:21-31; the literalist reading of some contemporary Christians maligns the allegorical or mythical interpretation of Genesis as a belated attempt to reconcile science with the biblical account. They maintain that the story of origins had always been interpreted until modern science arose and challenged it.
This view is not the consensus view, however, as demonstrated below: According to Rowan Williams: " most of the history of Christianity there's been an awareness that a belief that everything depends on the creative act of God, is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how that unfolds in creative time."Some religious historians consider that biblical literalism came about with the rise of Protestantism. Fr. Stanley Jaki, a Benedictine priest and theologian, a distinguished physicist, states in his Bible and Science: Insofar as the study of the original languages of the Bible was severed from authoritative ecclesiastical preaching as its matrix, it fueled literalism... Biblical literalism taken for a source of scientific information is making the rounds nowadays among creationists who would merit Julian Huxley's description of'bibliolaters.' They bring discredit to the Bible as they pile grist upon grist on the mills of latter-day Huxleys, such as Hoyle, Sagan and others.
The fallacies of creationism go deeper than fallacious reasonings about scientific data. Where creationism is fundamentally at fault is its resting its case on a theological faultline: the biblicism constructed by the Reformers. However, the Russian Orthodox hieromonk Fr. Seraphim Rose has argued that leading Orthodox saints such as Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom and Ephraim the Syrian believed that Genesis should be treated as a historical account. Maxine Clarke Beach comments Paul's assertion in Galatians 4:21-31 that the Genesis story of Abraham's sons is an allegory, writing that "This allegorical interpretation has been one of the biblical texts used in the long history of Christian anti-Semitism, which its author could not have imagined or intended". Other New Testament writers took a similar approach to the Jewish Bible; the Gospel of Matthew reinterprets a number of passages. Where the prophet Hosea has God say of Israel, "Out of Egypt I called my son,", Matthew interprets the phrase as a reference to Jesus.
Isaiah's promise of a child as a sign to King Ahaz is understood by Matthew to refer to Jesus. Christians followed their example. Irenaeus of Lyons, in his work Against Heresies from the middle of the 2nd century, saw the story of Adam and the serpent pointing to the death of Jesus: Now in this same day that they did eat, in that did they die, but according to the cycle and progress of the days, after which one is termed first, another second, another third, if anybody seeks diligently to learn upon what day out of the seven it was that Adam died, he will find it by examining the dispensation of the Lord. For by summing up in Himself the whole human race from the beginning to the end, He has summed up its death. From this it is clear that the Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day. For God said,'In that day on which ye shall eat of it, ye shall die by death.' The Lord, therefore
Creation science or scientific creationism is a branch of creationism that claims to provide scientific support for the Genesis creation narrative in the Book of Genesis and disprove or reexplain the scientific facts and paradigms about geology, biological evolution, archaeology and linguistics. The overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that creation science fails to produce scientific hypotheses, courts have ruled that it is a religious view rather than a scientific one, it fails to qualify as a science because it lacks empirical support, supplies no tentative hypotheses, resolves to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes. Creation science is a pseudoscientific attempt to map the Bible into scientific facts, it is viewed by professional biologists as unscholarly, as a dishonest and misguided sham, with harmful educational consequences. Creation science began in the 1960s, as a fundamentalist Christian effort in the United States to prove Biblical inerrancy and nullify the scientific evidence for evolution.
It has since developed a sizable religious following in the United States, with creation science ministries branching worldwide. The main ideas in creation science are: the belief in "creation ex nihilo"; as a result, creation science challenges the accepted geologic and astrophysical theories for the age and origins of the Earth and universe, which creationists believe are irreconcilable with the account in the Book of Genesis. Creation science proponents refer to the theory of evolution as "Darwinism" or as "Darwinian evolution." The creation science texts and curricula that first emerged in the 1960s focused upon concepts derived from a literal interpretation of the Bible and were overtly religious in nature, most notably linking Noah's flood in the Biblical Genesis account to the geological and fossil record in a system termed flood geology. These works attracted little notice beyond the schools and congregations of conservative fundamental and Evangelical Christians until the 1970s, when its followers challenged the teaching of evolution in the public schools and other venues in the United States, bringing it to the attention of the public-at-large and the scientific community.
Many school boards and lawmakers were persuaded to include the teaching of creation science alongside evolution in the science curriculum. Creation science texts and curricula used in churches and Christian schools were revised to eliminate their Biblical and theological references, less explicitly sectarian versions of creation science education were introduced in public schools in Louisiana and other regions in the United States; the 1982 ruling in McLean v. Arkansas found that creation science fails to meet the essential characteristics of science and that its chief intent is to advance a particular religious view; the teaching of creation science in public schools in the United States ended in 1987 following the United States Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard; the court affirmed that a statute requiring the teaching of creation science alongside evolution when evolution is taught in Louisiana public schools was unconstitutional because its sole true purpose was to advance a particular religious belief.
In response to this ruling, drafts of the creation science school textbook Of Pandas and People were edited to change references of creation to intelligent design before its publication in 1989. The intelligent design movement promoted this version. Requiring intelligent design to be taught in public school science classes was found to be unconstitutional in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District federal court case. Creation science is based upon chapters 1–11 of the Book of Genesis; these describe how God calls the world into existence through the power of speech in six days, calls all the animals and plants into existence, molds the first man from clay and the first woman from a rib taken from the man's side. Creation science attempts to explain history and science within the span of Biblical chronology, which places the initial act of creation some six thousand years ago. Most creation science proponents hold fundamentalist or Evangelical Christian beliefs in Biblical literalism or Biblical inerrancy, as opposed to the higher criticism supported by liberal Christianity in the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy.
However, there are examples of Islamic and Jewish scientific creationism that conform to the accounts of creation as recorded in their religious doctrines. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a history of support for creation science; this dates back to George McCready Price, an active Seventh-day Adventist who developed views of flood geology, which formed the basis of creation science. This work was continued by the Geoscience Research Institute, an official institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, located on its Loma Linda University campus in California.<Creation science is rejected by the Church of England as well as the Roman Catholic Church. The Pontifical Gregorian University has discu
The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted c. 1508–1552. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam, the first man; the fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme and is chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis. The image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam has become iconic of humanity; the painting has been reproduced in countless parodies. Michelangelo's Creation of Adam is one of the most replicated religious paintings of all time. In 1505 Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II, he was commissioned to build the Pope's tomb, to include forty statues and be finished in five years. Under the patronage of the Pope, Michelangelo experienced constant interruptions to his work on the tomb in order to accomplish numerous other tasks. Although Michelangelo worked on the tomb for 40 years, it was never finished to his satisfaction.
It is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome and is most famous for his central figure of Moses, completed in 1516. Of the other statues intended for the tomb, two known as the Rebellious Slave and the Dying Slave, are now in the Louvre. During the same period, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took four years to complete. According to Condivi's account, working on the building of St Peter's Basilica, resented Michelangelo's commission for the Pope's tomb and convinced the Pope to commission him in a medium with which he was unfamiliar, in order that he might fail at the task. Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Twelve Apostles on the triangular pendentives that supported the ceiling, cover the central part of the ceiling with ornament. Michelangelo persuaded Pope Julius to give him a free hand and proposed a different and more complex scheme, representing the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation through the prophets, the genealogy of Christ.
The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. The composition stretches over 500 square metres of ceiling, contains over 300 figures. At its centre are nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God's Creation of the Earth. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of Jesus. Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are The Creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Deluge, the Prophet Jeremiah and the Cumaean Sibyl. God is depicted as an elderly white-bearded man wrapped in a swirling cloak while Adam, on the lower left, is nude. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God. Another point is that God's finger are not touching, it gives the impression that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam who has yet to receive it.
Many hypotheses have been formulated regarding the identity and meaning of the twelve figures around God. According to an interpretation, first proposed by the English art critic Walter Pater and is now accepted, the person protected by God's left arm represents Eve, due to the figure's feminine appearance and gaze towards Adam, the eleven other figures symbolically represent the souls of Adam and Eve's unborn progeny, the entire human race; this interpretation has been challenged on the grounds that the Catholic Church regards the teaching of the pre-existence of souls as heretical. The figure behind God has been suggested to be the Virgin Mary, the personified human soul, or "an angel of masculine build"; the Creation of Adam is thought to depict the excerpt "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him". The inspiration for Michelangelo's treatment of the subject may come from a medieval hymn, "Veni Creator Spiritus", which asks the'finger of the paternal right hand' to give the faithful speech.
Michelangelo's main source of inspiration for his Adam in his Creation of Adam may have been a cameo showing a nude Augustus Caesar riding sidesaddle on a Capricorn. This cameo is now at Northumberland; the cameo used to belong to cardinal Domenico Grimani who lived in Rome while Michelangelo painted the ceiling. Evidence suggests that Grimani were friends; this cameo offers an alternative theory for those scholars who have been dissatisfied with the theory that Michelangelo was inspired by Lorenzo Ghiberti's Adam in his Creation of Adam. Several hypotheses have been put forward about the meaning of The Creation of Adam's original composition, many of them taking Michelangelo's well-documented expertise in human anatomy as their starting point. In 1990 in Anderson, Indiana physician Frank Meshberger noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the background figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure of God appeared to be an anatomically accurate picture of the human brain.
On close examination, borders in the painting correlate with m
A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass. Galaxies are categorized according to their visual morphology as spiral, or irregular. Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their centers; the Milky Way's central black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, has a mass four million times greater than the Sun. As of March 2016, GN-z11 is the oldest and most distant observed galaxy with a comoving distance of 32 billion light-years from Earth, observed as it existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang. Research released in 2016 revised the number of galaxies in the observable universe from a previous estimate of 200 billion to a suggested 2 trillion or more, containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.
Most of the galaxies are 1,000 to 100,000 parsecs in diameter and separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs. For comparison, the Milky Way has a diameter of at least 30,000 parsecs and is separated from the Andromeda Galaxy, its nearest large neighbor, by 780,000 parsecs; the space between galaxies is filled with a tenuous gas having an average density of less than one atom per cubic meter. The majority of galaxies are gravitationally organized into groups and superclusters; the Milky Way is part of the Local Group, dominated by it and the Andromeda Galaxy and is part of the Virgo Supercluster. At the largest scale, these associations are arranged into sheets and filaments surrounded by immense voids; the largest structure of galaxies yet recognised is a cluster of superclusters, named Laniakea, which contains the Virgo supercluster. The origin of the word galaxy derives from the Greek term for the Milky Way, galaxias, or kyklos galaktikos due to its appearance as a "milky" band of light in the sky.
In Greek mythology, Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman, the infant Heracles, on Hera's breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and realizes she is nursing an unknown baby: she pushes the baby away, some of her milk spills, it produces the faint band of light known as the Milky Way. In the astronomical literature, the capitalized word "Galaxy" is used to refer to our galaxy, the Milky Way, to distinguish it from the other galaxies in our universe; the English term Milky Way can be traced back to a story by Chaucer c. 1380: "See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt." Galaxies were discovered telescopically and were known as spiral nebulae. Most 18th to 19th Century astronomers considered them as either unresolved star clusters or anagalactic nebulae, were just thought as a part of the Milky Way, but their true composition and natures remained a mystery. Observations using larger telescopes of a few nearby bright galaxies, like the Andromeda Galaxy, began resolving them into huge conglomerations of stars, but based on the apparent faintness and sheer population of stars, the true distances of these objects placed them well beyond the Milky Way.
For this reason they were popularly called island universes, but this term fell into disuse, as the word universe implied the entirety of existence. Instead, they became known as galaxies. Tens of thousands of galaxies have been catalogued, but only a few have well-established names, such as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds, the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Sombrero Galaxy. Astronomers work with numbers from certain catalogues, such as the Messier catalogue, the NGC, the IC, the CGCG, the MCG and UGC. All of the well-known galaxies appear in one or more of these catalogues but each time under a different number. For example, Messier 109 is a spiral galaxy having the number 109 in the catalogue of Messier, having the designations NGC 3992, UGC 6937, CGCG 269-023, MCG +09-20-044, PGC 37617; the realization that we live in a galaxy, one among many galaxies, parallels major discoveries that were made about the Milky Way and other nebulae. The Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that the bright band on the night sky known as the Milky Way might consist of distant stars.
Aristotle, believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars that were large and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere, in the region of the World, continuous with the heavenly motions." The Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger was critical of this view, arguing that if the Milky Way is sublunary it should appear different at different times and places on Earth, that it should have parallax, which it does not. In his view, the Milky Way is celestial. According to Mohani Mohamed, the Arabian astronomer Alhazen made the first attempt at observing and measuring the Milky Way's parallax, he thus "determined that because the Milky Way had no parallax, it must be remote from the Earth, not belonging to the atmosphere." The Persian astronomer al-Bīrūnī
Jewish views on evolution
Jewish views on evolution includes a continuum of views about the theory of evolution, experimental evolution, the origin of life, age of the universe, evolutionary creationism, theistic evolution. Today, many Jews accept the theory of evolution and do not see it as incompatible with traditional Judaism, reflecting the emphasis of prominent rabbis such as the Vilna Gaon and Maimonides on the ethical rather than factual significance of scripture. Many rabbis believe; this view is based on a chronology developed in a midrash, Seder Olam, based on a literal reading of the Book of Genesis. It is attributed to the Tanna Yose ben Halafta, covers history from the creation of the universe to the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Since there is no explicit discussion in the classical era, it is presumed that they took Genesis 1 making the beginning of the world six days earlier, but this is presumption in the absence of data; some modern rabbis believe. They believe. Rabbis who have this view base their conclusions in the midrash.
For example: The Midrash says: God created many worlds but was not satisfied, left the world he was satisfied with. Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman writes: In the first day God created the energy "matter" of all things, he was finished with the main creation. After that God created all other things from that energy; some midrashim state that the "first week" of Creation lasted for long periods of time. See Anafim on Rabbenu Bachya's Sefer Ikkarim 2:18. In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbi Bahya ben Asher concludes that there were many time systems occurring in the universe long before the spans of history that man is familiar with. Based on the Kabbalah he calculates; some medieval philosophical rationalists, such as Maimonides and Gersonides held that not every statement in Genesis is meant literally. In this view, one was obligated to understand Torah in a way, compatible with the findings of science. Indeed, one of the great Rabbis of the Middle Ages, wrote that if science and Torah were misaligned, it was either because science was not understood or the Torah was misinterpreted.
Maimonides argued that if science proved a point that did not contradict any fundamentals of faith the finding should be accepted and scripture should be interpreted accordingly. For example, in discussing Plato's view that the universe has existed forever, he argued that there was no convincing rational proof one way or the other, so that he was free to accept, therefore did accept, the literal Biblical view that the universe came into being at a definite time. With regard to Genesis, Maimonides stated that "the account given in scripture is not, as is believed, intended to be in all its parts literal." In the same paragraph, he states that this applies to the text from the beginning to the account of the sixth day of creation. Nahmanides critical of the rationalist views of Maimonides, pointed out several non-sequiturs stemming from a literal translation of the Bible's account of Creation, stated that the account symbolically refers to spiritual concepts, he quoted the Mishnah in Tractate Hagigah which states that the actual meaning of the Creation account, mystical in nature, was traditionally transmitted from teachers to advanced scholars in a private setting.
Many classic Kabbalistic sources mention Shmitot - cosmic cycles of creation, similar to the Indian concept of yugas. Nahmanides' disciple, Rabbi Isaac of Akko, a prominent Kabbalist of 13th-century, held that the Universe is about 15 billion years old. According to the tradition of Shmitot, Genesis talks only about the current epoch, while the information about the previous cosmic cycles is hidden in the esoteric reading of the text. A literal interpretation of the biblical Creation story among classic rabbinic commentators is uncommon, thus Bible commentator Abraham Ibn Ezra wrote, If there appears something in the Torah which contradicts reason…then here one should seek for the solution in a figurative interpretation…the narrative of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for instance, can only be understood in a figurative sense. One of several notable exceptions may be the Tosafist commentary on Tractate Rosh Hashanah, where there seems to be an allusion to the age of creation according to a literal reading of Genesis.
The non-literal approach is accepted by many as a possible approach within Modern Orthodox Judaism and some segments of Haredi Judaism. Rashi, while his commentary on the verses describing the days of creation teaches them as literal days, brackets his discussion of Genesis ch. 1 with comments stating that the entire world was created at once, with no duration of existence before Adam being specified. In the 13th century, Rabbi Isaac ben Samuel of Acre made the insight that, since Sabbatical cycles existed before man was created, time before Adam and Eve must be measured in divine years, not human years. Psalm 90:4 says, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but like yesterday when it is past, like a watch in the night." Rabbi Isaac of Akko - who held like Livnat Ha-Sapir, that we are in the seventh Sabbatical cycle - therefore took the above figure of 42,000 years and multiplied it by 365,250 to get 1
Biblical cosmology is the biblical writers' conception of the cosmos as an organised, structured entity, including its origin, order and destiny. The Bible was formed over many centuries, involving many authors, reflects shifting patterns of religious belief. Nor do the biblical texts represent the beliefs of all Jews or Christians at the time they were put into writing: the majority of those making up Hebrew Bible or Old Testament in particular represent the beliefs of only a small segment of the ancient Israelite community, the members of a late Judean religious tradition centered in Jerusalem and devoted to the exclusive worship of Yahweh; the ancient Israelites envisaged a universe made up of a flat disc-shaped Earth floating on water, heaven above, underworld below. Humans inhabited Earth during life and the underworld after death, the underworld was morally neutral. In this period too the older three-level cosmology in large measure gave way to the Greek concept of a spherical earth suspended in space at the center of a number of concentric heavens.
The opening words of the Genesis creation narrative sum up a view of how the cosmos originated: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Jewish thinkers, adopting ideas from Greek philosophy, concluded that God's Wisdom and Spirit penetrated all things and gave them unity. Christianity in turn adopted these ideas and identified Jesus with the Logos: "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God". Two different models of the process of creation existed in ancient Israel. In the "logos" model, God speaks and shapes unresisting dormant matter into effective existence and order. Psalm 74 evokes the agon model: it opens with a lament over God's desertion of his people and their tribulations asks him to remember his past deeds: "You it was who smashed Sea with your might, who battered the heads of the monsters in the waters. In this world-view the seas are primordial forces of disorder, the work of creation is preceded by a divine combat. Creation in the "agon" model takes the following storyline: God as the divine warrior battles the monsters of chaos, who include Sea, Death and Leviathan.
This myth was taken up in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature and projected into the future, so that cosmic battle becomes the decisive act at the end of the world's history: thus the Book of Revelation tells how, after the God's final victory over the sea-monsters, New Heavens and New Earth shall be inaugurated in a cosmos in which there will be "no more sea". The Genesis creation narrative is the quintessential "logos" creation myth. Like the "agon" model it begins with darkness and the uncreated primordial ocean: God separates and restrains the waters, but he does not create them from nothing. God initiates each creative act with a spoken word, finalises it with the giving of a name. Creation by speech is not unique to the Old Testament: it is prominent in some Egyptian traditions. There is, however, a difference between the Egyptian and Hebrew logos mythologies: in Genesis 1 the divine word of the Elohim is an act of "making into". In the ancient world, things did not exist until they were named: "The name of a living being or an object was... the essence of what was defined, the pronouncing of a name was to create what was spoken."
The pre-Exilic Old Testament allowed no equals to Yahweh in heaven, despite the continued existence of an assembly of subordinate servant-deities who helped make decisions about matters on heaven and earth. The post-Exilic writers of the Wisdom tradition develop the idea that Wisdom identified with Torah, existed before creation and was used by God to create the universe: "Present from the beginning, Wisdom assumes the role of master builder while God establishes the heavens, restricts the chaotic waters, shapes the mountains and fields." Borrowing ideas from Greek philosophers who held that reason bound the universe together, the Wisdom tradition taught that God's Wisdom and Spirit were the ground of cosmic unity. Christianity in turn adopted these ideas and applied them to Jesus: the Epistle to the Colossians calls Jesus "...image of the invisible God, first-born of all creation...", while the Gospel of John identifies him with the creative word. The Hebrew B
Genesis creation narrative
The Genesis creation narrative is the creation myth of both Judaism and Christianity. The narrative is made up of two stories equivalent to the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. In the first, Elohim creates the heavens and the Earth in six days rests on, blesses and sanctifies the seventh. In the second story, now referred to by the personal name Yahweh, creates Adam, the first man, from dust and places him in the Garden of Eden, where he is given dominion over the animals. Eve, the first woman, is created as his companion. Borrowing themes from Mesopotamian mythology, but adapting them to the Israelite people's belief in one God, the first major comprehensive draft of the Pentateuch was composed in the late 7th or the 6th century BCE and was expanded by other authors into a work like the one we have today; the two sources can be identified in the creation narrative: Jahwistic. The combined narrative is a critique of the Mesopotamian theology of creation: Genesis affirms monotheism and denies polytheism.
Robert Alter described the combined narrative as "compelling in its archetypal character, its adaptation of myth to monotheistic ends". Different interpretations of the genre of the Genesis creation narrative, meaning the intention of the author and the culture within which they wrote, exist; as scholar of Jewish studies, Jon D. Levenson, puts it: How much history lies behind the story of Genesis? Because the action of the primeval story is not represented as taking place on the plane of ordinary human history and has so many affinities with ancient mythology, it is far-fetched to speak of its narratives as historical at all." Although tradition attributes Genesis to Moses, biblical scholars hold that it, together with the following four books, is "a composite work, the product of many hands and periods." A common hypothesis among biblical scholars today is that the first major comprehensive draft of the Pentateuch was composed in the late 7th or the 6th century BCE, that this was expanded by the addition of various narratives and laws into a work like the one existing today.
As for the historical background which led to the creation of the narrative itself, a theory which has gained considerable interest, although still controversial, is "Persian imperial authorisation". This proposes that the Persians, after their conquest of Babylon in 538 BCE, agreed to grant Jerusalem a large measure of local autonomy within the empire, but required the local authorities to produce a single law code accepted by the entire community, it further proposes that there were two powerful groups in the community – the priestly families who controlled the Temple, the landowning families who made up the "elders" – and that these two groups were in conflict over many issues, that each had its own "history of origins", but the Persian promise of increased local autonomy for all provided a powerful incentive to cooperate in producing a single text. The creation narrative is made up of two stories equivalent to the two first chapters of the Book of Genesis; the first account employs a repetitious structure of divine fiat and fulfillment the statement "And there was evening and there was morning, the day," for each of the six days of creation.
In each of the first three days there is an act of division: day one divides the darkness from light, day two the "waters above" from the "waters below", day three the sea from the land. In each of the next three days these divisions are populated: day four populates the darkness and light with Sun and stars. Consistency was evidently not seen as essential to storytelling in ancient Near Eastern literature; the overlapping stories of Genesis 1 and 2 are contradictory but complementary, with the first concerned with the creation of the entire cosmos while the second focuses on man as moral agent and cultivator of his environment. The regimented seven-day narrative of Genesis 1 features an omnipotent God who creates a god-like humanity, while the one-day creation of Genesis 2 uses a simple linear narrative, a God who can fail as well as succeed, a humanity, not god-like but is punished for acts which would lead to their becoming god-like; the order and method of creation differs. "Together, this combination of parallel character and contrasting profile point to the different origin of materials in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, however elegantly they have now been combined."The primary accounts in each chapter are joined by a literary bridge at Genesis 2:4|, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created."
This echoes the first line of Genesis 1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", is reversed in the next phrase, "...in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens". This verse is one of ten "generations" phrases used throughout Genesis, which provide a literary structure to the book, they function as headings to what comes after, but the position of this, the first of the series, has been the subject of much debate. Comparative mythology provides historical and cross-cultura