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What is the difference between the Priestly version of the creation story and the Yahwist version?


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December 11, 2014 8:41PM

There is no difference, because there are no such versions. There is only one creation-narrative, with Genesis ch.2 serving to provide further detail after the brief overview in ch.1. While Judaism has always seen the Torah as an intricate tapestry that nonetheless had one Divine source, some modern authors such as Wellhausen (the father of modern Biblical-criticism, 1844-1918) have suggested artificially chopping up the narrative and attributing it to various authors, despite the Torah's explicit statement as to its provenance (Exodus 24:12, Deuteronomy 31:24). This need not concern believers, since his claims have been debunked one by one, as archaeology and other disciplines have demonstrated the integrity of the Torah. No fragments have ever been found that would support his Documentary Hypothesis, which remains nothing more than an arbitrary claim: (a Christian author)

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October 28, 2014 12:33AM

The Priestly ('P' source) creation account starts in Genesis 1:1 and proceeds through the creation of night and day, the firmament, plants, the heavenly bodies, fish, beasts and fowl, then finally man, both male and female, ending in the first sentence of Genesis 2:4. The Priestly account is well-known for creation taking just six days, and God rested on the seventh. Its God is all-powerful and merely has to talk things into existence.
The Yahwist ('J' source) creation account is more primitive and is much older in Judaism. It starts in the second sentence of Genesis 2:4 and continues through the creation of Adam, then the beasts of the field and fowl of the air, and finally the creation of Eve in Genesis 2:20, with a very different order of creation than in the first story. In this account, there are limits to God's powers and he can not create living things from nothing. He creates Adam and the beasts from the dirt, but creates Eve from a rib taken from Adam. We are not told how long creation took, but pious readers, believing that the stories are somehow the same, assume that once again creation took just six days.

The first story begins with the earth as a watery waste until God separates the waters to make dry land, while the second begins with the dry earth, because God has yet to make it rain. In the first story, man is to have dominion over the earth, whereas in the second story, Adam is to be the servant of the earth and must till the ground. The Priestly account is principally just a theological explanation of our origins, whereas the Yahwist account leads into an important moral story about our longing for immortality.

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