Egyptian Influence On The Creation Language In Genesis 2 -- By: Brian N. Peterson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:695 (Jul 2017)
Article: Egyptian Influence On The Creation Language In Genesis 2
Author: Brian N. Peterson

Egyptian Influence On The Creation Language In Genesis 2

Brian N. Peterson

Brian N. Peterson is associate professor of Old Testament, Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee.


Recently, John M. Soden published an article in Bibliotheca Sacra arguing for Egyptian influence on Genesis 2.1 While he offered convincing evidence for his thesis, he stopped short of proposing when the suggested Egyptian influence would make the most sense historically. This study will further develop a number of concepts related to Soden’s argument and will suggest that, in light of the presumed audience of Genesis 2, namely, the Israelites on the Plains of Moab, the Sitz im Leben that would have prompted the writing of Genesis 2 would be during the Egyptian New Kingdom and perhaps more specifically during the Eigh-teenth Dynasty. This in turn has possible implications for the authorship of this portion of the Genesis creation account.


Source theorists have long noted the differing perspectives of the two creation accounts of Genesis 1:1-2:4a and 2:4b–25.2 Without fail, the former account has been assigned to the

so-called postexilic Priestly source and the latter to the putative Yahwistic/J source of the pre-exilic era. While the J source of Ju-lius Wellhausen’s well-known JEDP theory has been variously dated, the most commonly asserted time period for its compilation is in the tenth century BC during the united monarchy,3 perhaps during the period of the so-called “Solomonic Enlightenment.”4 The dating of the J source as a whole is certainly not the focus of this article; however, the specific date of the creation language of Genesis 2 will be examined with an eye to determining if earlier influence(s) on this portion of the creation account can be proposed. In this vein, this study will posit that the imagery of the potter found in Genesis 2:7-8 and 19 appears to reflect Egyptian creation accounts involving the god Khnum, especially those of the Eighteenth Dynasty.5...

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