Digging Into The Documents And The Attempted Hijacking Of Paradise -- By: Paul Ferguson

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 23:1 (Winter 2010)
Article: Digging Into The Documents And The Attempted Hijacking Of Paradise
Author: Paul Ferguson

Digging Into The Documents And The Attempted Hijacking Of Paradise

Paul Ferguson

Commandeering Genesis 2 To Teach The Documentary Hypothesis

Traditional liberal scholarship claims that the book of Genesis is a jumble of conflicting, contradictory sources. Genesis 1, they say, was written during the exile in Babylon by priests (ca. 586 BC). Genesis 2 was written sometime around the period of Solomon (ca. 950 BC). Genesis 1 was part of the “P Document” (Priestly Code) that runs through the whole book in various places. Genesis 2 belongs to the “J Document”, which also goes through Genesis. It is called J because it prefers the divine name Jahweh (pronounced Yahweh).

Proponents of this theory claim that differences, repetitions and contradictions between various sections of Genesis demand multiple authors from different time periods and beliefs. Genesis 1 and 2 are brought forth as prime examples of two conflicting layers. This article will show how the Paradise story in chapter 2 was manhandled and “water-boarded” into being a star witness in this court of modern scholarship. It will show that Genesis 1 and 2 are not two conflicting creation stories. They are a Creation Story and a separate Garden Story.

Where This Theory Is Found And Where It Is Not

This viewpoint is not simply hidden away in technical literature. It is found in the notes of modern study Bibles quoted in this article. Books introducing the OT touting this view are sold in secular bookstores. The author of this article met a young man in McDonald’s studying it in his Sunday School quarterly. A colleague once told him he had been taught it in his church seminar for Sunday School teachers.

What is often not mentioned is that even liberals themselves are now turning away from it to other viewpoints. It will be seen that many negative critics have become disenchanted with this system for reasons that are displayed in this article. Indeed, the dates of J and P have been flipped around, so that P is now the earliest source1 (Whybray 1989: 231). One liberal scholar goes so far as to call it “frenzied digging into the Bible’s genesis, so senseless as to elicit laughter or tears” (Sternberg 1985: 13).

The author of the introduction to Genesis in the Harper Study Bible, Joel Rosenberg2, emphasizes...

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