Dealing with Genesis’ Creation Accounts in the Second Temple Period (Part 2)

Cont’d from Part 1 below…

The Book of Jubilees, recounting the seven-day creation narrative of G1, omits any reference to the image of God, “…and after all this He created man, a man and a woman created He them” (2:14). This is likely a translation of a Hebrew Vorlage, which is attested to at Qumran (4Q216 7:2): “He made man (mankind), male and female he made them …‏עשה את האדם זכר ונק֯[בה עשה אתם.” The rewrite of G1 studiously avoids any reference to the image and likeness of God, but includes such a reference in its quotation of Gen 9:6,“Whoever pours out the blood of a man, by man his blood shall be poured out, because in the image of the Lord (MyhiOl)v Mleceb@;;; Gen 9:6) he made Adam.” (Jub 6:8)

The all-to-brief brief survey of Second Temple literature regarding the utilization of G1 and G2 is variegated. It is noteworthy, however, to give mention to certain things. It seems that biblical literature sought to describe humanity in line with G2 and in need of God’s mercy, rather than created in the image of God. Josephus in his creative reworking of the seven-day creation omits any mention of the ‘image of God,’ and instead transposes the ‘formation’ (ἔπλασε) of man from G2 into the sixth day of G1—several lines later he restates the creation in a fashion similar to G2, from the ‘dust of the earth’ (χοῦν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς; A.J. 1:34). Wisdom of Solomon and Ben Sira preserve allusions to both creation accounts. The latter harmonizes both into one poetic passage regarding creation, while the former personifies wisdom in the language of G1 while depicting humanity in terms of G2. Both 1 and 2Enoch seem to allude to G1, while the allusion in 1En is paralleled by the Rabbinic interpretation in Genesis Rabbah. Apart from Jubilees’ quotation of Gen 9:6, G1’s ‘image of God’ is not found in its reworking of creation. Instead of incorporating more terminology from G2 into its retelling, Jub saw fit to simply include that both ‘male and female’ were created. Though the Greek here is decidedly different than the Septuagintal rendering of G1, the creation of man and woman as a single event is evidence of an allusion.

Although it would be mistaken to devise a strict anthropological model from these texts, a few inferences can be made. Those texts that utilize both creation narrative solve the divergence between G1 and G2 by harmonization, that is to say, humanity is created in the ‘image of God’ and from the ‘dust of earth.’ Both provide two sides of one coin; man is simultaneously an image of God and a formation of earth. Other texts, which employ terminology from G2, rather than G1, seem to have one thing in common, man is frail, vulnerable, and weak, and thus in need of God’s direct compassion and grace. This does not indicate, however, that texts which employ both avoid the necessity of God’s interaction with humanity. Rather, the texts that emphasize humanity’s “earthly” origins seek to communicate the utter baseness of humanity in a more poignant and stark manner than the others.

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