When we read Genesis 1–11, one important observation to make is the way Moses related Noah to Adam, and the covenant with Noah (i.e., his “second creation”) to God’s first creation. Helping us see the intentions of Moses, Peter Gentry outlines seven ways Genesis 8–9 recapitulate Genesis 1–2. Noticing these literary markers helps us read the Bible and understand the message of Genesis 1–11.
Here is his outline, which borrows from Bruce Waltke and Ken Mathews (Kingdom through Covenant, 162–63:
Phase 1: pre-creation. Just as God’s Spirit hovered over the abyss (1:2), God sends a wind over the engulfing waters to renew the earth (8:1–2)
1:2: “earth,” “deep,” Spirit” (rûach), “waters”
8:1b–2: “wind” (rûach), “earth,” “waters,” “deep”
Phase 2: second day. Just as God initially divided the waters (1:6–7), God regathers the waters, reestablishing the boundaries between sky and earth (8:2b).
1:6–8: “waters,” “sky”
Phase 3: third day. Just as God separated the dry, arable ground from the water to sustain vegetation (1:9), so again, the dry ground emerges in successive stages (8:3–5).
1:9: “water,” “dry ground,” “appear”
8:3–5: “water,” “tops of the mountain,” “appear”
Phase 4: fifth day. The sky once again houses the winged creatures, as God first proclaimed it so to be.
1:20–23: “birds,” “above [‘al] the ground”
8:6–12: “raven,” “dove,” “from [mē’al] . . . the ground”
Phase 5: sixth day. The living creatures of sky and land are called out from the ark, as in their first creative calling from the voice of God.
1:24–25: “creatures,” “livestock,” “creatures that move along the ground,” “wild animals”
8:17–19: “creature,” “birds,” “animals,” “creatures that move along the ground”
Phase 6. The appearance of the nuclear family, all of whom bear God’s image, as the heads and sole representatives of the human race functions as a reprise of the creation of ‘ādām [mankind], male and female in God’s image.
1:26–28: “man,” “image of God,” “male and female”
8:16, 18: Noah and his wife
9:6: “man,” “image of God”
Phase 7. The heavenly King graciously grants his blessing on humanity, feeds them with the fruit of the restored earth, and, renewing the cultural mandate, restores them as lords over the earth. [Although notice, the command to subdue and rule has been replaced by the fact that creation will now fear man, not submit to him].
1:28: “blessed,” “be fruitful,” “increase in number,” “fill the earth,” “rule . . . every living creature”
9:1–2: “blessed,” “be fruitful,” “increase in number,” “fill the earth,” “fear of you . . . upon every creature”
All in all, we should remember that Genesis 1–11 has a theological message for us. In historical context, Moses wrote these chapters to introduce Israel to their covenant Lord who is the Creator of all things. While explaining the origins of the universe, these chapters are not first and foremost a scientific treatise on creation. Remembering this, we should see in Genesis words meant to prepare us for the gospel (cf. Gal. 3;8) more than arguments assembled to counteract evolution. Certainly, Genesis gives us an inspired explanation of creation, but we need to see what Moses’s point is—lest we read too much modern science into or out of Genesis 1–11.
Indeed, naturalistic evolution does deny the gospel, because it denies God’s immediate role in creation and his power and presence in the world. Therefore, we do find in Genesis Scripture that rejects all forms of Darwinism. Still, when reading Genesis our primary aim should be to understand God’s original intention, as revealed through the Spirit-inspired words of Moses.
By paying attention to the literary repetitions between Adam and Noah and the first creation and the second creation, we are pointed in the right direction and protected from many errors. Even as we engage the conversation between Scripture and science we must understand the original purpose and content of Genesis. And, therefore, seeing the connection between Adam and Noah is vital (read: life-giving) for understanding Genesis and God’s purposes in the world.
To that end, let’s keep reading Genesis as a word from God, about God, for the glory of God.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds