Genesis 1:1-2:3 – Structure and Formula

Structure and Formula

Overall Structure – Option 1

  • A – 1:1                         Created the heavens and the earth
  • B – 1:2a                        Unsatisfactory conditions – Formless void, darkness, abyss
  • C – 1:2b                       God’s presence initiating change
  • D – 1:3-28                   Creation Cycle – Separation and Naming
    • a – 1:3-9                       Separation/Division and Naming
      • Divide light from darkness → Day and Night
      • Divide waters with firmament → Heaven
      • Gather waters, land appeared → Earth and Seas
    • b – 1:11-13                   Earth Responsibility – Bringing forth seed-bearing vegetation
    • c – 1:14-18                   Make lights in the heavens
      • Delegation of Responsibility – Light, signs, etc…
  • D’ – 1:20-29               Creation Cycle – Creation, Filling and Blessing
    • a’ – 1:20-23                  Creation and Blessing
      • Fish and Birds
    • b’ – 1:24                       Earth Responsibility – Bring forth creatures of the earth
    • c’ – 1:26a                      Make Man in Image of God
      • Blessing – Reproduce and Fill
      • Delegation of Responsibility – Subdue, dominion over life
  • C’ – 1:29-30                 God’s change culminating in provision
  • B’ – 1:31                       Exceedingly satisfactory conditions
  • A’ – 2:1            Finished the heavens and the earth

Observations from this Structure

  1. God’s overall purpose in creation was to transform chaos into orderly conditions that can provide for life.
  2. Naming of objects, indicating authority and ownership, contrasts with blessing of reproduction.
  3. Parallel between Man and the great lights (Sun and Moon) highlighting contrasts
    1. Each delegated responsibility and dominion
    2. Sun and Moon do not receive blessing. Man does.
    3. Man made in image of God not celestial objects
  4. Blessing given to fish, birds and man, but not explicitly stated for creatures of the earth.
    1. Possibly done to preserve the symmetry in the structure.

Overall Structure – Option 2

  • A – 1:1-2                      Created the heavens and the earth
  • B – 1:3-13                   Creation Cycle – Separation and Naming
    • a – 1:3-5                       Day 1 – Light from Darkness
    • b – 1:6-8                       Day 2 – Heavens
    • c – 1:9-13                     Day 3 – Seas, Land + Vegetation
  • B’ – 1:14-29                Creation Cycle – Creation, Filling and Blessing
    • a’ – 1:14-19                 Day 4 – Sun, Moon, Stars
    • b’ – 1:20-23                  Day 5 – Fish, Birds
    • c’ – 1:24-31                  Day 6 – Animals, Man
  • A’ – 2:1            Finished the heavens and the earth

Observations from this Structure

  1. BB’ – The Forming of spaces is paired with the filling of spaces.
  2. Bc – Vegetation is considered a part of the forming as it is a provision made for the inhabitants of those spaces.

Overall Structure – Option 3

  • A – 1:1-2                      Created the heavens and the earth
  • B – 1:3-13                   Creation Cycle – Separation and Naming
    • a – 1:3-5                       Light from Darkness
    • b – 1:6-8                       Heavens
    • c – 1:9-10                     Seas, Land
  • X – 1:11-19                 Creation Cycle – Provision (unnamed)
    • a – 1:11-13                  Day 3 – Vegetation
    • b – 1:14-19                  Day 4 – Great Lights
  • B’ – 1:20-29                Creation Cycle – Creation, Filling and Blessing
    • a – 1:20-23                   Day 5 – Fish, Birds
    • b – 1:24-31                   Day 6 – Animals, Man
  • A’ – 2:1-3                     Finished the heavens and the earth

Observations from this Structure

Creation divided into three segments. The middle segment, vegetation and the celestial bodies, are designed to provide functions for the anticipated created life.

Creation Cycle Structure

  • A         God’s command – “God said, ‘Let there be…’”
  • B         God’s design and purpose
  • X         Obedience to God’s sovereignty – “and it was so”
  • B’         God or object acts exactly as per God’s command
  • A’         God saw and gives approval

Observations from this Structure

  1. The commands are precisely followed indicating that creation was completely according to design. God’s review and approval indicate the step by step preciseness in the plan.
  2. God’s voice is followed by explicit action by God and/or objects. This indicates complete obedience to and single-mindedness of the plan.
  3. In some cases, God’s voice alone is enough, in others God acts, in still others objects act in obedience to God. In all cases, God’s sovereignty is highlighted by the “it was so” statement.

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