Creation Texts

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Also: notes at More Creation References

Biblical accounts of Creation

There are many references to Creation throughout the Bible, recording teachings, beliefs, interpretations and language of ancient times. A small selection of these, often referred to as "records" or "the Creation Record", are commonly referenced by moderns who try to interpret the Bible literally.

In this wiki we have created a linked list of many of the Bible's creation texts: you might like to go through it at any speed you choose. Simply click here to "begin the tour" and look for the same dark blue bar on each page. You can navigate forward or back through the references.

Begin a tour of the Bible's Creation Texts here →

Before the beginning — the Creation of Wisdom

In the beginning — Genesis

First account: Genesis 1:1 to 2:3

Genesis 1:1 to 2:3

Second account: Genesis 2:4 to 3:24

Genesis 2:4 to 3:24

How should we read the two accounts in Genesis 1-3?

See Comparing the two accounts of the Creation in Genesis.


In scholarly literature Psalm 24:1-2, Psalm 29, Psalm 33:6-8, Psalm 40:4-5, Psalm 44:18-19, Psalm 46:1-4, Psalm 65:7-8, Psalm 68:4,30-31, Psalm 74:12-23, Psalm 87:4, Psalm 89:10-14, Psalm 92:9-11, Psalm 93:3-4 and Psalm 104:5-9 and Psalm 104:26 are the best known examples of creation texts in the Psalms. They are listed in our Creation Reference Table, which is copied below.

See also Psalm 114.


See Isaiah 17:12-14, 27:1, 30:6-33, 45:12, 51:9-10, 51:11-16, Jeremiah 5:22, 31:35, 51:34,44, Ezekiel 29:3-6a, 32:2-7, Amos 9:2-3, Nahum 1:4, Habakkuk 3:8, listed at Creation Reference Table, and copied below.

Echoes and Appropriations of Pre-Biblical and other accounts of Creation

Some scholarly views

Bro Rick Brower writes in The Enigma of Creation:

Genesis 1 intentionally differs from several other creation stories in the Bible, as a result of its unique, spiritual task.

The accounts of creation in the Bible present us with a controversy of such scale that the pages of Genesis cannot contain it. Dr. Jeffrey Tigay summarizes this important, and yet often ignored, issue succinctly.

‘[There are] several accounts of creation in the Bible even though no two accounts agree in detail with Genesis 1 or with each other. ... [These] are found in poetic form in Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. ... Genesis 1 speaks of the prehistoric waters in purely naturalistic terms and says that God merely commanded that they gather in a single spot so that dry land could appear. But in the poetic passages the ancient waters are personified as rebellious sea-monsters which threatened to swamp the dry land, until God subdued them and created the seashore as a boundary which they were prohibited from crossing. The most notable difference between Genesis and all the other accounts is that none of the others mentions the idea that the world was created in six days. This idea ...was apparently not considered important enough in the Bible to be repeated in other accounts of creation.

The fact that so many differing accounts were all accepted in the Bible shows that its compilers were not concerned about these details. They undoubtedly assumed that the differences could be reconciled, but they left this task to the ingenuity of exegetes. This virtually assured that different reconciliations would be proposed and that some of the passages would have to be interpreted non-literally.’85

Dr. Mark Smith has also written extensively in an effort to promote a deeper understanding of these various creation accounts throughout the OT. He states, ‘In ancient Israel, people told the creation story in different ways, as we see in various biblical books. There are allusions to the creation story in the prophets (for example, Jer. 10:12; Amos 4:13, 9:6; Zech. 12:1), and it is recounted in various wisdom books (Prov. 8:22-31; Job 26:7-13, 38:1-11, 38:4-11; Ben Sira 1:3-4, 24:3-9). The creation story was also a topic in Israel’s worship (Pss. 74:12-17, 89:11-13, 90:2, and 148). These passages show us that in ancient Israel many different creation accounts existed, not just one single creation story. In fact, these passages indicated that there were various ways of telling the creation story. ... Various creation accounts present God as a warrior-king, as a wise ruler, or as the great monarchic presence in his palace or builder of his sanctuary space. All of these were old ideas in the ancient world well before the historical emergence of Israel.’86

Dr. Peter Bouteneff explains, ‘The Hexaemeron [six day] account is unapologetically followed by a paradise narrative that recounts creation in a different sequence and ... allusions to creation in the Psalms, Job, and Isaiah vary from it and from each other.’87 So then, in the face of all this, a single point begins to emerge. The various Biblical creation accounts together begin to foster doubt as to which of them, if any, should represent the authoritative, literal version of creation. If God was so intent on ensuring that His followers knew and understood the precise, literal mechanics of His creative process, then why would He permit such confusion? While the reader may suggest that all of these creation variants are quite complementary, rather than conflicting, this suggestion is simply unsustainable. The diversity of creation texts in the Bible cannot be equivocated with the wave of a magic wand. They are significantly different. The most honest response is not to deny this plain fact, but rather to determine why it is so.

In particular, the dueling creation accounts of Genesis play a significant role in this investigation. There are several blatant conflicts between Genesis 1 and 2 if both texts are read plainly, and in parallel, as the following table illustrates.88

Creation Conflicts In Genesis (Table 10 from Rick Brower, The Enigma of Creation)
  Genesis 1-2:4a   Genesis 2:4b-3:24
Creation is divided into days. No days or other periods of time are mentioned.
Creation has a cosmic scope. Creation has to do with the earth only.
Animals are created before man. Man created before animals.
Animals are part of a cosmic design (along with plants and everything else) Animals are created for a limited purpose: to keep man company or be "a helper" — though they turn out to be unsuitable for Adam, forcing God to make Eve instead.
Man is to rule the world. Man is to have charge of Eden only and, presumably, is never to leave it.
Woman is created simultaneously with man. Woman is created after (and from) the body of man.
No names are given to creatures. All creatures, including man and woman, are given names.
Only the deity speaks. Four speakers engage in dialogue, one of them an animal.
The fruit of every tree is given for food. The deity forbids eating the fruit of a tree.
Man and woman have dominion over all living creatures, including those in the sea. Man does not interact with living creatures of the sea, nor does he name them.
All the water over the surface of the entire earth is gathered into one place. A river flows out of Eden and divides into four.
85 Jeffrey Tigay, ‘Genesis, Science, and ‘Scientific Creationism’ ‘, 1988, <> (15 Dec 2014).
86 Mark Smith, The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1, (Fortress Press, 2010), 11-12.
87 Peter Bouteneff, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids MI, 2008), 2.
88 The majority of this table was taken from John Gabel et al, The Bible As Literature, (Oxford University Press, 2005) 90. Additional important conflicts have been added for reference by the author.

How should we read these scriptures? — a personal view

In Genesis 1:21 the great mythical monsters of the deep, the tanninim, are created "to play", completely under the control of the One God. Should we pretend they are not there? that they are not mythical monsters? explain them away somehow? Surely we should not speak over-confidently about "the creation record" as though the Bible is limited to what we learned in our first Sunday School lessons! There are many such "creation records" in the Bible. With all due respect to the writers quoted above, I don't see these texts as "dueling creation accounts" — rather than talk about "dueling", I hope that Moses and the others would have responded with "that's interesting, tell me more", and I think we can have the same approach.

As I see it, we should take Genesis 1:21 as our model for how to read the creation records of Scripture, the ancient creation myths echoed, or quoted word for word, in the Old Testament and continuing into the intertestamental period and New Testament. They are interwoven with the story of the true seed of Abraham, appropriated, sometimes with irony and always without apology, to communicate a sense of the vast power of the One God. Being creation records they usually have a sense of the primordial past, but there is always a hint of something for the future: the God who rode on the clouds to destroy his enemies will come again! — User:Bruce

A selected list of examples

  Leviathan Behemoth Nahash Tannim Rahab waters / sea Zaphon The Cloud Rider Victory of Yahweh
Genesis 1:21 yes great sea monsters
Genesis 2:4-3:24 yes The Serpent
Job 3:8 yes yes The Primal Sea
Job 7:12 yes yes dragon in the sea
Job 9:13 yes Rahab
Job 26:12-13 yes possible yes Rahab
Job 38:4-7 Song of the Morning Stars
Job 38:8-11 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Job 40:25-41:26 yes yes Leviathan
Psalm 24:1-2 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Psalm 29 yes yes yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Psalm 33:6-8 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Psalm 40:4-5 yes Rahab
Psalm 44:18-19 yes dragon in the sea
Psalm 46:1-4 yes primal sea at end times
Psalm 65:7-8 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Psalm 68:4,30-31 possible yes yes Yahweh the Cloud Rider
Psalm 74:12-23 yes yes yes Leviathan
Psalm 87:4 yes Rahab
Psalm 89:10-14 yes yes yes Rahab
Psalm 92:9-11 yes yes Triumph of Yahweh
Psalm 93:3-4 yes Primal Sea at end times
Psalm 104:5-9 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Psalm 104:26 yes yes Leviathan
Psalm 148 yes yes dragons of the deep
Proverbs 8:22-31 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Isaiah 17:12-14 yes Primal Sea at end times
Isaiah 27:1 yes yes yes yes yes Leviathan
Isaiah 30:6-33 yes yes Rahab
Isaiah 51:9-10 yes yes yes yes Rahab
Jeremiah 5:22 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Jeremiah 31:35 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Jeremiah 51:34,44 yes dragon in the sea
Ezekiel 29:3-6a yes dragon in the sea
Ezekiel 32:2-7 yes dragon in the sea
Daniel 7:13-14 yes with the clouds of heaven
Amos 9:2-3 yes yes the serpent of the sea
Nahum 1:4 yes Primal Sea at end times
Habakkuk 3:8 yes yes Primal Sea at end times
Prayer of Manasseh 2-4 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Sirach 43:23 yes Primal Sea in primeval times
Psalms of Solomon 2:29-34 yes dragon in the sea
2 Esdras 6:47-52 yes yes Behemoth
Matthew 26:63-64 yes with the clouds of heaven
2 Peter 3:5-6 yes the Earth in water