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Answering The Atheist
March 16, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 11

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Was Adam permitted to eat of every tree in the garden or not? Genesis 1:29 says yes, Genesis 2:17 says no. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
In Genesis 1, we are given a full picture of all that God created, but in summary fashion. In Genesis 2, the writer reveals to us specifics regarding the creation of man. It is important to understand this when looking at things mentioned in the two accounts.

The statement found in Genesis 1:29 was a general statement, indicating that the herbs and fruit of the trees were given to man as food. Since chapter 1 is given as an overview of what would be discussed in more detail later, the exclusion of the tree in the midst of the garden is not mentioned. However, when we read chapter 2, which gives a detailed narrative of the creation of man, we read, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (2:16-17). The broad statement of 1:29 is repeated in v 16, but then the exclusion is given.

It is not a matter of the texts being at odds, but rather a matter of writing style and detail. There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible