Question: It appears to me that the first contradiction in the Bible comes early on in Genesis one and two. In Genesis one, trees came before Adam. In Genesis two, they are after Adam. It is the same with birds. In Genesis one, Adam and Eve were created at the same time. In Genesis two, Eve was created some time after Adam’s creation. How do Bible-believers reconcile these contradictions?
Well, the purposes of Genesis one and two are different. I do not believe there are contradictions in the chronology. Chapter one is a chronological accounting of the creation without intense attention to detail. Chapter two is a retelling, but is done topically, rather than emphasizing the order in which the creation occurred. Chapter two adds much detail. But I cannot see at all that chapter two indicates that the plants were made after man…perhaps the plants of the garden of Eden were planted after the man was made, but many gardens have been planted since the making of man. Similarly, chapter one tells us that God made man and woman on the sixth day. Chapter two adds to that account the details of what occurred in between the creation of man and the creation of woman on that day. The details of day six are omitted in chapter one and given in chapter two.
Scholars also tell us that the Hebrew word for “formed” in Genesis 2:19 really could just as well have been translated “had formed” so that it could have been translated “Out of the ground, the Lord God had formed every beast of the field.” The Hebrew word is “yatsar” and it means “molded” or “had molded”. This is a second explanation for this alleged contradiction. It is important to remember that there must be only one possible way to reconcile two seemingly contradictory passages, in order to validate the veracity of the text in question.
Chapter one is an overview. Chapter two is a “rewind” with details added. Add to that the Hebrew meaning of the word “yatsar” and you have dissipated any contradiction between the first two chapters of Genesis. It’s often laborious to examine each passage the skeptics bring in their attacks on the veracity of the Word of God. But it is faith-building and it is the only way to answer the critics: one passage, one possible explanation at the time.
(Excellent articles more fully detailing these issues are found here: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/749-do-the-first-two-chapters-of-genesis-contradict-one-another—–and here: http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=643&b=Genesis)