Thus the vegetable kingdom is produced on the third day, and, having set the sun and moon in the firmament of heaven on the fourth, God on the fifth day creates the living things of the water and the fowls of the air which receive a special blessing, with the command to increase and multiply.
On the sixth day Elohim creates, first, all the living creatures and beasts of the earth; then, in the words of the sacred narrative, he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.
It has been the custom of writers who were loath to recognize the presence of independent sources or documents in the Pentateuch to explain the fact of this twofold narrative by saying that the sacred writer, having set forth systematically in the first chapter the successive phases of the Creation, returns to the same topic in the second chapter in order to add some further special details with regard to the origin of man.
It must be granted, however, that very few scholars of the present day, even among Catholics, are satisfied with this explanation, and that among critics of every school there is a strong preponderance of opinion to the effect that we are here in presence of a phenomenon common enough in Oriental historical compositions, viz.
In this passage which contains the last reference of the so-called priestly document to Adam, we read that God created them male and female. And the writer continues: And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son to his own image and likeness, and called his name Seth. There is not a little divergence of opinion among Semitic scholars when they attempt to explain the etymological signification of the Hebrew adam (which in all probability was originally used as a common rather than a proper name), and so far no theory appears to be fully satisfactory.One cause of uncertainty in the matter is the fact that the root adam as signifying "man" or "mankind" is not common to all the Semitic tongues, though of course the name is adopted by them in translations of the Old Testament.Practically all the Old Testament information concerning Adam and the beginnings of the human race is contained in the opening chapters of Genesis.To what extent these chapters should be considered as strictly historical is a much disputed question, the discussion of which does not come within the scope of the present article.