If you look at these two chapters of the Book of Genesis carefully, you can actually see the two stories as complementing each other rather than opposing each other. Genesis 1 tells us of the specific order of creation and what God did and created on each day in order to make the earth. Six days were spent working, and one day was spent resting at the end of his labours when God was able to look upon his creation and declare that all was "good." This is of course the classical account of creation.
However, in Genesis 2, we are retold the account of the creation of Adam and Eve in much more detail than in Genesis 1 and how Adam was set to work in the Garden of Eden and named the animals. Adam's loneliness is focused upon and the way that accordingly Eve was made out of one of Adam's ribs to be his companion. What we need to think about when comparing and contrasting these two accounts is that this is the same story of creation but told from two different angles. We are given two different accounts and as a result there are some differences in terms of how things happened and the specific details. This is meant to help us gain a greater understanding and a fuller picture of the creation narrative rather than anything else, however.
Genesis 1 tells the story of Biblical creation in chronological order. According to Genesis 1, God first created the Earth and the heavens. It was not the Earth as we know it. Instead, it was "formless and empty." It was after this that God made light, and the separation of night and day. After this, God created the sky, seas, and land. Then God created the vegetation, and then the stars and planets. Next, God made living creatures. Last, God created man:
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (From the New International Version)
Genesis 2 still tells the story of Biblical creation, but with less of a focus on chronology. Genesis 2 also refers to the creation of man. It tells about this creation in greater detail. Genesis 2 tells how the first man, Adam, was created from the dust and how God breathed life into him. Genesis 2 also describes what the Garden of Eden looked like and what it contained. Adam was lonely and wanted a helper, so God took one of his ribs and from it formed a woman, Eve. Adam was also informed that he could not eat from the forbidden tree.
- The Biblical story of creation is told in both chapters
- The story of the creation of man is told in both chapters
- Both chapters describe what is in the garden
- There is more of a focus on chronology in Genesis 1
- There are more specific details in Genesis 2
- Genesis 2 focuses on what happens after the Earth is created, and the forbidden fruit is mentioned