Q: Doesn’t Genesis 2:8 simply say that God had already planted a garden and then put man into it after he was formed? Don’t the following verses then go on to describe what the garden was composed of, not a sequential account of the garden being formed after the man? If 2:8 says there was a garden that God put man in, but he hadn’t yet created the vegetation for it, how could it be called a garden? It’s not a garden until we see green stuff. But as a summary statement, it is simple to see that the vegetation and animals and garden were all in place, and then God put man in it. Adam didn’t witness it.
A: A garden is a garden not because of the green stuff that you see, but because of what has been planted. We can see that very clearly even today. I can go out into my back yard and prepare the soil and plant a garden. My neighbor wonâ€™t come by and tell me that I haven’t planted a garden just because he can’t see any green stuff. The fact that it is called a garden even before the green vegetation is seen.
Now regarding your statement that Genesis 2:8 is a summary statement of what has already happened, that is not possible in the Hebrew construction. There is no mention of the garden before. Now remember that this is not my interpretation but is the precise grammar of the Hebrew and is explained very clearly in the book “Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics” that I quoted in WIM. This book was written by Bible translators and I think their understanding of Hebrew should be pretty good, don’t you think? This book came as a result of a seminar that was held on Discourse Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew in Dallas, Texas in June 1993. Of the ninety or so persons present, about sixty were working translators, members of Wycliffe Bible Translators and other societies, whose main vocation is translating the Bible into languages (often of peoples not yet literate) in various part of the world….The other thirty participants were linguists and biblical scholars from all over the world. I think that we should be able to trust the grammar of these 90 scholars who make their living translating the Bible.
Another very important resource is the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Hebrew bible. It was produced a few hundred years before Christ and was often quoted by Christ and his disciples. In the English version of the Septuagint we can clearly see that the translation of the Hebrew shows a subsequent creation of both plants and animals after Adam’s creation. In Genesis 2:8 it says
And God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and He placed the man there whom He had formed.
It is clear from this translation that man had already been formed when God planted the garden. The formation of animals after Adam is also clear. In Genesis 2:19 it says:
And God formed yet farther out of the earth all the wild beasts of the field, and all the birds of the sky, and He brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them, and whatever Adam called any living creature, that was its name.
It is clear from the Septuagint that the animals were “formed yet farther” (a second act of animal creation) out of the earth after Adam’s creation and the garden was planted after Adam was created.
If you would like to see the English copy of the Septuagint on Genesis 2 you can access it here