Rose and I were discussing her research concerning the Christian concept of marriage as between one man and one women. Most Christians try to support their opinion by citing Christ's reference to Adam and Eve becoming "one flesh" (Matt 19:5). Recalling the high frequency of divinely sanctioned polygamy in the Old Testament, which contradicts the Christian position, Rose wondered if there were any Old Testament verses that spoke of being "one flesh" as in Genesis 3. We found none. This sparked our curiosity, so we searched for any reference to Adam and Eve. We found no reference to Eve, and only two references to Adam; one in a genealogy (1 Chronicles 1:1) and a tangential mention in Job 31:33. This seemed very strange. How could it be that the entire Old Testament was missing references to Adam and Eve and the events in the Garden? So we looked to see if there was any mention of the Tree of Knowledge. We found none. So we looked for references to the flood of Noah, and found almost nothing. Noah is mentioned in only three verses of the Old Testament outside of Genesis and they are all very late (Isaiah 54:9, Ezekiel 14:14,20). So we looked for the tower of Babel and found nothing. The picture then came into focus. The entire Old Testament is almost entirely bereft of any reference to the ten chapters of Genesis 2-11. These are the "mythological" chapters that tell of the garden of Eden, a woman made from a rib, a talking snake, magical trees, the flood of Noah, the rainbow covenant, and the tower of Babel. Their character is very different from the rest of Genesis, including its first chapter, and almost none of the authors of the Old Testament show any awareness of that material at all.
So then we wondered why, if the mythological chapters were missing from the Old Testament, they would be so prominent in the New. So we looked at the Apocrypha, the literature written between the closing of the Old Testament and the writing of the New. And we found many references to the content of the mythological chapters. Indeed, we found a whole retelling of the missing material in 4 Esdras:
4 Esdras 3:5 And gavest a body unto Adam without soul, which was the workmanship of thine hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before thee. 6 And thou leadest him into paradise, which thy right hand had planted, before ever the earth came forward. 7 And unto him thou gavest commandment to love thy way: which he transgressed, and immediately thou appointedst death in him and in his generations, of whom came nations, tribes, people, and kindreds, out of number. 8 And every people walked after their own will, and did wonderful things before thee, and despised thy commandments. 9 And again in process of time thou broughtest the flood upon those that dwelt in the world, and destroyedst them. 10 And it came to pass in every of them, that as death was to Adam, so was the flood to these. 11 Nevertheless one of them thou leftest, namely, Noah with his household, of whom came all righteous men.And similar material in Wisdom of Sirach:
Sirach 44:16 Enoch pleased the Lord, and was translated, being an example of repentance to all generations. 17 Noah was found perfect and righteous; in the time of wrath he was taken in exchange [for the world;] therefore was he left as a remnant unto the earth, when the flood came. 18 An everlasting covenant was made with him, that all flesh should perish no more by the floodSo now the conclusion seemed obvious. The material from the mythological chapters of Genesis is missing in the Old Testament because it was not widely read, if it existed at all, at the time those books were written. It is found in abundance in the Apocrypha because it had become popular by that time. Therefore, it seems likely that the material was probably inserted into Genesis after the rest of the Old Testament had already been written.
This is an amazing discovery. I have studied the Bible for over two decades and never noticed the missing mythological chapters of Genesis. I have no idea how I could have missed something so obvious. I would be very interested to know what others think about this.