Many people who like to deny the truthfulness of Sacred Scripture point to Genesis 2:7-9 as being a screaming contradiction of Scripture. For it says:
“then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”
The denier would exclaim, “See! Scripture has to be false. In Gen. 2:7, it says that man is created. THEN after that in Gen. 2:9, God causes vegetation to grow. BUT THIS CAN’T BE TRUE, for Genesis 1 says that land and vegetation was created on the THIRD day and man was created on the SIXTH day! Therefore, Scripture is false.”
On the surface, it seems that the denier is correct. Scripture contradicts itself. How are we who hold that Scripture is inspired by God, and therefore inerrant (for God is not the author of error), to answer?
By following St. Augustine, of course!
St. Augustine, following Tyconius’ sixth rule of recapitulation (from his Book of Rules), provides the solution in Book III, Chapter 36 of his De doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine):
The sixth rule Tichonius calls the recapitulation, which, with sufficient watchfulness, is discovered in difficult parts of Scripture. For certain occurrences are so related, that the narrative appears to be following the order of time, or the continuity of events, when it really goes back without mentioning it to previous occurrences, which had been passed over in their proper place. And we make mistakes if we do not understand this, from applying the rule here spoken of. For example, in the book of Genesis we read, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastwards in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food." Now here it seems to be indicated that the events last mentioned took place after God had formed man and put him in the garden; whereas the fact is, that the two events having been briefly mentioned, viz., that God planted a garden, and there put the man whom He had formed, the narrative goes back, by way of recapitulation, to tell what had before been omitted, the way in which the garden was planted: that out of the ground God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food. Here there follows "The tree of life also was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Next the river is mentioned which watered the garden, and which was parted into four heads, the sources of four streams; and all this has reference to the arrangements of the garden. And when this is finished, there is a repetition of the fact which had been already told, but which in the strict order of events came after all this: "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden." For it was after all these other things were done that man was put in the garden, as now appears from the order of the narrative itself: it was not after man was put there that the other things were done, as the previous statement might be thought to imply, did we not accurately mark and understand the recapitulation by which the narrative reverts to what had previously been passed over.
Now, the question that arises is, “Why would God make Scripture to be written in such a way as this?” The answer is so that you won’t rush through Sacred Scripture, but rather read it diligently and with extreme care, savoring every word the Sacred Author has written. Also, in order for you to dig deeper into Scripture and probe the depths of “the riches of the glory of this mystery” communicated by the Holy Spirit. Then you will “have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”