Genesis opens with a provocation as it juxtaposes creation stories fitted neatly, though distinctly, as two blocks of ashlar. The difficulty of the Documentary Hypothesis comes later and lies in the details of tracking the voices of P and J and their cousins through the rest of the Pentateuch. To refresh this fascinating, frustrating, well-worn exercise, I propose something that seems at first counterintuitive: tracking P and J not from Genesis into Exodus but, skipping down the generations, through their intertextual presence in the Gospels with emphasis on Jesus’s healings, which function as patches on creation. Some predictable relationships emerge: the Gospel of John privileges the potent spoken word much as does the P-text of Gen 1; the earthier Synoptics, Mark earthiest of all, follow the creation story of Gen 2 as Jesus heals by touch and spit. How neatly the strands seem to align: P is to J as John is to the Synoptics. But there comes a twist. The Gospel of Mark also recounts healings as logos-centric as any verse in John or Gen 1, while the living Word of John is as skilled in healing by mud as Yahweh is in molding Adam from clay. The distinctive vitalities of P and J can be traced easily enough, but their courses twist and turn as they run into a mysterious whole as simple yet perplexing as a Möbius strip. Attention to these intertextualities freshly illuminates the dynamic of difference and unity in both Genesis and the Gospels.

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