I’ll take another stab at the case for a “sequential reading” here.
The first two chapters of Genesis have often been pitted against one another by skeptics, as if they are hopelessly contradictory different creation accounts.
The vestige of this controversy persists in the labeling of any attempt to present them as different as a “two creations” view.
This label fails to note that the Hebrew verb ('bara) for “create” is virtually absent in the second account, and so it should not be labeled as a “creation” account at all. It is, instead, an account of forming and preparing. More on that later.
That the author/editor/compiler of the Genesis accounts meant for his readers to see these first two pericopes as complimentary and mutually illuminating, is made clear by the literary device of using a poetic chiasmus to link them together in verse 4 of chapter two. This forces the reader not to try to pit one account against the other, force a comparative analysis, or to conceive of the need to choose one over the other.
Their provocatively different details, instead, signal something else. What could that be?
Literarily, it is simply true that the material in chapter one (through to 2:3) is grandiose and sweeping in its scope, presenting potentially vast millenia of history in sparse and evocative Hebrew prose --what one good scholar (@jack.collins --who does not yet concur with what follows) calls “exalted prose.” It is beautifully crafted and quite suitable for easy memorization.
Since this chapter comes first, it is foundational for everything that follows, including the story of Adam and Eve, which begins in chapter 2, verse 5.
The toledot divisions in the accounts further emphasize their complementary, yet distinct, nature.
The rub comes in trying to understand a chronology of events with regards to these two different stories.
Taken on their own, literarily, we have to accede that chapter 1 through 2:3 is meant for the reader to understand as an idiomatically-informed notion of a divine work week. We are also informed that God decides to take a sabbath rest. We are informed that, by the end of “day six,” God’s assessment is that all is “very good.”
There is no hint of mankind’s rebellion, nor of the dangers of any cosmic evil, nor of anything but God’s satisfaction, present in the text, at this point. We are only left to wonder about these things by virtue of later canonical information.
Then, the second story begins..
Many see this second story as going back and fleshing out the details left off the “sweeping overview” approach of the first chapter, especially with regards to “day six.” This is called the “recapitulatory” view.
But one may wonder whether this is the only interpretive option. Are we meant to understand any time as having passed between these two stories? The toledot divisions at 2:4 may certainly be read as allowing for that.
Is it possible that, following the narrative flow and demonstrable divisions within the literature, that the story of God “creating male and female in His image” is meant to be understood as having already taken place before the second story, the story of Adam and Eve, begins?
That there may have well been fully human “imago Dei” men and women populating the planet, and carrying out God’s mandate to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” long before the very special and distinctive story of Adam and Eve even comes into the narrative? They certainly are given a very different mandate, for example, to “keep the garden and to tend it” rather than to migrate across the face of the earth.
Literarily, in context, this must be admitted as an interpretive possibility, regardless of whether one conceives of Adam and Eve as being “specially created” in chapter two, or not. This is called the "sequential " view.
Walton is only one scholar who makes interesting, but not definitive, arguments in this area. Averbeck is, apparently, developing arguments along these lines of his own. Many other scholars favor this view.
If we are to attribute a shorthand label, this is the imago Dei humanity created before the Adam and Eve story begins interpretive view., which several of us here share, with various other differing nuances.
To be clear, this is a view which @swamidass is officially agnostic towards.
This is not, however, a rejection of orthodoxy, but it is for those of us who so advocate, a provisional improvement on the more common “traditional” reading. It explains how Cain got a wife, after being exiled from his family, and who he built his cities with. It comports better with the scientific evidence of early human worldwide migration and prehistoric civilization building, for example. It further explains God’s desire for people of “all nations” to be included in His redemptive plan, and explains how “eternity is written in all our hearts,” not just those of Adam’s inceptive ethnicity.
That Adam and his lineage have, since that time, become universal geneaological forebears to every human being on the planet today, which @swamidass shows is scientifically feasible within even the last six thousand years, is welcome news for creationists of all types, and this satisfies the requirements for New Testament hamartiology and soteriology.
Again, this is not an unorthodox view, just a rather “surprisingly viable” interpretive option, in light of the perplexing scientific evidence for the antiquity of human behavior, vis-à-vis the implied chronological limitations of the Genesis 5 accounts of Adam’s geneaology.
Respectfully submitted, and Cheers!