- Old Testament
Book of Genesis
Authorship and Origin:
The first five books of the Old Testament, or what is called
the 'Pentateuch', were, according to
Jewish and Christian traditions, attributed to Moses until
relatively recent times. Today, most
Biblical scholars agree that the Pentateuch is composed of
at least four separate and distinct
narratives written by different persons separated in time
by in some cases hundreds of years.
Nothing in the books themselves asserts or even suggests that
the author was Moses. The narratives were communicated through
oral tradition for generations before being gradually compiled
and written down over a long period of time. Perhaps the
first official set of these books came
into existence around Ezra's time, although sections of text,
and the stories or oral traditions
themselves had been around for centuries. The Pentateuch, or
what later became known as the
Torah or 'book of Law', was regarded as the most authoritative
and high inspired of all the
Old Testament writings.
The book of Genesis appears to have been compiled from three major traditions know as
"J" (Yahwist), "E" (Elohist), and "P" (Priestly). The Priestly traditions are most concerned
with genealogies and precise dates, and thus provide the most historically accurate view.
The other two traditions are interested in dreams and divine revelation given through
intermediaries. The dating for the written recording of each tradition
is around 950B.C. for "J", 750B.C. for "E", and 539B.C. for "P" although the traditions themselves
are much older. It is generally accepted that no Israelite literature was written extensively
before the reign of David. The telling of these traditions was to convey the covenants of
God with Israel and the teach the nature of God. These also gave Israel an identity as the
people of Yahweh.
Overview and Significant sections
Genesis takes its' name from the first Hebrew word in the Bible, which translates to "In the
beginning" or "to begin with". This is a significant place to start, that is with the fact of
Creation. It answers the fundamental questions of "where did we come from?", and "why are we
here?". It set's the groundwork for answering questions about life and death, sin and
redemption, good and evil, and the future.
Genesis is divided into two major sections. Chapters 1-11 present the personal nature of God's
creation, and His relationship to humans in particular. Chapters 12-50 present the dealings of
God with mankind, through covenants or promises (aka. contracts) both to all people and to
specific people (e.g. Abraham). Genesis also reveals information about the nature of God and
His intended purpose for His creation. From Genesis we know that the universe
has a purpose in a personal and loving God.
For more detailed study:
Read Chapter 1.
(the entire book is available starting here.)
The Concise Matthew Henry Commentary
on this book.
introduction of this book.
the World Wide Study Bible
has Dictionary, Commentary, Scripture and sermons available
on this book.