INTRODUCTION TO GENSIS
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Before analyzing the test of any book of the Bible, it is well to learn the historical background.
Also, it is best to make a "skyscraper" view of its general contents. Accordingly, this introduction is divided into two parts: background and survey.
- Moses is the unquestioned author of Genesis.
- Some scholars have considered that Moses used older sources while writing Genesis, especially the earlier accounts. They site for example that the account of Noah and the world wide flood is similar to other flood accounts (i.e. Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian 29th to 26th century B.C. poem that is considered the first great work of literature). Yet as more and more missionaries began traveling to new lands with the gospel they discovered that almost all ancient cultures contained elements of the truth presented in Genesis. These culture specific accounts were based on accounts handed down by their ancestors. Therefore, it should be considered that Moses was not using other sources, but rather God was correcting man's accounts of history through his servant Moses.
- Date and Place of Writing
- Moses wrote Genesis and the four books that follows it in The Tent of Meeting during the forty years the Israelites wandered in the desert after they were bought out of slavery in Egypt, but before they entered Canaan.
- Genesis was written sometime between 1446 and 1404 B.C.
- Genesis is given to all mankind.
- Occasion and Purpose
- Genesis is given to understand our past, present state and God's future plans.
- Genesis was originally given to Israel to help the freed slaves understand the nature of history past and history yet to be completed.
- Some could consider Genesis as an explanation to the Israelites of where they came from. However, deeper study realizes that it teaches much more than the history of one nation. Rather, God is revealing the truth to all mankind.
- Form and Style
Genesis is a historical account.
Genesis is written from a passive third person view of historical events.
- Place Among the Old Testament Books
- Genesis is the first book of the Bible
- Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the first books of the Old Testament.
- Genesis starts with Creation and ends with Israel's patriarchs in Egypt. Exodus, the book that follows Genesis, picks up history with Israel in Egypt, enslaved and harshly treated.
Genesis is written in clear sections marked by the phase, "This is the account of..."
Some say this statement may be a reference to the section before it. For example, they state that Genesis 2:4 is a conclusion and a summary of creation that the previous verses have described. The LXX translates 2:4a, "This is the Book of the Genesis." Some would translate it, "The history of the heavens and the earth." The offspring of heavens and earth were thus pictured.
The phrase, "This is the account of" is written in other places in the Book of Genesis. From these a precise pattern that is not changed is revealed. In each instance, after the phrase, "This is the account of," a conclusion to the previous events in history (usually a person's life) is stated. In many instances it is done with a genealogy of the person that was previously written about, thus closing his life and either linking him to the next important person, or saying nothing about him and his decedents again.
The different times that this is done in Genesis is as follows:
Genesis 2:4a "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created."
Genesis 5:1-2, "This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them 'man.'" Then the author goes through a genealogy from Adam to Noah and his sons.
Genesis 6:9, "This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." Then the author goes through the account of Noah and the flood.
Genesis 10:1, "This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, who themselves had sons after the flood." Then the author goes through the genealogies of each as well as the tower of Babel incident.
Genesis 11:10, "This is the account of Shem. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad." Then the author goes through the genealogy from Shen to Abram.
Genesis 11:27, "This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot." Then the author goes through the life of Abram/Abraham.
Genesis 25:12, "This is the account of Abraham's son Ishmael, whom Sarah's maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham." Then the author goes through the genealogy of Ishmael.
Genesis 25:19, "This is the account of Abraham's son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac," Then the author goes through Isaac's life.
Genesis 36:1, "This is the account of Esau (that is, Edom)." Then the author goes through a brief summary of Esau's life.
Genesis 36:9, "This is the account of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir." Then the author goes through the genealogy of Esau.
Genesis 37:2, "This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them." Then the author goes through the events of Jacob's life.
I believe that what the author is doing in each instance is making a closing to the former and opening the later. In other words when the phrase "This is the account of" appears, the following verses will provide a bridge between the older to the newer points in history. In doing this the author made clear breaks, not leaving anything unfinished.
Therefore, in 2:4 what the author is doing is closing the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth by bridging it to the creation of man and women.
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