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Genesis – Book Overview

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Genesis – Book Overview

Author: Moses
Date: 1450-1410 B.C. 

Genesis – in English – comes from the Greek word for “beginnings” or “origins.” The Hebrew name of this book is bere’ shit from the first words in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning…”

The Breakdown

Genesis can be broken down into many sections, outlined below:

  1. Creation: Genesis 1-11 set the stage: God creates, man responds. (**BIG IDEA)
  1. Genesis 2:4: “This is the account of the heavens and earth.”
  2. Genesis 5:1: “This is the account of Adam’s line.”
  3. Genesis 6:9: “This is the account of Noah.”
  4. Genesis 10:1: “This is the account of the sons of Noah.”
  • Abraham: Genesis 11-23.
    1. Genesis 11:10: “This is the account of Shem.”
    2. Genesis 11:27: “This is the account of Terah.”
  • Covenant: Genesis 12-50 introduces God’s covenant with Abraham’s line. (**BIG IDEA)
  • Isaac: Genesis 24-26 tells the story of Isaac.
    1. Genesis 25:12: “This is the account of Ishmael.”
    2. Genesis 25:19: “This is the account of Isaac.”
  • Jacob: Genesis 27-36 tells the story of Jacob.
    1. Genesis 36:1: “This is the account of Esau.”
  • Joseph: Genesis 37-50 tells the story of Joseph.
    1. Genesis 37:2: “This is the account of Jacob.”

    Beginnings and Firsts

    Genesis begins many things including:

    1. The world
    2. Mankind
      1. The first man (2:7)
      2. The first work (2:15)
      3. The first recorded words spoken to man (2:16)
      4. The first divine command (2:17)
      5. The first woman (2:21-25)
      6. The institution of marriage (2:24)
    3. Sin (chapter 3)
    4. Civilization
    5. The nations
    6. Israel

    Theological Contributions

    Genesis is foundational to a biblical understanding of God, the universe, and ourselves. Some of its major themes are:

    1. The doctrine of a living, personal God.
      1. God exists, and is Creator of all things (chapter 1).
    2. Man is made in the image of God.
      1. Humans are direct, special creations of God (not the product of evolution) (chapter 1,2).
    3. Man is sinful.
      1. Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s command and became sinners (chapter 3).
      2. Sin is a perversion that infects the entire human race (chapter 4).
      3. Sin brings punishment because God is a moral Judge.
    4. The anticipation of a Redeemer.
      1. But, God acts to rescue those who trust him (chapter 6-9).
      2. Mankind, all over the earth, is a fallen race of sinners in need of salvation (chapter 10, 11).
    5. Covenant promises made to the nation Israel.
    1. God chose to deliver his covenant promises through Abraham (chapter 12-50), and destined all people on earth to be blessed through him (12:3).

    So, Genesis 1-11 look backward and affirm that God is the source of the universe, humanity, morality, and redeeming grace.
    Genesis 12-50 looks forward and affirms that God has a loving purpose which he intends to achieve in history.

    Therefore, Genesis answers the most significant philosophical questions on earth:

    • Who are we? 
    • Where did we come from? 
    • Where are we going? 

    Historical Accuracy

    Genesis is a real-life historical account of real people (as emphasizes by the ten sections beginning with “This is the account of…”).

    Archaeological discoveries (since World War I) have emphasized the historical accuracy of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and have confirmed cultural practices of the second century B.C. that are recorded in Genesis, that were not practiced in the first century B.C. (and therefore could not have been written during that time period). Examples of cultural practices at that time that the Bible accurately records are as follows:

    1. Names in Genesis were common during that period.
    2. Adoption customs of the time.
    3. A double portion went to the oldest son.
    4. A son could sell his birthright.
    5. Validity of a oral will.
    6. The possession of household gods as evidence of the right of inheritance.
    7. An infertile wife’s gift of a servant maid to her husband.
    8. The details in the Egyptian background of Joseph’s story are authentic.

    Authorship

    Moses is undoubtedly the author of Genesis for the following reasons:

    1. The Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) itself affirms Moses as its author (Ex. 17:14, 24:4, 7, 34:27, Num. 33:1-2, Deut. 31:9)
    2. Other Old Testament books attest to Moses as author (Josh. 1:7-8, 8:32, 34, 22:5, 1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 14:6, 21:8, Ezra 6:18, Dan. 9:11-13, Mal. 4:4)
    3. The New Testament affirms Moses authorship (Matt. 19:8, Mark 12:26, John 5:46-47, 7:19, Rom. 10:5)
    4. Eyewitness details point to a participant being the author, not an editor who lived centuries later (Ex. 15:27, Num. 2:1-31, 11:7-8)
    5. The author’s information about Egyptian names, words, customs, and geography would have been difficult for an author or editor to have obtained in Canaan centuries after Moses’ time (Gen. 13:10, 16:1-3, 33:18, 41:43, Acts 7:22)

    Sources

    1. NIV Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition. © 1994 The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Page 1.
    2. Richard’s Complete Bible Dictionary. © 2002 World Bible Publishers, Inc. Page 425-6.

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