Date Written: c. 1450 BC - 517 BC
The authorship of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is much debated. Traditionally, Moses wrote the Pentateuch, but in the 19th and 20th centuries scholars have questioned whether this was the case. Many scholars believe that the books of the Pentateuch underwent a series of revisions and editorial additions and subtractions before reaching their final form which we have today. Most generally agree that the revisions were completed by the end of the Exile in 517 BC.
Genesis is a story, the story of God's relationship with mankind and his calling of a particular family to be his own. It is not a collection of laws or sayings, nor a letter or poetry. As Genesis progresses, the relationship of God and mankind widens. First, God makes a covenant with Adam and Eve: one holy couple. Then he makes a covenant with Noah and his family: one holy family. After that, he makes a covenant with Abraham and his descendents: one holy tribe.
The first part of Genesis (1-11) narrates the creation of the world and the activity of the first few generations of human beings. God creates everything good, but Adam and Eve sin against him by disobeying his commandment (3). Thus, the Fall occurs. This "original sin" is thereafter inherited by every human being except two: Jesus and Mary. Unfortunately, sin progresses after the Fall to murder, violence and sexual corruption so much so that God decides to destroy humanity with the Flood (6:13). He commissions Noah to preserve a human remnant and the animals by building the ark. Noah faithfully obeys and God destroys the world with a great flood. God makes a covenant with Noah, represented by the rainbow, in which he promises never to destroy the world with a flood again (9:9-17). Yet humanity again falls into sin and rebellion against God when building the
God then calls Abraham from
Isaac and his wife Rebekah give birth to twins: Esau and Jacob. Esau was born first, but Jacob buys Esau's birthright from him and steals his blessing so he become the bearer of the promises given to Abraham (27). Jacob has twelve sons and after wrestling with the Lord, he is renamed
Genesis sets the stage for the story of Exodus and the whole Bible. It is the book of "origins" which narrates the beginnings of creation, humanity and God's action in history.
By Mark Giszczak