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Introduction to Genesis

EgytThe Need to Know to our beginning?


Who are we?  Where did we come from? These two questions are at the heart of the book of Genesis. These same questions at the heart of science, the word science comes from the Latin word scientia, meaning "knowledge".  The quest of religion and science is the knowledge of “who we are” and “where we came from”.   Upon the basis of these questions the imagination of humanity is fired up.  The

Egyptians pharaohs forced hundreds of thousands of slaves to build the pyramids all in the hope of preserving their future.  Today we send space probes into the outer reaches of space, searching for signs of life, all the while hoping to map out our destiny.  From the first humans one thing we have in common is we all operate according to our presuppositions[1] of our origin.  Regarding presuppositions Encyclopedia Britannica writes


Scientific thinking proceeds within a framework of presuppositions that it is the business of the scientist to use, not to argue for and still less to challenge—presuppositions to the effect, for example, that every change has a natural explanation. No doubt scientists can change their presuppositions, but they seldom do so consciously; their usual practice is to take them for granted.[2]


 Genesis answers these questions which humanity is searching for.  The purpose of the book of Genesis is to reveal the reality of just who we are and where we came from.  Genesis is the foundation which the rest of scripture is built upon.   Without the book of Genesis the rest of scripture would seem incoherent and out of place.  Questions such as why do we need a redeemer?  or why


The name “Genesis”


The book of Genesis establishes the foundation of scripture. The title comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, Genesis in Greek means origin or birth.  The Hebrew title for the first book of the Bible is Breishit, translating into "in the beginning". 


The Book of Origins


SETIHenry Morris author of the Genesis Record identifies 14 “Origins” in the book of Genesis, many of which we might take for granted.  Why are there 7-days in the week?  Why is there marriage between a man and a woman?  Why is evil considered evil?  Morris writes;


1. Origin of the Universe

        The Book of Genesis stands alone in accounting for the actual creation of the basic space-mass-time continuum which constitutes our physical universe. Genesis 1:1 is unique in all literature, science and philosophy.  Every other system of cosmogony, whether in ancient religious myths or modern scientific models, starts with eternal matter or energy in some form, from which other entities were supposedly gradually derived by some  process. 

        Only the Book of Genesis even attempts to account for the ultimate origin of matter, space and time; and it does so uniquely in terms of special creation.


 2. Origin of order and complexity

Man’s universal observation, both in his personal experience and in his formal study of physical and biological systems, is that orderly and complex things tend natural to decay into disorder and simplicity.  Order and complexity never arise spontaneously—they are always generated by a prior cause programmed to produce such order.  The Primeval Programmer and His programmed purposes are found only in Genesis.


 3. Origin of the solar system

The earth, as well as the sun and moon, and even the planets and all the stars of heaven, were likewise brought into existence by the Creator, as told in Genesis.  It is small wonder that modern scientific cosmogonists have been so notably unsuccessful in attempting to devise naturalistic theories of the origin of the universe and the solar system.


 4. Origin of the atmosphere and hydrosphere

The earth is uniquely equipped with a great body of liquid water and an extensive blanket of an oxygen-nitrogen gaseous mixture, both of which are necessary for life.  These have never “developed” on other planets, and are accounted for only by special creation.


 5. Origin of life

How living systems could have come into being from non-living chemicals is, and will undoubtedly continue to be, a total mystery to materialistic philosophers.  The marvels of the reproductive process, an the almost-infinite complexity programmed into the genetic systems of plants and animals, are inexplicable except by special creation, at least if the laws of thermodynamics and probability mean anything at all.  The account of the creation of “living creatures” in Genesis is the only rational explanation.


 6. Origin of man

Man is the most highly organized and complex entity in the universe, so far as we know, possessing not only innumerable intricate physico-chemical structures, and the marvelous capacities of life and reproduction, but also a nature which contemplates the abstract entities of beauty and love and worship, and which is capable of philosophizing about its own meaning.  Man’s imaginary evolutionary descent from animal ancestors is altogether illusory.  The true record of his origin is given only in Genesis.


 7.  Origin of marriage

The remarkably universal and stable institution of marriage an the home, in a monogamous, patriarchal social culture, is likewise described in Genesis as having been ordained by the Creator.  Polygamy, infanticide, matriarchy, promiscuity, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and other corruptions all developed later.


 8. Origin of evil

Cause-and-effect reasoning accounts for the origin of the concepts of goodness, truth, beauty, love and such things as fundamental attributes of the Creator Himself.  The origin of physical and moral evils in the universe is explained in Genesis as a temporary intrusion into God’s perfect world, allowed by Him as a concession to the principle of human freedom and responsibility, and also to manifest Himself as Redeemer as well as Creator.


  9. Origin of language

The gulf between the chatterings of animals and the intelligent, abstract, symbolic communication systems of man is completely unbridgeable by any evolutionary process.  The Book of Genesis not only accounts for the origin of language in general, but also for the various national languages in particular.


10. Origin of government

The development of organized systems of human government is described in Genesis, with man responsible not only for his actions, but also for the maintenance of orderly social structures through systems of law and punishments.


11. Origin of culture

The Book of Genesis also describes the beginning of the main entities which we now associate with civilized cultures—such things as urbanization, metallurgy, music, agriculture, animal husbandry, writing, education, navigation, textiles, and ceramics.



12. Origin of nations

All scholars today accept the essential unity of the human race.  The problem, then, is how distinct nations and races could develop if all men originally were of one race and one language.  Only the Book of Genesis gives an adequate answer.


13. Origin of religion

There are many different religions among men, but all share the consciousness that there must be some ultimate truth and meaning toward which men should strive.  Many religions take the form of an organized system of worship and conduct.  The origin of this unique characteristic of man’s consciousness, as well as the origin of true worship of the true God, is given in Genesis.


14. Origin of the chosen people

The enigma of the Israelites-the unique nation that was without a homeland for nineteen hundred years, which gave to the world the Bible and the knowledge of the true God, through which came Christianity and which yet rejects Christianity, a nation which has contributed signally to the world’s, art, music, science, finance, and other products of the human mind, and which is nevertheless despised by great numbers of people—is answered only in terms of the unique origin of Israel as set forth in the Book of Genesis.[3]


The Scriptural foundation of Genesis


The importance of this book cannot be understated; the foundation of redemption rests on the words of Genesis.  The first chapters of Genesis, we are presented with a perfect “Creation”, where God declares according to Genesis, everything was “very good”.  We are told Adam and Eve walked in the very presence of God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8).


Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  Genesis 1:31


Then we read in chapter 3, how both the man and the woman are cursed because of their actions, with death to follow.  God tells Adam, "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.”  The fall of Adam and Eve, from being “Very good” to “Cursed”, from walking with God to being cast away from their Creator’s presence is at the very heart of Genesis and scripture.  Scripture informs us of God’s plan of restoration or redemption of His “Cursed’ creation. 

This is foundation of Genesis, how God begins the road of redemption, which culminates in the person of the Messiah.  What is the conclusion of life?  What is the point of existing?   Jesus when talking with disciples explains to them, the whole focus of scripture is His role as the Messianic redeemer, the focus of scripture. 


39 "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  John 5:39


Paul refers to Jesus as the “Second” Adam who came to restore what Adam lost (Romans 5:14, I Corinthians 15:22,45).  The picture of our world in its fallen and corrupt state, waiting for it future redemption and restoration by God the “Creator” is the essence of both Old and New Testaments.  Paul writes that the world we live in is hinged in expectation of this coming day of redemption.


19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:19-22



Who wrote Genesis?


AhiramThe Book of Genesis is a lighting rod for critics.  The origin of the Book of Genesis is a major issue of contention both inside and outside of the church.  Genesis claims to reveal information which is outside the realm of human knowledge.  Adam and Eve could not be reporting on their creation, if they were being created.  The knowledge and record of their creation, as well as the events before their creation would require knowledge outside of the natural realm. 

If someone rejects the super-natural realm, then the Book of Genesis would require human fabrication.  If Genesis is a fabrication of man’s imagination or estimation, then the whole foundation of scripture is a fabrication.  This is at the heart of the debate of the book of Genesis.  If Adam and Eve are myths, then the fall is a myth, therefore the need for redemption is a myth. If there was no fall, why do we need redemption?

Modern critics of Genesis claim there are several authors of the book. In a theory popularized and widely accepted by liberals, Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) proposed that the author of Genesis and other books of the Bible were not really Moses and Joshua.  He proposed these documents were written during the time of Hezekiah to Ezra, by various authors who attributed to them to Moses.  He wrote these stories were the legends of Babylon, Egypt and other cultures which were verbally passed down through generation and attributed to Moses.  His theory known as the “Documentary Hypothesis”, it is also called the “J,E,D,P Hypothesis”.    The letters represent the writers who were responsible for their respective portions, J stands for the “Jehovoist Document” supposedly written about 950 BC, was marked by the word Jehovah;  The E stands for the “Elohist Document” written about 850 B.C. marked by the use of the term “Elohim”.  According to the theory these were later revised in 620 B.C. with this document known as the D or “Deuteronomist Document”. Finally the Jewish priesthood revised it further, hence the “P” stands for “Priestly  Document”. 

The presumption of the theory is the use “Oral transmission” and a rejection of the “Supernatural” revelation.  The idea that the Hebrews in the time of Moses had no way to transmit their history and documents has been completely debunked today.  In fact in Byblos, Lebanon is the tomb of King Ahiram who is dated to only 300-years after Moses. Around his tomb is an inscription using 22-letter alphabet, which was also used by the Hebrews, Phoenicians and Moabites in Palestine.  The writing on this tomb and others validates the existence a very literate culture in the time of Moses. The discovery of Ugarit[4], modern Ras Shamra in Syria has further validated a vibrant literal culture which existed in Moses’ day.

Secondly, the presumption of the critics is the rejection of the super-natural; therefore their goal is not to reconcile reality but to remove the supernatural element of scripture, this is their starting point.

As we shall see, not only does science validate a literal, historical view of Genesis, but archeology time and time again validates the historicity of Genesis.  Dr. Nelson Glueck, the leading Israeli archeologist writes,


As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categorically that no archaeological  discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.  Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.[5]


Therefore, there is more then ample reason we can reject the prejudged liberal reasoning of today Bible skeptics.


Moses as author of Genesis


MosesGenesis along with the rest of the Torah or Pentateuch are known as the books of Moses.  It is clear from four of these books Moses lived during the events in these books (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).  Genesis presents another problem, Genesis ends with the death of Joseph, which took place almost 400-years before the birth of Moses.  Genesis also starts with the creation of the Universe, and records the creation of Adam, events which predate Moses by thousands of years.  How could Moses write about these events?

Jesus Himself, ascribes Moses as the author of the Law, which means Torah, synonymous with the first 5 books of the Bible.


27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  Luke 24:27,44)


There are 3 possible ways Moses could be the author of Genesis which predates him by at least 400-years as put forward by Henry Morris in the Genesis Record.


There are three possibilities: (a) he received it all by direct revelation from God, either in the form of audible words dictated by God and transcribed by him, or else by visions given him of the great events of the past, which he then put down in his own words, as guided subconsciously by the Holy Spirit; (b) he received it all by oral traditions, passed down over the centuries from father to son, which he then collected and wrote down, again as guided by the Holy Spirit; (c) he took actual written records of the past, collected them, and brought them together into a final form, again as guided by the Holy Spirit.[6]


The Bible makes no apology for being a “Revealed” by authored by the “Spirit” of God through human means, hence the word “Inspired”.  Just as we think nothing of writing our notes with a pen, if we stop for a moment and thought, the pen is actually the instrument doing the writing. We are the power behind the pen. We make the pen write our thoughts, in the same way the Bible and Genesis in particular is inspired by God.  No one could have known the events on the first day of creation, other then God.  No one could have known the details of how the life was created, or man was formed other then God.  Either God choose to reveal these events or they were fabrications in the minds of writers. 

Clearly, God could choose to reveal these events to Moses or earlier authors if He chose to do so.  We know from the book of Exodus, Moses had extended periods of time in the Presence of God, where Moses received supernatural revelation.


16 Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

17 The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.

18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nigh  Genesis 24:16-18


Henry Morris argues, that Moses more then likely was the compiler of earlier writings passed on from Adam, to Enoch, to Noah, to Shem, to Abraham and finally to Moses.  God supernaturally affirmed the words of these earlier prophets, which was compiled by Moses and placed alongside the four other books of the Law.  Morris argues the term in Genesis of “These are the generations of....” essentially means “Origins” or records of origins.  There are eleven such divisions in Genesis.  

Regardless of the method, whether the documents were passed from Generation to Generation or whether Moses received super-natural revelation on Mt. Sinai, in either case, Genesis is a book of super-natural revelation. 


Principles of Interpretation


Hebrew Dead Sea ScrollsThis leads to our next topic; just how one should read the book of Genesis.  How should we interpret the words written in these early chapters?  Should we take them literally or allegorically? This field in known as Hermeneutics, which comes from the Greek Word interpret.

Today there are two main schools in the interpretation of Genesis, especially the first 11 chapters.  Some argue for a literal interpretation others for an allegorical or symbolic interpretation.    Encyclopedia Britannica writes the following regarding these two methods.



Literal interpretation asserts that a biblical text is to be interpreted according to the “plain meaning” conveyed by its grammatical construction and historical context. The literal meaning is held to correspond to the intention of the authors. This type of hermeneutics is often, but not necessarily, associated with belief in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, according to which the individual words of the divine message were divinely chosen. Extreme forms of this view are criticized on the ground that they do not account adequately for the evident individuality of style and vocabulary found in the various biblical authors. Jerome, an influential 4th-century biblical scholar, championed the literal interpretation of the Bible in opposition to what he regarded as the excesses of allegorical interpretation. The primacy of the literal sense was later advocated by such diverse figures as Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Lyra, John Colet, Martin Luther, and John Calvin[7]



Allegorical interpretation, a third type of hermeneutics, interprets the biblical narratives as having a second level of reference beyond those persons, things, and events explicitly mentioned in the text. A particular form of allegorical interpretation is the typological, according to which the key figures, main events, and principal institutions of the Old Testament are seen as “types” or foreshadowings of persons, events, and objects in the New Testament. According to this theory, interpretations such as that of Noah's ark as a “type” of the Christian church have been intended by God from the beginning.[8]



Do we reconcile Science and Scripture?


At conflict is how we reconcile scripture and science.  When science comes into conflict with scripture, which is right?  This was a problem addressed by the Catholic Church and their view of Darwin and the science behind Darwinian Evolution in light of Genesis.  The problem of this conflict does not face the Catholic Church alone, but everybody who strives to believe the Bible is God’s Word and yet also pride themselves on being logical observing what science is revealing about our world.

The question we need to address is the relevance of scripture.  Can the Bible be relied on to reveal the reality of the world today?  This is the core of the conflict, when we hear and are taught daily that Evolution as proposed by Darwin is a fact, and that this fact contradicts the Bible, how should we respond.  Here are four options.


1. Should we blindly accept the claims of science, as a group of “objective students” trying to discover the “Knowledge”?

2. Should we believe the Bible and reject any scientific claims which contradict the Bible?

3. Should we try to reconcile our Bible to claims of science?

4. Should we look for ways to reconcile “the claims” of science to the Bible?


[1] A presupposition is an assumed belief which is implied by the action of the person.  For example the Egyptian presupposes that there is an after life awaiting, therefore Pyramids are constructed with this belief in mind.   The scientist presupposes the possibility of life existing in the universe therefore probes are launched with this belief in mind.

[2] Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004 DVD article, Metaphysics as a science (from metaphysics)

[3] Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, pgs. 18-21, 1976, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[4] Ugarit was a Phoenician/ Canaanite city that discovered with a vast library fully intact.  The last phase of the city was dated to 1200 B.C., during the time of Joshua and the conquest of Canaan.  Scribes used a 30-letter alphabet dated to 1400 B.C., during the time of Moses.

[5] Ralph Linton, The Tree of Culture (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1955), p. 110

[6] Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, pg. 25,  1976, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[7] Encyclopedia Britanica 2004, hermeneutics article

[8] Ibid,