Encyclopedia > Book of Genesis

  Article Content

Genesis

Redirected from Book of Genesis

This is about the religious book Genesis. See for the pop group, Genesis (band). See for the console system, Sega Genesis.
Genesis (Hebrew: Bereshit) is the first book of the Torah and also the first book of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament).

Jewish custom divides the book into twelve parashiot (weekly readings); one of which is read each week during the yearly cycle of Torah readings.

Genesis tells the story of God's creation of the world, the creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden, and God's discovery that man alone could never be happy, for "man had no helpmate;" God thus creates a mate for man, Chava (in English: Eve). Genesis goes on to recount the story of their first two children, Cain and Abel, the development of the peoples of the world, and the eventual flood that God brought upon the world to blot out sin and give the world a fresh start (the story of Noah and the Ark). The story then moves on to cover the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob, Rachel[?] and Leah[?].

Based on the genealogical data given for early mankind, some have dated God's Creation of the world to the latter part of the 5th millennium BC. This date is based on a literal reading of the creation account and the assumptions that the six days in which God created the heavens and the earth were 24-hour days[?], that Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden existed, and that a complete trace of events from Creation to a historically verifiable date is listed in the biblical account. It may be, as even some traditionalists maintain, that such a prosaic reading of Genesis is a misreading of the literature. At any rate, this date of Creation is in conflict with modern scientific theory (see Big Bang).

Genesis makes no claims about its authorship; Jewish tradition from early on assumed that the entire book was dictated, in its entirety, by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. For a number of reasons, this view is no longer accepted by most biblical scholars, non-Orthodox Jews, Catholics, and liberal Protestants. Instead, they accept that the text of Genesis as we see it today was redacted together very early on from two earlier sources, denoted as the "J" source and "E" source. See the JEDP theory entry for more information.

Nonetheless, all agree that the text has a distinct unity of its own, and is very unlike the other four books of the Torah.

Teachings

  • Unlike some other texts, e.g., from Sumerian Mythology, but like Zoroastrianism, Genesis posits the existence of one and only being that may properly be called God. All other non-human intelligences implied to exist in the text may only be considered angels or the like. God is presented as being the sole creator of nature, and as existing outside of it and beyond it.
  • Some believe Genesis to be a more recent example of monotheistic belief than Zoroastrianism, interpreting the commandment "have no other gods before me" as an artifact of early henotheism among the Jews -- i.e., as evidence that the Hebrews were not to worship the gods of other poeples, but only their own tribal god. On the other hand, Genesis, in its present form, purports to give record of beliefs prior to any surviving religious texts, describing the worship of other gods and local deities as a gradual development among the nations, who departed from original monotheism.
  • The primary purpose of the book is not historical or legal, but to explain man's origins, and to describe man's relationship to God, and how man's relationship to man must be seen in that light.
  • All of mankind is descended from a common ancestor; therefore, all humans are equally created in the image of God.
  • God created an eternal, unbreakable covenant with all mankind at the time of Noah; this is known as the Noachide covenant. This universal concern with all mankind is paralleled by a second covenant made to the descendants of Abraham in particular, through his son Isaac, in which their descendants will be chosen to have a special destiny. The Jewish people are chosen by God to be in a special covenant with God; this covenant is the Torah. In the words of the later prophets, they are to be a light unto the nations.



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
 
 
  
  Featured Article
Agriculture

... = 60 pounds (lb) ≈ 27.215 kg. 1 quintal of corn = 56 pounds ≈ 25.401 kg] Very recently, genetic engineering has begun to be employed to speed up th ...