genesis Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
genesis in Easton's Bible Dictionary
The five books of Moses were collectively called the Pentateuch,
a word of Greek origin meaning "the five-fold book." The Jews
called them the Torah, i.e., "the law." It is probable that the
division of the Torah into five books proceeded from the Greek
translators of the Old Testament. The names by which these
several books are generally known are Greek.
The first book of the Pentateuch (q.v.) is called by the Jews
Bereshith, i.e., "in the beginning", because this is the first
word of the book. It is generally known among Christians by the
name of Genesis, i.e., "creation" or "generation," being the
name given to it in the LXX. as designating its character,
because it gives an account of the origin of all things. It
contains, according to the usual computation, the history of
about two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine years.
Genesis is divided into two principal parts. The first part
(1-11) gives a general history of mankind down to the time of
the Dispersion. The second part presents the early history of
Israel down to the death and burial of Joseph (12-50).
There are five principal persons brought in succession under
our notice in this book, and around these persons the history of
the successive periods is grouped, viz., Adam (1-3), Noah (4-9),
Abraham (10-25:18), Isaac (25:19-35:29), and Jacob (36-50).
In this book we have several prophecies concerning Christ
(3:15; 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10). The author of
this book was Moses. Under divine guidance he may indeed have
been led to make use of materials already existing in primeval
documents, or even of traditions in a trustworthy form that had
come down to his time, purifying them from all that was
unworthy; but the hand of Moses is clearly seen throughout in
genesis in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(origin), the first book of the law or Pentateuch, so called from its title ia the Septuagint, that is, Creation. Its author was Moses. The date of writing was probably during the forty-years wanderings in the wilderness, B.C. 1491-1451. Time. --The book of Genesis covered 2369 years,--from the creation of Adam, A.M 1, to the death of Joseph, A.M. 2369, or B.C. 1635. Character and purpose. --The book of Genesis (with the first chapters of Exodus) describes the steps which led to the establishment of the theocracy. It is a part of the writer's plan to tell us what the divine preparation of the world was in order to show, first, the significance of the call of Abraham, and next, the true nature of the Jewish theocracy. He begins with the creation of the world, because the God who created the world and the God who revealed himself to the fathers is the same God. The book of Genesis has thus a character at once special and universal. Construction. --It is clear that Moses must have derived his knowledge of the events which he records in Genesis either from immediate divine revelation or from oral tradition or written documents. The nature of many of the facts related, and the minuteness of the narration, render it extremely improbable that immediate revelation was the source from whence they were drawn. That his knowledge should have been derived from oral tradition appears morally impossible when we consider the great number of names, ages, dates and minute events which are recorded. The conclusion then, seems fair that he must have obtained his information from written documents coeval, or nearly so, with the events which they recorded, and composed by persons intimately acquainted with the subjects to which they relate. He may have collected these, with additions from authentic tradition or existing monuments under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, into a single book. Certain it is that several of the first chapters of Genesis have the air of being made up of selections from very ancient documents, written by different authors at different periods. The variety which is observable in the names and titles of the Supreme Being is appealed to among the most striking proofs of this fact. This is obvious in the English translation, but still more so in the Hebrew original. In Gen 1 to 2:3, which is really one piece of composition, as the title, v. 4, "These are the generations," shows, the name of the Most High is uniformly Elohim, God. In ch. #Ge 2:4| to ch. 3, which may be considered the second document, the title is uniformly Yehovah Elohim, Lord God; and in the third, including ch. 4, it is Yehovah, Lord, only; while in ch. 5 it is Elohim, God only, except in v. 29, where a quotation is made, and Yehovah used. It is hardly conceivable that all this should be the result of mere accident. The changes of the name correspond exactly to the changes in the narratives and the titles of the several pieces." Now, do all these accurate quotations," says Professor Stowe, "impair the credit of the Mosaic books, or increase it? Is Marshall's Life of Washington to be regarded as unworthy of credit because it contains copious extracts from Washington's correspondence and literal quotations from important public documents? Is not its value greatly enhanced by this circumstance? The objection is altogether futile. In the common editions of the Bible the Pentateuch occupies about one hundred and fifty pages, of which perhaps ten may be taken up with quotations. This surely is no very large proportion for an historical work extending through so long a period."--Bush. On the supposition that writing was known to Adam, Gen. 1-4, containing the first two of these documents, formed the Bible of Adam's descendants, or the antediluvians. Gen 1 to 11:9, being the sum of these two and the following three, constitutes the Bible of the descendants of Noah. The whole of Genesis may be called the Bible of the posterity of Jacob; and the five Books of the Law were the first Bible of Israel as a nation.--Canon Cook.
genesis in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
GEN'ESIS , the first book of the Bible, and by far the most interesting of all books relating to the primitive history of mankind. The term signifies "beginning" or "origin." Contents. -- Genesis gives us a history of the origin of the world, of the human family, of sin, of the promise of redemption, and of the Jewish people. The first eleven chapters are occupied with a general account of the creation of all things, and with the history of Adam, of the first inhabitants of the earth, of the Deluge, of Noah, and finally of the confusion of tongues at Babel. With the twelfth chapter begins the history of the patriarchs and the chosen people. A detailed account is given of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. There are no good grounds for doubting Moses to be the author. With the use of older documents and traditions, he compiled, under divine direction, the history as we have it. Much criticism has been expended upon the account it gives of the creation of man and of the world in the first chapter. Here as in no other ancient account God is sharply distinguished from matter, and is made to exist before the world. The universe comes into being at his command. The order of created things in Genesis is substantially the order of geology and biology. Both begin with the formation of the earth and proceed from the vegetable to animal life; both stop with man. The word translated "day" probably means an indefinite period. The "seventh day," which has no evening, ch. Gen 2:2, cannot refer to a day of 24 hours, but to the long redemptive period in which we are living. See Creation. Few if any existing documents have a more venerable age than has Genesis. Covering nearly 2500 years, it gives us the account of the preparation of this planet as an abode for man and the first annals of the race. Its value cannot be over-estimated as a fragment of literature or as a work of history, and it has been well observed that in the first page of Genesis a child may learn more in an hour than all the philosophers in the world learned without it in a thousand years.