Genesis (book of the Bible)

The Genesis is the first book of the Bible , called by the Jews Be-re-shith ( ‘in principle’) Hebrew word that begins with the book bereshit (Hebrew בראשׁיח, ‘in principle’). The word genesis (in Greek γένεσις, ‘origin’, ‘source’, ‘creation’) is the translation of the Hebrew title in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Bible).

The author of the book wants to demonstrate how Israel was chosen among the nations of the world and how it became the people of the god Yahweh. This choice, however, was not based on the merits of Israel’s ancestors, but on Yahweh’s unmerited grace. Focused from this angle, the creation of the world and of man, the covenant of the god Yahweh with man, the fall into sin, the life of the patriarchs and the covenant of grace with them are related.


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  • 1 Author, date and sources
  • 2 Background
  • 3 Contribution to theology
  • 4 Structure of the book
  • 5 Special Features
  • 6 Sketch
  • 7 See also
  • 8 Sources

Author, date and sources

List of stone-carved kings discovered in Iraq in 1922. Contains the names of several Sumerian kings who ruled before the “flood” described in Sumerian mythological texts. This would demonstrate that some of the Genesis myths (from the 1st millennium BC) come from older Sumerian myths (from the 2nd millennium BC). Photo: Ashmolean Museum

Author . Jewish tradition attributes to Moses the authorship of Genesis and of the four books that follow. The set of these books is called Pentateuch . The Pentateuch himself presents Moses as someone who wrote extensively (see Ex 17.14; 24.4; Dt 31.24).

The story of Moses presupposes a prehistory, such that Moses is not seen as the founder of the religion of Israel, but the patriarchs; This is the only way to explain why Israel accepted the message that Moses proclaimed as divine. Considering Moses’ own story, no one like him was so extraordinarily prepared for this work. The New Testament accepts Moses as the author. Jesus said: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote of me” (Jn 5.46).

Date . It is traditionally accepted that the exodus from Egypt occurred in the mid-15th century BC. n. and. It is stated in 1 Kings 6.1 that Solomon began to build the temple “in the year four hundred and eighty after the children of Israel left Egypt.” This is thought to have taken place around 960 BC. n. e., which places the exodus in the year 1440 a. n. and. Therefore, Moses would have written Genesis between 1440 and 1400 a. n. e., during the forty years of pilgrimage through the desert.

Sources . If Moses did indeed write the account of the origins of the world which, like the rest of the Book of Genesis , is closely related to the following books, the source of his information could not be ascertained with certainty. Perhaps it was by direct disclosure, or by older documents.

The oral or written tradition, supported by the longevity and good memory of the patriarchs, may also have influenced. Of course, it is impossible to reconstruct such sources, but using them in no way contradicts the doctrine of the full inspiration of Holy Scripture, nor should it be confused with “documentary theory.” This theory suggests that the Pentateuch is a compilation, carried out progressively over a thousand years, of four documents: the Yavista, the Elohista, the Priestly Code and the Deuteronomist.


Genesis rightly appears as the first book of the Old Testament and constitutes the essential introduction to the entire Bible .

Its historical accuracy as inspired scripture is certified by Jesus Christ [1] and the apostles [2] in the New Testament .

The Genesis contradicts all modern archaeological discoveries, and without providing any evidence- contradicts theories demonstrated more about creating Earth, of life and human beings.

Contribution to theology

In this book he clarifies issues such as the origin of the world, the original sin of man, the image of the god Yahweh, the progressive depravity of mankind and the promise of the final victory of the woman’s seed. It describes not only the need for the salvation of humanity, but also its realization in the beginning. It merges the general history of humanity with that of the patriarchs: “Blessed are you, all families” (12.3). Paul would later explain that these promises were given before the Law (Gl 3). Abraham’s story especially emphasizes faith in promise; that of Jacob and Esau, the divine choice; that of Joseph, divine providence.

Structure of the book

The book is divided into two main parts: the history of humanity (chaps. 1-11) and the history of the patriarchs, that is, the origin of the covenant people (chaps. 12–50). After the monumental account of creation, which underlines that the god Yahweh is the only Creator, the book itself suggests the following division by the word toledoth (used eleven times in Genesis and almost always translated “generations” in the King James Version) ) in the sense of “development history”:

  • Creation: The god Yahweh created all things, and Adam and Eve whom he placed in the garden of Eden (chapters 1-2).
  • The Fall: Adam and Eve, by their transgression, introduced the curse of sin and death into human history (chapter 3).
  • Cain and Abel : This tragedy set in motion the two fundamental currents of history: humanistic civilization and a redeeming remnant (chapters 4-5).
  • The Universal Flood : The ancient world had become so sinful that Yahweh destroyed it with a universal flood, saving only righteous Noah and his family as a remnant (chapters 6-10).
  • The Tower of Babel : When the post-Flood world was unified into idolatry and rebellion, Yahweh dispersed it by fragmenting language and culture, and spreading the human race across the Earth (Chapter 11).

Chapters 12-50 record the origin of the Hebrew people and focus on the progressive redemptive plan of the god Yahweh through the lives of the four great patriarchs of Israel: Abraham, Isaac , Jacob, and Joseph. Yahweh’s call to Abraham (chapter 12) and his covenant relationships with him and his seed form the decisive beginning of the realization of Yahweh’s purpose regarding the redeemer and the redemption of history. Genesis concludes with the death of Joseph and the impending slavery of Israel in Egypt .

Special features

  • It was the first written book of the Bible(with the possible exception of the Book of Job , around 500 B.C.E.) and records the beginning of human history, sin, the Hebrew people, and redemption.
  • The Genesisstory spans a longer period of time than the rest of the Bible . It begins with the first human couple, extending into pre-Flood world history, and then concentrating on Hebrew history as the redemptive current that follows through the rest of the Old Testament .
  • The Genesisargues that the material universe and life on Earth are the work of the Lord God and not an independent process of nature. Fifty times in chapters 1-2 the god Yahweh is presented as the subject of verbs that show what he did as a creator.
  • Genesis is the book of the first events: it records the first marriage , the first sin , the first murder , the first polygamist , the first musical instruments , the first promise of redemption, and so on.
  • The covenant of the god Yahweh with Abraham that began with his calling in chapter 12, was formalized in chapter 15, and was ratified in chapter 17, is of central importance in all scriptures.
  • The Genesisexplains the origin of the twelve tribes of Israel, and documents how the descendants of Abraham went to Egypt , where they remained for 430 years and setting the stage for the exodus , the central redemptive event of the Old Testament .


  • The beginning of human history (1: 1-11: 26).
  • Origin of the universe and of life (1: 1-2: 25).
  • Origin of sin (3: 1-24).
  • Origins of civilization (4: 1-5: 32).
  • The Universal Flood: The Judgment of the God Yahweh on Primitive Civilization (6: 1-8: 19).
  • New beginning of humanity (8: 20-11: 26).
  • The origins of the Hebrew people (11: 27-32).
  • Abram’s call and journey of faith (12: 1-14: 24).
  • Yahweh’s formal covenant with Abram (15: 1-21).
  • Hagar and Ishmael (16: 1-16).
  • Abrahamic covenant sealed with a new name and circumcision (17: 1-27).
  • Abraham’s promise and Lot’s tragedy (18: 1-19: 38).
  • Abraham and Abimelech (20: 1-18).
  • Isaac (25: 19-28: 9).
  • Jacob (28: 10-26: 43).
  • Joseph (37: 2b-50: 26).


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