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Introduction to Genesis


Introduction to Genesis SITS 2011 By Cloyce Sutton II With many thanks and apologies to the poor brother who must decipher this mess. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Genesis

Introduction to Genesis
  • SITS 2011
  • By Cloyce Sutton II
  • With many thanks and apologies to the poor
    brother who must decipher this mess.

A Timely Study
  • Recent case of Martin Gaskell.
  • Denied employment at the University of Kentucky
  • He questions evolutionary theory
  • He tries to harmonize the Bible and science
  • Encourages students to look at both sides

Derek Kidner
  • There can scarcely be another part of Scripture
    over which so many battles, theological,
    scientific, historical and literary, have been
    fought, or so many strong opinions cherished.
    This very fact is a sign of the greatness and
    power of the book, and of the narrow limits of
    both our factual knowledge and our spiritual

Presentation Overview
  1. Title, Torah Canonicity (p 1-4)
  2. Authorship (p 5-12)
  3. Date Historicity (p 12-29)
  4. Structure, Outline Literary Features (p 29-37)
  5. Reading Interpreting Genesis (p 37-41)

  1. Kentucky-Bred Snobbery (p 43f)
  2. Traditional View of the Documentary Hypothesis (p
  3. Typical Source Analysis of Genesis (p 46f)
  4. OT Source Books (p 48)
  5. Time Periods of the Flood (p 49)
  6. Chronology of the Patriarchs (50)
  7. Genesis in the NT (p 51ff)

Hebrew Title
  • Hebrew
  • bereshit tyvarb
  • In the beginning
  • All books in the Pentateuch take their titles
    from the first word in the (Hebrew) text
  • Exodus These are the names (shemot)
  • Leviticus And he called (vayyiqra)
  • Numbers In the wilderness (bemidbar)
  • Deuteronomy These are the words (debarim)

Greek Latin Titles
  • LXX
  • Genesis genesiß
  • origin, source, race, creation, generations
  • Latin
  • Liber Genesis The Book of Genesis
  • Liber Genesis Hebraice Bereshit The book of
    Genesis, known in Hebrew as Bereshit
  • Incipit Liber Bresith id est Genesis Here
    begins the book Bresith which is Genesis

Genesis in the Torah
  • Hebrew Bibles are called Tanakh nt
  • Acronym representing the three sections of the
    Hebrew Scriptures
  • Torah hrt Law
  • Nebiim .yaybn Prophets
  • Ketubim .ybwtk Writings
  • See Luke 24.44
  • Genesis begins the Torah

  • Torah is usually translated as law in English.
  • Carries a wide range of meaning
  • law
  • guidance
  • instruction
  • discipline

OT/NT Descriptions of Torah
  • May refer to the whole Torah or part(s) of it
  • The law
  • The book of the law
  • The book of the law of Moses
  • The book of Moses
  • The law of the Lord
  • The law of God
  • Etc.

Authorship DH View
  • Documentary Hypothesis
  • The view that the Pentateuch is of composite and
    late authorship
  • Three or more groups of authors
  • Not Moses
  • No earlier than ca. 850 BC
  • If Moses did not write, then the contents are
    suspect (ie, their historicity).

Earliest Advocates of DH
  • B Spinoza
  • J Astruc
  • J G Eichhorn
  • J S Vater
  • W M L De Wette
  • H Ewald
  • W Vatke
  • V Hupfeld
  • K H Graf
  • J Wellhausen
  • S R Driver

Opponents of DH
  • Early
  • More Recent
  • E W Hengstenberg
  • F Delitzsch
  • J Orr
  • U Cassuto
  • O T Allis
  • E J Young
  • R K Harrison
  • G L Archer, Jr
  • K A Kitchen
  • D Kidner
  • G J Wenham

DH Assumptions
  • Linear evolution of Israelite culture
  • Late development of writing
  • Different Divine names imply different sources
  • Duplicate or similar stories indicate different
  • Anachronisms indicate different sources
  • Composite stories indicate different sources

DH Sources
  • J Yahwist
  • In Judah, Solomons time, prefers YHWH
  • E Elohist
  • N Israel, Divided monarchy, prefers Elohim
  • D Deuteronomist
  • Not in Genesis, Josiahs time
  • P Priestly
  • Post exilic, concerned with chronological,
    liturgical, legal genealogical matters

(No Transcript)
Sources in Genesis
  • See Appendix 3, p 46.

DH Critiques (1)
  • Assumption
  • Linear evolution of Israelite culture
  • Answer
  • Non-linear development is a better explanation.

DH Critiques (2)
  • Assumption
  • Writing did not exist at the time Moses.
  • Answer
  • Archaeology has demonstrated that writing existed
    well before the time of Moses.

DH Critiques (3)
  • Assumption
  • Multiple names for God indicates multiple
  • Answer
  • Other ANE sources use multiple names for deity.
  • May be explained on stylistic grounds.

DH Critiques (4)
  • Assumption
  • Duplicate or similar stories indicate multiple
  • Answer
  • Differences between the stories suggest that the
    stories are actually different.
  • May be explained as the authors use of type

DH Critiques (5)
  • Assumption
  • Anachronisms indicate that the documents are much
    later than the stories.
  • Answer
  • Anachronisms are a valid, but much overstated
  • They appear to be little more than minor scribal

DH Critiques (6)
  • Assumption
  • Different vocabulary and literary styles indicate
    multiple sources.
  • Answer
  • Best explained on literary grounds.
  • Variety of words and styles reflect literary
    capabilities of the author.
  • Variety of words and styles add depth to the

DH Critiques (7)
  • Assumption
  • Composite (interwoven) stories indicate multiple
  • Answer
  • A highly subjective criticism.
  • Often, dividing into sources renders any single
    account unintelligible.

DH Critique Conclusion
  • The evidence points to the following
    conclusion there is much more uniformity and
    much less fragmentation in the book of Genesis
    than generally assumed. The standard division of
    Genesis into J, E, and P strands should be
    discarded. This method of source criticism is a
    method of an earlier age, predominantly the 19th
    century. If new approaches to the text, such as
    literary criticism deem the Documentary
    Hypothesis unreasonable and invalid, then source
    critics will have to rethink earlier conclusions
    and start anew.

Moses as Author
  • Biblical references to his writing activities.
  • His unique position
  • Born an Israelite
  • Born as a Levite
  • Raised as an Egyptian
  • Familiarity with both cultures
  • Familiarity with regional geography

Some Difficulties
  • Torah books anonymously written
  • No explicit references as author
  • Consistent use of 3rd person references
  • Author never refers to I or we in
    narratives (contrast Luke or Nehemiah)
  • Speeches with I or we references always
    bracketed with 3rd person introductions.

Authorship Summary (1)
  • From a literary point of view, Moses was a
    collector of the patriarchal traditions
    (genealogies and their associated stories) and
    the author of the patriarchal accounts in Genesis
    12-50. From a historical point of view, he wrote
    as the leader who God used to birth the nation of
    Israel, which had grown out of the pastoral
    enclosed nomadic patriarchal family (contd)

Authorship Summary (2)
  • and continued as a fully developed network of
    clans and tribes. From a theological point of
    view, he wrote as a levitical priest who was the
    mediator of the theocratic covenant and law in
    Israel and wrote the patriarchal narratives in
    Genesis 12-50 with these priestly legislative
    concerns in mind.

Possible Dates For Moses
  • Generally
  • 15th c BC (early Exodus view)
  • or 13th c BC (late Exodus view)
  • Depends upon length of Egyptian sojourn
  • MT (430 years) versus LXX (215 years)
  • Compare
  • Exodus 12.40
  • 1 Kings 6.1
  • Judges 11.26

Genealogies in Genesis
  • Gn 4.16-24 Cains descendants
  • Gn 5 Adams descendants
  • Gn 10 Table of Nations
  • Gn 11 Shems descendants

Genealogies as Chronologies
  • Challenges
  • Incomplete genealogies
  • Ambiguous relationships
  • Variations in ancient versions
  • Symmetry suggests mnemonic purpose
  • Odd overlaps
  • External archaeological data

Narrative Synchronisms
  • Flood calendar
  • See Appendix 5 (p 49)
  • Lives Ages of the Patriarchs
  • See Appendix 6 (p 50)
  • Use of time in the Abraham story

Historicity of Genesis
  • NT assumes their historicity
  • Jesus genealogy traced to Adam
  • Doctrine of sin resurrection tied to Adam
  • First sin womans role
  • Curse upon the earth
  • Curse upon the serpent
  • Sarah wives today
  • Marriage divorce
  • Patriarchal faith examples
  • Noah baptism
  • Enoch godliness
  • Jacob, Esau election
  • Esau godlessness
  • Melchizedek Jesus as priests
  • Abraham justification
  • Promise to Abraham

Antiquity Internal Evidence
  • Divine names used only in Genesis
  • Patriarchal names used only in Genesis
  • Place names found only in Genesis
  • Angelology
  • Unique practices only in Genesis
  • Would-be anachronisms

Internal Evidence Summary
  • The many different kinds of internal biblical
    evidence cited above reinforce the case viewing
    Genesis as an authentic mirror of early
    historical tradition and weaken a claim of later
  • N Sarna

Antiquity Archaeology (1)
  • Primeval History (chp 1-11)
  • Similarities w/ ANE creation accounts
  • Similarities w/ ANE flood accounts
  • Historicity of Table of Nations
  • See following charts
  • Tower of Babel
  • See following charts

Table of Nations
  • 3rd m BC 12 names
  • Early 2nd m BC 19 names
  • Late 2nd m BC 34 names
  • Early 1st m BC 31 names
  • Late 1st m BC 9 names
  • Unknown 34 names
  • Some of the places span several periods.

(No Transcript)
Tower of Babel
  • Might be an ancient ziggurat
  • But note
  • Tower translates migdal lDgm
  • Normally refers to a fortified military structure
  • See Judges 9.46-57 2 Chronicles 26.9-15
  • Recently discovered Sumerian text speaks of a
    time when all the earth spoke one language.

Primeval Antiquity Summary
  • Genesis 1-11, according to my own rough count,
    contains 64 geographical names, 88 personal
    names, 48 generic names and 21 identifiable
    cultural items Each one of these has the
    potential for exposing the text to error Genesis
    1-11 clearly does not fit into the categories of
    myth, legend, parable, allegory, fairy tale,
    typology, or saga.
  • W Kaiser

Antiquity Archaeology (2)
  • Personal names
  • Place names
  • Migration patterns
  • War of Genesis 14
  • Family life
  • Business legal customs
  • Egyptian culture

DH Skepticism
  • We attain no historical knowledge of the
    patriarchs, but only of the time (1st m BC) when
    the stories about them arose in the Israelite
  • J Wellhausen

Relevant Sources
  • Mari (Syria) 18th c BC, Akkadian
  • Boghaz-Koy (NE Turkey) 16th c BC, Hittite
  • Nuzi (N Iraq) 15th c BC, Hurrian
  • Ras Shamra (Syria) 15th c BC, Ugaritic
  • Amarna (Egypt) 14th c BC, Egyptian

Patriarchal Names
  • Same or similar personal names verified
  • Name formation verified
  • Egyptian names verified
  • Place names verified

Geo-Political Setting
  • Migration patterns of Abraham patriarchs
  • Occupations of the patriarchs confirmed
  • War of Genesis 14 is reasonable only at this time

Patriarchal Family Life
  • Adoption of someone as an heir verified
  • Barren woman using surrogate verified
  • Adoption of son-in-law as legal heir verified
  • Long-distance marriage arrangements verified
  • Sale of birthrights confirmed
  • Deathbed blessings verified

Patriarchal Business Law
  • Slave prices verified
  • Treaty or contract forms verified

Egypt in Genesis
  • Settle in Goshen valid only in the period
    represented in Genesis
  • Accurate Egyptian terminology
  • Accurate portrait of Egyptian ideals, culture,

Antiquity of Genesis
  • We are compelled, once and for all, to throw out
    Wellhausens bold claim that the patriarchs were
    merely a glorified mirage of or from the Hebrew
    monarchy period. For such a view there is not a
    particle of supporting factual evidence, and the
    whole of the foregoing indicative background
    material is solidly against it.
  • K Kitchen

Structural Keys
  • Toledot statements
  • Geography
  • Seed Promise
  • Covenant
  • Emphasis

G Rendsburgs Analysis
  • Primeval History (1-11)
  • A - Creation fall (1.1-6.8)
  • A - Flood further fall (6.9-11.26)
  • Patriarchal History (12-15)
  • A - Abraham cycle (11.27-22.24)
  • B - Link Abrahams legacy (23.1-25.18)
  • C - Jacob cycle (25.19-35.22)
  • B - Link Jacobs legacy (35.23-36.43)
  • A - Joseph cycle (37.1-50.2)

Literary Features
  • I have included several samples of literary
    analysis from several sections of Genesis.
  • The literary analysis of Genesis is important in
    that it is one of two disciplines (the other one
    being archaeology) that has brought about the
    virtual downfall of the DH.
  • See the quotation on the next chart.

Literary Analysis DH
  • wherever the basic unity of a section can be
    established the Documentary Hypothesis can be
    called into question.
  • G Rendsburg

Reading Genesis
  • 40 narrative prose in OT
  • About 95 in Genesis
  • Three levels
  • Top Gods universal plan
  • Middle Story of Israel
  • Bottom Individual stories
  • Each story must be properly correlated within in
    all three levels

Elements of the Story
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Point of view
  • Characterization
  • Setting
  • Dialogue
  • Key words
  • Structure

Interpretive Issues
  • Day in chp 1
  • Function of the genealogies of chp 5, 11
  • Sons of God in chp 6
  • Extent of flood (chp 6-8)
  • Ungodly behavior of the heroes
  • Relation to other portions of Scripture

Interpretive Principles (1)
  • OT narrative does not usually teach a doctrine.
  • But compare Matthew 19.4f 22.31f.
  • OT narrative usually illustrates doctrines taught
  • Narratives record what happened, not necessarily
    what should have happened.
  • People in narratives do not always behave as they

Interpretive Principles (2)
  • Sometimes narrative does not tell us if something
    is good or bad.
  • Narratives are always selective and incomplete.
  • Narratives do not always answer all our
  • The hero of every story is ultimately God.

Genesis Then Now
  • We must translate from their world (the ANE) and
    ours (the Modern West).
  • See he chart by Walton, p 40f.

  • By way of conclusion, read the remarkable
    comparison between the opening chapters of
    Genesis and the closing chapters of Revelation.
  • From Halleys Bible Handbook, p 618.