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Home > Bible Studies > BibleJourney > Genesis > Issue 2

BibleJourney: Genesis

Issue 2

ISSN 1535-5187

A Quick Glance at Genesis
by Winn Griffin, D.Min.

Observing the Stuff!

Encountering Genesis: An Introduction
Genesis, often viewed as an epic drama, is the first of the five books called the Pentateuch. The Jews considered the Pentateuch as one book. Genesis derives its name from the Hebrew word bereshith (pronounced ba ra sheeth). In English we translate it in the beginning. The name Genesis comes from the Septuagint (LXX). The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible that was translated in the Intertestamental Period.

Parts of the Pentateuch are credited to Moses (Exodus 17.14; 24.3-7; Deuteronomy 31.24f.). Moses, most likely, was responsible for the choice of the material that appears in these five books without actually writing every word within them. While there are several views about how Genesis (and the other four books of the Pentateuch) came together, it seems wise to understand that the choice and arrangement of these books are the work of Moses.

The book of Genesis is comprised of two parts. The first eleven chapters provide the reader with a general history of primeval times. The exact period of time that occurred in these eleven chapters cannot be determined. At 11.27 a shift in the story occurs. Abraham and his family become the focus of the story.

The date of the life of Moses is often fixed at about 1370 B.C., while some scholars choose 1250 B.C. Moses may have first told these stories in this form in the desert while Israel was at Mt. Sinai.

At the core of the beginning stories in Genesis 1-11 is the focus on worshiping God and not straying into the worship of other gods. Within the land that God had promised Israel, through his word to Abraham, the second generation would face many temptations of which the prominent one would be worshipping other gods, not unlike their parents experienced in the wilderness. Worshiping God and not other gods is a key to understanding the stories in Genesis.

Interpreting the Stuff!

Understanding Genesis: A Quick Glance

Four Specific Events 1.1-11.26

Creation: 1.1-2.25. These two chapters provide the account of the creation. This is not a scientific account of creation. It is a theological account. Understanding these two chapters will help you comprehend the value that God placed on his creation of which humankind is the crown.

Fall: 3.1-5.32.. The story of humankind's temptation and fall prepares the reader to understand that the world in its fallen condition could not be laid at the feet of God. God judges Eve, Adam, and the serpent, and expels Adam and Eve from the Garden. The idea of paradise and a return to it by God's creation is the ultimate story of the rest of Scripture.

Flood: 6.1-9.29. The horror stories in today's world do not compare with the ultimate horror story of the flood. Mankind, in rebellion to God, is destroyed because infiltrated into every aspect of their lives was sin. In the midst of turmoil, Noah found grace in God's eyes and followed his instructions to build an ark in order to escape the judgment of God-the flood. God gave Noah a promise about the world and future judgments. The stories of Noah's children are told with all their warts.

Nations: 10.1-11.26. At Babel, sin found its pinnacle. God confused the languages of mankind so that mankind would not become like God. This is the conclusion of the stories of primeval history. The story of Salvation History begins with the story of Abraham.

Four Special People 11.27-50.26 [Help]

Abraham: 11.27-23.20. Genesis now tells the story of the beginning of the children of God through his fulfilled promises to Abraham. From Ur, Abraham Mapmoves to Haran along the trade routes of the ancient world. God took Abraham on a journey into Canaan where he was shown that he would become the father of a great nation and that God would provide a land for this nation to settle into and own. There are three sets of stories: Abraham's separation from Lot; the birth of his son Ishmael through Hagar; and the story of the birth of Isaac, the true heir that God promised to Abraham.

Isaac: 24.1-26.35. The story of God's dealings with Isaac and his sons Esau and Jacob.

Jacob: 27.1-36.43. This section tells the story of Jacob stealing Esau's birthright from him and fleeing. During the separation, God provided safety to Jacob. Finally, Jacob and Esau are reunited.

Joseph: 37.1-50.26. Joseph was a young arrogant individual whom God visited in dreams, through which God shared with him his destiny in life. In haste to become what he had dreamed about, he shared his dreams with his father and brothers. His brothers responded by selling him into slavery to Egypt. Through many temptations and trials Joseph allowed God's guidance to prevail in his life. From the pit of the prison to the pinnacle of position, God worked things out for good in the life of Joseph. .

Reading Genesis

Reading the stories is important in order to understand what God was saying to his children and thus still saying to us. Here are some ways to read Genesis.

Read Genesis...

According to its focus on generations:

According to its focus on beginnings:

  • The beginning of the world. 1.1-2.25. A denial of Atheism, Polytheism, Fatalism, Evolution, Pantheism, and Materialism.
  • The beginning of sin. 3.1-24. The model the enemy uses: tempting (3.1-6), yielding (3.6), and the results (3.7-24)
  • The beginning family. 4.1-26. The heritage, ancestry, and origin of our family roots.
  • The beginning of God's work to restore mankind. 11.27-12.3. The faithfulness of God to his promises.

According to its focus on special people:

  • Abraham: Supernatural Call
  • Isaac: Supernatural Birth
  • Jacob: Supernatural Care
  • Joseph: Supernatural Control

Thoughts To Contemplate

  • The world exists because there is a God and because he chose to create the world.
  • When God is in control, things go well. When we are in control, things don't go so well.
  • Even when we reject God and commit sin, he does not reject us.
  • God acted in history. His acts occur now in our lives.
  • Daily life is to be lived out as the person that God created you to be. While you live in a fallen world, you are the light through which others, lost in the darkness, can find real meaning and a new beginning in their life.
  • God is a God of beginnings. Where would you like for him to make a new beginning in your life? Let him!
Doin' the Stuff!

It is always important to apply what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to help you meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.

  • Why is it important to view the first part of Genesis as theology and not science?
  • How does God's idea of paradise influence the way you think and act today? o In what way does the story of Noah cause you to be alert to the infiltration of sin into your life?
  • Why is the idea of Salvation History important to the understanding of the Old Testament?
  • Read Genesis 1.1-2.4a
BibleHandbook: Resourse Stuff!

Read the following Dictionary Articles from Easton's Bible Dictionary, or the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Easton's is about a century old, therefore, some of the information is not current with newer Bible Dictionaries. ISBE is about seventy-five years old. You might read the articles off-line in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try The Revell Bible Dictionary now out of print but still can be ordered from amazon.com. One of these should suit your personal needs.

Genesis 1.1-11.26

Genesis 11.27-50.56

Genesis

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Copyright © 2001, Winn Griffin. All rights reserved. BibleJourney: An Almost Weekly Bible Study is a service of SBL Ministries. Unless otherwise stated, scripture quotations are from the International Standard Version (ISV) of the Bible®. Copyright © 2001 by The ISV Foundation, 2200 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705-7016. Used by permission of Davidson Press, Inc. All rights reserved internationally.

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