Introduction: A Study of Genesis

We will begin a study of our Bibles that will prove to be profitable to you throughout your life as a Christian. The basis of our study will be the book of Genesis, which is found at the beginning of your Bible. As a matter of fact, the meaning of the word Genesis is beginning. Not only is Genesis found at the beginning of the Bible, but it also contains an explanation of the origin of many things. Genesis explains the origin of:

  • The universe and in particular our own world.
  • Life
  • Man
  • Marriage
  • Evil
  • Languages
  • Government
  • Culture
  • Nations
  • Religion

As you can see, Genesis is the foundation for many of the things we often take for granted. The New Testament refers to the book of Genesis in over 200 passages. Over 100 of those references are to the first eleven chapters. Every New Testament author and Jesus himself refers to this important book.

Genesis is so intertwined with the teachings of the Bible that a person cannot reject the book of Genesis without undermining the entire Bible. For example, how can you explain the need for a Savior without understanding how man had fallen prey to sin? If a person insists that Genesis is just a fable, then what will that person do with the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus' teachings that refer to Genesis as a factual account?

Who Wrote Genesis?

The first five books of the Bible are attributed to Moses. For example, in Luke 24:27,44, Jesus talks about the Law of Moses, Psalms, and the Prophets. The first five books of the Bible are often called the Law of Moses. The other books are Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It is interesting to note that sometimes these last four books are quoted with phrases such as "Moses said." However, none of the quotes from Genesis are prefaced with the phrase "Moses said." Some scholars explain this difference by stating that Moses wrote Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, but he only served as an editor and compiler of Genesis. The actual text of Genesis comes from people who lived before Moses.

There is some indication in Genesis to say that this belief is true. Throughout the book of Genesis, we find a Hebrew word toledoth appearing regularly. The word toledoth is translated as "These are the generations of ..." or "These are the records of ..." or "This is the history of ...". These appear to be signature lines of various authors of the previous transcript. The word toledoth appears eleven times:

  • Genesis 2:4                 The records of the heavens and the earth. This is God's history of the creation.
  • Genesis 5:1                 The records of Adam.
  • Genesis 6:9                 The records of Noah
  • Genesis 10:1               The records of Shem, Ham, and Japheth
  • Genesis 11:10             The records of Shem
  • Genesis 11:27             The records of Terah
  • Genesis 25:12             The records of Ishmael (contained within the following)
  • Genesis 25:19             The records of Isaac
  • Genesis 36:1,9            The records of Esau (contained within the following)
  • Genesis 37:2               The records of Jacob
  • Exodus 1:1                  The records of the children of Israel.

As we go through the book of Genesis, I will be pointing out the various transitions between each record. For those of you who have read Genesis, you will find that these divisions explain the apparent repetition of some of the facts presented within Genesis. There are no repetitions within the records, only between the various accounts.

About Our Study

Each lesson will begin with a study of a section of text from Genesis. These studies are designed to give you a better understanding of the story being presented. Hopefully, these studies will spur you to ask questions about the things that you have learned. I have complied lessons that answer questions that I have been asked in the past about the basic lessons. These lessons will appear as supplements to the basic lessons.

Each basic lesson begins with a reading and a set of questions. You should be able to answer the questions directly from the reading. The purpose of the questions is to make sure you read your Bible with understanding. It is easy to sit down and read from rote and not think about the meaning behind the words being read. The questions are designed to force you to go back and re-read the text if you are just reading by rote.

After answering the questions, read over the discussion section. Keep a pencil handy as you study. Jot down questions that come to mind as you think about the lessons you are learning. Ask your teacher the questions while you review the lesson together. Too often, if we don't write our questions down when we think of them, we forget to ask when there is an opportunity to get them answered.

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