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Origins of Genesis
One of these themes of the Bible is found in the very first words
of the Bible:
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
These words state that God is the Creator of everythingtime,
space, and matterand form the foundation upon which everything else in
the Bible is built.
The Bible not only claims to tell us about God, it claims that it
is in fact the very word of God. Jesus Himself referred to the Torah, the
first five books of the Bible, as the word of God. In his second
letter to Timothy Paul stated that all Scripture is inspired by God
[lit. God-breathed] (2 Timothy 3:16)
It is interesting to note how much controversy those few words of
Genesis 1:1 have caused in recent years. The real issue is not one of
science, although that is often how the debate is argued, but one of
truth. If these words are not truth then nothing in the Bible is.
No human observer was there at the time of creation. The only
eye-witness testimony we have as to what happened is the testimony
recorded in Genesis chapter 1, and if it is not true then the foundation
for the entire Bible is weak and crumbling. Is it possible to answer the
question of what is the origin of these words?
The first five books of the Bible are known collectively as the
book of Moses. It is certainly clear that Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
and Deuteronomy were written by him and comprise his autobiography. But
nowhere does the Bible say that he was the author of Genesis. Actually, if
Moses were the author of Genesis, then he would have had to written it
based solely on hearsay, since he could not possibly have had personal
knowledge of the events.
Over the last three centuries Bible scholars have noticed that
there seem to be multiple authors of the book of Genesis. For example, the
creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4a is distinctively different from that
found in Genesis 2:4b-25. When studied in the original language it is
noticed, for instance, that the first account only uses the word Elohim
for God, while the second account uses only the name Yahveh Elohim,
or Lord God.
P. J. Wiseman was an archaeologist who worked on some of the most
important sites in Mesopotamia. As a result of his studies and his
knowledge of ancient languages, he re-examined the structure of Genesis.
His conclusions are eye opening.
There is a particular phrase that occurs repeatedly-11 times in
allthroughout Genesis: elleh toledoth, often translated these
are the generations of
This phrase is simply known as the toledoth.
Wiseman noted that throughout the region of Mesopotamia it was
common for records to be made on clay or stone tablets. The writer would
end the tablet with a phrase that indicated identity of the writer plus
other information, such as the date.
Wiseman proposed that the toledoth was such a signature that
indicated who was the author of the preceding section. He further
suggested that Genesis was actually a collection of clay or stone tablets
that was the eye-witness account of the writer.
This idea is further supported by the insertion of the word sepher
in Genesis 5:1. Sepher literally means written narrative or
document. Wiseman pointed out that the books of antiquity were
actually clay tablets.
It is often taught that the creation account and the stories of the
early patriarchs were stories like folk tales that were passed by word of
mouth from generation to generation until they were finally written down.
Now it is known, however, that writing dates back as far as archaeological
records exist, so there is every reason to accept the idea that the
patriarchs knew how to write.
Putting these clues together leads to the conclusion that the early
patriarchsAdam, Noah, Shem, etc.each wrote a record of what they
experienced. Stone tablets are an ideal medium, since they are durable.
These tablets were then passed from generation to generation.
What Moses probably did was to collect the tablets that had been
brought to Egypt by Jacob and preserved during the time the Jews lived in
Egypt. He then put them together as any good historical editor would do
with the important documents of a nation.
This would mean that Genesis is a collection of first hand
historical accounts diligently maintained by Jacobs family and
preserved by Moses. In fact, the very name Genesis is the Greek
equivalent of the Hebrew toledoth.
The toledoth, or generations, theory thus explains the structure
and content of Genesis, except, perhaps, for the first tablet.
Following this theory through to its logical conclusion, it would appear
that the author of the first tablet was God Himself.
That God can and did write on stone tablets should come as no
surprise. He did it twice for Moses as He wrote the Ten Commandments.
There is also a major similarity between the record in Genesis
1:1-2:4a and the Ten Commandments. In both records God stated that He
created the heavens, earth and everything in them in six days and rested
on the seventh.
This is significant for those who like to claim that the day
of Genesis 1 was an indeterminate length of time. It is clear in the Ten
Commandments when God is speaking of the sabbath day that He is referring
to a normal day. It is in the context of the fourth commandment that God
draws a strong parallel between the six days of our labor and the six days
of His labor in creation.
What an incredibly exciting document! Who else could give us an
accurate account of what happened during the time of creation other than
the Creator Himself?
Many of you know that I have been trained in science, which is
steeped in naturism. Over the years I have discovered that God has had to
alter my view of the world to conform to His revealed truth. Paul wrote to
the Corinthian church, We have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians