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Origins of Genesis

      One of these themes of the Bible is found in the very first words of the Bible:

In 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


Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth
Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah
Genesis 10:1 These are the generations of Shem, Ham and Japheth
Genesis 11:10 These are the generations of Shem
Genesis 11:27 These are the generations of Terah
Genesis 25:12 These are the generations of Ishmael
Genesis 25:19 These are the generations of Isaac
Genesis 36:1 These are the generations of Esau
Genesis 36:9 These are the generations of Esau
Genesis 37:2 These are the generations of Jacob

      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 2:16)

      The toledoth theory does not prove anything, but it is one more piece of evidence that confirms the reliability of the Bible.