Genesis - an Overview to the
This is a book of historical
The human author/compiler - Moses
Two main sections
The Introduction to Creation (1:1 - 2:3) - how we got here, who we
[Most of the details in this introduction could only be known by God,
for there were no humans to witness these events. We know these things only
because God has revealed them to us.]
A compilation of 10 historical "accounts" (2:4 - 50:26) - various
significant things that happened during the early years of earth's history.
The word "account" includes concepts such as history, genealogy, and the
beginnings (or birth) of something. (Different translations will use words
such as: account, generation, history, story,
or when it involves a list of descendents, genealogy.)
[For the most part, these 10 "accounts"
could have been based on accurately transmitted eyewitness descriptions of
* See the NOTE at the end of this article, about the
significance of these two different sections. *
Some interesting things about this
It is the foundation for everything else in the Bible.
It has the answers for many of the most basic questions of life -
who God is, who we are, the reason for living, etc.
Other creation accounts have been found in early civilizations. They
often have many similarities to what is found in Genesis; however, these
other accounts tend to be quite fanciful and exaggerated.
- The book is noted for its use of numbers for symbolic or literary
purposes - most significantly, 10, 7, 12 and 40. [Such a use does not imply
that we are to hunt for "hidden meanings" in numbers. (The Bible never suggests
such a thing!) Most of the numbers in Genesis are not used in a
symbolic or literary
way; and some of the other books in the Bible never use numbers
There are striking parallels between the first 3 chapters of Genesis,
and the last 3 chapters of Revelation.
Common themes in the book of Genesis
Contrasts between God and creation - many contrasts can be found,
especially as they relate to God's holiness and power, contrasted to the
sinfulness and weakness of humanity.
God's gracious blessings - their reception is based upon God's kindness,
rather than on a person's heritage. [Normally, the greatest blessings and
the greatest portion of a family's inheritance would go to the firstborn
son. But when it came to God's special blessings, birth order and other "natural
rights" had no effect.]
Something to do
Briefly look through the book, and see if you can spot some of the common
themes or interesting features.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
* NOTE - regarding the two main sections of the
book of Genesis:
The difference between Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the rest of the book should be
emphasized. It should be remembered that the first chapter is not
one of the ten "eyewitness" accounts (events observed by humans), but
is something that God alone could
witness. The Genesis 1 account of creation is separate from the creation
account that is found in chapter 2:4-25, which focuses on the man and the
This fact is important because many people try to use various statements mentioned
in the second account, torn out of context, to discredit what is
said in the first account. One such example is the use of the word
"day," in chapter 2:4, which may be interpreted as figuratively representing
the entire creation week of chapter 1. Some people try to superimpose this
figurative use into chapter 1, in an attempt to do away with its natural
meaning of "24-hour time period."
For more about this issue, see:
"A Look at the Word "Day" in Genesis 1"
Dennis Hinks © 2001