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Nelson's Complete Book of BIBLE MAPS and CHARTS
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 1996 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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Chapter OneTHE PENTATEUCH
The first five books of the Bible-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy-are called by the Jews the Torah, a Hebrew term meaning "law" or "teaching." The translators of the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) called this grouping the Pentateuch, that is, "the fivefold book" (from the Greek penta, "five," and teuchos, "volume").
Traditionally, conservative Jews and Christians have held that Moses was in large measure responsible for the Pentateuch. Both the Old and New Testaments ascribe to Moses the authorship of this body of literature (Josh. 1:7; Dan. 9:11-13; Luke 16:29; John 7:19; Acts 26:22; Rom. 10:19), and there was general agreement regarding Moses' role until the eighteenth century.
In the modern period, however, it has often been asserted that behind the Pentateuch as we now have it are four separate documents (referred to as J, E, D, and P) which stem from a variety of periods in Israel's history and which were pieced together late in the Old Testament era. This theory (known as the "Documentary Hypothesis") arose in part to explain a number of questions about the text of the Pentateuch which are particularly apparent in Genesis. These include stories that seem to be virtual duplicates of each other, the use of particular divine names in certain portions of the text, sudden changes in style from one incident to another, and so forth.
It is doubtless the case that the Documentary Hypothesis owed much to naturalistic and evolutionary presuppositions regarding the development of ancient human society. Furthermore, little lasting agreement among scholars has emerged regarding the precise character and extent of the documents and sources which are alleged to lie behind the Pentateuch as we have it. It can now also be shown that many of the features which formerly seemed so strange are typical of other literatures from the ancient period. While not every problem has been fully explained, there are no compelling reasons to abandon Mosaic authorship.
While each book of the Pentateuch is concerned with God's covenantal relationship with His people, each book is, nevertheless, distinct and has its own particular subject matter.
The Pentateuch constitutes the first part of a major sequential biblical narrative extending from Genesis through 2 Kings. In this first section the accounts of creation and humankind's early history (Gen. 1-11) are linked to events in the lives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (Gen. 12-50). Those stories, in turn, are linked with accounts of Israel's greatest prophet, Moses. They include conflict with Egypt's pharaoh (Ex. 1-11), the rescue of Israel by God from Egypt (Ex. 12-15), Israel's rebellion and forty years of wandering in the wilderness (Ex. 16-Num. 21), and their arrival at the entrance to Canaan, the Land of Promise (Num. 22-Deut. 34).
The first book of the Pentateuch, Genesis, covers the vast period of time from creation to the journey into Egypt. The remaining four books, Exodus-Deuteronomy, cover a period of only about forty years.
As the title indicates, Genesis is a book of beginnings (the word "Genesis" comes from the Greek term meaning origin, source, birth, or beginning). In its description of God's creation of the world, the fall of man, the origins of the peoples of the earth, and the beginnings of God's covenant relationship with His chosen people Israel, the Book of Genesis provides the context and sets the stage for the rest of Scripture.
Although the Book of Genesis does not name its author, Scripture and much of Church history ascribe the book to Moses. Both the Old and New Testaments repeatedly testify to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (e.g., Josh. 1:7; Dan. 9:11-13; Luke 16:29; John 7:19; Acts 26:22; Rom. 10:19), and Mosaic authorship was not seriously questioned until the eighteenth century. Conservative Christians and Jews continue to acknowledge Moses as the author on the basis of the testimony of Scripture and the absence of plausible alternatives.
In writing the Book of Genesis, Moses doubtless utilized older written sources and oral traditions, as well as material directly revealed to him by God (Num. 12:8). Trained in the "wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22), Moses had been providentially prepared to understand and integrate, under the inspiration of God, all the available records, manuscripts, and oral narratives. The composition of the book was probably undertaken during the wilderness exile of Israel (c. 1446-1406 B.C.).
THEMES AND LITERARY STRUCTURE
The literary structure of Genesis is built around eleven separate units, each headed with the word generations in the phrase These are the generations or The book of the generations: (1) Introduction to the Generations (1:1-2:3); (2) Heaven and Earth (2:4-4:26); (3) Adam (5:1-6:8); (4) Noah (6:9-9:29); (5) Sons of Noah (10:1-11:9); (6) Shem (11:10-26); (7) Terah (11:27-25:11); (8) Ishmael (25:12-18); (9) Isaac (25:19-35:29); (10) Esau (36:1-37:1); (11) Jacob (37:2-50:26).
Genesis is the first chapter in the history of the redemption of man. In this work, four great events and four great people are emphasized.
Chapters 1-11 are dominated by four momentous events which form a basis for all subsequent biblical history.
(1) Creation: God is the sovereign creator of matter and energy, space and time. Human beings are the pinnacle of this creation. (2) Fall: Though originally good, this creation became subjected to corruption through the sin of Adam. In spite of the devastating curse of the Fall, God promises hope of redemption through the seed of the woman (3:15). (3) Flood: As humanity multiplies, sin also multiplies until God is compelled to destroy the human race with the exception of Noah and his family. (4) Nations: Though we are all children of Adam through Noah, God fragments the single culture and language of the post-flood world and scatters the peoples over the face of the earth.
Chapters 12-50 deal with four great people (Abraham and his descendants Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph), through whom God will bless the nations. The calling of Abraham (ch. 12) is the pivotal point in the book. The covenant promises God makes to Abraham are foundational to God's program of bringing salvation to all peoples.
OUTLINE OF GENESIS
Part One: Primeval History (1:1-11:9)
I. The Creation 1:1-2:25 A. Creation of the World 1:1-2:3 B. Creation of Man 2:4-25 II. The Fall 3:1-5:32 A. The Fall of Man 3:1-24 B. After the Fall: Conflicting Family Lines 4:1-5:32 III. The Judgment of the Flood 6:1-9:29 A. Causes of the Flood 6:1-5 B. Judgment of the Flood 6:6-22 C. The Flood 7:1-8:19 D. Results of the Flood 8:20-9:17 E. After the Flood: The Sin of the Godly Line 9:18-29 IV. The Judgment on the Tower of Babel 10:1-11:9 A. Family Lines After the Flood 10:1-32 B. Judgment on All the Family Lines 11:1-9
Part Two: Patriarchal History (11:10-50:26)
I. The Life of Abraham 11:10-25:18 A. Introduction of Abram 11:10-32 B. The Covenant of God with Abram 12:1-25:18 II. The Life of Isaac 25:19-26:35 A. The Family of Isaac 25:19-34 B. The Failure of Isaac .26:1-33 C. The Failure of Esau 26:34, 35 III. The Life of Jacob 27:1-36:43 A. Jacob Gains Esau's Blessing 27:1-28:9 B. Jacob's Life at Haran 28:10-32:32 C. Jacob's Return 32:1-33:20 D. Jacob's Residence in Canaan 34:1-36:43 E. The History of Esau 36:1-43 IV. The Life of Joseph 37:1-50:26 A. The Corruption of Joseph's Family 37:1-38:30 B. The Exaltation of Joseph 39:1-41:57 C. The Salvation of Jacob's Family 42:1-50:26
THE SIX DAYS OF CREATION
According to the Book of Genesis, God created the world and all that is in it in six days. Then He declared it all to be "very good" (1:31). The Creator rested on the seventh day (2:1-3).
While there were other "creation stories" among the pagan nations of the ancient world, the biblical account is unique in that God existed before creation and called the physical world into being from nothing (1:1, 2; John 1:2, 3). These pagan nations, particularly the Babylonians, believed the material universe was eternal and that it brought their gods into being. But Genesis describes a God who is clearly superior to the physical world.
God began organizing a shapeless and barren earth (1:2), providing light (1:3-5), and separating land from water (1:6-10). The creation of plant and animal life followed, including creatures of the sea, air, and land (1:11-25). Man and woman were created on the sixth day (1:26-28), before the Creator's Sabbath rest (2:1-3).
Scholars disagree about the length and character of the creation "days." Some believe these were actual twenty-four-hour days, some believe they were periods of undetermined length, while others see the six-day creation sequence as a literary framework. Regardless of the length of these days, the biblical writer declares that God created the world in orderly fashion as part of a master plan. The world did not just evolve on its own or by accident.
The "gap" theory, advanced to reconcile the biblical account of creation with geology, holds that creation in Genesis 1:1 was followed by catastrophe (1:2), then succeeded by God's re-creation or reshaping of the physical world (1:3-31). But this theory reduces God to a weak being with little control over His own creation. The powerful God who created the world also presides over its destiny.
Man and woman are the crowning achievements of God's creative work (Ps. 8:5). As free moral beings who bear the image of God, they were assigned dominion over the natural world (1:27, 28). They alone among the living creatures of the world are equipped for fellowship with their Creator.
GOD'S CREATIVE WORK
Though some scholars interpret the creation narratives of Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-25 as evidence for the presence of two different and inconsistent creation accounts, 2:4 does not introduce a new creation account but is rather an expansion of 1:26-27. The second chapter presupposes the first, and the differences are complementary and supplementary, not contradictory.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
The Garden of Eden was the first home of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman (2:4-3:24). Eden is a translation of a Hebrew word which means "Delight," suggesting a "Garden of Delight." The garden contained many beautiful and fruit-bearing trees, including the "tree of life" and "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (2:9).
Pinpointing the exact location of the Garden of Eden is difficult, although the best theory places it near the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Armenian highlands (see map on p. 9). A major catastrophe, perhaps the Flood of Noah's time, may have wiped out all traces of the other two rivers mentioned-the Pishon and the Havilah (2:11). But modern space photography has produced evidence that two rivers, now dry beds, could have flowed through the area centuries ago.
God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:17). They fell from their original state of innocence when Satan approached Eve through the serpent and tempted her to eat of the forbidden fruit (3:1-5). She ate the fruit and also gave it to her husband to eat (3:6, 7). Their disobedience plunged them and all of the human race into a state of sin and corruption.
Because of their unbelief and rebellion, they were driven from the garden. Other consequences of their sin were loss of their innocence (3:7), pain in childbearing and submission of the wife to her husband (3:16), the cursing of the ground and the resultant hard labor for man (3:17-19), and separation from God (3:23, 24).
The apostle Paul thought of Christ as the Second Adam who would save the old sinful Adam through His plan of redemption and salvation. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).
The Garden of Eden may have been located near the Tigris River, which the Bible calls Hiddekel (2:14).
THE TWO ADAMS CONTRASTED
Genesis 3:15 contains the promise of redemption, a promise fulfilled with the coming of Christ. The New Testament portrays Christ as the "Second Adam" whose obedience and sacrificial death on the cross undo Adam's disobedience (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:45). As the "Second Adam," Jesus triumphed over the same sort of temptation to which the first Adam succumbed.
AGES OF THE PATRIARCHS
The curse brought about by the Fall of Adam resulted in death for Adam and his posterity. Though lifespans were initially quite long (averaging over nine hundred years), they rapidly declined after the Flood.
Biblical genealogies (e.g., in Genesis, 1 Chronicles, etc.) are not necessarily sequential in the precise sense. In keeping with ancient genealogical practices, names are sometimes omitted within the list. The Hebrew term translated "begot" may also be translated "became the ancestor of."
The ark was a vessel built by Noah to save himself, his family, and animals from the flood sent by God (6:14-9:19). The ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with three decks. Scholars have calculated that a vessel of this size would hold more than 43,000 tons.
After almost a year on the water, the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat in what is now Turkey. Numerous attempts across the centuries to find the remains of the vessel have been futile. Shifting glaciers, avalanches, hidden crevices, and sudden storms make mountain climbing in the area extremely dangerous.
The ark reveals both the judgment and mercy of God. His righteous judgment is seen in the destruction of the wicked, but His mercy and care are demonstrated in His preservation of Noah, and, through him, of the human race. The ark is a striking illustration of Christ, who preserves us from the flood of divine judgment through His grace.
From the ancient world there are several other flood stories that are remarkably similar to the biblical account in many details. In the most famous of these, Utnapishti, the Babylonian "Noah," constructed a boat, which was about 180 feet long, 180 feet wide, and 180 feet high-hardly a seaworthy design. In stark contrast to these stories, the Book of Genesis presents a holy and righteous God who sends the flood in judgment against sin and yet mercifully saves Noah and his family because of their righteousness.
In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of the Flood and of Noah and the ark, comparing "the days of Noah" with the time of "the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:37, 38; Luke 17:26, 27). Other references to the Flood include Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; and 2 Peter 2:5.
Excerpted from Nelson's Complete Book of BIBLE MAPS and CHARTS Copyright © 1996 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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