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The Orthodox Study Bible
By Thomas Nelson Publishers
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2008 St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology
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The First Book of Moses
Author—Traditionally, both Jews and Christians believe Moses is the author and compiler of Genesis and of each of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch.
Date—Genesis was written during Israel's forty years of wandering in the wilderness, in the time between the crossing of the Red Sea and the entrance into Canaan.
Major Theme—The early history of man and of Israel. Genesis, which means "origin," is divided into two parts. The first is the account of the creation of the world and the beginning of the human race with Adam and Eve, and the history of their descendants. The second part of Genesis concerns the early history of Israel, starting with the three patriarchs of the Hebrews, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve tribes that were their descendants. God created all things good, and although His creation rebelled and sinned against Him, He still loves and cares for His people.
Background—Genesis covers the longest time span of any book in the Bible, stretching from the creation of the world to the coming of the Hebrews to Egypt. The first three chapters of Genesis are reflected in the last three chapters of Revelation, the Alpha and Omega of writings "given by inspiration of God" (2Ti 3:16).
"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible." These opening words of the Nicene Creed, the central doctrinal statement of Christianity, affirm that the One True God is the source of everything that exists—both physical and spiritual, both animate and inanimate. The Holy Scriptures begin with a similarly striking assertion: "In the beginning God made heaven and earth." St. Basil the Great declares:
In the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, Moses has anticipated inquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a safeguard, the awesome name of God: 'In the beginning God created.' It is He—beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists ...—it is He who 'in the beginning created heaven and earth.'
The ever-existent Almighty God was not forced to create the universe. Rather, in His goodness and lovingkindness, He freely chose to do so. And the fact that the Lord created the universe out of nothing stands in clear contrast to the creation myths of the surrounding cultures in the ancient world.
The central role of Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father, in the creation of all things is plainly stated in the first chapter of the apostle John's gospel, where it is written, "In the beginning was the Word, ... All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." And the specific role of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Undivided Trinity, in the creation of the world is seen in Genesis 1:2 (see also Ps 103:30; 32:6).
Regarding questions about the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of creation, and about various viewpoints concerning evolution, the Orthodox Church has not dogmatized any particular view. What is dogmatically proclaimed is that the One Triune God created everything that exists, and that man was created in a unique way and is alone made in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26, 27). The Church Fathers also consistently affirm that each species of the animate creation came into existence instantaneously, at the command of God, with its seed within itself.
The development of life was not by accident. Rather, Supreme Intelligence and Impenetrable Wisdom were at work in the creation and sustenance of all that exists. In discussing various scientific theories of his day, St. Basil the Great declared, "If there is anything in this [or any other] system which seems probable to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order—the wisdom of God." He also wrote, "We must still remain faithful to the principle of true religion and recognize that all that exists is sustained by the Creator's power."
The repeated affirmation "and God saw that it was good" in Genesis 1 underscores the intrinsic, fundamental goodness of matter and the whole created order, even after the Fall. This understanding is the basis for a sacramental world-view—that the created order not only is good, but also can be a means for communion with God, by virtue of being created by the All-Good God. Moreover, the astounding beauty, intricate order, and sublime harmony of all aspects of Creation, as well as the tremendously vast expanse of the universe, are intended to draw mankind to an awareness of and appreciation for the Creator, and to the worship of Him—and Him alone (see Ps 18:1-4; Rom 1:20).
1 In the beginning God made heaven and earth. 2 The earth was invisible and unfinished; and darkness was over the deep. The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. 3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 God saw the light; it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day; the darkness He called Night; and there was evening and morning, one day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide the water from the water"; and it was so. 7 Thus God made the firmament, and God divided the water under the firmament from the water above the firmament. 8 So God called the firmament Heaven, and God saw that it was good; and there was evening and morning, the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the water under heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. The water under heaven was gathered into its places, and the dry land appeared. 10 So God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas; and God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the herb of grass, bearing seed according to its kind and likeness. Let the fruit tree bear fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind on earth." It was so. 12 Thus the earth brought forth the herb of grass, bearing seed according to its kind and likeness. The fruit tree bore fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind on earth. God saw that it was good. 13 So evening and morning were the third day.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven for illumination to divide day from night. 15 Let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years. Let them be for illumination in the firmament of heaven to give light on the earth." It was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 19 So evening and morning were the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the waters bring forth creatures having life, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of heaven's firmament." It was so. 21 Thus God made great sea creatures and every living thing that moves with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on earth." 23 So evening and morning were the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: the quadrupeds, the creeping things, and the wild animals of the earth according to their kind." It was so. 25 So God made the wild animals of the earth according to their kind, the cattle according to their kind, and all the creeping things on earth according to their kind. God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of heaven, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that moves on the earth." 27 So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them. 28 Then God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of heaven, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
29 Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb that sows seed on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 I also give every green plant as food for all the wild animals of the earth, for all the birds of heaven, and for everything that creeps on the earth in which is the breath of life." It was so. 31 Then God saw everything He had made, and indeed, it was very good. So evening and morning were the sixth day.
2 Thus heaven and earth and all their adornment were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the works He made, and He rested on the seventh day from all the works He made. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His works God began to make.
4 This is the book of the genesis of heaven and earth when they were made, in the day the Lord God made heaven and earth, 5 before any plant of the field was on earth and before any herb of the field sprang up. For God had not sent rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a fountain came up from the ground and watered the whole face of the earth. 7 Then God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The Garden of Eden
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man He formed. 9 Besides this, God caused every tree beautiful to the sight and good for food to grow from the ground. Also, in the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of learning the knowledge of good and evil. 10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it separated into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon. It circles all the land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. The carbuncle and the emerald are there as well. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon. It circles all the land of Ethiopia. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris. It flows over against the Assyrians. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15 Then the Lord God took the man He formed and put him in the garden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded Adam, saying, "You may eat food from every tree in the garden; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death."
18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him." 19 Also, God formed out of the ground all the wild animals of the field and all the birds of heaven, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Thus whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all the cattle, to all the birds of heaven, and to all the wild animals of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 21 Thus God brought a trance upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and filled up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the Lord God built the rib He took from Adam into a woman, and brought her to him. 23 So Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh." 25 Now the two were naked, both Adam and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The Fall of Mankind
3 Now the serpent was more cunning than all the wild animals the Lord God made on the earth. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat from every tree of the garden'?" 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden; 3 but from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, 'You shall not eat from it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You shall not die by death. 5 For God knows in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil." 6 So when the woman saw the tree was good for food, was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree beautiful to contemplate, she took its fruit and ate. She also gave it to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of the two were opened, and they knew they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8 Then they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden that afternoon, and Adam and his wife hid themselves within the tree in the middle of the garden from the presence of the Lord God. 9 So the Lord God called Adam and said to him, "Adam, where are you?" 10 He replied, "I heard Your voice as You were walking in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." 11 Thus He said, "Who said you were naked? Have you eaten from the one tree from which I commanded you not to eat?" 12 Then Adam said, "The woman You gave me, gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 So the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." 14 Thus the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than all the wild animals of the earth. On your breast and belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall be on guard for His heel."
Excerpted from The Orthodox Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Copyright © 2008 St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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