International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
I. GENERAL DATA
1. The Name
2. Survey of Contents
3. Connection with Succeeding Books
II. COMPOSITION OF GENESIS IN GENERAL
1. Unity of the Biblical Text
(1) The Toledhoth
(2) Further Indication of Unity
2. Rejection of the Documentary Theory
(1) In General
(a) Statement of Theory
(b) Reasons Assigned for Divisions
(c) Examination of the Documentary Theory
(i) Style and Peculiarities of Language
(ii) Alleged Connection of Matter
(iii) The Biblico-Theological Data
(v) Manner in Which the Sources Are Worked Together
(vi) Criticism Carried to Extremes
(2) In View of the Names for God
(a) Error of Hypothesis in Principle
(b) False Basis of Hypothesis
(c) Improbability That Distinction of Divine
Names Is without Significance
(d) Real Purpose in Use of Names for God
(i) Decreasing Use of Yahweh
(ii) Reference to Approach of Man to God, and Departure from Him
(iii) Other Reasons
(iv) Systematic Use in History of Abraham (e) Scantiness of the Materials for Proof
(f) Self-Disintegration of the Critical Position
(g) Different Uses in the Septuagint
III. STRUCTURE OF THE INDIVIDUAL PERICOPES
1. The Structure of the Prooemium (Genesis 1-2:3)
2. Structure of the 10 Toledhoth
IV. THE HISTORICAL CHARACTER
1. History of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
(1) Unfounded Attacks on the History
(a) From General Dogmatic Principles
(b) From Distance of Time
(c) From Biblical Data
(d) From Comparison with Religion of Arabia
(2) Unsatisfactory Attempts at Explaining the Patriarchal Age
(a) Explanation Based on High Places
(b) The Dating Back of Later Events to Earlier Times
(c) The Patriarchs as heroes eponymi
(d) Different Explanations Combined
(3) Positive Reasons for the Historical Character of Genesis
Individuality of Patriarchs, etc.
2. The Primitive History of Genesis 1-11
(1) Prominence of the Religious Element
(2) Carefulness as Regards Divergent Results of Scientific Research
(3) Frequent Confirmation of the Bible by Science
(4) Superiority of the Bible over Pagan Mythologies Babylonian and Biblical Stories
V. ORIGIN AND AUTHORSHIP OF GENESIS
1. Connection with Mosaic Times
2. Examination of Counter-Arguments
(1) Possibility of Later Additions
(2) "Prophecy after the Event" Idea
(3) Special Passages Alleged to Indicate Later Date
Examination of These
1. Lays Foundation for the Whole of Revelation-Creation, Fall, Man in Image of God, Sin, etc.
2. Preparation for Redemption-Promises and Covenants
I. General Data.
1. The Name:
The first book of Moses is named by the Jews from the first word, namely, bere'shith, i.e. "in the beginning" (compare the Bresith of Origen). In the Septuagint it is called Genesis, because it recounts the beginnings of the world and of mankind. This name has passed over into the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) (Liber Genesis). As a matter of fact the name is based only on the beginning of the book.
2. Survey of Contents:
The book reports to us the story of the creation of the world and of the first human beings (Genesis 1); of paradise and the fall (Genesis 2 f); of mankind down to the Deluge (Genesis 4; compare Genesis 4, Cain and Abel); of the Deluge itself (Genesis 6-9); of mankind down to the age of the Patriarchs (Genesis 10:1-11:26; compare 11:1, the building of the tower of Babel); of Abraham and his house (Genesis 11:27-25:18); of Isaac and his house (Genesis 25:19-37:2); of Jacob and of Joseph (Genesis 37:2-50:26). In other words, the Book of Genesis treats of the history of the kingdom of God on earth from the time of the creation of the world down to the beginning of Israel's sojourn in Egypt and to the death of Joseph; and it treats of these subjects in such a way that it narrates in the 1st part (Genesis 1:1-11:26) the history of mankind; and in the 2nd part (Genesis 11:27-50:26) the history of families; and this latter part is at the same time the beginning of the history of the chosen people, which history itself begins with Exodus 1. Though the introduction, Genesis 1-11, with its universal character, includes all mankind in the promise given at the beginning of the history of Abraham (12:1-3), it is from the outset distinctly declared that God, even if He did originally set apart one man and his family (Genesis 12-50), and after that a single nation (Exodus 1), nevertheless intends that this particularistic development of the plan of salvation is eventually to include all mankind. The manner in which salvation is developed historically is particularistic, but its purposes are universal.
3. Connection with Succeeding Books:
By the statements just made it has already been indicated in what close connection Genesis stands with the subsequent books of the sacred Scriptures. The history of the chosen people, which begins with Exodus 1, at the very outset and with a clear purpose, refers back to the history as found in Genesis (compare Exodus 1:1-6, 8 with Genesis 46:27; Genesis 50:24; and see EXODUS, I, 3), although hundreds of years had clasped between these events; which years are ignored, because they were in their details of no importance for the religious history of the people of God. But to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 the promise had been given, not only that he was to be the father of a mighty nation that would recognize him as their founder, and the earliest history of which is reported in Exodus and the following books of the Pentateuch, but also that the Holy Land had been promised him. In this respect, the Book of Joshua, which gives the story of the capture of this land, is also a continuation of the historical development begun in Genesis. The blessing of God pronounced over Abraham, however, continued to be efficacious also in the later times among the people who had descended from him. In this way Genesis is an introduction to all of the books of the Old Testament that follow it, which in any way have to do with the fate of this people, and originated in its midst as the result of the special relation between God and this people. But in so far as this blessing of God was to extend to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3), the promises given can be entirely fulfilled only in Christ, and can expand only in the work and success of Christian missions and in the blessings that are found within Christianity. Accordingly, this book treats first of beginnings and origins, in which, as in a kernel, the entire development of the kingdom of God down to its consummation is contained (compare VI below).
II. Composition of Genesis in General.
1. Unity of the Biblical Text:
(1) The Toledhoth.
The fact that Genesis is characterized by a far-reaching and uniform scheme has, at least in outline, been already indicated (see I, 2 and 3). This impression is confirmed when we examine matters a little more closely and study the plan and structure of the book. After the grand introitus, which reports the creation of the world (1:1-2:3) there follows in the form of 10 pericopes the historical unfolding of that which God has created, which pericopes properly in each case bear the name toledhoth, or "generations." For this word never signifies creation or generation as an act, but always the history of what has already been created or begotten, the history of generations; so that for this reason, 2:4a, where mention is made of the toledhoth of heaven and of earth, cannot possibly be a superscription that has found its way here from 1:1. It is here, as it is in all cases, the superscription to what follows, and it admirably leads over from the history of creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1 to the continuation of this subject in the next chapter. The claim of the critics, that the redactor had at this place taken only the superscription from his source P (the priestly narrator, to whom 1-2:3 is ascribed), but that the section of P to which this superscription originally belonged had been suppressed, is all the more monstrous a supposition as 2:4a throughout suits what follows.
Only on the ground of this correct explanation of the term toledhoth can the fact be finally and fully explained, that the toledhoth of Terah contain also the history of Abraham and of Lot; the toledhoth of Isaac contain the history of Jacob and Esau; the toledhoth of Jacob contain the history of Joseph and his brethren. The ten toledhoth are the following: I, Genesis 2:4-4:26, the toledhoth of the heavens and the earth; II, 5:1-6:8, the toledhoth of Adam; III, 6:9-9:29, the toledhoth of Noah; IV, 10:1-11:9, the toledhoth of the sons of Noah; V, 11:10-26, the toledhoth of the sons of Shem; VI, 11:27-25:11, the toledhoth of Terah; VII, 25:12-18, the toledhoth of Ishmael; VIII, 25:19-35:29, the toledhoth of Isaac; IX, 36:1-37:1, the toledhoth of Esau (the fact that 36:9, in addition to the instance in verse 1, contains the word toledhoth a second time, is of no importance whatever for our discussion at this stage, as the entire chapter under any circumstances treats in some way of the history of the generations of Esau; see III, 2:9); X, 37:2-50:26, the toledhoth of Jacob. In each instance this superscription covers everything that follows down to the next superscription.
The number 10 is here evidently not an accidental matter. In the articles EXODUS, LEVITICUS, DAY OF ATONEMENT, also in EZEKIEL, it has been shown what role the typical numbers 4, 7, 10 and 12 play in the structure of the whole books and of the individual pericopes. (In the New Testament we meet with the same phenomenon, particularly in the Apocalypse of John; but compare also in Matthew's Gospel the 3 X 14 generations in Matthew 1:1, the 7 parables in 13:1, the 7 woes in 23:13.) In the same way the entire Book of Leviticus naturally falls into 10 pericopes (compare LEVITICUS, II, 2, 1), and Leviticus 19 contains 10 groups, each of 4 (possibly also of 5) commandments; compare possibly also 18:6-18; 20:9-18; see LEVITICUS, II, 2, 21, VI. Further, the number 10, with a greater or less degree of certainty, can be regarded as the basis for the construction of the pericopes: Exodus 1:8-7:7; Exodus 7:8-13:16 (10 plagues); 13:17-18:27 (see EXODUS, II, 2:1-3); the Decalogue (20:1); the first Book of the Covenant (21:1-23:13; 23:14-19), and the whole pericope 19:1-24:18a, as also 32:1-35:3 (see EXODUS, II, 2, 4, 6). In the Book of Genesis itself compare further the 10 members from Shem to Abraham (11:11-26), as also the pericopes 25:19-35:29; 37:2-50:26 (see III, 2, 8, 10 below), and the 10 nations in Genesis 15:19. And just as in the cases cited, in almost every instance, there is to be found a further division into 5 X 2 or 2 X 5 (compare, e.g. the two tables of the Decalogue); thus, too, in the Book of Genesis in each case, 5 of the 10 pericopes are more closely combined, since I-V (toledhoth of Shem inclusive) stand in a more distant, and VI-X (treating of the toledhoth of Terah, or the history of Abraham) in a closer connection with the kingdom of God; and in so far, too, as the first series of toledhoth bring into the foreground more facts and events, but the second series more individuals and persons. Possibly in this case, we can further unite 2 toledhoth; at any rate I and II (the primitive age), III and IV (Noah and his sons), VII and VIII (Ishmael and Isaac), IX and X (Esau and Jacob) can be thus grouped.
(2) Further Indication of Unity.
In addition to the systematic scheme so transparent in the entire Biblical text of the Book of Genesis, irrespective of any division into literary sources, it is to be noticed further, that in exactly the same way the history of those generations that were rejected from any connection with the kingdom of God is narrated before the history of those that remained in the kingdom of God and continued its development. Cain's history (4:17) in Jahwist (Jahwist) stands before the history of Seth (4:25 J; 5:3 P); Japheth's and Ham's genealogy (10:1 P; 10:8 P and J) before that of Shem (10:21 J and P), although Ham was the youngest of the three sons of Noah (9:24); the further history of Lot (19:29 P and J) and of Ishmael's genealogy (25:12 P and J) before that of Isaac (25:19 P and J and E); Esau's descendants (36:1 R and P) before the toledhoth of Jacob (37:2 P and J and E).
In favor of the unity of the Biblical text we can also mention the fact that the Book of Genesis as a whole, irrespective of all sources, and in view of the history that begins with Exodus 1, has a unique character, so that e.g. the intimate communion with God, of the kind which is reported in the beginning of this Book of Genesis (compare, e.g. 3:8; 7:16; 11:5 J; 17:1, 22; 35:9, 13 P; 18:1; 32:31 J), afterward ceases; and that in Exodus, on the other hand, many more miracles are reported than in the Book of Genesis (see EXODUS, III, 2); that Genesis contains rather the history of mankind and of families, while Exodus contains that of the nation (see I, 2 above); that it is only in Exodus that the law is given, while in the history of the period of the patriarchs we find only promises of the Divine grace; that all the different sources ignore the time that elapses between the close of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus; and further, that nowhere else is found anything like the number of references to the names of persons or things as are contained in Genesis (compare, e.g. 2:23; 3:20; 4:1, 25, etc., in J; 17:5, 15, 17-20, etc., in P; 21:9, 17, 31, etc., in E; 21:06; 27:36, etc., in J and E; 28:19, etc., in R; 49:8, 16, 19, etc., in the blessing of Jacob); that the changing of the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah from Genesis 17:5, 15 goes on through all the sources, while before this it is not found in any source. Finally, we would draw attention to the psychologically finely drawn portraits of Biblical persons in Genesis. The fact that the personal pronoun hu' and the noun na`ar are used of both masculine and feminine genders is characteristic of Genesis in common with all the books of the Pentateuch, without any difference in this regard being found in the different documents, which fact, as all those cited by us in number 1 above, militates against the division of this book into different sources. Let us now examine more closely the reason assigned for the division into different sources.
2. Rejection of the Documentary Theory:
(1) In General.
(a) Statement of Theory:
Old Testament scholars of the most divergent tendencies are almost unanimous in dividing the Biblical text of Genesis into the sources the Priestly Code (P), Jahwist and Elohist, namely Priestly Codex, Jahwist, and Elohist. To P are attributed the following greater and connected parts: 1:1-2:4a; 5; a part of the story of the Deluge in chapters 6-9; 11:10; 17; 23; 25:12; 35:22bff; the most of 36. As examples of the parts assigned to J we mention 2:4b-4:26; the rest of the story of the Deluge in chapters 6-9; 11:1; 12; 16; 18, with the exception of a few verses, which are ascribed to P; chapter 24 and others. Connected parts belonging to the Elohist (E) are claimed to begin with chapters 20 and 21 (with the exception of a number of verses which are attributed to P or J or R), and it is thought that, beginning with chapter 22, E is frequently found in the history of Jacob and of Joseph (25:19-50:26), in part, however, interwoven with J (details will be found under III, in each case under 2). This documentary theory has hitherto been antagonized only by a few individuals, such as Klostermann, Lepsius, Eerdmans, Orr, Wiener, and the author of the present article.
(b) Reasons Assigned for Divisions:
As is well known, theory of separation of certain books of the Old Testament into different sources began originally with the Book of Genesis. The use made of the two names of God, namely Yahweh (Yahweh) and Elohim, caused Astruc to conclude that two principal sources had been used in the composition of the book, although other data were also used in vindication of theory; and since the days of Ilgen the conviction gained ground that there was a second Elohist (now called E), in contradistinction to the first (now called the Priestly Code (P), to whom, e.g., Genesis 1 is ascribed). This second Elohist, it was claimed, also made use of the name Elohim, as did the first, but in other respects he shows greater similarity to the Jahwist. These sources were eventually traced through the entire Pentateuch and into later books, and for this reason are discussed in detail in the article PENTATEUCH. In this article we must confine ourselves to the Book of Genesis, and limit the discussion to some leading points. In addition to the names for God (see under 2), it is claimed that certain contradictions and duplicate accounts of the same matters compel us to accept different sources. Among these duplicates are found, e.g., Genesis 1:1-2:4 a the Priestly Code (P), and 2:4bff J, containing two stories of creation; Genesis 12:9 J; 20:1 E; 26:1 J; with the narrative of how Sarah and Rebekah, the wives of the two patriarchs, were endangered; chapters 15 J and 17 the Priestly Code (P), with a double account of how God concluded His covenant with Abraham; 21:22 E and 26:12 J, the stories of Abimelech; chapters 16 J and 21 E, the Hagar episodes; 28:10 J and E and 35:1 E and the Priestly Code (P), the narratives concerning Bethel, and in the history of Joseph the mention made of the Midianites E, and of the Ishmaelites J, who took Joseph to Egypt (37:25; 39:1); the intervention of Reuben E, or Judah J, for Joseph, etc. In addition a peculiar style, as also distinct theological views, is claimed for each of these sources. Thus there found in P a great deal of statistical and systematic material, as in 5:1; 11:10; 25:12; 36:6 (the genealogies of Adam, Shem, Ishmael, Esau); P is said to show a certain preference for fixed schemes and for repetitions in his narratives. He rejects all sacrifices earlier than the Mosaic period, because according to this source the Lord did not reveal himself as Yahweh previous to Exodus 6:1. Again, it is claimed that the Elohist (E) describes God as speaking to men from heaven, or through a dream, and through an angel, while according to J Yahweh is said to have conversed with mankind personally. In regard to the peculiarities of language used by the different sources, it is impossible in this place to enumerate the different expressions, and we must refer for this subject to the different Introductions to the Old Testament, and to the commentaries and other literature. A few examples are to be found under (c) below, in connection with the discussion of the critical hypothesis. Finally, as another reason for the division of Genesis into different sources, it is claimed that the different parts of the sources, when taken together, can be united into a smooth and connected story. The documents, it is said, have in many cases been taken over word for word and have been united and interwoven in an entirely external manner, so that it is still possible to separate them and often to do this even down to parts of a sentence or to the very words.
(c) Examination of the Documentary Theory:
(i) Style and Peculiarities of Language:
It is self-evident that certain expressions will be repeated in historical, in legal, and in other sections similar in content; but this is not enough to prove that there have been different sources. Whenever J brings genealogies or accounts that are no less systematic than those of P (compare Genesis 4:17; 10:8; 22:20-24); or accounts and repetitions occur in the story of the Deluge (Genesis 7:2, 7; Genesis 7:4, 12, 17; 8:06; 7:04; 8:8, 10, 12), this is not enough to make the division into sources plausible. In reference to the linguistic peculiarities, it must be noted that the data cited to prove this point seldom agree. Thus, e.g. the verb bara', "create," in Genesis 1:1 is used to prove that this was written by the Priestly Code (P), but the word is found also in 6:7 in J. The same is the case with the word rekhush, "possession," which in 12:5; 13:06; 36:7 is regarded as characteristic of the Priestly Code (P), but in 14:11, 16, 21 is found in an unknown source, and in 15:14 in J. In 12:5; 13:12a; 16:03; 17:8 it is said that 'erets kena`an, "land of Canaan," is a proof that this was written by P; but in chapters 42; 44; 47; 50 we find this expression in Jahwist and Elohist, in Numbers 32:32 in J (R); compare also Numbers 33:40 (PR) where Numbers 21:1-3 (JE) is quoted; shiphchah, "maid servant," is claimed as a characteristic word of J in contrast to E (compare 16:1); but in 16:3; 29:24, 29 we find this word not only in P but in 20:14; 30:4, 7, 18; in E Min, "kind," is counted among the marks of P (compare e.g. 1:11), but in Deuteronomy 14:13, 14, 18 we find it in Deuteronomy; rather remarkably, too, in the latest find on the Deluge made by Hilprecht and by him ascribed to 2100 B.C. Compare on this subject my book, Wider den Bann der Quellenscheidung, and Orr, POT, chapter vii, section vi, and chapter x, section i; perhaps, too, the Concordance of Mandelkern under the different words. Even in the cases when the characteristic peculiarities claimed for the sources are correct, if the problem before us consisted only in the discovery of special words and expressions in the different sources, then by an analogous process, we could dissect and sever almost any modern work of literature. Particularly as far as the pieces are concerned, which are assigned to the Priestly Code (P), it must be stated that Genesis 1 and 23 are, as far as style and language are concerned, different throughout. Genesis 1 is entirely unique in the entire Old Testament. Genesis 23 has been copied directly from life, which is pictured with exceptional fidelity, and for this reason cannot be claimed for any special source. The fact that the story of the introduction of circumcision in Genesis 17 in many particulars shows similarities to the terminology of the law is entirely natural: The same is true when the chronological accounts refer one date to another and when they show a certain typical character, as is, e.g., the case also in the chronological parts of any modern history of Israel. On the other hand, the method of P in its narratives, both in matter and in form, becomes similar to that of Jahwist and Elohist, just as soon as we have to deal with larger sections; compare Genesis 28:1; 35:9; 47:5, and all the more in Exodus and Numbers.
Against the claim that P had an independent existence, we must mention the fact of the unevenness of the narratives, which, by the side of the fuller accounts in Genesis 1; Genesis 17 and 23, of the genealogies and the story of the Deluge, would, according to the critics, have reported only a few disrupted notices about the patriarchs; compare for this in the story of Abraham, 11:27, 31; 12:4bff; 13:6a 11b, 12a; 16:1a, 3, 15; 19:29; 21:1b, 2b-5; 25:7-11a; and in its later parts P would become still more incomprehensible on the assumption of the critics (see III below). No author could have written thus; at any rate he would not have been used by anybody, nor would there have been such care evinced in preserving his writings.
(i) Alleged Connection of Matter:
The claim that the different sources, as they have been separated by critics, constitute a compact and connected whole is absolutely the work of imagination, and is in conflict with the facts in almost every instance. This hypothesis cannot be consistently applied, even in the case of the characteristic examples cited to prove the correctness of the documentary theory, such as the story of the Deluge (see III, 2, in each case under (2)).
(ii) The Biblico-Theological Data:
The different Biblical and theological data, which are said to be characteristic in proof of the separation into sources, are also misleading. Thus God in J communes with mankind only in the beginning (Genesis 2; Genesis 16; 11:05; 18 f), but not afterward. In the beginning He does this also, according to the Priestly Code (P), whose conception of God, it is generally claimed, was entirely transcendental (compare Genesis 17:1, 22; Genesis 35:9, 13). The mediatorship of the Angel of Yahweh is found not only in E, (Genesis 21:17, 'Elohim), but also in J (Genesis 16:7, 9-11). In 22:11 in E, the angel of Yahweh (not of the 'Elohim) calls from heaven; theophanies in the night or during sleep are found also in J (compare Genesis 15:12; 26:24:00; 28:13-16; 32:27). In the case of the Priestly Code (P), the cult theory, according to which it is claimed that this source does not mention any sacrifices before Exodus 6:1, is untenable. If it is a fact that theocracy, as it were, really began only in Exodus 6, then it would be impossible that P would contain anything of the cults before Exodus 6; but we have in P the introduction of the circumcision in Genesis 17; of the Sabbath in 2:1; and the prohibition against eating blood in 9:1; and in addition the drink offerings mentioned in 35:14, which verse stands between 35:13 and 15, and, ascribed to the Priestly Code (P), is only in the interests of this theory attributed to the redactor. If then theory here outlined is not tenable as far as P is concerned, it would, on the other hand, be all the more remarkable that in the story of the Deluge the distinction between the clean and the unclean (7:2.8) is found in J, as also the savor of the sacrifice, with the term reach ha-nichoach, which occurs so often in P (compare Genesis 8:21 with Numbers 15:3, 7, 10, 13, 24; 18:17); that the sacrifices are mentioned in Genesis 8:20, and the number 7 in connection with the animals and days in 7:4; 8:8, 10, 12 (compare in the Priestly Code (P), e.g. Leviticus 8:33; Leviticus 13:5, 21, 26, 31, 33, 10, 54; 14:8, 38; 14:7, 51; 16:14; Numbers 28:11; Numbers 29:8, etc.); further, that the emphasis is laid on the 40 days in Genesis 7:4, 12, 17; Genesis 8:6 (compare in the Priestly Code (P), Exodus 24:1-8 Leviticus 12:2-4 Numbers 13:25; Numbers 14:34), all of which are ascribed, not as we should expect, to the Levitical the Priestly Code (P), but to the prophetical J. The document the Priestly Code (P), which, according to a large number of critics, was written during the Exile (see e.g. LEVITICUS, III, 1, or EZEKIEL, sec. II, 2) in a most surprising manner, instead of giving prominence to the person of the high priest, would then have declared that kings were to be the greatest blessings to come to the seed of Abraham (Genesis 17:6, 16); and while, on the critical assumption, we should have the right to expect the author to favor particularistic tendencies, he, by bringing in the history of all mankind in Genesis 1-11, and in the extension of circumcision to strangers (17:12, 23), would have displayed a phenomenal universality. The strongest counter-argument against all such minor and incorrect data of a Biblical and a theological character will always be found in the uniform religious and ethical spirit and world of thought that pervade all these sources, as also in the unity in the accounts of the different patriarchs, who are pictured in such a masterly, psychological and consistent manner, and who could never be the result of an accidental working together and interweaving of different and independent sources (see III below).
In regard to what is to be thought of the different duplicates and contradictions, see below under III, 2, in each case under (2).
(iv) Manner in Which the Sources Are Worked Together:
But it is also impossible that these sources could have been worked together in the manner in which the critics claim that this was done. The more arbitrarily and carelessly the redactors are thought to have gone to work in many places in removing contradictions, the more incomprehensible it becomes that they at other places report faithfully such contradictions and permit these to stand side by side, or, rather, have placed them thus.
Read Complete Article...
See BOOK OF JUBILEES.