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Recommended Citation Lohr, Joel N. Buy this Book. Find in WorldCat. The reconciliation with his brother is not complete in the end because Jacob refuses Esau's invitations to join him in Seir —17 , perhaps recalling that Esau originally planned to wait until their father died to kill him ; Sternberg ,.

Overall the promise theme occurs only occasionally across this narrative stretch e. The last major section of Genesis, the story of Joseph and his brothers Gen 37—50 , likewise begins with a case of potentially murderous brotherly rivalry, this time between Joseph and his brothers Gen Here again, the promise theme is peripheral, mostly present in a digression about Israel's Jacob's stop in Beer-sheba Gen A—5 and a story about his blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh Gen — Initially Joseph's brothers plan to murder him either directly or through abandoning him in an underground cistern —24 , but they eventually agree with Judah's proposal to sell him into slavery to the Ishmaelites instead The narrative, probably due to fissures left through its history of transmission, goes on to describe the Midianites actually selling Joseph into slavery rather than Joseph's brothers, and they then take him to Egypt.

Joseph rises to power there, and becomes second in power only to Pharaoh, mainly through his ability to interpret dreams Gen When his brothers come to Egypt during a famine in Israel and lie prostrate before Joseph requesting food to avoid starvation —6 ; see —8 , they do not recognize him and he does not confess his identity.

This prompts Judah to offer himself as a slave in place of Benjamin —34 , also ; see , which leads Joseph to break down, reveal his identity to his brothers, and reunite the family in Egypt for the remainder of the time of famine chs. The whole of the Joseph story, then, is an intricate exploration of brotherly rivalry and the move of Joseph's brothers from a position of being willing to make their father grieve for his favored son Gen 37 to refusal to do so again Gen The narrative ends with Joseph's brothers still anxious about whether Joseph will kill them after the death of Jacob —18 , much as Esau once planned to kill Jacob after Isaac's death Nevertheless, Joseph reassures them that God had placed him in power over them not for revenge, but to provide for them — The power over brothers that seemed ridiculous when imaged in Joseph's dreams at the outset of the story —11 ended up saving his family.

This speech by Joseph represents a significant human interpretation of divine action that—aside from the divine speech in Genesis —5 —was generally implicit throughout this final section of the book. Increasingly across the stretch of Genesis, the narrative goes from direct description of God's actions and intentions e. In sum, the stories revolving around Abraham Gen 12—25 , Jacob Gen 25—35 , and Joseph Gen 37—50 are differently structured and emphasize different themes.

Though the Abraham story begins with and is saturated with the theme of the LORD's promise of blessing and land, the Jacob story emphasizes the crafty efforts of Jacob and his favorite women Rebekah and Rachel to succeed and protect themselves, and the Joseph story emphasizes the resolution of complex relationships between Joseph, his brothers, and their father. The Abraham and Jacob narratives both feature distinct episodes organized in a rough concentric pattern centering on the different themes of each narrative.

In contrast, the Joseph story is a more cohesive, virtually novelistic whole. Nevertheless, the three sections are otherwise distinct—stylistically, thematically, and structurally. The primeval history unfolds the ambiguities of human culture in parallel storylines moving from one ancestor to a multitude of humanity threatening the divine human boundary.

The Abraham story is a chiasm relentlessly focused on the theme of the divine promise and who will inherit it. The Jacob story is likewise a chiasm, but one revolving around the particular fertility and craftiness of Jacob and his household. Finally, the bulk of the Joseph story is a still differently structured novella showing the gradual reconciliation of Joseph with the brothers who wished to do away with him. Overall, the stories appearing in the first half of Genesis are more episodically distinct, while the stories appearing in the Jacob and much of the Joseph story are more organically connected to each other.

That said, these distinctly different sections of Genesis also fit together in the broader sweep of Genesis to form the beginnings of a third storyline, parallel to the pre- and post-Flood storylines seen in the primeval history Carr , pp. Just as the primeval storylines moved from focus on an initial pair Adam-Eve or person Noah to focus on divisions among brothers Cain-Abel, Noah's sons , the ancestral storyline of Genesis moves from a focus on Abraham to two brotherly rivalries each of which almost end in death Jacob and Esau in Gen.

Yet in the ancestral history the outcome is different. Ultimately, the ancestral storyline of Genesis points beyond itself to narratives found in the book of Exodus. The promises of blessing and fertility given to all humanity at the outset of Genesis Gen , are given with particular intensity to Abraham Gen , 6 ; see also and then fulfilled with the multiplication of Israel in Egypt Exod Meanwhile, the end of the book of Exodus leads to a different outcome than the one seen at the end of the primeval storylines.

Where those storylines ended with divine protection of the divine-human boundary, Exodus ends with God crossing the divine-human boundary and living in the midst of Israel in the wilderness tabernacle Exodus Furthermore, this climactic story of the completion of the tabernacle on the sabbath echoes the completion of the cosmos on the sabbath in Genesis — In this and other ways, the stories of Genesis now lead inextricably beyond themselves into Exodus.

They function in the present Pentateuch as a prologue to the story of God's creation of Israel through Moses in the rest of the Pentateuch, Exodus through Deuteronomy. After an initial focus on all the peoples of the world. Summing up this discussion, we can outline Genesis as follows:. The divergent destinies of the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac Jacob-Esau — The descendants of Ishmael, not the primary heir of the promise — Descendants of Isaac Jacob and Esau , the primary heir of the promise — Descendants of Esau, not the primary heir of the promise — As the book concludes, this family is stuck together in Egypt because of famine in their homeland, but they all are heirs of the promise of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This family of promise will become the people of promise featured at the outset of the book of Exodus. Genesis lacks any claim of authorship. In the ancient Near East, such narratives generally were typically anonymous. Yet on another level, such ancient teachings were viewed as divinely inspired, and this certainly was the case for Genesis as part of the Torah. The book of Ben Sira, for example, identifies the Torah with Wisdom, created by God at the outset of creation Sir 24 ; cf.

Prov — Later Jewish rabbinic and mystical traditions repeatedly affirmed that the Torah, including Genesis, was written by God even before the making of heaven and earth e. Nevertheless, it was only during the Greco-Roman period, in the last centuries B. By this time Judaism had been influenced by Greek culture, where authorship was important and the writings of Homer enjoyed the highest prestige.

In response, the Jewish authors claimed that their Pentateuch had an ancient author as well—Moses. Indeed, some, such as Aristobulus, Philo, and Josephus, claimed that famous Greek authors, such as Homer and Plato, had drawn some of their most important ideas from the Mosaic Torah in Greek form that preceded them. This idea of early Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch then persisted in Christian and Muslim contexts as well.

The Book of Genesis

Nevertheless, careful readers of the Bible realized in subsequent centuries that there were problems with this claim of Mosaic authorship. Certain parts of Genesis seem to have been written after the time of Moses, for example a verse specifying that Canaanites were in the land , implicitly coming from a time when they were no longer present.

In addition, some rabbinic texts e. Sipre ascribe the last few verses of Deuteronomy about Moses' burial to Joshua, perhaps because of doubts about whether Moses himself would have written on that topic. To be sure, interpreters who have made it an article of faith to affirm Moses' authorship of the entire Pentateuch have found ways to explain these and other problems. The often tortured reasoning involved in such explanations, however, highlights ways that Genesis and other books of the Pentateuch do not seem to have been written originally in the voice of Moses.

Instead, the book was originally anonymous and only attributed to Moses in the context of later, author-oriented cultures. For more than two hundred and fifty years, historical scholarship on Genesis has established that Genesis was written over many centuries, using oral and written traditions. We can see marks of that oral culture in the way similar stories were attached to different patriarchs. Despite these parallels, these stories about Abraham and Isaac share few phrases in common and should rather be viewed as competing accounts of how the well of Beer-sheba got its name.

Such transfer of stories from one figure to another is common in oral culture, as is the retelling of stories without an attempt at verbatim repetition. Most of the stories in Genesis, at one stage or another, were told and retold in such oral contexts. The actual writing of Genesis took place over a long period, probably starting at the time when Judah and Israel began to have kings and continuing after the monarchy during the exile of much of Jerusalem's leadership in Babylon and then their return in the Persian period.

Scholars agree most about the final stages of this process, distinguishing between Priestly and non-Priestly sources of Genesis. The Priestly layer, to be discussed in more detail below, is a continuous set of texts, starting with the seven-day creation account in Genesis — , and followed by a set of intricately interlinked narratives and genealogies that prepare for more specifically Priestly material in the book of Exodus and onward. The non-Priestly layer of Genesis is less homogeneous and interlinked.

It includes distinctly different treatments of the period of creation and Flood, of Abraham and his sons, of Jacob and Joseph—treatments that form the basis for the distinctively different styles, emphases, and structures of the above-discussed major sections of Genesis. In so far as Genesis was written over hundreds of years, it has proven difficult for scholars to pierce back to its written origins and achieve consensus about its earliest sources.

For a long time, many thought that the non-Priestly portions of Genesis had originated in parallel source documents, a tenth-century B. Nevertheless, an increasing number of scholars began to dispute that approach in the late twentieth century. Instead, they became convinced that the writing of Genesis began with the composition of shorter narratives covering just parts of what is now the Genesis story.

Each such narrative may once have been copied on a separate scroll, thus explaining many of the differences discussed above in structure and focus between the four major parts of Genesis: the primeval history, and stories of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. Such early scrolls probably included: an early primeval history including Gen — ; a strand of the Flood account; —27 and —9 , various complexes of traditions about Abraham e. These early scrolls apparently originated from the time of the monarchies of Judah based in Jerusalem and Israel based in northern Israel.

The early non-Priestly primeval history probably originated in the monarchy of Judah and shows links to the Jerusalem Temple traditions such as the focus on a divine garden Gen —9 , 15 with world-watering rivers including the Jerusalem Gihon spring Gen —14 , and the prominent theme of sacrifice in both the Cain and Abel Gen —16 and non-Priestly flood stories Gen —22 ; prepared for by preservation of extra pairs of clean animals in Its story of creation and Flood echoes and revises more ancient Near Eastern myths, including among others the above-mentioned Atrahasis epic Carr , pp.

Some parts of the Abraham story, such as the traditions about Abraham and Lot in Genesis 12—13 and 18—19 may have originated in the monarchy of Judah as well. Most of the non-Priestly portions of the Jacob Gen 25—35 and Joseph Gen 37—50 stories emphasize places and characters important in the north and probably originate in the northern monarchy of Israel. Only at a later stage in their development were these traditions about Jacob and Joseph expanded through the addition of traditions about Judah especially Gen 38 and the pro-Judah blessing in Gen 49 to better speak to a Judean audience Blum , pp.

Yet even these Judah-focused additions to the Jacob-Joseph story show signs of being authored before the end of the monarchy, promising that the monarchy in Jerusalem would be eternal Gen This expectation would be disappointed by the Babylonian ending of monarchal rule and the destruction of the Temple in the late sixth century B. This disaster for Judah and its monarchy, however, proved to be decisive in the formation of Genesis. For it was at the time when the Judeans had no land or monarchy that the sorts of stories found in Genesis became most important to them, stories about landless ancestors and the place of Israel in the broader world.

We can see this outside Genesis as prophets such as Second Isaiah Isa 40—55 addressed the despair of the exiled Judeans through recalling the power of God as creator of the world and God's promises to bless figures such as Abraham and Sarah see Isa ; This exilic context of Second Isaiah is also the time when unknown authors, probably former royal scribes, linked together the separate, non-Priestly compositions behind Genesis about the primeval history, Jacob, Joseph, etc. When they did so, they placed the stories in their present order, so that the promise of the Abraham traditions became an answer to the curse theme of the primeval history, and they followed the Abraham narrative with a revised version of the stories about Jacob and Joseph that now had the theme of promise inserted at crucial junctures e.

In this way, the exilic authors of the first non-Priestly Genesis narrative reassured the Judeans in Babylon that God would bless them, protect them, and give them land much as God once had done the same for their ancestors. In their despair, the exiles might doubt God's promise, as Abraham sometimes does e.

Meanwhile, another group of authors in exile, linked to the priesthood that claimed Aaron as its ancestral founder, soon produced their own version of the narratives in Genesis, a version now embedded in Genesis alongside the above-described non-Priestly narrative, but recognizable because of its distinctive terminology and conceptuality.

When these distinctive Priestly sections are separated from their non-Priestly counterparts, the result is a continuous Priestly version of Genesis including texts such as: the seven-day creation account in Genesis — ; the genealogy in Genesis 5 ; a version of the Flood story culminating in the covenant in Genesis —17 ; God's covenant of circumcision with Abraham Gen 17 ; and then other genealogies —18 ; 36 and brief stories about the ancestors e.


For the period covered in Genesis, however, the Priestly narrative focuses exclusively on genealogies and two ritual practices, sabbath Gen — and circumcision Gen 17 , that could be performed by exiles in Babylon. References to sacrifice are postponed to the Priestly narrative of God's establishment of the tabernacle, since according to the Priestly conception, such sacrifices could only be offered at the tabernacle and the later Temple. The last major stage in the composition of Genesis was the combination of this exilic, promise-centered, non-Priestly Genesis narrative with its Priestly counterpart.

This combination probably happened during the postexilic period, when exiles such as Nehemiah and Ezra had returned and were rebuilding Jerusalem and its Temple. The consolidation of parallel traditions now in Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch , allowed these leaders to promote a common Torah around which different members of the community could unite.

The resulting whole prominently featured non-Priestly traditions that formed the core of the parallel primeval storylines, the framework of the concentric Abraham and Jacob stories, and the narrative flow of the Joseph story. Yet it also began with the Priestly creation story — , featured the Priestly account of the LORD'S covenant of circumcision with Abraham Gen 17 near the center of the chiasm that now dominates the present Abraham story see above , and was structured throughout by the Priestly toledot genealogical headings.

This consolidation of P and non-P narratives, however, also produced powerful contrasts in Genesis that can be seen by the attentive reader, such as between the seven-day creation in — P and the non-Priestly story of creation and aftermath in — , or between a version of the Flood culminating in Noah's sacrifice e. These contrasts are so clear that historical scholars had already started distinguishing between the Priestly layer and the other parts of Genesis almost three hundred years ago, and the majority of scholars have agreed on most specifics of this distinction of Priestly and non-Priestly Pentateuchal texts from the late nineteenth century onward.

In sum, the book of Genesis that we now have is a complex combination of different texts with echoes of now-inaccessible oral traditions. Not only was the book written over hundreds of years, but the very earliest of its written precursor documents—written sometime in the monarchal period of ancient Israel — B. The ancestors of Genesis are said to have lived long before the time of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, which in turn seems to have taken place, at the latest, during the New Kingdom period of Egyptian history approximately — B.

Therefore, the stories about them in Genesis come filtered through hundreds of years of oral and written tradition. Past attempts to use ancient Near Eastern analogies to ancestral narratives to prove their historical veracity have failed Van Seters ; McCarter and Hendel , and it appears that we simply do not have the kind of data needed to assess the historicity of the Genesis narratives.

There probably were figures named Abra ha m, Sarah, Jacob, etc. Nevertheless, Genesis is too thoroughly shaped by later periods in history to provide reliable data about what they said and did. Insight into the complex formation of Genesis can contribute immensely, however, to our interpretation of its present form. As a result of hundreds of years of scholarly analysis, we now know that the book was written over centuries by multiple authors, and we have a relatively specific and assured picture of the final stages of its composition the combination of P with non-Priestly materials.

These findings highlight the way Genesis is not limited to just one situation or set of perspectives.

Instead, it is a chorale of different voices, a distillate of ancient Israel's experiences with God over the centuries, written in the form of continually adapted stories about beginnings. The history of interpretation of Genesis begins already with its gradual composition over centuries. Early monarchic scribes reinterpreted oral traditions in writing the first preexilic compositions behind Genesis. Later, exilic scribes expanded and joined originally separate compositions about the primeval history and different ancestors in the process of addressing an audience of Judeans exiled in Babylon.

Each stage of composition involved interpretation of how earlier writings pertained to the present. Genesis as we have it now is a crystallization of these multiple interpretations. Looking over the history of the formation of Genesis, we can already detect a tendency to focus ever more on the first parts of the Genesis story, especially the primeval and Abraham narratives in Genesis 1—25 , as later communities attempted to discern truth for their lives from narratives about earliest origins, whether of the world or of Israel.

On the one hand, the earliest larger narratives in Genesis are probably to be found in its latter half, especially the Jacob and Joseph stories. Some of these early Jacob materials now found in Genesis are alluded to in the preexilic northern prophet Hosea Hos —5 , On the other hand, the later exilic Priestly layer seems to have focused on stories appearing earlier in the book of Genesis: the primeval history and story of Abraham especially Gen 17 , some stories about Jacob e.

Whereas relatively early overviews of biblical history in Deuteronomy —9 and Psalm 78 mention almost none of the traditions now in Genesis, later overviews, such as Joshua 24 , Psalms and , and Nehemiah 9 , emphasize events in Genesis to a far greater extent. We see a similar tendency in early Jewish writings to emphasize Genesis ever more, particularly the first half of the book.

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Apocalyptic writings, such as the collection of writings associated with Enoch, focused on figures featured in the primeval history. Works such as Jubilees and the Genesis Apocryphon emphasized events up through the time of Abraham in their retellings of biblical history. Indeed, it is during the centuries immediately following the formation of the Hebrew Bible, that we first see much of a focus in Israelite-Jewish traditions on creation and the garden of Eden, major topics for many later interpreters of the Bible, whether Jewish thinkers and mystics or Christian theologians or others. The first centuries of interpretation of Genesis decisively shaped how it was seen by later communities, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.

From the third century B. Thanks to these early interpretations of the book, many later readers presupposed that the snake in the garden was Satan e. Early Jewish interpretations also started the tradition of finding a particular fault of Cain to explain God's rejection of his sacrifice e.

Interpreters sometimes built pictures of longer spans of the Genesis narrative. For example, already in Jubilees —18 ; —3 , 8 and the Mishnah , Jewish scholars mentioned a series of trials of Abraham, usually numbered as ten. The lists of these trials vary, but often start with Jewish legends about attempts to assassinate Abraham and his imprisonment not found in Genesis and culminate with the Akedah binding story in Genesis Finally, many early interpretations alleviated the moral ambiguity of the trickster Genesis tales, providing rationales for the seemingly deceitful behavior of Jacob and Rachel, while depicting characters such as Esau and Laban as scoundrels deserving to be punished for their evil ways.

This rich tradition of Jewish exegesis of Genesis has continued into later Judaism. Building on precedents already in Second Temple Judaism e. This was not necessarily an alien imposition on the Genesis text, since the Priestly material of Genesis already introduced a focus on practices such as Sabbath and circumcision into the stories of Genesis. Nevertheless, later Jewish writings built beyond these beginnings to portray the ancestors of Israel as fully Torah-observant Jews, and they used details of Genesis to enrich their sense of Torah law, as for example in the Babylonian Talmud and Mekilta , which use texts from Genesis , 14 and to outline three different levels of circumcision obligations for Jews b.

Qidd 29a; Mek. Christian communities likewise focused on the stories of Genesis. For example, Paul, the central figure behind the outreach of early believers in Jesus to gentiles, argued that Abraham was an important example of how grace, through faith, came before the giving of the law. Based on this and other arguments, Paul argued that gentiles did not have to fulfill Torah requirements such as circumcision in order to partake of God's promise, as long as they joined themselves to Jesus Christ, whom Paul affirmed as the true spiritual offspring and heir of Abraham.

Thus, where earlier and later Jewish interpreters tended to stress Abraham's and other patriarchs' Torah obedience, Paul, himself a Jew, reinterpreted Abraham's significance apart from Torah obedience in order to create a place for non-Jews to have a full relationship with the God of Israel. Stories originating from Genesis also play a prominent role in Islam. Building on older Jewish traditions about Abraham destroying his father's idols, the Qur'an and other Muslim traditions revere Abraham as one of the first monotheists.

Yet within Islam, Ishmael and not Isaac is the most important of his sons. It is Ishmael and not Isaac whom Abraham almost sacrifices compare with Gen Moreover, after that, Islamic tradition holds that Abraham and Ishmael went on to find and rebuild the Kaaba shrine at Mecca, Islam's most holy site. Thus, as a story of origins, Genesis has been a battleground where major contemporary religious communities have attempted to establish the legitimacy of their claims to be authentic heirs of Abraham.

In this sense, the book of Genesis both draws these communities together and is a place where they define their differences. Yet we would be mistaken to conclude that these three religious traditions always struggle to claim figures from Genesis as their own, particularly when gender or ethnicity is a factor. For example, we see striking contrasts in how the different traditions relate to the figure of the Egyptian slave, Hagar, featured in Genesis 16 and Jewish tradition has been the most ambivalent about Hagar, on the one hand occasionally depicting her as deserving the harsh treatment she received at Sarah's request Gen —6 ; Gen.

Much of Christian tradition, on the other hand, has been dominated by Paul's allegory in Galatians —31 where Hagar represents life enslaved to the covenant at Sinai, and Ishmael stands for the broad community laboring under that covenant. One of the main places where we see strong positive associations with Hagar in Christian tradition is among African-American biblical interpreters particularly women , who have identified with Hagar's status as outsider, woman, and slave.

Composition, Reception, and Interpretation

Meanwhile, Islamic tradition has embraced Hagar as the mother of Ishmael, a prophet, and she stands as one of the central figures in legends surrounding the pilgrimage to Mecca. Finally, recent years have seen a proliferation of other approaches to Genesis, particularly literary studies of Genesis in its final form and feminist rereadings of the many narratives in Genesis that feature women. For example, some feminist scholars have questioned whether the garden of Eden story in — is as critical of women as it has often been seen to be. Others have highlighted the crucial role of the matriarchs as actors in the Genesis drama, especially as determiners of which son of a given patriarch will inherit the promise e.

Reading from another perspective, African-American scholars have traced the misuse of the story of Ham to reinforce racism and slavery Felder ; see also Haynes , and a wide variety of interpreters have called into question the traditional interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as a judgment on homosexuality.

In these ways and. Detail of the mosaic floor of the Beth Alpha synagogue, sixth century C. Abraham holds a knife, ready to sacrifice his son Isaac — Photograph by Zev Radovan. Genesis also has been the focus of much art, both religious and secular. For example, Genesis along with Exodus has been the source, more than any other book of the Old Testament, of topics for the visual arts.

The story of the binding of Isaac Gen —19 is featured in early Jewish art, such as the wall of the Dura Europos synagogue and the mosaic floor of the synagogue at Beth Alpha. And the same story appears prominently in Christian art, both in depictions of the final scene of the story and general depictions of Abraham as a strong, bearded man holding the knife with which he almost sacrificed Isaac. Certain figures in Genesis were more frequently depicted because of their special role in certain contexts, such as the inclusion of Noah in catacomb paintings because he was seen as a symbol of the redeemed soul.

Some episodes from Genesis that appear particularly often in the visual arts include the creation of Adam Gen 1—2 , expulsion from the garden Gen —24 , Noah's ark on the seas of the flood Gen 7 , Noah's drunkenness Gen —29 , Abraham's meeting with Melchizedek Gen —19 , Abraham's hospitality of the three angels Gen —15 , the above-mentioned Akedah Gen —19 , Jacob's impersonation of Esau to gain Isaac's blessing Gen —46 , Jacob's vision of angels on a ladder at Bethel —17 , and the final journey of Jacob and his sons to Egypt at the invitation of Joseph Gen —7.

In so far as much such art is Christian, the choice of subject often had to do with whether and how a given figure in Genesis e. In addition, after the Protestant Reformation, figures from Genesis became yet more prominent in northern European art as artists shifted from painting later saints to focusing instead on biblical subjects, particularly subjects from Genesis. Partly because of its central importance to multiple religious interpreters of the Bible, the traditions of Genesis have been the focal point for non-religious cultural expressions as well.

For example, though Eve was always a particular focus of Christian artists wanting to explore the possibilities of depicting the nude female form e. In a different medium, Kierkegaard's famous existential meditation, Fear and Trembling , is in large part a reflection on broader questions raised by the Akedah Gen — Finally, the narratives of Genesis sometimes have played negative roles in broader culture, as in, for example, the use of the story of Noah's curse on Ham's son, Canaan Gen —27 by Christians in the southern United States to justify enslavement of blacks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Haynes More recently, Genesis has been an important battleground as contemporary believers have worked to live out ancient faiths in a modern world.

For example, with the rise of modernity and historical criticism, much recent discussion of Genesis, at least among Christians in the West, has focused on whether the stories of Genesis are historically true or not. Astronomers, biologists, and other natural scientists have offered accounts of the origins of the cosmos and humanity different from those seen in Genesis 1—2. Some believers, however, have insisted on the importance of affirming the historical accuracy of every part of Genesis, and have come to see such belief as a defining characteristic of what it means to be truly faithful.

This definition, however, is something new. Such concerns about the historicity of Genesis were not a significant issue prior to the rise of modern science and the historical method. Moreover, many would argue that an ancient document such as Genesis should not be treated as scientific treatise or a modern-style historical source. All Rights Reserved. Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.

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