Origin of Genisis

(Arthur Tepichin) #1

I would like to be prepared to explain the origin of the book of Genisis. Recently I read one examination that the creation story is, “Two stories of Creation from two different Middle Eastern Sources appear to be woven together in the Genesis account.”“Genesis stories were amalgamated from several sources.” I have come across the documentary hypothesis, supplementary hypothesis and fragmentary hypothesis. I have also read about how the two accounts of Genesis that were woven together included a “Priestly” account (one that includes God creating the cosmos) and a “Jawhist” version (involving Adam and Eve).

What are the written and oral sources behind the book of Genesis?

(SeanO) #2

@Tepichin I still remember when I took Old Testament at a school that taught this viewpoint and had to spend a few hours wrestling with the question of why Gen 1 and 2 are different. I was relieved to find the explanation is actually very simple.

The following article does a good job of addressing the differences between Gen 1 and 2 in light of the documentary hypothesis:

Here is a good summary quote from Edward J. Young used in the article:

There are different emphases in the two chapters…but the reason for these is obvious. Chapter 1 continues the narrative of creation until the climax, namely, man made in the image and likeness of God. To prepare the way for the account of the fall, chapter 2 gives certain added details about man’s original condition, which would have been incongruous and out of place in the grand, declarative march of chapter 1 (1960, p. 53).

Basically, Genesis 1 is the big picture while Genesis 2 zooms in to provide more detail about mankind and to provide the appropriate background for Genesis 3.

Regarding the original sources for Genesis and the documentary hypothesis (theory that there are multiple authors), the following resources provide some helpful thoughts to chew on. I personally think Moses may have had sources both oral and written passed down from Noah through Shem to Abraham and so on and that a few other authors - perhaps Joshua - added the bits about Moses’ death / did a bit of editing. The documentary hypothesis is speculation without any actual historical evidence to support the existence of multiple authors.

(Arthur Tepichin) #3

Thank you!!

Thanks for the super fast response! Thanks for the great answer and for pointing me towards great resources.

(Stephen Lawwell) #4

@Tepichin I have found P.J. Wiseman’s theory on the origin of Genesis very interesting in recent years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiseman_hypothesis

(Arthur Tepichin) #5

:grinning: excellent! Thank you!

(Jimmy Sellers) #6

Here is another resource and excerpt from, the author is Umberto Cassuto:

The study of the history of the traditional themes is bound up with the study of the sources. I have given a general exposition of my views concerning the sources of the Book of Genesis in my Italian treatise, La Questione della Genesi, (Florence, 1934), pp. 393–398, and in the Hebrew abridgement thereof, called תּוֹרַת הַתְּעוּדוֹת וְסִדּוּרָם שֶׁל סִפְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה Tōrath Hatteʿūdhōth Wesiddūrām Šel Siphrē Hattōrā [The Documentary Hypothesis and Composition of the Pentateuch], Jerusalem, 1942 (English translation, Jerusalem, 1961, pp. 101 ff.). Anyone who has studied these volumes will know that, in my opinion, the sources are very different from the documents J (Jahwist), E (Elohist), P (Priestly Code), postulated by the commonly-held theory. In the present work, I proceed to give a detailed example of a comprehensive commentary based on my view of the original documents.
Cassuto, U. (1998). A Commentary on the Book of Genesis: Part I, From Adam to Noah (Genesis I–VI 8). (I. Abrahams, Trans.) (pp. 2–3). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University.

It is a direct challenge to the current thinking on Genesis.

(Lindsay Brandt) #7

There are some really good responses to this post. I will add that it is important to understand, too, that various theories and hypotheses about the Bible and its sources come from various scholars with various worldviews. Some scholars’ interest in studying the Bible is limited to their belief that it is merely a preserved work of literature. Worldview affects the approach to the study of the Bible and the theories and hypotheses people may come up with. Though this does not directly add to the information sought here, it might help in sorting through all the ideas that are out there.