Gleanings from Genesis

Submitted by admin on Sat, 2019-11-02 14:46.

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The contents of the book of Genesis were committed to writing long after the narrated events occurred, and efforts to identify ancient sources are mere conjectures. At the same time, oral transmission from generation to generation about certain events may well have been involved, accounting for the repetition of identical wording. Being a very ancient book, Genesis should be read as such and not against the backdrop of modern concepts. One must avoid assigning meanings to words, phrases, and the narratives themselves that would have been foreign to persons who first read Genesis or heard the book read to them.

It is also possible to draw wrong conclusions when the Genesis narratives are considered as a reworking of myths that anciently existed among Near Eastern and Mediterranean peoples. There is, for example, a marked difference between the Babylonian Enuma Elish creation myth and the account in Genesis chapter 1. At the very start of the Genesis account the focus is on the creative activity of one true God, and his “word” is portrayed as bringing everything into existence. The Babylonian myth, however, depicts the created world as the product of the violent, murderous conflict of gods and goddesses.

When reading Genesis, one must keep in mind that the book was originally committed to writing for Israelites who believed in one true God. Therefore, the reader must not forget that Genesis needs to be understood with this fact in mind. Individuals who reject belief in the one true God will not derive lasting benefit from what was recorded many centuries ago. Instead, they will most likely join the chorus of those who criticize and ridicule the ancient book, never giving thought to the reality that it was never meant for them. Genesis is not their book. It is foreign to them. Regrettably, with some of their interpretations, many who ardently defend Genesis as part of the “inspired Word of God,” have contributed to increasing and intensifying the ridicule of unbelievers.