Book of Genesis

ספר בראשית (Hebrew)
{jen' - i - sis}

General Information

Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament in the Bible, is so named because it opens with an account of the creation of the world. The first 11 chapters, which are heavily indebted to Mesopotamian tradition, trace the gradual expansion of humankind and the development of human culture. But they show the ambiguity of this development by incorporating stories about the sin of Adam and Eve and about the Deluge, both of which illustrate humankind's growing alienation from God and one another.

Following the call of Abraham in chapter 12, this universal outlook appears to be lost; the focus narrows to one man and his family. Yet the traditions about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob's 12 sons are linked to the earlier chapters by God's promise to bless the whole world through Abraham's descendants. Furthermore, the Covenant established with Israel through the promise made to Abraham (22:15 - 18) is fundamentally the same as the covenant established with all of humankind through Noah (9:1 - 17).

Text Font Face
Text Size
(for printing)
Although Moses has traditionally been considered the author of Genesis, modern scholars generally agree that the book is a composite of at least three different literary strands: J (10th century BC), E (9th century), and P (5th century). The interpretation of the book has led to many controversies. One of the most difficult problems has been distinguishing historical fact from symbolic narration intended to convey a religious message.

BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
J J M Roberts

H Bloom, Book of J (1990); G von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary (1972); E A Speiser, ed., Genesis (1964); R Youngblood, ed., The Genesis Debate (1986).

Book of Genesis

Brief Outline

  1. The beginning of physical life (1-2)
  2. The growth of civilization to the Flood (3-8)
  3. The descendants of Noah to Abraham (9-11:26)
  4. The history of Abraham and Lot; Ishmael and Isaac; Jacob and Esau; and Joseph and his brethren in Egypt (11:27-50:26)

BELIEVE Editor's Note regarding the next article

The next two articles first appear to be in direct contradiction, where the first cites what is commonly called the Documentary Hypothesis which says that a "number of authors" wrote Genesis, while the second simply says that Moses did. This fact seems to have caused many Christian writers to become ferociously against the general concept of this first article! However, it seems to us that their reaction might be an "over-reaction".

Consider the practical issues of that ancient time. At Moses' time (apparently around 1275 BC, according to a known date in Pharaoh Rameses's life), there were actually not yet even any organized written languages yet in existence! (Seven actual written languages would develop around 100 to 300 years later. Only symbol systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphics yet existed, and they were not languages at all. Worse, they were not capable of expressing sophisticated concepts such as the Sabbath. It would likely take hundreds of picture symbols to express the single sentence, Honor the Sabbath. ) It would be hard to imagine Moses taking the time to carve thousands of picture symbols into blocks of stone, along the lines of the heiroglyphics that existed at that time. And then, while trying to keep his people alive, hauling many tons of inscribed stone blocks across the desert! So, for very practical reasons, it seems almost certain that (a) Moses was certainly the "author" of the First Five Books of the Bible, but that (b) he did not actually write them down. After all, he was leading a group of people across a desert and in even more dire situations, and had many more urgent things to be dealing with that carving symbols into stones! (And then carrying large numbers of such stones with them through the desert!)

So it seems almost certain that Moses (physically) did NOT write down those texts, but instead passed them along orally, in the same STANDARD way that countless societies before and since have done. By around 1000 BC, written language had developed in the region, including Ancient Hebrew or Paleo-Hebrew, and it seems clear that people thought it important to then write down, in a permanent form, the words of Moses. Over the 300-year period between Moses and them (around 15 generations of people) many people had had to memorize and repeat, exactly, all the thousands of words of Moses for the next generation. They were certainly extremely good at preserving those "Oral Traditions" but human beings are not perfect. And so it seems very reasonable to me that (at least) two SLIGHTLY different Oral Traditions of Moses' words could easily have existed by fifteen generations later in 1000 BC.

It therefore seems reasonable to me that two separate Scribes (around that time) may have written down slightly different texts. One of those people might easily have heard the Oral Tradition where God was referred to as Elohim, and so he might easily have written down a text that only refers to Elohim. The other might have heard and memorized an Oral Tradition where God was referred to as Jehovah/Yahweh. (both of which are in our Bibles today.)

Note that this reasoning does NOT ever question or even doubt that Moses was the actual source author of the texts! It is really just noting that humans are not perfect, but that the Scribes of that time each wanted to record EXACTLY what they had been told and had memorized. If they knew each other, they might not have been able to figure out which of the two was actually correct, regarding the small details where they seem to slightly disagree. So both texts were written down and then preserved. Often, each story is repeated in inter-weaved stories, like specifying the small detail of exactly how many animals were taken onto the Ark by Noah. It seems to me that this reasoning is totally compatible with Moses being the actual author, but that there were two slightly different texts finally written down, and that, for want of an actual name for those Scribes, we tend to call them J and E. In my opinion, to call them "authors" or "writers" is inappropriate, but to see them as Scribes seems to make excellent sense.

Continue this reasoning a little further and we would have a situation where two slightly different (written) texts of Moses' words were being circulated. It seems reasonable to think that someone would have decided to combine them. A logical move would be to select which of the two precise texts was actually correct, but there was no way of knowing that. Therefore, the text was interweaved together in a manner as it is today, where both texts were therefore included, and which therefore certainly includes whichever happens to be the precisely correct wording.

We included a portion of the actual Bible text below, along with the way that some analysts have divided it up, alternately, between the nearly identical texts. (Genesis 7 and 8 excellently show the duplication of story and the slight differences.) To look at this from another view, if there is some other explanation, then there needs to be an explanation for why the story is so clearly duplicated in those Bible Verses, as well as why there are slight differences. In this, the JEDPR concept seems to provide a logical explanation.

By the way, we encourage that you also read the Genesis presentation from the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia (nearly 100 years ago) (presented below) which contains an extensive discussion of J, E, D and P, so this is not just a frivolous idea of some recent people. The duplication of so many wordings, particularly in Genesis, has had the attention of Biblical scholars for a long time, and the JEDP reasoning has been around for a long time. However, the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia article describes the JEDP concept as eliminating Moses as the actual author, which seems not to be the situation. There seems no doubt whatever that Moses was the actual source of these texts.

Also included below is the 1906 Genesis article from the Jewish Encyclopedia, which also discusses extensively these JEDP matters, and even expands them to include additional sources, such as P1, P2 and P3. Many of the other Jewish Encyclopedia articles from a hundred years ago (on other Bible Books) also extensively discuss these subjects.

Grammatical analysis has shown that the Book of Deuteronomy appears to have been (actually) written down by an early Scribe that was not either J or E, and so a third, D, is suggested. The reasoning regarding a fourth source, P, allegedly Priests of several hundred years later, has not been deeply pursued by me, so I can offer no opinion. However, I see great logic in there having been 'R', a redactor (which means editor). Devout Jews by then must have been troubled by the fact that there seemed to be two slightly different texts. Keep in mind that this was all WAY before any Books were collected to form a Bible or even a Torah. Early Jews were known for being fanatical about details, and so it seems to make sense that a Redactor would (later) combine the J, E, D and P (possibly then still separate accounts) into the "inter-threaded" text that we have today. Again, I do not see such a Redactor as an "author" but more as a Scribe who attempted to combine two nearly identical texts, and related texts.

In recent years, there seem to be absolutely ferocious Christian attacks on the JEDP approach. Rather than even trying to see that the words clearly seem to have been written by two separate people (as seems obvious in Genesis 7 or 8 below, if you read each column separately), there appears to just be an assumption that "anything different from what I believe must be an attack!" It seems to me that if those Christian counter-attackers could just calm down (and consider my comments here), they might see that there is NO attack on Moses' being the one and only source of those texts, and so most of their criticisms lose all their steam!

In conclusion, I am tempted to think that BOTH of the following two articles are absolutely correct! Yes, Moses DID author it so "The author of this Book was Moses." is absolutely true! However, for logistical reasons, two or more "strands" got eventually written down hundreds of years later. I do not really see why this (scholarly) concept is taken as so offensive by so many Christian writers!

Book of Genesis

Advanced Information

Modern analysis indicates that the book of Genesis (and the other four Books of the Pentateuch) were written by a number of authors who assembled material from three traditions:

Two of the additional authors are:

R.E. Friedman suggests that when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 722 BC, many refugees streamed south into Judea, bringing their sacred writing "E" with them. Subsequently, E and J were combined into a single document, referred to as "JE."

D was written perhaps a century later. It was conveniently "discovered" in the temple by the priest Hilkiah in 622 BC, shortly after it was written. D was then joined with JE.

P was written before the death of King Josiah in 609 BCE, probably during the reign of King Hezekiah. It was written as an alternate to JE.

R combined J, E, P and other documents together into the first four books of the Hebrew Scriptures. To this, he added D's writings, the book of Deuteronomy, to complete the Pentateuch. By the time that he did the editing, the JE, D and P documents were in wide circulation. Each was supported by various factions. R saw his task as attempting to join these sources together into a more or less cohesive, single document. Friedmann suspects that Ezra was the redactor.

During the 18th Century, three investigators (Witter, Astruc and Eichhorn) independently concluded that doublets in the Torah were written by two different authors. A doublet is a story that is described twice, as in:

These doublets sometimes appear to contradict each other. In most cases, one referred to God as Yahweh while the other used the term Elohim.

During the 19th Century, scholars noticed that there were a few triplets in the Torah. This indicated that a third author was involved. Then, they determined that the book of Deuteronomy was written in a different language style from the remaining 4 books in the Pentateuch (implying a fourth author). Finally, by the end of the 19th Century, liberal scholars reached a consensus that 4 authors and one redactor (editor) had been actively involved in the writing of the Pentateuch.

During the 20th Century, academics identified which verses (and parts of verses) were authored by the various writers. They have also attempted to uncover the names of the authors. In 1943, Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu in which he urged academics to study the sources of Biblical texts. Recent archeological discoveries and new linguistic analysis tools have facilitated the research.

(BELIEVE Editor's Note:)

Moses was quite likely the original source for the information in the first five Books of the Bible, but these various "strands" or (unknown) ancient authors apparently actually wrote down various portions of what we now have as our Bible. To give an idea of how these various strands intertwine, the first ten chapters of the King James Authorized Version of the book of Genesis are presented here, with the original authors, according to the modern analyst R.E. Friedman, indicated in color: J E P R. ('E' did not contribute to this excerpt.)


1 (P) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And 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 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.


(P) 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

4 (R) These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, (J) in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And 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 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.


1 (J) Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.


1 (J) And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.


1 (R) This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:
7 And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
8 And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
9 And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:
10 And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
11 And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
12 And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel:
13 And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
14 And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
15 And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:
16 And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
17 And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.
18 And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:
19 And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
20 And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
25 And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:
26 And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29 (J) And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
30 (R) And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


1 (J) And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

9 (P) These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.


[Note: Chapter 7 and 8 are of particular interest, as the text switches frequently between the two main authors. The Redactor seems to have wanted to preserve both the J and P accounts more or less intact. As a result, the text is quite repetitious:

A slight conflict seems to exist:

One or more verses from J are followed by one or more verses from P. If you read only the J verses, then you will get a coherent story. If you read just the P verses, you will see a consistent but slightly different story.

Verses by J Verses by P and by R
1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
6 (R) And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,
9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;
14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him:
16 (Cont'd) and the LORD shut him in.
17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.


[Note: Again, we see frequent alterations between J and P.

Verses by J Verses by P and by R
1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped,
2 (Cont'd) and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually:
3 (Cont'd) and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.
13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth:
13 (Cont'd)...and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.
15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,
16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.
17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:
19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.
20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.


1 (P) And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
18 (J) And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

28 (R) And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.


1 (R) Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: (P) and unto them were sons born after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.

8 (J) And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,
14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.
15 And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,
16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
20 (P) These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
21 (J) Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.
22 (P) The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.
23 And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.
24 (J) And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.
25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.
26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazar-maveth, and Jerah,
27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,
29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.
30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.
31 (P) These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.


Advanced Information

The five books of Moses were collectively called the Pentateuch, a word of Greek origin meaning "the five-fold book." The Jews called them the Torah, i.e., "the law." It is probable that the division of the Torah into five books proceeded from the Greek translators of the Old Testament. The names by which these several books are generally known are Greek. The first book of the Pentateuch (q.v.) is called by the Jews Bereshith, i.e., "in the beginning", because this is the first word of the book. It is generally known among Christians by the name of Genesis, i.e., "creation" or "generation," being the name given to it in the LXX. as designating its character, because it gives an account of the origin of all things. It contains, according to the usual computation, the history of about two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine years.

Genesis is divided into two principal parts. The first part (1-11) gives a general history of mankind down to the time of the Dispersion. The second part presents the early history of Israel down to the death and burial of Joseph (12-50). There are five principal persons brought in succession under our notice in this book, and around these persons the history of the successive periods is grouped, viz., Adam (1-3), Noah (4-9), Abraham (10-25:18), Isaac (25:19-35:29), and Jacob (36-50). In this book we have several prophecies concerning Christ (3:15; 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10). The author of this book was Moses. Under divine guidance he may indeed have been led to make use of materials already existing in primeval documents, or even of traditions in a trustworthy form that had come down to his time, purifying them from all that was unworthy; but the hand of Moses is clearly seen throughout in its composition.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Genesis Chapter 1

Advanced Information

From: Home Bible Study Commentary by James M. Gray


Creation of Heaven and Earth

v. 1 Here are three facts. What was done? Who did it? When did it occur? There are two words that require explanation, "created" and "beginning." Does the former mean that heaven and earth were created out of nothing? The word ("bara," in Hebrew) does not necessarily mean that, but its peculiar use in this chapter suggests that it means that here. It occurs three times, here in v. 1, at the introduction of life on the fifth day, and at the creation of man on the sixth day. Elsewhere, where only transformations are meant, another word ("asah" in Hebrew) is used, translated "made." "Bara" (created) is thus reserved for marking the introduction of each of the three great spheres of existence, the world of matter, of animal life and of spirit, all three of which, though intimately associated, are distinct in essence, and constitute all the universe known to us.

Professor Guyot adds that whenever the simple form of "bara" is used in the Bible it always refers to work made by God and never by man. These considerations, with others, justify the statement that "created" here means created out of nothing. But when was the "beginning"? The margin indicates a period about 4,000 years before Christ, but these marginal notes are not part of the divine text, but the work of uninspired minds and therefore open to debate. Should science ultimately determine on millions of years ago as the period of the creation there is nothing in this verse of the Bible it would contradict.

Making Day

vv. 2-5 What was the condition of inert matter as represented in verse 2? The first verb "was" has sometimes been translated "became." Read it thus and you get the idea that originally the earth was otherwise than void and waste, but that some catastrophe took place resulting in that state. This means, if true, that a period elapsed between verses 1 and 2, long enough to account for the geological formations of which some scientists speak, and a race of pre-Adamite men of which others speculate. It suggests too that the earth as we now know it may not be much older than tradition places it.

The word "earth" in this verse, however, must not be understood to mean our globe with its land and seas, which was not made till the third day, but simply matter in general, that is, the cosmic material out of which the Holy Spirit organized the whole universe, including the earth of to-day. "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." "Moved upon" means brooded over as a bird on its nest. "Waters" means not the oceans and seas as we know them, but the gaseous condition of the matter before spoken of. The Spirit of God moved "upon" the waters, and not "inside of" them, showing that God is a personal Being separate from His work. As the result of this brooding, what appeared?

We need not suppose that God spake just as a human being speaks, but the coming forth of light out of thick darkness would have seemed to a spectator as the effect of a divine command (Ps. 33:6-9). On the natural plane of things vibration is light or produces light, which illustrates the relation between the moving of the Spirit upon inert matter and the effect it produced. "And God called the light day." The Hebrew word "yom," translated "day," is used in five different senses in the first two chapters of Genesis. Here it means light without reference to time. Later in the same verse it means the period covered by "the evening and the morning" mentioned, the exact duration of which we do not know.

At verse 14 it stands for what we know as 24 hours, at verse 16 it means the light part of the day of 24 hours, and at 2:4 the whole period during which the heaven and the earth were created. All this bears on the question whether creation was wrought in 6 days of 24 hours or 6 day-periods of unknown length; and it will be seen that one does not necessarily contradict the Bible if he believes the latter. When we recall that days of 12 and 24 hours were altogether excluded before the appearance of the sun on the fourth day, the latter hypothesis receives the stronger confirmation.

Making Heaven

vv. 6-8 What does God call forth in verse 6? "Firmament" might be translated by "expanse." What was it to divide? Notice that according to our definition of "waters" this means a separation of the gaseous matter into which light had now come. What did God call this expanse? "Heaven" here means not simply the atmosphere around the earth but the greater chamber of immensity where the sun, moon and stars are located. In connection with this read Psalm 148, and notice that there are "waters," that is, gaseous matter above the heaven of which this verse speaks, and that the "waters" below it include the clouds of our atmosphere as well as the oceans and seas we navigate.

Making Earth and Seas

vv. 9-13 What command goes forth from God on the third day (v. 9)? What did He call the result (v. 10)? Heaven, or the firmament, had divided the cosmic or gaseous matter on the second day. Motion was now everywhere, and gravition and chemical forces tended to concentrate this matter under the firmament around particular centres, one of which became our globe. A cooling process set in, shrinking and folding its surface into great wrinkles, the shrinking of some parts furnishing basins for oceans or seas and the projection of other parts bringing continents into view. Thus would astronomers and geologists comment on these verses. But another work than the formation of the globe was accomplished on this day (vv. 11, 12). A principle superior to matter begins to govern its particles, and they assume new forms. What does the earth put forth? Which came first, the plant or the seed? "The plant is not yet life," says Guyot, "but the bridge between matter and life."

Making Lights

vv. 14-19 What command went forth on the fourth day? For what six purposes were these lights made (v. 14, 15)? What discrimination is made between the two greater lights (v. 16)? Where were the lights placed (v. 17)? What special purpose of their making is emphasized in verses 17 and 18? It is well to keep in mind that light itself was made on the first day, and that these "lights" of the fourth day were (so to speak) light-holders. It is of course unnecessary to state how they divide the day from the night, and in what sense they are for signs and seasons, as every one knows the first result is secured by the daily rotation of the earth among them on its own axis, and the second by its annual revolution around the sun. It is presumable that originally their light was merged in that of the earth's own outer covering of light, and that as her luminous envelope disappeared they became visible, and she came to depend on them for both light and heat.

Creating Animal Life

vv. 20-25 What is the command of verse 20? The "waters" here referred to are our oceans and seas. The Revised Version corrects the misapprehension that "fowl" came forth from the water. What word in verse 21 indicates that we have now entered on a new sphere of existence? What was the nature of the blessing on the fish and fowl (v. 22)? What was the further work of creation on this day (v. 24, 25)?

It is interesting to note: (a) that this peopling of the water, the air and the land is in the precise order indicated by the science of geology; (b) that the plant life of the third day was the preparation for the animal life of the fifth day; (c) that the plant is now in the animal shaped into new forms, and subservient to higher functions than it could ever perform by itself; (d) that two powers which place the animal on a higher platform than the lower grades of existence are sensation, by which it perceives the world around it, and will, by which it reacts upon it. This is life, and is not the result of chemical elements left to themselves, but the effect of previously existing life. In other words, the Bible and science agree in declaring that "spontaneous generation is an untenable hypothesis," and life only begets life.

Creating Man

vv. 26-31 What word in verse 26 suggests more than one person in the Godhead? What dignity is given to man above every other work of creation? What dignity in his position? What word in verse 27 shows that in his creation we have entered another new sphere of existence? What blessing is bestowed on man in verse 28? How does it differ from that bestowed on the lower animals? What provision has God made for the sustenance of man and beast?

Note: (a) that the consultation in the Godhead regarding man's creation foreshadows the New Testament doctrine of the Trinity; (b) that the "image of God" may mean the trinity in man represented by body, soul and spirit (2:7; 1 Thess. 5:23), but especially that moral image suggested in Colossians 3:10; (c) that the dominion of man over the lower creation has in some measure been lost through sin, but will be restored again in Christ (Psalm 8); (d) that the creation of matter, of life and of man are three distinct creations out of nothing, and that God's action in them is direct, hence evolution from one into the other is impossible. There may be evolution within any one of these systems of existence considered by itself, but this is different from that other evolution which would make man the descendant of an ape and rule God out of the universe which He made.

Questions 1. What does "create" probably mean in this chapter, and why do you think so? 2. When may "the beginning" have been? 3. What does "earth" mean in verse 2? 4. What word in verse 2 opposes pantheism by showing God to be a Person? 5. If the creation days were not limited to 24 hours, why do you think so? 6. What does "heaven" of the second day stand for? 7. What two works were accomplished on the third day? 8. What two powers in the animal define life? 9. Quote Colossians 3:10. 10. How would you distinguish between a rationalistic and a possibly Biblical evolution?


Advanced Information

"In the beginning" God created, i.e., called into being, all things out of nothing. This creative act on the part of God was absolutely free, and for infinitely wise reasons. The cause of all things exists only in the will of God. The work of creation is attributed (1) to the Godhead (Gen. 1:1, 26); (2) to the Father (1 Cor. 8:6); (3) to the Son (John 1:3; Col. 1:16, 17); (4) to the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Ps. 104:30). The fact that he is the Creator distinguishes Jehovah as the true God (Isa. 37:16; 40:12, 13; 54:5; Ps. 96:5; Jer. 10:11, 12). The one great end in the work of creation is the manifestation of the glory of the Creator (Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11; Rom. 11:36).

God's works, equally with God's word, are a revelation from him; and between the teachings of the one and those of the other, when rightly understood, there can be no contradiction. Traditions of the creation, disfigured by corruptions, are found among the records of ancient Eastern nations. (See ACCAD.) A peculiar interest belongs to the traditions of the Accadians, the primitive inhabitants of the plains of Lower Mesopotamia. These within the last few years have been brought to light in the tablets and cylinders which have been rescued from the long-buried palaces and temples of Assyria. They bear a remarkable resemblance to the record of Genesis.


Catholic Information

The Book of Genesis prepares the reader for the Pentateuchal legislation; it tells us how God chose a particular family to keep His Revelation, and how He trained the Chosen People to fulfil its mission. From the nature of its contents the book consists of two rather unequal parts; cc. i-xi present the features of a general history, while cc. xii-1 contain the particular history of the Chosen People. By a literary device, each of these parts is subdivided into five sections differing in length. The sections are introduced by the phrase elleh tholedhoth (these are the generations) or its variant zeh sepher toledhoth (this is the book of the generations). "Generations", however, is only the etymological meaning of the Hebrew toledhoth; in its context the formula can hardly signify a mere genealogical table, for it is neither preceded nor followed by such tables. As early Oriental history usually begins with genealogical records, and consists to a large extend of such records, one naturally interprets the above introductory formula and its variant as meaning, "this is the history" or "this is the book of the history." History in these phrases is not to be understood as a narrative resting on folklore, as Fr. Von Hummelauer believes ("Exegetisches zur Inspirationsfrage, Biblische Studien", Freiburg, 1904, IX, 4, pp. 26-32); but as a record based on genealogies. Moreover, the introductory formula often refers back to some principal feature of the preceding section, thus forming a transition and connection between the successive parts. Gen., v, 1, e.g., refers back to Gen., ii, 7 sqq.; vi, 9 to v, 29 sqq. and vi, 8; x, 1 to ix, 18, 19, etc. Finally, the sacred writer deals very briefly with the non-chosen families or tribes, and he always considers them before the chosen branch of the family. He treats of Cain before he speaks of Seth; similarly, Cham and Japhet precede Sem; the rest of Sem's posterity precedes Abraham; Ismael precedes Isaac; Esau precedes Jacob. Bearing in mind these general outlines of the contents and the literary structure of Genesis, we shall easily understand the following analytical table.

Introduction (Genesis 1:1-2:3) -- Consists of the Hexaemeron; it teaches the power and goodness of God as manifested in the creation of the world, and also the dependence of creatures on the dominion of the Creator.

General History (2:4-11:26) -- Man did not acknowledge his dependence on God. Hence, leaving the disobedient to their own devices, God chose one special family or one individual as the depositary of His Revelation.

History of Heaven and Earth (2:4-4:26) -- Here we have the story of the fall of our first parents, ii, 5-iii, 24; of the fratricide of Cain, iv, 1-16; the posterity of Cain and its elimination, iv, 17-26.

History of Adam (5:1-6:8) -- The writer enumerates the Sethites, another line of Adam's descendants, v, 1-32, but shows that they too became so corrupt that only one among them found favour before God, vi, 1-8.

History of Noah (6:9-9:29) -- Neither the Deluge which destroyed the whole human race excepting Noah's family, vi, 11-viii, 19, nor God's covenant with Noah and his sons, viii, 20-ix, 17, brought about the amendment of the human family, and only one of Noah's sons was chosen as the bearer of the Divine blessings, ix, 18-29.

History of the Sons of Noah (10:1-11:9) -- The posterity of the non-chosen sons, x, 1-32, brought a new punishment on the human race by its pride, xi, 1-9.

History of Sem (11:10-26) -- The posterity of Sem is enumerated down to Thare the father of Abraham, in whose seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Special History (11:27-50:26) -- Here the inspired writer describes the special Providence watching over Abraham and his offspring which developed in Egypt into a large nation. At the same time, he eliminates the sons of Abraham who were not children of God's promise. This teaches the Israelites that carnal descent from Abraham does not suffice to make them true sons of Abraham.

History of Thare (11:27-25:11) -- This section tells of the call of Abraham, his transmigration into Chanaan, his covenant with God, and His promises.

History of Ismael (25:12-28) -- This section eliminates the tribes springing from Ismael.

History of Isaac (25:19-35:29 -- Here we have the history of Isaac's sons, Esau and Jacob.

History of Esau (36:1-37:1) -- The sacred writer gives a list of Esau's posterity; it does not belong to the number of the Chosen People.

History of Jacob (37:2-50:26) -- This final portion of Genesis tells of the fate of Jacob's family down to the death of the Patriarch and of Joseph.

What has been said shows a uniform plan in the structure of Genesis, which some scholars prefer to call "schematism". (i) The whole book is divided into ten sections. (ii) Each section is introduced by the same formula. (iii) The sections are arranged according to a definite plan, the history of the lateral genealogical branches always preceding that of the corresponding part of the main line. (iv) Within the sections, the introductory formula or the title is usually followed by a brief repetition of some prominent feature of the preceding section, a fact duly noted and explained by as early a writer as Rhabanus Maurus (Comment. In Gen., II, xii; P.G., CVII, 531-2), but misconstrued by our recent critics into an argument for a diversity of sources. (v) The history of each Patriarch tells of the development of his family during his lifetime, while the account of his life varies between a bare notice consisting of a few words or lines, and a more lengthy description. (vi) When the life of the Patriarch is given more in detail, the account usually ends in an almost uniform way, indicating the length of his life and his burial with his ancestors (cf. ix, 29; xi, 32; xxv, 7; xxxv, 28; xlvii, 28). Such a definite plan of the book shows that it was written with a definite end in view and according to preconceived arrangement. The critics attribute this to the final "redactor" of the Pentateuch who adopted, according to their views, the genealogical framework and the "schematism" from the Priestly Code. The value of these views will be discussed later; for the present, it suffices to know that a striking unity prevails throughout the Book of Genesis (cf. Kurtrz, "Die Einheit der Genesis", Berlin, 1846; Delattre, "Plan de la Genèse" in "Revue des quest. hist.", July, 1876; XX, pp. 5-43; Delattre, "Le plan de la Genese et les generations du ciel et de la terre" in "La science cath.", 15 Oct., 1891, V, pp. 978-89; de Broglie, "Etude sur les genealogies bibliques" in "Le congres scientif. internat. des catholiques de 1888", Paris, 1889, I, pp. 94-101; Julian, "Etude critique sur la composition de la Genese", Paris, 1888, pp. 232-50).


The contents of the Pentateuch furnish the basis for the history, the law, the worship, and the life of the Chosen People of God. Hence the authorship of the work, the time and manner of its origin, and its historicity are of paramount importance. These are not merely literary problems, but questions belonging to the fields of history of religion and theology. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is inseparably connected with the question, whether and in what sense Moses was the author or intermediary of the Old-Testament legislation, and the bearer of pre-Mosaic tradition. According to the trend of both Old and New Testament, and according to Jewish and Christian theology, the work of the great lawgiver Moses is the origin of the history of Israel and the basis of its development down to the time of Jesus Christ; but modern criticism sees in all this only the result, or the precipitate, of a purely natural historical development. The question of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch leads us, therefore, to the alternative, revelation or historical evolution; it touches the historical and theological foundation of both the Jewish and the Christian dispensation. We shall consider the subject first in the light of Scripture; secondly, in the light of Jewish and Christian tradition; thirdly, in the light of internal evidence, furnished by the Pentateuch; finally, in the light of ecclesiastical decisions.


It will be found convenient to divide the Biblical evidence for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch into three parts: (1) Testimony of the Pentateuch;

(2) Testimony of the other Old-Testament books; (3) Testimony of the New Testament.

(1) Witness of the Pentateuch

The Pentateuch in its present form does not present itself as a complete literary production of Moses. It contains an account of Moses' death, it tells the story of his life in the third person and in an indirect form, and the last four books do not exhibit the literary form of memoirs of the great lawgiver; besides, the expression "God said to Moses" shows only the Divine origin of the Mosaic laws but does not prove that Moses himself codified in the Pentateuch the various laws promulgated by him. On the other hand, the Pentateuch ascribes to Moses the literary authorship of at least four sections, partly historical, partly legal, partly poetical. (a) After Israel's victory over the Amalecites near Raphidim, the Lord said to Moses (Exodus 17:14): "Write this for a memorial in a book, and deliver it to the ears of Josue." This order is naturally restricted to Amalec's defeat, a benefit which God wished to keep alive in the memory of the people (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). The present pointing of the Hebrew text reads "in the book", but the Septuagint version omits the definite article. Even if we suppose that the Massoretic pointing gives the original text, we can hardly prove that the book referred to is the Pentateuch, though this is highly probable (cf. von Hummelauer "Exodus et Leviticus", Paris, 1897, p. 182; Idem, "Deuteronomium", Paris, 1901, p. 152; Kley, "Die Pentateuchfrage", Munster, 1903, p. 217). (b) Again, Ex., xxiv, 4: "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord." The context does not allow us to understand these words in an indefinite manner, but as referring to the words of the Lord immediately preceding or to the so-called "Book of the Covenant", Ex., xx-xxiii. (c) Ex., xxxiv, 27: "And the Lord said to Moses: Write thee these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel." The next verse adds: "and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant." Ex., xxxiv, 1, 4, shows how Moses had prepared the tables, and Ex., xxxiv, 10-26, gives us the contents of the ten words. (d) Num., xxxiii, 1-2: "These are the mansions of the children of Israel, who went out of Egypt by their troops under the conduct of Moses and Aaron, which Moses wrote down according to the places of their encamping." Here we are informed that Moses wrote the list of the people's encampments in the desert; but where it this list to be found? Most probably it is given in Num., xxxiii, 3-49, or the immediate context of the passage telling of Moses' literary activity; there are, however, scholars who understand this latter passage as referring to the history of Israel's departure from Egypt written in the order of the people's encampments, so that it would be our present Book of Exodus. But this view is hardly probable; for its assumption that Num., xxxiii, 3-49, is a summary of Exodus cannot be upheld, as the chapter of Numbers mentions several encampments not occurring in Exodus.

Besides these four passages there are certain indications in Deuteronomy which point to the literary activity of Moses. Deut., i, 5: "And Moses began to expound the law and to say"; even if the "law" in this text refer to the whole of the Pentateuchal legislation, which is not very probable, it shows only that Moses promulgated the whole law, but not that he necessarily wrote it. Practically the entire Book of Deuteronomy claims to be a special legislation promulgated by Moses in the land of Moab: iv, 1-40; 44-49; v, 1 sqq.; xii, 1 sqq. But there is a suggestion of writing too: xvii, 18-9, enjoins that the future kings are to receive a copy of this law from the priests in order to read and observe it; xxvii, 1-8, commands that on the west side of the Jordan "all the words of this law" be written on stones set up in Mount Hebal; xxviii, 58, speaks of "all the words of this law, that are written in this volume" after enumerating the blessings and curses which will come upon the observers and violators of the law respectively, and which are again referred to as written in a book in xxix, 20, 21, 27, and xxxii, 46, 47; now, the law repeatedly referred to as written in a book must be at least the Deuteronomic legislation. Moreover, xxxi, 9-13 states, "and Moses wrote this law", and xxxi, 26, adds, "take this book, and put it in the side of the ark. . .that it may be there for a testimony against thee"; to explain these texts as fiction or as anachronisms is hardly compatible with the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. Finally, xxxi, 19, commands Moses to write the canticle contained in Deut., xxxii, 1-43.

The Scriptural scholar will not complain that there are so few express indications in the Pentateuch of Moses' literary activity; he will rather be surprised at their number. As far as explicit testimony for its own, at least partial, authorship is concerned, the Pentateuch compares rather favourably with many other books of the Old Testament.

(2) Witness of other Old-Testament Books

(a) Josue.-The narrative of the Book of Josue presupposes not merely the facts and essential ordinances contained in the Pentateuch, but also the law given by Moses and written in the book of the law of Moses: Jos., i, 7-8; viii, 31; xxii, 5; xxiii, 6. Josue himself "wrote all these things in the volume of the law of the Lord" (xxiv, 26). Prof. Hobverg maintains that this "volume of the law of the Lord" is the Pentateuch ("Über den Ursprung des Pentateuchs" in "Biblische Zeitschrift", 1906, IV, 340); Mangenot believes that it refers at least to Deuteronomy (Dict. de la Bible, V, 66). At any rate, Josue and his contemporaries were acquainted with a written Mosaic legislation, which was divinely revealed.

(b) Judges; I, II Kings.-In the Book of Judges and the first two Books of Kings there is no explicit reference to Moses and the book of the law, but a number of incidents and statements presuppose the existence of the Pentateuchal legislation and institutions. Thus Judges, xv, 8-10, recalls Israel's delivery from Egypt and its conquest of the Promised Land; Judges, xi, 12-28, states incidents recorded in Num., xx, 14; xxi, 13,24; xxii, 2; Judges, xiii, 4, states a practice founded on the law of the Nazarites in Num., vi, 1-21; Judges, xviii, 31, speaks of the tabernacle existing in the times when there was no king in Israel; Judges, xx, 26-8 mentions the ark of the covenant, the various kinds of sacrifices, and the Aaronic priesthood. The Pentateuchal history and laws are similarly presupposed in 1 Samuel 10:18; 15:1-10; 10:25; 21:1-6; 22:6 sqq.; 23:6-9; 2 Samuel 6.

(c) 1 and 2 Kings.-The last two Books of Kings repeatedly speak of the law of Moses. To restrict the meaning of this term to Deuteronomy is an arbitrary exegesis (cf. 1 Kings 2:3; 10:31); Amasias showed mercy to the children of the murderers "according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses" (2 Kings 14:6); the sacred writer records the Divine promise of protecting the Israelites "Only if they will observe to do all that I have commanded them according to the law which my servant Moses commanded them" (2 Kings 21:8). In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josias was found the book of the law (2 Kings 22:8, 11), or the book of the covenant (2 Kings 23:2), according to which he conducted his religious reform (2 Kings 23:10-24), and which is identified with "the law of Moses" (2 Kings 23:25). Catholic commentators are not at one whether this law-book was Deuteronomy (von Hummelauer, "Deuteronomium", Paris, 1901, p. 40-60, 83-7) or the entire Pentateuch (Clair, "Les livres des Rois", Paris, 1884, II, p. 557 seq.; Hoberg, "Moses und der Pentateuch", Frieburg, 1905, p. 17 seq.; "uber den Ursprung des Pentateuchs" in "Biblische Zeitschrift", 1906, IV, pp. 338-40).

(d) Paralipomenon.-The inspired writer of Paralipomenon refers to the law and the book of Moses much more frequently and clearly. The objectionable names and numbers occurring in these books are mostly due to transcribers. The omission of incidents which would detract from the glory of the Israelite kings or would not edify the reader is not detrimental to the credibility or veracity of the work. Otherwise one should have to place among works of fiction a number of biographical or patriotic publications intended for the young or for the common reader. On their part, the modern critics are too eager to discredit the authority of Paralipomena. "After removing the account of Paralipomena", writes de Wette (Beitrage, I, 135), "the whole Jewish history assumes another form, and the Pentateuchal investigations take another turn; a number of strong proofs, hard to explain away, for the early existence of the Mosaic books have disappeared, the other vestiges of their existence are placed in a different light." A glance at the contents of Parlipomenon suffices to explain the efforts of de Witte and Wellhausen to disprove the historicity of the books. Not only are the genealogies (1 Chronicles 1-9) and the descriptions of worship traced after the data and laws of the Pentateuch, but the sacred writer expressly points out their conformity with what is written in the law of the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:40), in the law of Moses (2 Chronicles 23:18; 31:3), thus identifying the law of the Lord with that written by Moses (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:4). The reader will find similar indications of the existence and the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch in I Par., xxii, 12 seq.; II Par., xvii, 9; xxxiii, 4; xxxiv, 14; xxv, 12. By an artificial interpretation, indeed, the Books of Paralipomenon may be construed to represent the Pentateuch as a book containing the law promulgated by Moses; but the natural sense of the foregoing passages regards the Pentateuch as a book edited by Moses.

(e) I, II Esdras.-The Books of Esdras and Nehemias, too, taken in their natural and commonly accepted sense, consider the Pentateuch as the book of Moses, not merely as a book containing the law of Moses. This contention is based on the study of the following texts: I Esd., iii, 2 sqq.; vi, 18; vii, 14; II Esd., i, 7 sqq.; viii, 1, 8, 14; ix, 3; x, 34, 36; xiii, 1-3. Graf and his followers expressed the view that the book of Moses referred to in these texts is not the Pentateuch, but only the Priestly Code; but when we keep in mind that the book in question contained the laws of Lev., xxiii, and Deut., vii, 2-4; xv, 2, we perceive at once that the book of Moses cannot be restricted to the Priestly Code. To the witness of the historical books we may add II Mach., ii, 4; vii, 6; Judith, viii, 23; Ecclus., xxiv, 33; xlv, 1-6; xlv, 18, and especially the Preface of Ecclus.

(f) Prophetic Books.-Express reference to the written law of Moses is found only in the later Prophets: Bar., ii, 2, 28; Dan., ix, 11, 13; Mal., iv, 4. Among these, Baruch knows that Moses has been commanded to write the law, and though his expressions run parallel to those of Deut., xxviii, 15, 53, 62-64, his threats contain allusions to those contained in other parts of the Pentateuch. The other Prophets frequently refer to the law of the Lord guarded by the priests (cf. Deuteronomy 31:9), and they put it on the same level with Divine Revelation and the eternal covenant of the Lord. They appeal to God's covenant, the sacrificial laws the calendar of feasts, and other laws of the Pentateuch in such a way as to render it probable that a written legislation formed the basis of their prophetic admonitions (cf. Hosea 8:12), and that they were acquainted with verbal expressions of the book of the law. Thus in the northern kingdom Amos (iv, 4-5; v, 22 sqq.) and Isaias in the south (i, 11 sqq.) employ expressions which are practically technical words for sacrifice occurring in Lev., i-iii; vii, 12, 16; and Deut., xii, 6.

(3) Witness of the New Testament

We need not show that Jesus and the Apostles quoted the whole of the Pentateuch as written by Moses. If they attributed to Moses all the passages which they happen to cite, if they ascribe the Pentateuch to Moses whenever there is question of its authorship, even the most exacting critics must admit that they express their conviction that the work was indeed written by Moses. When the Sadducees quote against Jesus the marriage law of Deut., xxv, 5, as written by Moses (Matthew 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28), Jesus does not deny the Mosaic authorship, but appeals to Ex., iii, 6, as equally written by Moses (Mark 12:26; Matthew 22:31; Luke 20:37). Again, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:29), He speaks of "Moses and the prophets", while on other occasions He speaks of "the law and the prophets" (Luke 16:16), thus showing that in His mind the law, or the Pentateuch, and Moses are identical. The same expressions reappear in the last discourse addressed by Christ to His disciples (Luke 24:44-6; cf. 27): "which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me". Finally, in John, v, 45-7, Jesus is more explicit in asserting the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch: "There is one that accuseth you, Moses. . .for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" Nor can it be maintained that Christ merely accommodated himself to the current beliefs of his contemporaries who considered Moses as the author of the Pentateuch not merely in a moral but also in the literary sense of authorship. Jesus did not need to enter into the critical study of the nature of Mosaic authorship, but He could not expressly endorse the popular belief, if it was erroneous.

The Apostles too felt convinced of, and testified to, the Mosaic authorship. "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write." St. Peter introduces a quotation from Deut., xviii, 15, with the words: "For Moses said" (Acts 3:22). St. James and St. Paul relate that Moses is read in the synagogues on the Sabbath day (Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15). The great Apostle speaks in other passages of the law of Moses (Acts 13:33; 1 Corinthians 9:9); he preaches Jesus according to the law of Moses and the Prophets (Acts 28:23), and cites passages from the Pentateuch as words written by Moses (Romans 10:5-8; 19). St. John mentions the canticle of Moses (Revelation 15:3).


The voice of tradition, both Jewish and Christian, is so unanimous and constant in proclaiming the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch that down to the seventeenth century it did not allow the rise of any serious doubt. The following paragraphs are only a meagre outline of this living tradition.

(1) Jewish Tradition

It has been seen that the books of the Old Testament, beginning with those of the Pentateuch, present Moses as the author of at least parts of the Pentateuch. The writer of the Books of Kings believes that Moses is the author of Deuteronomy at least. Esdras, Nehemias, Malachias, the author of Paralipomena, and the Greek authors of the Septuagint Version consider Moses as the author of the whole Pentateuch. At the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles friend and foe take the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch for granted; neither our Lord nor His enemies take exception to this assumption. In the first century of the Christian era, Josephus ascribes to Moses the authorship of the entire Pentateuch, not excepting the account of the lawgiver's death ("Antiq. Jud.", IV, viii, 3-48; cf. I Procem., 4; "Contra Apion.", I, 8). The Alexandrian philosopher Philo is convinced that the entire Pentateuch is the work of Moses, and that the latter wrote a prophetic account of his death under the influence of a special divine inspiration ("De vita Mosis", ll. II, III in "Opera", Geneva, 1613, pp. 511, 538). The Babylonian Talmud ("Baba-Bathra", II, col. 140; "Makkoth", fol. IIa; "Menachoth", fol. 30a; cf. Vogue, "Hist. de la Bible et de l'exegese biblique jusqua'a nos jours", Paris, 1881, p. 21), the Talmud of Jerusalem (Sota, v, 5), the rabbis, and the doctors of Israel (cf. Furst, "Der Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Überlieferungen im Talmud und Midrasch", Leipzig, 1868, pp. 7-9) bear testimony to the continuance of this tradition for the first thousand years. Though Isaac ben Jasus in the eleventh century and Abenesra in the twelfth admitted certain post-Mosaic additions in the Pentateuch, still they as well as Maimonides upheld its Mosaic authorship, and did not substantially differ in this point from the teaching of R. Becchai (thirteenth cent.), Joseph Karo, and Abarbanel (fifteenth cent.; cf. Richard Simon, "Critique de la Bibl. des aut. eccles. de E. Dupin", Paris, 1730, III, pp. 215-20). Only in the seventeenth century, Baruch Spinoza rejected the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, pointing out the possibility that the work might have been written by Esdras ("Tract. Theol.-politicus", c. viii, ed. Tauchnitz, III, p. 125). Among the more recent Jewish writers several have adopted the results of the critics, thus abandoning the tradition of their forefathers.

(2) Christian Tradition

The Jewish tradition concerning the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch was brought in to the Christian Church by Christ Himself and the Apostles. No one will seriously deny the existence and continuance of such a tradition from the patristic period onward; one might indeed be curious about the interval between the time of the Apostles and beginning of the third century. For this period we may appeal to the "Epistle of Barnabus" (x, 1-12; Funk, "Patres apostol.", 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1901, I, p. 66-70; xii, 2-9k; ibid., p. 74-6), to St. Clement of Rome (1 Corinthians 41:1; ibid., p. 152), St. Justin ("Apol. I", 59; P. G., VI, 416; I, 32, 54; ibid., 377, 409; "Dial.", 29; ibid., 537), to the author of "Cohort. Ad Graec." (9, 28, 30, 33, 34; ibid., 257, 293, 296-7, 361), to St. Theophilus ("Ad Autol.", III, 23; ibid., 1156; 11, 30; ibid., 1100), to St. Irenæus (Cont. haer., I, ii, 6; P.G., VII, 715-6), to St. Hippolytus of Rome ("Comment. In Deut.", xxxi, 9, 31, 35; cf. Achelis, "Arabische Fragmente etc.", Leipzig, 1897, I, 118; "Philosophumena", VIII, 8; X, 33; P.G., XVI, 3350, 3448), to Tertullian of Carthage (Adv. Hermog., XIX; P. L., II, 214), to Origen of Alexandria (Contra. Cels., III, 5-6; P. G., XI, 928; etc.), to St. Eusthatius of Antioch (De engastrimytha c. Orig., 21; P.G., XVIII, 656); for all these writers, and others might be added, bear witness to the continuance of the Christian tradition that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. A list of the later Fathers who bear witness to the same truth may be found in Mangenot's article in the "Dict. de la Bible" (V, 74 seq.). Hoberg (Moses und der Pentateuch, 72 seq.) has collected the testimony for the existence of the tradition during the Middle Ages and in more recent times.

But Catholic tradition does not necessarily maintain that Moses wrote every letter of the Pentateuch as it is today, and that the work has come down to us in an absolutely unchanged form. This rigid view of the Mosaic authorship began to develop in the eighteenth century, and practically gained the upper hand in the nineteenth. The arbitrary treatment of Scripture on the part of Protestants, and the succession of the various destructive systems advanced by Biblical criticism, caused this change of front in the Catholic camp. In the sixteenth century Card. Bellarmine, who may be considered as a reliable exponent of Catholic tradition, expressed the opinion that Esdras had collected, readjusted, and corrected the scattered parts of the Pentateuch, and had even added the parts necessary for the completion of the Pentateuchal history (De verbo Dei, II, I; cf. III, iv). The views of Génebrard, Pereira, Bonfrere, a Lapide, Masius, Jansenius, and of other notable Biblicists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are equally elastic with regard to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Not that they agree with the contentions of our modern Biblical criticism; but they show that today's Pentateuchal problems were not wholly unknown to Catholic scholars, and that the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch as determined by the Biblical Commission is no concession forced on the Church by unbelieving Bible students.


The possibility of producing a written record at the time of Moses is no longer contested. The art of writing was known long before the time of the great lawgiver, and was extensively practised both in Egypt and Babylon. As to the Israelites, Flinders Petrie infers from certain Semitic inscriptions found in 1905 on the Sinaitic peninsula, that they kept written accounts of their national history from the time of their captivity under Ramses II. The Tell-el-Amarna tablets show the language of Babylon was in a way the official language at the time of Moses, known in Western Asia, Palestine, and Egypt; the finds of Taanek have confirmed this fact. But it cannot be inferred from this that the Egyptians and Israelites employed this sacred or official language among themselves and in their religious documents (cf. Benzinger, "Hebraische Archaologie", 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1907, p. 172 sqq.). It is not merely the possibility of writing at the time of Moses and the question of language that confronts us here; there is the further problem of the kind of written signs used in the Mosaic documents. The hieroglyphic and cuneiform signs were widely employed at that early date; the oldest inscriptions written in alphabetical characters date only from the ninth century B.C. But there can hardly be any doubt as to the higher antiquity of alphabetic writing, and there seems to be nothing to prevent our extending it back to the time of Moses. Finally, the Code of Hammurabi, discovered in Susa in 1901 by the French expedition funded by Mr. And Mrs. Dieulafoy, shows that even in pre-Mosaic times legal enactments were committed to, and preserved in, writing; for the Code antedates Moses some five centuries, and contains about 282 regulations concerning various contingencies in the civic life.

Thus far it has been shown negatively that an historic and legal document claiming to be written at the time of Moses involves no antecedent improbability of its authenticity. But the internal characteristics of the Pentateuch show also positively that the work is at least probably Mosaic. It is true that the Pentateuch contains no express declaration of its entire Mosaic authorship; but even the most exacting of critics will hardly require such testimony. It is practically lacking in all other books, whether sacred or profane. On the other hand, it has already been shown that four distinct passages of the Pentateuch are expressly ascribed to the authorship of Moses. Deut., xxxi, 24-9, is especially noted; for it knows that Moses wrote the "words of this law in a volume" and commanded it to be placed in the ark of the covenant as a testimony against the people who have been so rebellious during the lawgiver's life and will "do wickedly" after his death. Again, a number of legal sections, though not explicitly ascribed to the writing of Moses, are distinctly derived from Moses as the lawgiver. Besides, many of the Pentateuchal laws bear evidence of their origin in the desert; hence they too lay an indirect claim to Mosaic origin. What has been said of a number of Pentateuchal laws is equally true of several historical sections. These contain in the Book of Numbers, for instance, so many names and numbers that they must have been handed down in writing. Unless the critics can bring irrefutable evidence showing that in these sections we have only fiction, they must grant that these historical details were written down in contemporary documents, and not transmitted by mere oral tradition. Moreover, Hommel ("Die altisraelitische Überlieferung in inschriftlicher Beleuchtung", p. 302) has shown that the names in the lists of the Book of Numbers bear the character of the Arabian names of the second millennium before Christ, and can have originated only in the time of Moses, though it must be admitted that the text of certain portions, e.g., Num., xiii, has suffered in its transmission. We need not remind the reader that numerous Pentateuchal laws and data imply the conditions of a nomadic life of Israel. Finally, both the author of the Pentateuch and its first readers must have been more familiar with the topography and the social conditions of Egypt and with the Sinaitic peninsula than with the land of Chanaan. Cf., e.g., Deut., viii, 7-10; xi, 10 sqq. These internal characteristics of the Pentateuch have been developed at greater length by Smith, "The Book of Moses or the Pentateuch in its Authorship, Credibility, and Civilisation", London, 1868; Vigouroux, "La Bible et les decouvertes modernes", 6th ed., Paris, 1896, I, 453-80; II, 1-213, 529-47, 586-91; Idem, "Les Livres Saints et la critique rationaliste", Paris, 1902, III, 28-46, 79-99, 122-6; Heyes, "Bibel und Ægypten", Munster, 1904, p. 142; Cornely, "Introductio specialis in histor. Vet. Test. libros", I, Paris, 1887, pp. 57-60; Poole, "Ancient Egypt" in "Contemporary Review", March, 1879, pp. 757-9.


In accordance with the voice of the triple argument thus far advanced for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the Biblical Commission on 27 June, 1906, answered a series of questions concerning this subject in the following way:

(1) The arguments accumulated by the critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the sacred books designated by the name Pentateuch are not of such weight as to give us the right, after setting aside numerous passages of both Testaments taken collectively, the continuous consensus of the Jewish people, the constant tradition of the Church, and internal indications derived from the text itself, to maintain that these books have not Moses as their author, but are compiled from sources for the greatest part later than the Mosaic age.

(2) The Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch does not necessarily require such a redaction of the whole work as to render it absolutely imperative to maintain that Moses wrote all and everything with his own hand or dictated it to his secretaries; the hypothesis of those can be admitted who believe that he entrusted the composition of the work itself, conceived by him under the influence of Divine inspiration, to others, but in such a way that they were to express faithfully his own thoughts, were to write nothing against his will, were to omit nothing; and that finally the work thus produced should be approved by the same Moses, its principal and inspired author, and published under his name.

(3) It may be granted without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, that Moses employed sources in the production of his work, i.e., written documents or oral traditions, from which he may have drawn a number of things in accordance with the end he had in view and under the influence of Divine inspiration, and inserted them in his work either literally or according to their sense, in an abbreviated or amplified form.

(4) The substantial Mosaic authenticity and integrity of the Pentateuch remains intact if it be granted that in the long course of centuries the work has suffered several modifications, as; post-Mosaic additions either appended by an inspired author or inserted into the text as glosses and explanations; the translation of certain words and forms out of an antiquated language into the recent form of speech; finally, wrong readings due to the fault of transcribers, which one may investigate and pass sentence on according to the laws of criticism.

The post-Mosaic additions and modifications allowed by the Biblical Commission in the Pentateuch without removing it from the range of substantial integrity and Mosaic authenticity are variously interpreted by Catholic scholars.

(1) We should have to understand them in a rather wide sense, if we were to defend the views of von Hummelauer or Vetter. This latter writer admits legal and historical documents based on Mosaic tradition, but written only in the times of the Judges; he places the first redaction of the Pentateuch in the time of the erection of Solomon's temple, and its last redaction in the time of Esdras. Vetter died in 1906, the year in which the Biblical Commission issued the above Decree; it is an interesting question, whether and how the scholar would have modified his theory, if time had been granted him to do so.

(2) A less liberal interpretation of the Decree is implied in the Pentateuchal hypotheses advanced by Hobert ("Moses und der Pentateuch; Die Pentateuch Frage" in "Biblische Studien", X, 4, Freiburg, 1907; "Erklarung des Genesis", 1908, Freiburg, I-L), Schopfer (Geschichte des Alten Testamentes, 4th ed., 226 sqq.), Hopfl ("Die hohere Bibelkritik", 2nd ed., Paderborn, 1906), Brucker ("L'eglise et la critique", Paris, 1907, 103 sqq.), and Selbst (Schuster and Holzammer's "Handbuch zur Biblischen Geschichte", 7th ed., Freiburg, 1910, II, 94, 96). The last-named writer believes that Moses left a written law-book to which Josue and Samuel added supplementary sections and regulations, while David and Solomon supplied new statutes concerning worship and priesthood, and other kings introduced certain religious reforms, until Esdras promulgated the whole law and made it the basis of Israel's restoration after the Exile. Our present Pentateuch is, therefore, an Esdrine edition of the work. Dr. Selbst feels convinced that his admission of both textual changes and material additions in the Pentateuch agrees with the law of historical development and with the results of literary criticism. Historical development adapts laws and regulations to the religious, civil, and social conditions of successive ages, while literary criticism discovers in our actual Pentateuch peculiarities of words and phrases which can hardly have been original, and also historical additions or notices, legal modifications, and signs of more recent administration of justice and of later forms of worship. But Dr. Selbst believes that these peculiarities do not offer a sufficient basis for a distinction of different sources in the Pentateuch.

(3) A strict interpretation of the words of the Decree is implied in the views of Kaulen (Einleitung, n. 193 sqq.), Key ("Die Pentateuchfrage, ihre Geschichte un ihre System", Munster, 1903), Flunk (Kirchenlexicon, IX, 1782 sqq.), and Mangenot ("L'authenticite mosaique du Pentateuque", Paris, 1907; Idem, "Dict. de la Bible", V, 50-119. With the exception of those portions that belong to the time after the death of Moses, and of certain accidental changes of the text due to transcribers, the whole of the Pentateuch is the work of Moses who composed the work in one of the ways suggested by the Biblical Commission. Finally, there is the question as the theological certainty of the thesis maintaining the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch.

(1) Certain Catholic scholars who wrote between 1887 and 1906 expressed their opinion that the thesis in question is not revealed in Scripture nor taught by the Church; that it expresses a truth not contained in Revelation, but a tenet which may be freely contested and discussed. At that time, ecclesiastical authority had issued no pronouncement on the question.

(2) Other writers grant that the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is not explicitly revealed, but they consider it as a truth revealed formally implicitly, being derived from the revealed formulae not by a syllogism in the strict sense of the word, but by a simple explanation of the terms. The denial of the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is an error, and the contradictory of the thesis maintaining the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is considered erronea in fide (cf. Mechineau, "L'origine mosaique du Pentateuque", p. 34).

(3) A third class of scholars considers the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch neither as a freely debatable tenet, nor as a truth formally implicitly revealed; they believe it has been virtually revealed, or that it is inferred from revealed truth by truly syllogistic deduction. It is, therefore, a theologically certain truth, and its contradictory is a rash (temeraria) or even erroneous proposition (cf. Brucker, "Authenticite des livres de Moise" in "Etudes", March, 1888, p. 327; ibid., January, 1897, p. 122-3; Mangenot, "L'authenticité mosaïque du Pentateuque", pp. 267-310.

Whatever effect the ecclesiastical decision concerning the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch may have had, or will have, on the opinion of students of the Pentateuchal question, it cannot be said to have occasioned the conservative attitude of scholars who wrote before the promulgation of the Decree. The following list contains the names of the principal recent defenders of Mosaic authenticity: Hengstenberg, "Die Bucher Moses und Aegypten", Berlin, 1841; Smith, "The Book of Moses or the Pentateuch in its Authorship, Credibility, and Civilisation", London, 1868; C. Schobel, "Demonstration de l'authenticite du Deuteronome", Paris, 1868; Idem, "Demonstration de l'authenticite mosaique de l'Exode", Paris, 1871; Idem, "Demonstration de l'authenticite mosaique du Levitique et des Nombres", Paris, 1869; Idem, "Demonstration de l'authenticite de la Genese", Paris, 1872; Idem, "Le Moise historique et la redaction mosaique du Pentateuque", Paris, 1875; Knabenbauer, "Der Pentateuch und die unglaubige Bibelkritik" in "Stimmen aus Maria-Laach", 1873, IV; Bredenkamp, "Gesetz und Propheten", Erlangen, 1881; Green, "Moses and the Prophets", New York, 1883; Idem, "The Hebrew Feasts", New York, 1885; Idem, "The Pentateuchal Question" in "Hebraica", 1889-92; Idem, "The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch", New York, 1895; Idem, "The Unity of the Book of Genesis", New York, 1895; C. Elliot, "Vindication of the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch", Cincinnati, 1884; Bissel, "The Pentateuch, its Origin and Structure", New York, 1885; Ubaldi, "Introductio in Sacram Scripturam", 2nd ed., Rome, 1882, I, 452- 509; Cornely, "Introductio specialis in historicos V. T. libros", Paris, 1887, pp. 19-160; Vos, "Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuchal Codes", London, 1886; Bohl, "Zum Gesetz und zum Zeugniss", Vienna, 1883; Zah, "Erneste Blicke in den Wahn der modernen Kritik des A. T.", Gutersloh, 1893; Idem, "Das Deuteronomium", 1890; Idem, "Israelitische und judische Geschichte", 1895; Rupprecht, "Die Anschauung der kritischen Schule Wellhausens vom Pentateuch", Leipzig, 1893; Idem, "Das Rathsel des Funfbuches Mose und seine falsche Losung", Gutersloh, 1894; Idem, "Des Rathsels Losung order Beitrage zur richtigen Losung des Pentateuchrathsels", 1897; Idem, "Die Kritik nach ihrem Recht uknd Unrecht", 1897; "Lex Mosaica, or the Law of Moses and the Higher Criticism" (by Sayce, Rawlinson, Trench, Lias, Wace, etc.), London, 1894; Card. Meignan, "De L'Eden a Moise", Paris, 1895, 1-88; Baxter, "Sanctuary and Sacrifice", London, 1896; Abbé de Broglie, "Questions bibliques", Paris, 1897, pp. 89-169; Pelt, "Histoire de l'A.T.", 3rd ed., Paris, 1901, I, pp. 291-326; Vigouroux, "Les Livres Saints et la critique ratioinaliste", Paris, 1902, III, 1-226; IV, 239-53, 405-15; Idem, "Manuel biblique", 12th ed., Paris, 1906, I, 397-478; Kley, "Die Pentateuchfrage, ihre Geschichte und ihre Systeme", Munster, 1903; Hopfl, "Die hohere Bibelkritik", Paderborn, 1902; Thomas, "The Organic Unity of the Pentateuch", London, 1904; Wiener, "Studies in Biblical Law", London, 1904; Rouse, "The Old Testament in New Testament Light", London, 1905; Redpath, "Modern Criticism and the Book of Genesis", London, 1905; Hoberg, "Moses und der Pentateuch", Freiburg, 1905; Orr, "The Problem of the Old Testament considered with reference to Recent Criticism", London, 1906.


A detailed account of the opposition to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is neither desirable nor necessary in this article. In itself it would form only a noisome history of human errors; each little system has had its day, and its successors have tried their best to bury it in hushed oblivion. The actual difficulties we have to consider are those advanced by our actual opponents of today; only the fact that the systems of the past show us the fleeting and transitory character of the actual theories now in vogue can induce us to briefly enumerate the successive views upheld by the opponents of the Mosaic authorship.

(1) Abandoned Theories

The views advanced by the Valentinian Ptolemy, the Nazarites, Abenesra, Carlstadt, Isaac Peyrerius, Baruch Spinoza, Jean Leclerc are sporadic phenomena. Not all of them were wholly incompatible with the Mosaic authorship as now understood, and the others have found their answer in their own time.-With the work of John Astrue, published in 1753, began the so-called Hypothesis of Documents which was further developed by Eichhorn and Ilgen. But the works of the suspended priest, Alexander Geddes, published in 1792 and 1800, introduced the Hypothesis of Fragments, which in its day was elaborated and championed by Vater, de Wette (temporarily at least), Berthold, Hartmann, and von Bohlen. This theory was soon confronted by, and had to yield to the Hypothesis of Complements or Interpolations which numbered among its patrons Kelle, Ewald, Stahelin, Bleek, Tuch, de Wette, von Lengerke, and for a brief period also Franz Delitzsch. The theory of interpolations again had hardly found any adherents before Gramberg (1828), Stahelin (1830), and Bleek (1831) returned to the Hypothesis of Documents, proposing it in a somewhat modified form. Subsequently, Ewald, Knobel, Hupfeld, Noldeke, and Schrader advanced each a different explanation of the documentary hypothesis. But all of these are at present only of an historical interest.

(2) Present Hypothesis of Documents

A course of religious development in Israel had been proposed by Reuss in 1830 and 1834, by Vatke in 1835, and by George in the same year. In 1865-66 Graf took up this idea and applied it to the literary criticism of the Hexateuch; for the critics had begun to consider the Book of Josue as belonging to the preceding five books, so that the collection formed a Hexateuch instead of a Pentateuch. The same application was made by Merx in 1869. Thus modified the documentary theory continued in its development until it reached the state described in the translation of the Bible by Kautzsch (3rd ed., with Introduction and Annotations, Tübingen, 1908 sqq.). In itself there is nothing against the assumption of documents written by Moses; but we cannot ascribe with certainty anything of our literary remains to the hands of the Hebrew lawgiver. The beginning of written accounts must be placed towards the end of the time of Judges; only then were fulfilled the conditions which must precede the origin of a literature properly so called, i.e., a general acquaintance with the art of writing and reading, stationary settlement of the people, and national prosperity. What then are the oldest literary remains of the Hebrews? They are the collections of the songs dating from the heroic time of the nation, e.g., the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), the Book of the Just (Joshua 10:12 sqq.), the Book of Songs (1 Kings 8:53; cf. Budde, "Geschichte der althebr. Literature", Leipzig, 1906, 17). The Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:24-23:19) too must have existed before the other sources of the Pentateuch. The oldest historical work is probably the book of the Yahwist, designated by J, and ascribed to the priesthood of Juda, belonging most probably to the ninth century B.C.

Akin to this is the Elohim document, designated by E, and written probably in the northern kingdom (Ephraim) about a century after the production of the Yahweh document. These two sources were combined by a redactor into one work soon after the middle of the sixth century. Next follows the law-book, almost entirely embodied in our actual Book of Deuteronomy, discovered in the temple 621 B.C., and containing the precipitate of the prophetic teaching which advocated the abolition of the sacrifices in the so- called high places and the centralization of worship in the temple of Jerusalem. During the Exile originated the Priestly Code, P, based on the so-called law of holiness, Lev., xvii-xxvi, and the programme of Ezechiel, xl-xlviii; the substance of P was read before the post-exilic community by Esdras about 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 8-10), and was accepted by the multitude. History does not tell us when and how these divers historical and legal sources were combined into our present Pentateuch; but it is generally assumed that there was an urgent call for a compilation of the tradition and pre-exilic history of the people. The only indication of time may be found in the fact that the Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch as a sacred book probably in the fourth century B.C. Considering their hatred for the Jews, one must conclude that they would not have taken this step, unless they had felt certain of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. Hence a considerable time must have intervened between the compilation of the Pentateuch and its acceptance by the Samaritans, so that the work of combining must be placed in the fifth century. It is quite generally agreed that the last redactor of the Pentateuch completed his task with great adroitness. Without altering the text of the older sources, he did all within man's power to fuse the heterogeneous elements into one apparent (?) whole, with such success that not only the Jews after the fourth century B.C., but also the Christians for many centuries could maintain their conviction that the entire Pentateuch was written by Moses.

(3) Deficiencies of the Critical Hypothesis

As several Pentateuchal critics have endeavoured to assign the last redaction of the Pentateuch to more recent dates, its placement in the fifth century may be regarded as rather favourable to conservative views. But it is hard to understand why the patrons of this opinion should not agree in considering Esdras as the last editor. Again, it is quite certain that the last editor of the Pentateuch must have notably preceded its acceptance on the part of the Samaritans as a sacred book; bit is it probably that the Samaritans would have accepted the Pentateuch as such in the fourth century B.C., when the national and religious opposition between them and Jews was well developed? Is it not more probable that the mixed nation of Samaria received the Pentateuch through the priest sent to them from Assyria? Cf. 2 Kings 17:27. Or again, as this priest instructed the Samaritan population in the law of the god of the country, is it not reasonable to suppose that he taught them the Pentateuchal law which the ten tribes carried with them when they separated from Juda? At any rate, the fact that the Samaritans accepted as sacred only the Pentateuch, but not the Prophets, leads us to infer that the Pentateuch existed among the Jews before a collection of the prophetic writings was made, and that Samaria chose its sacred book before even Juda placed the works of the Prophets on the same level with the work of Moses. But this natural inference finds no favour among the critics; for it implies that the historical and legal traditions codified in the Pentateuch, described the beginning, and not the end, of Israel's religious development. The view of Israel's religious development prevalent among the critics implies that the Pentateuch is later than the Prophets, and that the Psalms are later than both. After these general considerations, we shall briefly examine the main principles, the methods, the results, and the arguments of the critical theory.

(a) Principles of the Critics

Without pretending to review all the principles involved in the theories of the critics, we draw attention to two: the historical development of religion, and the comparative value of internal evidence and tradition.

(i) The theory of the historical evolution of Israelitic religions leads us from Mosaic Yahwehism to the ethical monotheism of the Prophets, from this to the universalist conception of God developed during the Exile, and from this again to the ossified Phariseeism of later days. This religion of the Jews is codified in our actual Pentateuch, but has been fictitiously projected backwards in the historical books into the Mosaic and pre-prophetic times. The idea of development is not a purely modern discovery. Meyer ("Der Entwicklungsgedanke bei Aristoteles", Bonn, 1909) shows that Aristotle was acquainted with it; Gunkel ("Weiterbildung der Religion", Munich, 1905, 64) maintains that its application to religion is as old as Christianity, and that St. Paul has enunciated this principle; Diestel ("Geschichte des A.T. in der chrislichen Kirche", Jena, 1869, 56 sqq.), Willmann ("Geschichte des Idealismus", 2nd ed., II, 23 sqq.), and Schanz ("Apologie des Christentums", 3rd ed. II, 4 sqq., 376) find the same application in the writings of the Fathers, though Hoberg ("Die Forschritte der bibl. Wissenschaften", Freiburg, 1902, 10) grants that the patristic writers often neglect the external forms which influenced the ideas the Chosen People. The Fathers were not fully acquainted with profane history, and were more concerned about the contents of Revelation than about its historical development. Pesch ("Glaube, Dogmen und geschichtliche Thatsachen" in "Theol. Zeitfragen", IV, Freiburg, 1908, 183) discovers that St. Thomas, too, admits the principle of development in his "Summa" (II-II, Q. i, a. 9, 10; Q. ii, a. 3; etc.). But the Catholic conception of this principle avoids two extremes:

the theory of degeneracy, based on the teaching of the early Lutheran theologians (cf. Giesebrecht, "Die Degradationshypothese und die altl. Geschichte", Leipzig, 1905; Steude, "Entwicklung und Offenbarung", Stuttgart, 1905, 18 sqq.);

the theory of evolution which dissolves all truth and history into purely natural development to the exclusion of everything supernatural.

It is this latter extreme that is advocated by the Biblical critics. Their description of the early religion of Israel is contradicted by the testimony of the oldest Prophets whose authority is not questioned by them. These inspired seers know of the fall of Adam (Hosea 6:7), the call of Abraham (Isaiah 29:23; Micah 7:20), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha (Hosea 11:8; Isaiah 1:9; Amos 4:11), the history of Jacob and his struggle with the angel (Hosea 12:2 sqq.), Israel's exodus from Egypt and dwelling in the desert (Hosea 2:14; 7:16; 11:1; 12:9, 13; 13:4, 5; Amos 2:10; 3:1; 9:7), the activity of Moses (Hosea 12:13; Micah 6:4; Isaiah 63:11-12), a written legislation (Hosea 8:12), and a number of particular statutes (cf. Kley, "Die Pentateuchfrage", Munster, 1903, 223 sqq.). Again, the theory of development is more and more contradicted by the results of historical investigation. Weber ("Theologie und Assyriologie im Streit um Babel und Bibel", Leipzig, 1904, 17) points out that the recent historical results imply decadence rather than development in ancient oriental art, science, and religion; Winckler ("Religionsgeschichtler und geschichtl. Orient", Leipzig, 1906, 33) considers the evolutionary view of the primitive state of man as false, and believes that the development theory has, at least, been badly shaken, if not actually destroyed by recent Oriental research (cf. Bantsch, "Altorientalischer und israelitischer Monothesismus", Tübingen, 1906). Köberle ("Die Theologie der Gegenwart", Leipzig, 1907, I, 2) says that the development theory has exhausted itself, reproducing only the thoughts of Wellhausen, and deciding particular questions not in the light of facts, but according to the postulates of the theory. Finally, even the rationalistic writers have thought it necessary to replace the development theory by another more in agreement with historical facts. Hence Winckler ("Ex Oriente lux", Leipzig, 1905- 6; Idem, "Der Alte Orient", III, 2-3; Idem, "Die babylonische Geisteskultur in ihren Beziehungen zur Kulturentwicklung der Menschheit" in "Wissenschaft und Bildung", Leipzig, 1907; cf. Landersdorfer in "Historisch-Politische Blatter", 1909, 144) has originated the theory of pan-Babelism according to which Biblical religion is conceived as a conscious and express reaction against the Babylonian polytheistic state religion. It was not the common property of Israel, but of a religious sect which was supported in Babylon by certain monotheistic circles irrespective of nationality. This theory has found powerful opponents in Budde, Stade, Bezold, Köberle, Kugler, Wilke, and others; but it has also a number of adherents. Though wholly untenable from a Christian point of view, it shows at least the weakness of the historical development theory.

(ii) Another principle involved in the critical theory of the Pentateuch supposes that the internal evidence of literary criticism is of higher value than the evidence of tradition. But thus far the results of excavations and historical research have been favourable to tradition rather than to internal evidence. Let the reader only remember the case of Troy, Tiryns, Mycenae, and Orchomenos (in Greece); the excavations of the English explorer Evans in Crete have shown the historical character of King Minos and his labyrinth; Assyrian inscriptions have re-established the historical credit of King Midas of Phrygia; similarly, Menes of Thebes and Sargon of Agade have been shown to belong to history; in general, the more accurate have been the scientific investigations, the more clearly have they shown the reliability of even the most slender traditions. In the field of New-Testament criticism the call "back to tradition" has begun to be heeded, and has been endorsed by such authorities as Harnack and Deissmann. In the study of the Old Testament too there are unmistakable signs of a coming change. Hommel ("Die altisrealitische Überlieferung in inschriftlicher Beleuchtung", Munich, 1897) maintains that Old- Testament tradition, both as a whole and in its details, proves to be reliable, even in the light of critical research. Meyer ("Die Entstehung des Judentums", Halle, 1896) comes to the conclusion that the foundations of the critical Pentateuchal theory are destroyed, if it can be proved that even part of the impugned Hebrew tradition is reliable; the same writer proves the credibility of the sources of the Books of Esdras (cf. "Grundriss der Geographie und Geschichte des alten Orientes", Munich, 1904, 167 sqq.). S.A. Fries has been led by his critical studies, and without being influenced by dogmatic bias, to accept the whole traditional view of the history of Israel. Cornill and Oettli express the conviction that Israel's traditions concerning even its earliest history are reliable and will withstand the bitterest attacks of criticism; Dawson (cf. Fonck, "Kritik und Tradition im A.T." in "Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie", 1899, 262-81) and others apply to tradition the old principle which has been so frequently misapplied, "magna est veritas, et praevalebit"; Gunkel ("Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbucher", II, Tübingen, 1906, 8) grants that Old-Testament criticism has gone a little too far, and that many Biblical traditions now rejected will be re-established.

(b) Critical Method

The falsehood of the critical method does not consist in the use of criticism as such, but in its illegitimate use. Criticism became more common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; at the end of the eighteenth it was applied to classical antiquity. Bernheim ("Lehrbuch der historischen Methode", Leipzig, 1903, 296) believes that by this means alone history first became a science. In the application of criticism to the Bible was are limited, indeed, by the inspiration and the canonicity of its books; but there is an ample field left for our critical investigations (Pesch, "Theol. Zeitfragen", III, 48).

Some of the principal sins of the critics in their treatment of Sacred Scripture are the following:

They deny everything supernatural, so that they reject not merely inspiration and canonicity, but also prophecy and miracle a priori (cf. Metzler, "Das Wunder vor dem Forum der modernen Geschichtswissenschaft" in "Katholik", 1908, II, 241 sqq.).

They seem to be convinced a priori of the credibility of non-Biblical historical documents, while they are prejudiced against the truthfulness of Biblical accounts. (Cf. Stade, "Geschichte Israel's", I, 86 seq., 88, 101.) Depreciating external evidence almost entirely, they consider the questions of the origin, the integrity, and the authenticity of the sacred books in the light of internal evidence (Encycl. Prov. Deus, 52).

They overestimate the critical analysis of the sources, without considering the chief point, i.e., the credibility of the sources (Lorenz, "Die Geschichtswissenschaft in ihren Hauptrichtungen und Aufgaben", ii, 329 sqq.). Recent documents may contain reliable reports of ancient history. Some of the critics begin to acknowledge that the historical credibility of the sources is of greater importance than their division and dating (Stark, "Die Entstehung des A.T.", Leipzig, 1905, 29; cf. Vetter, "Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift", 1899, 552).

The critical division of sources is based on the Hebrew text, though it is not certain how far the present Massoretic text differs from that, for instance, followed by the Septuagint translators, and how far the latter differed form the Hebrew text before its redaction in the fifth century B.C. Dahse ("Textkritische Bedenken gegen den Ausgangspunkt der heutigen Pentateuchkritik" in "Archiv fur Religionsgeschichte", VI, 1903, 305 sqq.) shows that the Divine names in the Greek translation of the Pentateuch differ in about 180 cases from those of the Hebrew text (cf. Hoberg, "Die Genesis", 2nd ed., p. xxii sqq.); in other words and phrases the changes may be fewer, but it would be unreasonable to deny the existence of any. Again, it is antecedently probable that the Septuagint text differs less from the Massoretic than from the ante-Esdrine text, which must have been closer to the original. The starting point of literary criticism is therefore uncertain. It is not an inherent fault of literary criticism that it was applied to the Pentateuch after it had become practically antiquated in the study of Homer and the Nibelungenlied (cf. Katholik, 1896, I, 303, 306 sqq.), nor that Reuss considered it as more productive of difference of opinion than of results (cf. Katholik, 1896, I, 304 seq.), nor again that Wellhausen thought it had degenerated into childish play. Among Bible students, Klostermann ("Der Pentateuch", Leipzig, 1893), Konig ("Falsche Extreme im Gebiete der neueren Kritik des A.T.", Leipzig, 1885; "Neueste Prinzipien der alt. Kritik", Berlin, 1902; "Im Kampfe um das A.T.", Berlin, 1903), Bugge ("Die Hauptparabeln Jesu", Giessen, 1903) are sceptical as to the results of literary criticism, while Orelli ("Der Prophet Jesaja", 1904, V), Jeremias ("Das alte Testament im Lichte des Alten Orients", 1906, VIII), and Oettli ("Geschichte Israels", V) wish to insist more on the exegesis of the text than on the criss-cross roads of criticism. G. Jacob ("Der Pentateuch", Göttingen, 1905) thinks that the past Pentateuchal criticism needs a thorough revision; Eerdmans ("Die Komposition der Genesis", Giessen, 1908) feels convinced that criticism has been misled into wrong paths by Astrue. Merx expresses the opinion that the next generation will have to revise backwards many of the present historico-literary views of the Old Testament ("Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbucher", II, 1907, 3, 132 sqq.).

(c) Critical Results

Here we must distinguish between the principles of criticism and its results; the principles of the historical development of religion, for instance, and of the inferiority of tradition to internal evidence, are not the outcome of literary analysis, but are its partial basis. Again, we must distinguish between those results of literary criticism which are compatible with the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch and those that contradict it. The patrons of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and even the ecclesiastical Decree relating to this subject, plainly admit that Moses or his secretaries may have utilized sources or documents in the composition of the Pentateuch; both admit also that the sacred text has suffered in its transmission and may have received additions, in the form of either inspired appendices or exegetical glosses. If the critics, therefore, can succeed in determining the number and the limits of the documentary sources, and of the post-Mosaic additions, whether inspired or profane, they render an important service to the traditional tenet of Pentateuchal authenticity. The same must be said with regard to the successive laws established by Moses, and the gradual fidelity of the Jewish people to the Mosaic law. Here again the certain or even probable results of sane literary and historical criticism will aid greatly the conservative commentator of the Pentateuch. We do not quarrel with the legitimate conclusions of the critics, if the critics do not quarrel with each other. But they do quarrel with each other. According to Merx (loc. cit.) there is nothing certain in the field of criticism except its uncertainty; each critic proclaims his views with the greatest self-reliance, but without any regard to the consistency of the whole. Former views are simply killed by silence; even Reuss and Dillmann are junk-iron, and there is a noticeable lack of judgment as to what can or cannot be known. Hence the critical results, in as far as they consist merely in the distinction of documentary sources, in the determination of post-Mosaic materials, e.g., textual changes, and profane or inspired additions, in the description of various legal codes, are not at variance with the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch. Nor can an anti-Mosaic character be pointed out in the facts or phenomena from which criticism legitimately infers the foregoing conclusions; such facts or phenomena are, for instance, the change of the Divine names in the text, the use of certain words, the difference of style, the so-called double accounts of really, not merely apparently, identical events; the truth of falsehood of these and similar details does not directly affect the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. In which results then does criticism clash with tradition? Criticism and tradition are incompatible in their views as to the age and sequence of the documentary sources, as to the origin of the various legal codes, and as to the time and manner of the redaction of the Pentateuch.

(i) Pentateuchal Documents.-As to the age and sequence of the various documents, the critics do not agree. Dillmann, Kittel, Konig, and Winckler place the Elohist, who is subdivided by several writers into the first, second, and third Elohist, before the Yahwist, who also is divided into the first and second Yahwist; but Wellhausen and most critics believe that the Elohist is about a century younger than the Yahwist. At any rate, both are assigned to about the ninth and eight centuries B.C.; both too incorporate earlier traditions or even documents.

All critics appear to agree as to the composite character of Deuteronomy; they admit rather a Deuteronomist school than single writers. Still, the successive layers composing the whole book are briefly designated by D1, D2, D3, etc. As to the character of these layers, the critics do not agree: Montet and Driver, for instance, assigned to the first Deuteronomist cc. i-xxi; Kuenen, Konig, Reuss, Renan, Westphal ascribe to DN, iv, 45-9, and v-xxvi; a third class of critics reduce D1 to xii, 1-xxvi, 19, allowing it a double edition: according to Wellhausen, the first edition contained i, 1-iv, 44; xii-xxvi; xxvii, while the second comprised iv, 45-xi, 39; xii-xxvi; xxviii-xxx; both editions were combined by the redactor who inserted Deuteronomy into the Hexateuch. Cornill arranges the two editions somewhat differently. Horst considers even cc. xii-xxvi as a compilation of pre-existing elements, gathered together without order and often by chance. Wellhausen and his adherents do not wish to assign to D1 a higher age than 621 B.C., Cornill and Bertholet consider the document as a summary of the prophetic teaching, Colenso and Renan ascribe it to Jeremias, others place its origin in the reign of Ezechias or Manasses, Klostermann identifies the document with the book read before the people in the time of Josaphat, while Kleinert refers it back to the end of the time of the Judges. The Deuteronomist depends on the two preceding documents, J and E, both for his history land his legislation; the historical details not found in these may have been derived from other sources not known to us, and the laws not contained in the Sinaitic legislation and the decalogue are either pure fiction or a crystallization of the prophetic teaching.

Finally, the Priestly Code, P, is also a compilation: the first stratum of the book, both historical and legal in its character, is designated by P1 or P2; the second stratum is the law of holiness, H or Lev., xvii-xxvi, and is the work of a contemporary of Ezechiel, or perhaps of the Prophet himself (H, P2, Ph); besides, there are additional elements springing rather from a school than from any single writer, and designated by Kunen as P3, P4, P5, but by other critics as Ps and Px. Bertholet and Bantsch speak of two other collections of laws: the law of sacrifices, Lev., i-vii, designated as Po; and the law of purity, Lev., xi-xv, designated as Pr. The first documentary hypothesis considered PN as the oldest part of the Pentateuch; Duston and Dillmann place it before the Deuteronomic code, but most recent critics regard it as more recent than the other documents of the Pentateuch, and even later than Ezech., xliv, 10-xlvi, 15 (573-2 B.C.); the followers of Wellhausen date the Priestly Code after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, while Wildeboer places it either after or towards the end of the captivity. The historical parts of the Priestly Code depend on the Yahwistic and the Elohistic documents, but Wellhausen's adherents believe that the material of these documents has been manipulated so as to fit it for the special purpose of the Priestly Code; Dillmann and Drive maintain that facts have not been invented or falsified by P, but that the latter had at hand other historical documents besides J and E. As to the legal part of P, Wellhausen considers it as an a priori programme for the Jewish priesthood after the return from the captivity, projected backwards into the past, and attributed to Moses; but other critics believe that P has systematized the pre-exilic customs of worship, developing then, and adapting them to the new circumstances.

What has been said clearly shows that the critics are at variance in many respects, but they are at one in maintaining the post- Mosaic origin of the Pentateuchal documents. What is the weight of the reasons on which they base their opinion?

The conditions laid down by the critics as prerequisites to literature do not prove that the sources of the Pentateuch must be post-Mosaic. The Hebrew people had lived for, at least, two hundred years in Egypt; besides, most of the forty years spent in the desert were passed in the neighbourhood of Cades, so that the Israelites were not longer a nomadic people. Whatever may be said of their material prosperity, or of their proficiency in writing and reading, the above-mentioned researches of Flinders Petrie show that they kept records of their national traditions at the time of Moses.

If the Hebrew contemporaries of Moses kept written records, why should not the Pentateuchal sources be among these documents? It is true that in our actual Pentateuch we find non-Mosaic and post- Mosaic indications; but, then, the non-Mosaic, impersonal style may be due to a literary device, or to the pen of secretaries; the post-Mosaic geographical and historical indications may have crept into the text by way of glosses, or errors of the transcribers, or even inspired additions. The critics cannot reject these suggestions as mere subterfuges; for they should have to grant a continuous miracle in the preservation of the Pentateuchal text, if they were to deny the moral certainty of the presence of such textual changes.

But would not the Pentateuch have been known to the earlier Prophets, if it had been handed down from the time of Moses? This critical exception is really an argument e silentio which is very apt to be fallacious, unless it be most carefully handled. Besides, if we keep in mind the labour involved in multiplying copies of the Pentateuch, we cannot be wrong in assuming that they were very rare in the interval between Moses and the Prophets, so that few were able to read the actual text. Again, it has been pointed out that at least one of the earlier Prophets appeals to a written mosaic law, and that all appeal to such a national conscience as presupposes the Pentateuchal history and law. Finally, some of the critics maintain the J views the history of man and of Israel according to the religious and the moral ideas of the Prophets; if there be such an agreement, why not say that the Prophets write according to the religious and moral ideas of the Pentateuch?

The critics urge the fact that the Pentateuchal laws concerning the sanctuary, the sacrifices, the feasts, and the priesthood agree with different stages of post-Mosaic historical development; that the second stage agrees with the reform of Josias, and the third with the enactments enforced after the time of the Babylonian Exile. But it must be kept in mind that the Mosaic law was intended for Israel as the Christian law is intended for the whole world; if then 1900 years after Christ the greater part of the world is still un-Christian, it is not astonishing that the Mosaic law required centuries before it penetrated the whole nation. Besides, there were, no doubt, many violations of the law, just as the Ten Commandments are violated today without detriment to their legal promulgation. Again there were times of religious reforms and disasters as there are periods of religious fervour and coldness in the history of the Christian Church; but such human frailties do not imply the non-existence of the law, either Mosaic or Christian. As to the particular laws in question, it will be found more satisfactory to examine them more in detail.

(ii) Pentateuchal Codes.-The critics endeavour to establish a triple Pentateuchal code: the Book of the Covenant, Deuteronomy, and the Priestly Code. Instead of regarding this legislation as applying to different phases in the forty years' wandering in the desert, they consider it as agreeing with three historical stages in the national history. As stated above, the main objects of this triple legislation are the sanctuary, the feast, and the priesthood.

(a) The Sanctuary

At first, so the critics say, sacrifices were allowed to be offered in any place where the Lord had manifested his name (Exodus 20:24-6); then the sanctuary was limited to the one place chosen by God (Deuteronomy 12:5); thirdly, the Priestly Code supposes the unity of sanctuary, and prescribes the proper religious rites to be observed. Moreover, the critics point out historical incidents showing that before the enforcement of the Deuteronomic law sacrifices were offered in various places quite distinct from the resting place of the ark. What do the defenders of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch answer? First, as to the triple law, it points to three different stages in Israel's desert life: before the erection of the tabernacle at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the people were allowed to erect altars and to offer sacrifices everywhere provided the name of the Lord had been manifested; next, after the people had adored the golden calf, and the tabernacle had been erected, sacrifice could be offered only before the tabernacle, and even the cattle killed for consumption had to be slaughtered in the same place, in order to prevent a relapse into idolatry; finally, when the people were about to enter the promised land, the last law was abolished, being then quite impossible, but the unity of sanctuary was kept in the place which God would choose. Secondly, as to the historical facts urged by the critics, some of them are caused by direct Divine intervention, miracle or prophetic inspiration, and as such are fully legitimate; others are evidently violations of the law, and are not sanctioned by the inspired writers; a third class of facts may be explained in one of three ways:

Poels ("Le sanctuaire de Kirjath Jeraim", Louvain, 1894; "Examen critique de l'histoire du sanctuaire de l'arche", Louvain, 1897) endeavours to prove that Gabaon, Masphath, and Kiriath-Jarim denote the same place, so that the multiplicity of sanctuaries is only apparent, not real.

Van Hoonacker ("Le Lieu du culte dans la legislation rituelle des Hebreux" in "Musceeon", April-Oct., 1894, XIII, 195-204, 299- 320, 533-41; XIV, 17-38) distinguishes between private and public altars; the public and national worship is legally centralized in one sanctuary and around one altar, while private altars may be had for domestic worship.

But more commonly it is admitted that before God had chosen the site of national sanctuary, it was not forbidden by law to sacrifice anywhere, even away from the place of the ark. After the building of the temple the law was not considered so stringent as to bind under all circumstances. Thus far then the argument of the critics is not conclusive.

(b) The Sacrifices

According to the critics, the Book of the Covenant enjoined only the offering of the first-fruits and the first-born of animals, the redemption of the first-born of men, and a free-will offering on visiting the sanctuary (Ex., xxii, 28-9; xxiii, 15, [Heb., xxiii, 19]); Deuteronomy more clearly defines some of these laws (xv, 19-23; xxvi, 1-11), and imposes the law of tithes for the benefit of the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the Levites (xxvi, 12-5); the Priestly Code distinguishes different kinds of sacrifices, determines their rites, and introduces also incense offering. But history hardly bears out this view: as there existed a permanent priesthood in Silo, and later on in Jerusalem, we may safely infer that there existed a permanent sacrifice. The earliest prophets are acquainted with an excess of care bestowed on the sacrificial rites (cf. Amos 4:4, 5; 5:21-22, 25; Hosea passim). The expressions of Jeremias (vii, 21-3) may be explained in the same sense. Sin offering was known long before the critics introduce their Priestly Code (Osee, iv, 8; Mich., vi, 7; Ps., xxxix [xl], 7; 1 Kings, iii, 14). Trespass offering is formally distinguished from sin offering in 2 Kings 13:16 (cf. 1 Samuel 6:3-15; Isaiah 53:10). Hence the distinction between the different kinds of sacrifice is due neither to Ezekiel 45:22-5, nor to the Priestly Code.

(c) The Feasts

The Book of the Covenant, so the critics tell us, knows only three feasts: the seven-days feast of the azymes in memory of the exodus form Egypt, the feast of the harvest, and that of the end of the harvest (Exodus 23:14-7); Deuteronomy ordains the keeping of the feasts at the central sanctuary adds to Pasch to the feast of the azymes, places the second feast seven weeks after the first, and calls the third, "feast of tabernacles", extending its duration to seven days (Deuteronomy 16:1-17); the Priestly Code prescribes the exact ritual for five feasts, adding the feast of trumpets and of atonement, all of which must be kept at the central sanctuary. Moreover, history appears to endorse the contention of the critics: Judges, xxi, 19 knows of only one annual feast in Silo; 1 Samuel 1:3, 7, 21 testifies that the parents of Samuel went every year to Silo to the sanctuary; Jeroboam I established in his kingdom one annual feast similar to that celebrated in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:32-3); the earliest Prophets do not mention the names of the religious feasts; the Pasch is celebrated for the first time after the discovery of Deuteronomy (2 Kings 23:21-3); Ezechiel knows only three feasts and a sin offering on the first day of the first and the seventh month. But here again, the critics use the argument e silentio which is not conclusive in this case. The feast of atonement, for instance, is not mentioned in the Old Testament outside the Pentateuch; only Josephus refers to its celebration in the time of John Hyrcanus or Herod. Will the critics infer from this, that the feast was not kept throughout the Old Testament? History does not record facts generally known. As to the one annual feast mentioned in the early records, weighty commentators are of opinion that after the settlement of the people in the promised land, the custom was gradually introduced of going to the central sanctuary only once a year. This custom prevailed before the critics allow the existence of the Deuteronomic law (1 Kings 12:26-31), so that the latter cannot have introduced it. Isaias (xxix, 1; xxx, 29) speaks of a cycle of feasts, but Osee, xii, 9 alludes already to the feast of tabernacles, so that its establishment cannot be due to the Priestly Code as the critics describe it. Ezechiel (xlv, 18-25) speaks only of the three feasts which had to be kept at the central sanctuary.

(d) The Priesthood

The critics contend that the Book of the Covenant knows nothing of an Aaronitic priesthood (Exodus 24:5); that Deuteronomy mentions priests and Levites without any hierarchical distinction and without any high priest, determines their rights, and distinguishes only between the Levite living in the country and the Levite attached to the central sanctuary; finally, that the Priestly Code represents the priesthood as a social and hierarchical institution, with legally determined duties, rights, and revenues. This theory is said to be borne out by the evidence of history. But the testimony of history points in the opposite direction. At the time of Josue and the early Judges, Eleazar and Phinees, the son and nephew of Aaron, were priests (Numbers 26:1; Deuteronomy 10:6; Joshua 14:1 sqq.; 22:13, 21; 24:33; Judges 20:28). From the end of the time of Judges to Solomon, the priesthood was in the hands of Heli and his descendants (1 Samuel 1:3 sqq.; 14:3; 21:1; 22:1) who sprang from Ithamar the younger son of Aaron (1 Chronicles 24:3; cf. 1 Samuel 22:29; 14:3; 2:7 sqq.). Solomon raised Sadoc, the son of Achitob, to the dignity of the high priesthood, and his descendants held the office down to the time of the Babylonian Captivity (2 Samuel 8:17; 15:24 sqq.; 20:25; 1 Kings 2:26, 27, 35; Ezekiel 44:15); that Sadoc too was of Aaronic descent is attested by I Par., vi, 8. Besides the Books of Josue and Paralipomenon acknowledge the distinction between priests and Levites; according to 1 Samuel 6:15, the Levites handled the ark, but the Bethsamites, the inhabitants of a priestly city (Joshua 21:13-6), offered sacrifice. A similar distinction is made in 2 Samuel 15:24; 1 Kings 8:3 sq.; Isaiah 66:21. Van Hoonacker ("Les pretres et les levites dans le livre d'Ezechiel" in "Revue biblique", 1899, VIII, 180-189, 192-194) shows that Ezechiel did not create the distinction between priests and Levites, but that supposing the traditional distinction in existence, he suggested a divisions in to these classes according to merit, and not according to birth (xliv, 15-xlv, 5). Unless the critics simply set aside all this historical evidence, they must grant the existence of an Aaronitic priesthood in Israel, and its division into priests and Levites, long before the D and P codes were promulgated according to the critical theory. It is true that in a number of passages persons are said to offer sacrifice who are not of Aaronitic descent: Judges, vi, 25 sqq.; xiii, 9; 1 Samuel 7:9; 10:8; 13:9; 2 Samuel 6:17; 24:25; 1 Kings 8:5, 62; etc. But in the first place, the phrase "to offer sacrifice" means either to furnish the victim (Leviticus 1:2, 5) or to perform the sacrificial rite; the victim might be furnished by any devout layman; secondly, it would be hard to prove that God committed the priestly office in such a way to Aaron and his sons as not to reserve to himself the liberty of delegating in extraordinary cases a non-Aaronite to perform the priestly functions.

(iii) Pentateuchal Redaction.-The four documentary sources of the Pentateuch thus far descried were combined not by any one individual; critics require rather three different stages of combination: first, a Yahwistic redactor RXX or RX combined J and E with a view of harmonizing them, and adapting them to Deuteronomic ideas; this happened either before or after the redaction of D. Secondly, after D had been completed in the sixth century B.C., a redactor, or perhaps a school of redactors, imbued with the spirit of D combined the documents JE into JED, introducing however the modifications necessary to secure consistency. Thirdly, a last redactor RX imbued with the letter and the spirit of P, combined this document with JED, introducing again the necessary changes. The table of nations in Gen., xiv was according to Kunen added by this last redactor.

At first sight, one is struck by the complex character of this theory; as a rule, truth is of a more simple texture. Secondly, one is impressed by the unique nature of the hypothesis; antiquity has nothing to equal it. Thirdly, if one reads or studies the Pentateuch in the light of this theory, one is impressed by the whimsical character of the redactor; he often retained what should have been omitted, and omitted what should have been retained. The critics themselves have to take refuge, time and time again, in the work of the redactor, in order save their own views of the Pentateuch. A recent writer does not hesitate to call the complex redactor ein genialer Esel. Fourthly, a truth-loving, straightforward reader is naturally shocked by the literary fictions and forgeries, the editorial changes and subterfuges implied in the critical theory of the Pentateuchal documents and redaction. The more moderate critics endeavour to escape this inconvenience: some appeal to the difference between the ancient and the modern standard of literary property and editorial accuracy; others practically sanctify the means by the end. Oettli considers the dilemma "either the work of Moses or the work of a deceiver" as the expression of sheer imprudence; Kautzsch unctuously points to the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God whose ways we cannot fathom, but must admire. The left wing of criticism openly acknowledges that there is no use in hushing up matters; it actually is the result of scientific research that both form and contents of a great part of the Old Testament are based on conscious fiction and forgery.


In some general introductions to the Pentateuch its messianic prophecies are specially considered, i.e., the so-called proto-evangelium, Gen., iii, 15; the blessing of Sem, Gen., ix, 26-7; the patriarchal promises, Gen., xii, 2; xiii, 16; xv, 5; xvii, 4-6, 16; xviii, 10-15; xxii, 17; xxvi, 4; xxviii, 14; the blessing of the dying Jacob, Gen., xlix, 8-10; the Prophecy of Balaam, Num., xxiv, 15 sqq.; and the great Prophet announced by Moses, Deut., xviii, 15-19. But these prophecies belong rather to the province of exegesis than introduction. Again, the text of the Pentateuch has been considered in some general introductions to the work. We have seen already that besides the Massoretic Text we have to take into account the earlier text followed by the Septuagint translators, and the still earlier readings of the Samaritan Pentateuch; a detailed investigation of this subject belongs to the field of textual or lower criticism. But the style of the Pentateuch can hardly be referred to any other department of Pentateuchal study.

As Moses employed no doubt pre-existent documents in the composition of his work, and as he must have made use too of the aid of secretaries, we expect antecedently a variety of style in the Pentateuch. It is no doubt due to the presence of this literary phenomenon that the critics have found so many points of support in their minute analysis. But in general, the style of the work is in keeping with its contents. There are three kinds of material in the Pentateuch: first, there are statistics, genealogies, and legal formularies; secondly, there are narrative portions; thirdly, there are parenthetic sections.

No reader will find fault with the writer's dry and simple style in his genealogical and ethnographic lists, in his table of encampments in the desert, or his legal enactments. Any other literary expression would be out of place in records of this kind. The narrative style of the Pentateuch is simple and natural, but also lively and picturesque. It abounds in simple character sketches, dialogues, and anecdotes. The accounts of Abraham's purchase of a burying-ground, of the history of Joseph, and of the Egyptian plagues are also dramatic. Deuteronomy has its peculiar style on account of the exhortations it contains. Moses explains the laws he promulgates, but urges also, and mainly, their practice. As an orator, he shows a great deal of unction and persuasiveness, but is not destitute of the earnestness of the Prophets. His long sentences remain at times incomplete, thus giving rise to so-called anacolutha (cf. Deuteronomy 6:10-12; 8:11-17; 9:9-11; 11:2-7; 24:1-4). Being necessarily a popular preacher, he is not lacking in repetitions. But his earnestness, persuasiveness, and unction do not interfere with the clearness of his statements. He is not merely a rigid legislator, but he shows his love for the people, and in turn wins their love and confidence.

Decisions of the Biblical Commission

Some decisions of the Biblical Commission in regards to the chief subject of this article, viz., Genesis, are as follows: The various exegetical systems which exclude the literal and historical sense of the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis are not based on solid foundation. It should not be taught that these three chapters do not contain true narrations of facts, but only fables derived from the mythologies and cosmogonies of earlier peoples, purged of the polytheistic errors and accommodated to monotheism; or allegories and symbols, with no objective reality, set forth in the guise of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or, finally, legends partly historical and partly fictitious put together for instruction and edification. In particular, doubt should not be cast on the literal and historical sense of passages which touch on the foundations of the Christian religion, as, for instance, the creation of the universe by God at the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness, integrity, and immortality of our first parents in the state of justice; the precept given by God to man to try his obedience; the transgression of the Divine precept, at the suggestion of the Devil, under the form of a serpent; the fall of our first parents from their original state of justice; the promise of a future Redeemer.

In explaining such passages in these chapters as the Fathers and Doctors interpreted differently, one may follow and defend the opinion which meets his approval. Not every word or phrase in these chapters is always necessarily to be taken in its literal sense so that it may never have another, as when it is manifestly used metaphorically or anthropomorphically. The literal and historical meaning of some passages in these chapters presupposed, an allegorical and prophetical meaning may wisely and usefully be employed. As in writing the first chapter of Genesis the purpose of the sacred author was not to expound in a scientific manner the constitution of the universe or the complete order of creation, but rather to give to the people popular information in the ordinary language of the day, adapted to the intelligence of all, the strict propriety of scientific language is not always to be looked for in their terminology. The expression six days and their division may be taken in the ordinary sense of a natural day, or for a certain period of time, and exegetes may dispute about this question.

Publication information Written by A.J. Moss. Transcribed by Thomas M. Barrett & Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


Many works referring to the Pentateuch have been cited throughout the course of this article. We shall here add a list of mainly exegetical works, both ancient and modern, without attempting to give a complete catalogue.

PATRISTIC WRITERS."Eastern Church:--ORIGEN, Selecta in Gen., P. G., XII, 91- 145; IDEM, Homil. in Gen., ibid., 145-62; IDEM, Selecta et homil, in Ex., Lev., Num., Deut., ibid., 263-818; IDEM, Fragmenta in P.G., XVII, 11-36; ST. BASIL, Homil. in Hexaemer. in P.G., XXIX, 3-208; ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA, In Hexaemer. in P.G., XLIV, 61-124; IDEM, De homin. Opific., ibid., 124-297; IDEM, De vita Moysis, ibid., 297-430; ST. JOHN CHRYS., Homil. in Gen. in P.G., LIII, LIV, 23- 580; IDEM, Serm. In Gen. in P.G., LIV, 581-630; ST. EPHR., Comment in Pentat. in Oper. Syr., I, 1-115; ST. CYRIL OF ALEX., De adoratione in spiritu in P.G., LXVIII, 133-1125; Glaphyra in P.G., LXIX, 13-677; THEODORETUS, Quaest. in Gen., Ex., Lev., Num., Deut. in P.G., LXXX, 76-456; PROCOPIUS OF GAZA, Comment. in Octateuch. in P.G., LXXXVII, 21-992; NICEPHORUS, Catena in Octateuch. et libros Reg. (Leipzig, 1772).

Western Church: ST. AMBROSE, In Hexaemer. in P.L., XIV, 123-274; IDEM, De Paradiso terrestri, ibid., 275-314; IDEM, De Cain et Abel, ibid., 315-60; IDEM, De Noe et arca, ibid., 361-416; IDEM, De Abraham, ibid., 419-500; IDEM, De Isaac et anima, ibid., 501-34; IDEM, De Joseph patriarcha, ibid., 641-72; IDEM, De benedictionibus patriarcharum, ibid., 673-94; ST. JEROME, Liber quaest. hebraic. in Gen. in P.L., XXIII, 935-1010; ST. AUGUSTINE, De Gen. c. Manich. ll. due in P.L., XXXIV, 173-220; IDEM, De Ger. ad lit., ibid., 219-46; IDEM, De Ger. ad lit. ll. duodecim, ibid., 245-486; IDEM, Quaest in Heptateuch., ibid., 547-776; RUFINUS, De benedictionibus patriarcharum in P.L., XXI, 295-336; ST. VEN. BEDE, Hexaemeron in P.L., XCI, 9-190; IDEM, In Pentateuch. Commentarii, ibid., 189-394; IDEM, De tabernaculo et vasibus ejus, ibid., 393-498; RHABANUS MAURUS, Comm. in Gen. in P.L., CVII, 443-670; IDEM, Comment. in Ez., Lev., Num., Deut. in P.L., CVIII, 9-998; WALAFRID STRABO, Glossa ordinaria in P.L., CXIII, 67-506.

MIDDLE AGES:-ST. BRUNO OF ASTI, Expositio in Pentateuch. in P.L., RUPERT OF DEUTZ, De SS. Trinitate et operib. Ejus in P.L., CLXVII, 197-1000; HUGH OF ST. VICTOR, Adnotationes elucidatoriae in Pent. in P.L., CLXXV, 29-86; HONORIUS OF AUTUN, Hexameron in P.L., CLXXII, 253-66; IDEM, De decem plagis Aegypti, ibid., 265-70; ABELARD, Expositio in Hexaemeron in P.L., CLXXVII, 731-84; HUGH OF ST. CHER, Postilla (Venice, 1588); NICOLAUS OF LYRA, Postilla (Rome, 1471); TOSTATUS, Opera, I-IV (Venice, 1728); DIONYSIUS THE CARTHUSIAN, Comment. in Pentateuch. in Opera omnia, I, II (Montreuil, 1896-7).

MORE RECENT WORKS.-Jewish Writers:-The Commentaries of RASHI (1040-1150), ABENASRA (1092-1167), and DAVID KIMCHI, (1160-1235) are contained in the Rabbinic Bibles; ABARBANEL, Comment. (Venice, 5539 A.M.; 1579 B.C.); CAHEN, French tr. of Pent. (Paris, 1831); KALISCH, Historical and Critical Comment on the Old Test. (London), Gen. (1885); Lev. (1867, 1872); Ez. (1855); HIRSCH, Der Pent. ubersetzt und erklart (2nd ed., Frankfurt, 1893, 1895); HOFFMANN, Das Buch Lev. ubersetz und erklart (Berlin, 1906).

Protestant Writers:-The works of LUTHER, MELANCHTHON, CALVIN, GERHART, CALOVIUS, DRUSIUS, DE DIEU, CAPPEL, COCCEIUS, MICHAELIS, LE CLERC, ROSENMULLER, and even of TUCH and BAUMGARTEN, are of minor importance in our days; KNOBEL, Gen. (6th ed., by DILLMANN, 1892; tr., Edinburgh, 1897); RYSSEL, Ez. and Lev. (3rd ed., 1897); DILLMANN, Numbers, deut., Jos. (2nd ed., 1886); LANGE, Theologisch-homiletisches Bibelwerk (Bielefeld and Leipzig); IDEM, Gen. (2nd ed., 1877); IDEM, Ez., Lev., and Numbers (1874); STOSCH, Deut. (2nd ed., 1902); KEIL and FRANZ DELITZSCH, Biblischer Comment. uber das A.T.; KEIL, Gen. and Ex. (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1878); IDEM, Lev., Numbers, Deut. (2nd ed., 1870; tr., Edinburgh, 1881, 1885); STRACK and ZOCKLER, Kurzgefasster Komment. zu den h. Schriften A. und N.T. (Munich); STRACK, Gen. (2nd ed., 1905); IDEM, Ez., Lev., Numbers (1894); OETTLI, Deut. (1893); NOWACK, Handkomment. zum A.T. (Gottingen); GUNKEL, Gen. (1901); BANTSCH, Ez., Lev., Numbers (1903); Deut. by STEUERNAGEL (1900); MARTI, Kurtzer Handommentar z. A.T. (Freiburg): HOLZINGER, Gen. (1898), Ez. (1900), Numbers (1903); BERTHOLET, Lev. (1901), Deut. (1899); BOHMER, Das erste Buch Mose (Stuttgart, 1905); COOK, The Holy Bible according to the Authorized Version, I-II (London, 1877); SPENCE and EXELL, The Pulpit Commentary (London): WHITELAW, Gen.; RAWLINSON, Ex.; MEYRICK, Lev.; WINTERBOTHAM, Numbers; ALEXANDER, Deut.; The Expositor's Bible (London): DODS, Gen. (1887); CHADWICK, Exod. (1890); KELLOGG, Lev. (1891); WATSON, Numbers (1889); HARPER, Deut. (1895); The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh): GRAY, Numbers (1903); DRIVER, Deut. (1895); SPURRELL, Notes on the Hebrew Text of Gen. (2nd ed., Oxford, 1896); GINSBURG, The Third Book of Moses (London, 1904); MACLAREN, The Books of Ex., Lev., and Numbers (London, 1906); IDEM, Deut. (London, 1906); REUSS, L'histoire sainte et la loi (Paris, 1879); KUENEN, HOSYKAAS, and OORT, Het Oude Testament (Leyden, 1900-1).

Catholic Works:-The works of CAJETAN, OLEASTER, STEUCHUS EUGUBINUS, SANTE PAGINO, LIPPOMANNUS, HAMMER, B. POREIRA, ASORIUS MARTINENGUS, LORINUS, TIRINUS, A LAPIDE, CORN, JANSENIUS, BONFRERE, FRASSEN, CALMET, BRENTANO, DERESER, and SCHOLZ are either too well known or too unimportant to need further notice. La Sainte Bible (Paris); CHELIER, La Genese (1889); IDEM, l'Exode et la Levitique (1886); TROCHON, Les Nombres et le Deuteronome (1887-8); Cursus Scripturae Sacrae (Paris); VON HUMMELAUER, Gen. (1895); Ex., Lev. (1897); Num. (1899); Deut. (1901); SCHRANK, Comment. literal. in Gen. (1835); LAMY, Comment in l. Gen. (Mechlin, 1883-4); TAPPEHORN, Erklarung der Gen. (Paderborn, 1888); HOBERG, Die Gen. nach dem Literalsinn erklart (Freiburg, 1899); FILLION, La Sainte Bible, I (Paris, 1888); NETELER, Das Buch Genesis der Vulgata und des hebraischen Textes ubersetzt und erklart (Munster, 1905); GIGOT, Special Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, I (New York, 1901). Biblical Commission: Acta Apostolicoe Sedis (15 July, 1908); Rome (17 July, 1909).


Orthodox Information

(This information may not be of the scholastic quality of the other articles in BELIEVE. Since few Orthodox scholarly articles have been translated into English, we have had to rely on Orthodox Wiki as a source. Since the Wikipedia collections do not indicate the author's name for articles, and essentially anyone is free to edit or alter any of their articles (again, without any indication of what was changed or who changed it), we have concerns. However, in order to include an Orthodox perspective in some of our subject presentations, we have found it necessary to do this. At least until actual scholarly Orthodox texts are translated from the Greek originals!)

The Book of Genesis contains the pre-history of the people of Israel. It starts the first part the Old Testament section of the Bible called the Pentateuch, Torah, or Books of Moses. The name Genesis comes from the Greek for beginning, origin, or birth because of Septuagint's division of the Pentateuch into five books. Tradition has it that the Genesis was mostly written by the Prophet Moses 1,300 years before Christ.


Genesis begins with the story of the creation of the world, the fall of Adam and Eve and the subsequent, quite sinful, history of the children of Adam. It tells of Noah and the great flood, the tower of Babel, and Abram and Melchizedek. It then tells of God's call and promise of salvation to Abraham, and the story of Isaac and Jacob, whom God named Israel, ending with the settlement of the twelve tribes of Israel (the families of the twelve sons of Jacob) in Egypt, during the time of Joseph's favor with the Egyptian Pharaoh. In traditional Church language, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called the Patriarchs and are also Forefathers of Christ.


The creation narrative in Genesis can be split into two sections - the first section starts with an account of the Creation of the universe by God, which occurs in six days, the second section is more human-oriented, and less concerned with explaining how the Earth, its creatures and its features came to exist as they are today.

Within the first section, on the first day God created light; on the second, the firmament of heaven; on the third, he separated water and land, and created plant life; on the fourth day he created the sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth day marine life and birds; on the sixth day land animals, and man and woman. On the seventh day, the Sabbath, God rested, and sanctified the day. The second section of the creation narrative explains that the earth was lifeless, how God brought moisture to the soil and how man was formed from the dust (Adam translates from Hebrew to mean 'Red Earth').

Adam and Eve

God formed Adam out of earth ("adamah"), and set him in the Garden of Eden, to watch over it. Adam is allowed to eat of all the fruit within it, except that of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." God then brings all the animals to Adam (2:19). In verse 2:18, God says he will make a helper for Adam, singular, and then creates the animals. In 2:20, Adam studies all the animals and names them. He does not find his helpmate and notices that all the other animals have helpmates for them (the male and female). When Adam realizes this, God then puts him into a deep sleep, takes a rib from his side, and from it forms a woman (called later "Eve"), to be his companion (his helpmate).

Later, starting in verse 3:1, Eve was convinced by Satan, in the form of a serpent, to eat of the forbidden fruit, the only freedom that God had prohibited Adam and Eve in Eden. This turning from God is also considered the original sin in traditional Christian interpretation. As punishment, the ground is cursed, Adam and Eve become mortal (because they no longer have access to the Tree of Life), and they are driven out of the garden. The entrance to the garden is then guarded by cherubim with a flaming sword.

Adam and Eve initially have two sons, Cain and Abel. Eventually Cain grows envious of the favor found by his brother before God, and slays him. The first murder is that of a brother. Cain is sentenced to wander over the earth as a fugitive. He finally settles in the land of Nod.

From Adam to Noah

Cain, the son of Adam, builds the first known city in the Bible and calls it after the name of his son, Enoch (Genesis 4:17). Further down the line of genealogy, Lamech takes two wives (Genesis 4:19). Lamech's sons are the first dwellers in tents and owners of herds (Genesis 4:20, Jabal is called the "father of such as dwell in tents"), and they are the earliest inventors of musical instruments (Genesis 4:21) and workers in brass and iron (Genesis 4:22). These descendants of Cain know nothing about God (Genesis 4:16).

Another son of Adam, Seth, has in the meantime been born to Adam and Eve in place of the slain Abel (Genesis 4:25). Seth's descendants never lose thought of God (Genesis 4:26). The tenth in regular descent is Noah (Genesis 5:1-29). Adam and Eve also have other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). In line with most of the other biblical characters born before the flood whose ages are provided, Adam lived until the age of 930 (Genesis 5:5).

Chapter 5 provides a genealogy of descendants of Adam till Noah: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah

Noah and the great flood

In Genesis chapter 6, verse 2, the sons of God (the men who turned back to God after the original fall), took daughters of men (women who were in rebellion against God) to be their wives. Then, in Genesis 6:3, the Lord said; "My spirit shall not put up with humans for these lengths of time, for they are mortal flesh. In the future, humans shall live no more than 120 years." Then God looked down on the earth and was very displeased. He saw that the beautiful world He made was filled with the violence and hate of mankind; so He decided to cleanse the world with a flood and start again. God selected one man, Noah, and his family, to survive the flood, as Noah's family is still perfect genetically (Genesis 6:9). God commanded him to build a large ark, since the work of destruction was to be accomplished by means of a great flood. Noah obeyed the command, entering the ark together with his family, into which they also brought a mating pair of each kind of animal and bird on Earth. Water burst out of the ground and fell from the sky, and the world was flooded, destroying all living beings except those in the ark. When the flood had subsided, Noah's family left the ark, and God enters into a covenant with Noah and all his descendants, the entire human race. Noah soon planted a vineyard (ix. 20) and drank of its wine. While he is intoxicated, Noah is shamelessly treated by his son Ham; upon awakening, Noah cursed the latter in the person of Ham's son Canaan, while his sons Shem and Japheth are blessed.

Chapter 10 reviews the peoples descended from Japheth, Ham, and Shem. The dispersion of humanity into separate races and nations is described in the story of the Tower of Babel. Humanity is dispersed by a "confusion of tongues," which God brought about when men attempted to build a tower that should reach up to heaven. A genealogy is given of Shem's descendants.

Abram and Sarai

The Righteous Abraham, a major figure in the Book of Genesis.

Terah, who lives in Ur of the Chaldees, has three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran, father of Lot. Abram married Sarai. God soon directs Abram to leave his home. Abram obeys, emigrating with his entire household and Lot, his brother's son, to the land of Canaan. Here God appears to him and promises that the land shall become the property of his descendants.

However, Abram is forced by a famine to leave Canaan for Egypt. Once there, the Pharaoh of Egypt takes possession of the beautiful Sarai (whom Abram has misleadingly represented as his sister; she was in fact his half-sister). God afflicts Pharaoh with a disease, which the ruler recognizes as a sign from God; thus Pharaoh returns Sarai to Abram. Abram returns to Canaan and separates from Lot in order to put an end to land disputes. God again appears to Abram, promising him the whole country.

Abram and Melchizedek

Lot is taken prisoner by invading kings from the East. Abram pursues the victors with his armed retainers. Returning with his warband after rescuing Lot and his clan, Abram is met by Melchizedek, the king and high priest of Salem (Jerusalem), who blesses him; in return Abram gives him a tithe of his booty, refusing his share of the same. After this exploit God again appears to Abram and promises him protection, a rich reward, and numerous progeny. These descendants will pass four hundred years in servitude in a strange land, but after God has judged their oppressors they shall leave the land of their affliction, and the fourth generation shall return to Canaan.

Hagar and Ishmael

Rublev's famous icon of three angels, a type of the Holy Trinity, appearing to Abraham and Sarah.

Sarai is still childless in her old age, so Sarai and Abram decide that they will produce an heir for Abram through his Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar. Abram takes her as a concubine and has a child with her named Ishmael. God again appears to Abram and enters into a personal covenant securing Abram's future: God promises numerous progeny, including one to Sarah within a year, changes Abram's name to "Abraham" and that of Sarai to "Sarah," and institutes the circumcision of all males as an eternal sign of this covenant. This meeting, in which three angels appear to Abraham and Sarah, is the subject of Andrei Rublev's famous icon, called either The Hospitality of Abraham or simply The Trinity.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Next, Abraham also hears that God intends to send angels to execute judgment upon the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. He intercedes for the sinners, bargaining with God for the lowest number of righteous people required to save the cities. God agrees that he will spare the cities in their entirety if only ten righteous people are to be found therein. Two angels go to Sodom, where they are hospitably received by Lot. The men of the city, however, pound on Lot's door, demanding to have sexual relations with the visitors. Having thus shown that they deserved their fate, Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by fire and brimstone.

Only Lot and his two daughters are saved. Lot's incestuous relationship with his daughters, which resulted in the births of Ammon and Moab, is also described. Abraham journeys to Gerar, the country of Abimelech. Here once again he represents Sarah as his sister, and Abimelech plans to gain possession of her. He desists on being warned by God.

The birth of Isaac

At last the long-expected son of Abraham and Sarah is born and receives the name of "Isaac" (Itzhak: "will laugh" in Hebrew). At Sarah's insistence Ishmael, together with his mother Hagar, is driven out of the house. They also have a great future promised to them by God. Abraham, during the banquet that he gives in honor of Isaac's birth, enters into a covenant with Abimelech, who confirms his right to the well Beer-sheba.

A Byzantine-style mosaic from the Basilica of San Vitale in Italy depicting the angel's visition to Abraham and his almost-execution of Isaac.

The near-sacrifice of Isaac

Now that Abraham seems to have all his desires fulfilled, having even provided for the future of his son, God subjects him to the greatest trial of his faith by demanding Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham obeys; but, as he is about to lay the knife upon his son, God restrains him, promising him numberless descendants. On the death of Sarah, Abraham acquires Machpelah for a family tomb. Then he sends his servant to Mesopotamia, Nahor's home, to find among his relations a wife for Isaac; and Rebekah, Nahor's granddaughter, is chosen. Other children are born to Abraham by another wife, Keturah, among whose descendants are the Midianites, and he dies in a prosperous old age.

Esau and Jacob

After being married for twenty years Rebekah has twins by Isaac: Esau, who becomes a hunter, and Jacob (Ya'akov: "will follow"), who becomes a herdsman. Jacob persuades Esau to sell him his birthright, for which the latter does not care; notwithstanding this bargain, God appears to Isaac and repeats the promises given to Abraham. His wife, whom he represents as his sister, is endangered in the country of the Philistines, but King Abimelech himself averts disaster. In spite of the hostility of Abimelech's people, Isaac is fortunate in all his undertakings in that country, especially in digging wells. God appears to him at Beer-sheba, encourages him, and promises him blessings and numerous descendants; and Abimelech enters into a covenant with him at the same place. Esau marries Canaanite women, to the regret of his parents.

Rebekah persuades Jacob to dress himself as Esau, and thus obtain from his blinded by old age father the blessing intended for Esau. To escape his brother's vengeance, Jacob is sent to relations in Haran, being charged by Isaac to find a wife there. On the way God appears to him at night, promising protection and aid for himself and the land for his numerous descendants. Arrived at Haran, Jacob hires himself to Laban, his mother's brother, on condition that, after having served for seven years as a herdsman, he shall have for wife the younger daughter, Rachel, with whom he is in love. At the end of this period Laban gives him the elder daughter, Leah; Jacob therefore serves another seven years for Rachel, and after that six years more for cattle. In the meantime Leah bears him Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; by Rachel's maid Bilhah he has Dan and Naphtali; by Zilpah, Leah's maid, Gad and Asher; then, by Leah again, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah; and finally, by Rachel, Joseph. He also acquires much wealth in flocks.

Jacob wrestles with God

In fear of Laban, Jacob flees with his family, but soon becomes reconciled with Laban. On approaching his home he is in fear of Esau, to whom he sends presents. While sleeping, a being (variously regarded as God, an angel, or a man), appears to Jacob and wrestles with him. The mysterious one pleads to be released before daybreak, but Jacob refuses to release the being until he agrees to bless him. The being announces to Jacob that he shall bear the name "Israel," which means "one who wrestled with God," and is freed.

The meeting with Esau proves a friendly one, and the brothers separate reconciled. Jacob settles at Shechem. His sons Simeon and Levi take vengeance on the city of Shechem, whose prince has raped their sister Dinah. On the road from Bethel, Rachel gives birth to a son, Benjamin, and dies.

Joseph the dreamer

Joseph, Jacob's favorite son, is hated by his brothers on account of his dreams prognosticating his future dominion, and on the advice of Judah is secretly sold to a caravan of Ishmaelite merchants going to Egypt. His brothers tell their father that a wild animal has devoured Joseph.

The Patriarch Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. Joseph, carried to Egypt, is there sold as a slave to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials. He gains his master's confidence; but when the latter's wife, unable to seduce him, accuses him falsely, he is cast into prison. Here he correctly interprets the dreams of two of his fellow prisoners, the king's butler and baker. When Pharaoh is troubled by dreams that no one is able to interpret, the butler draws attention to Joseph. The latter is thereupon brought before Pharaoh, whose dreams he interprets to mean that seven years of abundance will be followed by seven years of famine. He advises the king to make provision accordingly, and is empowered to take the necessary steps, being appointed second in the kingdom. Joseph marries Asenath, the daughter of the priest Poti-pherah, by whom he has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who were blessed by Israel, Ephraim with Israel's right hand, Manassah with Israel's left.

When the famine comes it is felt even in Canaan; and Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. The brothers appear before Joseph, who recognizes them, but does not reveal himself. After having proved them on this and on a second journey, and they having shown themselves so fearful and penitent that Judah even offers himself as a slave, Joseph reveals his identity, forgives his brothers the wrong they did him, and promises to settle in Egypt both them and his father. Jacob brings his whole family, numbering 66 persons, to Egypt, this making, inclusive of Joseph and his sons and himself, 70 persons. Pharaoh receives them amicably and assigns to them the land of Goshen. When Jacob feels the approach of death he sends for Joseph and his sons, and receives Ephraim and Manasseh among his own sons. Then he calls his sons to his bedside and reveals their future to them. Jacob dies, and is solemnly interred in the family tomb at Machpelah. Joseph lives to see his great-grandchildren, and on his death-bed he exhorts his brethren, if God should remember them and lead them out of the country, to take his bones with them. The book ends with Joseph's remains being put "in a coffin in Egypt." This, however, does not imply that his family was unfaithful to his wishes, but rather this burial is only temporary. Obviously, they could not have left him unburied for the remainder of their stay in Egypt. They do, in fact, take his bones with them on their journey and bury him at Shechem, a plot of ground already owned by their family (Joshua 24:32).

Purpose and Interpretation

Genesis is not treated as mere history, but as a source of spiritual wisdom, a book inspired by God himself. Out of all historical information available to Moses, he selected only what was related to the religious life of people. It most likely has been edited for this goal over time.

Liturgical readings

Almost all of Genesis is read by a reader at services of the Orthodox Church during Great Lent and Holy Week.

At Vespers before the Nativity of the Theotokos, the reading is from 28:10-17, the story of Jacob's vision of a ladder which unites heaven and earth. This passage indicates the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly, both spiritually and physically, in Mary the Theotokos, Bearer of God.

See also

Byzantine Creation Era

External links

Nine homilies delivered by St. Basil the Great on the cosmogony of the opening chapters of Genesis:
In the Beginning God Made the Heaven and the Earth
The Earth Was Invisible and Unfinished.
On the Firmament.
Upon the Gathering Together of the Waters.
The Germination of the Earth.
The Creation of Luminous Bodies.
The Creation of Moving Creatures.
The Creation of Fowl and Water Animals.
The Creation of Terrestrial Animals.

Book of Genesis or Bereshit

Jewish Perspective Information

§ 1. -Biblical Data:

The first book of the Torah, and therefore of the whole Bible, is called by the Jews "Bereshit," after the initial word; by the Septuagint and by Philo it is called Γύνεσις (κόσμου) = "origin" (of the world), after the contents, and hence "Genesis" has become the usual non-Hebrew designation for it. According to the Masorah, it is divided into ninety-one sections ("parashiyyot"), forty-three of which have open or broken lines ("petuḥot"), and forty-eight closed lines ("setumot"); or into forty-three chapters ("sedarim") and twenty-nine sections ("pisḳot"); for reading on the Sabbath, into twelve lessons; according to the division adopted from the Vulgate, into fifty chapters with 1,543 verses.

§ 2. Nature and Plan.

Genesis is a historical work. Beginning with the creation of the world, it recounts the primal history of humanity and the early history of the people of Israel as exemplified in the lives of its patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their families. It contains the historical presupposition and basis of the national religious ideas and institutions of Israel, and serves as an introduction to its history and legislation. It is a well-planned and well-executed composition of a single writer, who has recounted the traditions of his people with masterly skill, combining them into a uniform work, without contradictions or useless repetitions, but preserving the textual and formal peculiarities incident to their difference in origin and mode of transmission.

§ 3. The author has treated the story as a series of ten "generations" ("toledot"); namely, (1) of heaven and earth, ch. ii. 4-iv.; (2) of Adam, v.-vi. 8; (3) of Noah, vi. 9-ix.; (4) of Noah's sons, x.-xi. 9; (5) of Shem, xi. 10-26; (6) of Terah, xi. 27-xxv. 11; (7) of Ishmael, xxv. 12-18; (8) of Isaac, xxv. 19-xxxv.; (9) of Esau, xxxvi.; (10) of Jacob, xxxvii.-1.

§ 4. Contents.

In the beginning God created heaven and earth (i. 1), and set them in order in six days. He spoke, and on the first day there appeared the light; on the second, the firmament of heaven; on the third, the separation between water and land, with vegetation upon the latter; on the fourth, sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth, the marine animals and birds; on the sixth, the land animals; and, finally, God created man in His image, man and woman together, blessing them and giving them dominion over all beings. On the seventh day God rested, and blessed and sanctified the day (i. 2-ii. 3). As regards the creation and subsequent story of man (Adam), God forms him out of earth ("adama"), and breathes into him the breath of life. Then He sets him in a pleasure-garden (Eden), to cultivate and watch over it. Adam is allowed to eat of all the fruit therein except that of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." God then brings all the animals to Adam, to serve as company for and to receive names from him. When Adam can find no being like himself among all these creatures, God puts him into a deep sleep, takes a rib from his side, and forms a woman (called later "Eve"), to be a companion to him. The woman is seduced by the artful serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit, and the man also partakes of the same. As punishment they are driven out of Eden (ii. 4-iii.). Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain grows envious of the favor found by his brother before God, and slays him; he then wanders over the earth as a fugitive, and finally settles in the land of Nod. Enoch, one of his sons, builds the first city, and Lamech takes two wives, whose sons are the first dwellers in tents and owners of herds and the earliest inventors of musical instruments and workers in brass and iron. Cain's descendants know nothing about God (iv.). Another son, Seth, has in the meantime been born to Adam and Eve in place of the slain Abel. Seth's descendants never lose thought of God. The tenth in regular descent is the pious Noah (v.).

§ 5. As mankind has become wicked, indulging in cruelties and excesses, God determines to destroy it entirely. Noah only, on account of his piety, will escape the general ruin; and God commands him to build a large ark, since the work of destruction is to be accomplished by means of a great flood. Noah obeys the command, entering the ark together with his wife, his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, their wives, and, by God's instructions, with one couple of each kind of animal on the earth. Then the flood comes, destroying all living beings save those in the ark. When it has subsided, the latter leave the ark, and God enters into a covenant with Noah and his descendants. Noah begins to cultivate the field that has been cursed during Adam's lifetime (iii. 17-19; v. 29), and plants a vineyard (ix. 20). When, in a fit of intoxication, Noah is shamelessly treated by his son Ham, he curses the latter in the person of Ham's son Canaan, while the reverential Shem and Japheth are blessed (ix. 21-27). Ch. x. contains a review of the peoples that are descended fromJapheth, Ham, and Shem (down to the chief branch of the last-named), and are living dispersed over the whole earth. The dispersion was due to the "confusion of tongues," which God brought about when men attempted to build a tower that should reach up to heaven (xi. 1-9). A genealogy is given of Shem's descendants in regular line, the tenth generation of whom is represented by Terah (xi. 10-25).

§ 6. Terah, who lives at Ur of the Chaldees, has three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran's son is Lot. Nahor is married to Milcah, and Abram to Sarai, who has no children (xi. 26-32). God directs Abram to leave his home and kindred because He intends to bless him. Abram obeys, emigrating with his entire household and Lot, his brother's son, to the land of Canaan. Here God appears to him and promises that the land shall become the property of his descendants. Abram is forced by a famine to leave the country and go to Egypt. The King of Egypt takes possession of the beautiful Sarai (whom Abram has represented as his sister), but, smitten by God, is compelled to restore her (xii.). Abram returns to Canaan, and separates from Lot in order to put an end to disputes about pasturage, leaving to Lot the beautiful country in the valley of the Jordan near Sodom. God thereupon again appears to Abram, and again promises him the whole country (xiii.). Lot is taken prisoner during a war between Amraphel, King of Shinar, and Bera, King of Sodom, with their respective allies, whereupon Abram pursues the victors with his armed servants, liberates Lot, and seizes the booty, refusing his share of the same (xiv.). After this exploit God again appears to Abram and promises him protection, a rich reward, and, in spite of the fact that Abram still has no children, a numerous progeny. These descendants must pass four hundred years in servitude in a strange land; but after God has judged their oppressors they, in the possession of great wealth, shall leave the land of their affliction, and the fourth generation shall return to the same land (xv.).

Sarai being still childless, Abram gets a son, Ishmael, by her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar (xvi.). God again appears to Abram, and enters into a personal covenant with him securing Abram's future: God promises him a numerous progeny, changes his name to "Abraham" and that of Sarai to "Sarah," and institutes the circumcision of all males as an eternal sign of the covenant. Abraham, together with his whole house, immediately fulfils the rite (xvii.). God once more appears to Abraham in the person of three messengers, whom Abraham receives hospitably, and who announce to him that he will have a son within a year, although he and his wife are already very old. Abraham also hears that God's messengers intend to execute judgment upon the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, whereupon he intercedes for the sinners, and endeavors to have their fate set aside (xviii.). Two of the messengers go to Sodom, where they are hospitably received by Lot. The men of the city wish to lay shameless hands upon them, and, having thus shown that they have deserved their fate, Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by fire and brimstone, only Lot and his two daughters being saved. The circumstances of the birth of Ammon and Moab are set forth (xix.). Abraham journeys to Gerar, the country of Abimelech. Here also he represents Sarah as his sister, and Abimelech plans to gain possession of her, but desists on being warned by God (xx.). At last the long-expected son is born, and receives the name of "Isaac." At the instance of Sarah, the boy Ishmael, together with his mother, Hagar, is driven out of the house, but they also have a great future promised to them. Abraham, during the banquet that he gives in honor of Isaac's birth, enters into a covenant with Abimelech, who confirms his right to the well Beer-sheba (xxi.). Now that Abraham seems to have all his desires fulfilled, having even provided for the future of his son, God subjects him to the greatest trial of his faith by demanding Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham obeys; but, as he is about to lay the knife upon his son, God restrains him, promising him numberless descendants. On the death of Sarah Abraham acquires Machpelah for a family tomb (xxiii.). Then he sends his servant to Mesopotamia, Nahor's home, to find among his relations a wife for Isaac; and Rebekah, Nahor's granddaughter, is chosen (xxiv.). Other children are born to Abraham by another wife, Keturah, among whose descendants are the Midianites; and he dies in a prosperous old age (xxv. 1-18).

§ 7. After being married for twenty years Rebekah has twins by Isaac: Esau, who becomes a hunter, and Jacob, who becomes a herdsman. Jacob persuades Esau to sell him his birthright, for which the latter does not care (xxv. 19-34); notwithstanding this bargain, God appears to Isaac and repeats the promises given to Abraham. His wife, whom he represents as his sister, is endangered in the country of the Philistines, but King Abimelech himself averts disaster. In spite of the hostility of Abimelech's people, Isaac is fortunate in all his undertakings in that country, especially in digging wells. God appears to him at Beer-sheba, encourages him, and promises him blessings and numerous descendants; and Abimelech enters into a covenant with him at the same place. Esau marries Canaanite women, to the regret of his parents (xxvi.). Rebekah persuades Jacob to dress himself as Esau, and thus obtain from his senile father the blessing intended for Esau (xxvii.). To escape his brother's vengeance, Jacob is sent to relations in Haran, being charged by Isaac to find a wife there. On the way God appears to him at night, promising protection and aid for himself and the land for his numerous descendants (xxviii.). Arrived at Haran, Jacob hires himself to Laban, his mother's brother, on condition that, after having served for seven years as herdsman, he shall have for wife the younger daughter, Rachel, with whom he is in love. At the end of this period Laban gives him the elder daughter, Leah; Jacob therefore serves another seven years for Rachel, and after that six years more for cattle. In the meantime Leah bears him Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; by Rachel's maid Bilhah he has Dan and Naphtali; by Zilpah, Leah's maid, Gad and Asher; then, by Leah again, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah; and finally, by Rachel, Joseph. He also acquires much wealth in flocks (xxix.-xxx.).

In fear of Laban, Jacob flees with his family and all his possessions, but becomes reconciled with Laban, who overtakes him (xxxi.). On approaching his home he is in fear of Esau, to whom he sends presents; and with the worst apprehensions he turns at night to God in prayer. An angel of God appears to Jacob, is vanquished in wrestling, and announces to him that he shall bear the name "Israel," i.e., "the combatant of God" (xxxii.). The meeting with Esau proves a friendly one, and the brothers separate reconciled. Jacob settles at Shalem (xxxiii.). His sons Simeon and Levi take bloody vengeance on the city of Shechem, whose prince has dishonored their sister Dinah (xxxiv.). Jacob moves to Beth-el, where God bestows upon him the promised name of "Israel," and repeats His other promises. On the road from Beth-el Rachel gives birth to a son, Benjamin, and dies (xxxv.). A genealogy of Esau and the inhabitants and rulers of his country, Edom, is given in ch. xxxvi.

§ 8. Joseph, Jacob's favorite, is hated by his brothers on account of his dreams prognosticating his future dominion, and on the advice of Judah is secretly sold to a caravan of Ishmaelitic merchants going to Egypt. His brothers tell their father that a wild animal has devoured Joseph (xxxvii.). Joseph, carried to Egypt, is there sold as a slave to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials. He gains his master's confidence; but when the latter's wife, unable to seduce him, accuses him falsely, he is cast into prison (xxxix.). Here he correctly interprets the dreams of two of his fellow prisoners, the king's butler and baker (xl.). When Pharaoh is troubled by dreams that no one is able to interpret, the butler draws attention to Joseph. The latter is thereupon brought before Pharaoh, whose dreams he interprets to mean that seven years of abundance will be followed by seven years of famine. He advises the king to make provision accordingly, and is empowered to take the necessary steps, being appointed second in the kingdom. Joseph marries Asenath, the daughter of the priest Poti-pherah, by whom he has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (xli.).

When the famine comes it is felt even in Canaan; and Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy corn. The brothers appear before Joseph, who recognizes them, but does not discover himself. After having proved them on this and on a second journey, and they having shown themselves so fearful and penitent that Judah even offers himself as slave, Joseph reveals his identity, forgives his brothers the wrong they did him, and promises to settle in Egypt both them and his father (xlii.-xlv.). Jacob brings his whole family, numbering 66 persons, to Egypt, this making, inclusive of Joseph and his sons and himself, 70 persons. Pharaoh receives them amicably and assigns to them the land of Goshen (xlvi.-xlvii.). When Jacob feels the approach of death he sends for Joseph and his sons, and receives Ephraim and Manasseh among his own sons (xlviii.). Then he calls his sons to his bedside and reveals their future to them (xlix.). Jacob dies, and is solemnly interred in the family tomb at Machpelah. Joseph lives to see his great-grandchildren, and on his death-bed he exhorts his brethren, if God should remember them and lead them out of the country, to take his bones with them (1.).

§ 9. Aim of Work.

In the choice, connection, and presentation of his material the narrator has followed certain principles incident to the purpose and scope of his work. Although he adopts the universal view-point of history, beginning with the Creation and giving a review of the entire human race, he yet intends to deal particularly with Israel, the people subsequently chosen by God, and to give an account of its origin and of its election, which is based on its religious and moral character. His chief point of view, therefore, is that of narrator of tribal and religious history; and only the details that bear on this history are reported.

§ 10. It is his primary intention to show that the people of Israel are descended in a direct line from Adam, the first man created by God, through legitimate marriages in conformity with Israelitish moral ideals, i.e., monandric marriages. Offshoots branch from this main line at central points represented by Adam, Noah, Shem, Eber, Abraham, and Isaac, though their subsequent legitimacy can not be guaranteed. Linguistically the descent from the main line is always indicated by the word , vouching for the paternity; while descent in a branch line is indicated by . This is the explanation of the interchange of these two words, a phenomenon which has never yet been correctly interpreted. The line branching off at any one central point is always fully treated before the next member of the main line is mentioned. Only such matters are related in regard to the branch lines as are important for the history of humanity or that of Israel. No fact is ever introduced merely on account of its historical or antiquarian value. In the main line the interest is concentrated upon the promised, long-expected generations of Isaac-Jacob, his sons and grandsons-who safely pass through all dangers and tribulations, emphasis being laid on their religious and moral character.

§ 11. The events are related in definite chronological order, the chief dates being as follows:

see table

The year of the Creation is the year 3949 before the common era. The ten generations before the Flood attain to ages varying between 777 years (Lamech) and 969 years (Methuselah), with the exception of Enoch (365 years). Those of the ten generations after the Flood vary between 600 years (Shem) and 148 (Nahor). All the reasons for the details of this chronology have not yet been discovered. Oppert has declared (in "R. E. J." 1895, and in Chronology) that the figures are connected with ancient Babylonian chronological systems. The variations found in the Septuagint and in the Samaritan Pentateuch were introduced for certain purposes (see Jacob in "J. Q. R." xii. 434 et seq.). The correctness of the Masoretic figures, however, is evident from the context.

§ 12. Anachronisms such as various critics allege are found in Genesis do not in reality exist; and their assumption is based on a misunderstanding of the historiographic principles of the book. Thus the history of a generation no longer of importance is closed and the death of its last member noted, although it may not be contemporaneous with the next succeeding generation, to which the attention is then exclusively directed. This view explains the apparent contradictions between xi. 32 and xi. 26, xii. 4; also between xxv. 7 and xxv. 26; xxi. 5 and xxv. 20; xxxv. 28 (Jacob was at that time 120 years old) and xlvii. 9; xxxvii. 2, xli. 46; etc. In ch. xxxiv. Dinah is not six to seven years old, nor Simeon and Levi eleven and ten respectively, but (xxxv. 27, xxxvii. 1 et seq., xxxiii. 17) each is ten years older. The events in ch. xxxviii. do not cover twenty-three years-from the sale of Joseph in his seventeenth year to the arrival of Judah's grandsons in Egypt (xlvi. 12) in Joseph's fortieth year-but thirty-three years, as the words (elsewhere only in xxi. 22 and I Kings xi. 29) refer back in this case to xxxiii. 17. The story is introduced at this point to provide a pause after ch. xxxvii.

§ 13. Nor are there any repetitions or unnecessary doublets. If ch. ii. were an account of the Creation differing from that found in ch. i., nearly all the events would have been omitted; it is, however, the story in detail of the creation of man, introduced by a summary of what preceded. Neither are there two accounts of the Flood in ch. vi.-ix., in which no detail is superfluous. The three accounts of the danger of Sarah and Rebekah, ch. xii., xx., and xxvi., are not repetitions, as the circumstances are different in each case; and ch. xxvi. refers expressly to ch. xx. The account in xix. 29 of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rescue of Lot, is but a summary introducing the story that follows, which would not be comprehensible without xix. 14, 23, 28. Repeated references to the same place (Beth-el, xxviii. 19, xxxv. 15), or renewed attempts to explain the same name (Beer-sheba, xxi. 31, xxvi. 33; comp. xxx. 20 et seq.), or several names for the same person (xxvi. 34, xxvii. 46-xxxvi. 2 for Esau's wives) are not contradictions. The change of Jacob's name into that of "Israel" is not narrated twice; for xxxii. 29 contains only the announcement by the messenger of God.

Apparently no exegete has noted that is a parenthesis often found in prophetic speeches ("Not Jacob-thus it will be said [i.e., in xxxv. 10]-shall be thy name"); is an impossible construction in Hebrew; xxxii. 4 et seq. and xxxiii. 1 et seq. do not prove, contrary to xxxvi. 6-7, that Esau was living at Seir before Jacob's return. The account of the sale of Joseph as found in xxxvii. 1-25, 28, 29-36; xl. 1 et seq. does not contradict xxxvii. 25-27, 28; xxxix. ; forthe Midianites were the middlemen between the brothers and the Ishmaelites, on the one hand, and between the latter and Potiphar, on the other. Potiphar is a different person from the overseer of the prison; and Joseph could very well say that he had been stolen, i.e., that he had been put out of the way (xl. 15).

§ 14. It is the purpose of the book, on its religious as well as its historic side, to portray the relation of God to humanity and the behavior of the latter toward Him; His gracious guidance of the history of the Patriarchs, and the promises given to them; their faith in Him in spite of all dangers, tribulations, and temptations; and, finally, the religious and moral contrasts with Hamitic (Egyptian and Canaanite) behavior.

§ 15. Religion of Genesis.

Being a historical narrative, no formal explanations of its religious views are found in Genesis; but the stories it contains are founded on such views, and the author furthermore looks upon history as a means of teaching religion. He is a historian only in virtue of being a theologian. He inculcates religious doctrines in the form of stories. Instead of propounding a system he describes the religious life. The book therefore contains an inexhaustible fund of ideas. The most important among these, regarding God, the Creation, humanity, and Israel's Patriarchs, may be mentioned here.

§ 16. There is only one God, who has created heaven and earth (that is, the world), and has called all objects and living beings into existence by His word. The most important point of the theology of Genesis, after this fundamental fact, is the intentional variation in the name of God. It is the most striking point of the book that the same God is now called "Elohim" and now "Yhwh." In this variation is found the key to the whole book and even to the whole Pentateuch. It is not accidental; nor are the names used indifferently by the author, though the principle he follows can not be reduced to a simple formula, nor the special intention in each case be made evident.

§ 17. "Yhwh" is the proper name of God (= "the Almighty"; see Ex. iii. 12 et seq., vi. 2), used wherever the personality of God is to be emphasized. Hence only such expressions are used in connection with "Yhwh" as convey the impression of personality, i.e., anthropomorphisms. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, face, hand, heart are ascribed only to "Yhwh," never to "Elohim." These anthropomorphisms are used merely to suggest the personal life and activity of God, and are not literal personifications, as is conclusively proved by the fact that phrases which would be actual anthropomorphisms-e.g., "God sees with His eyes"; "He hears with His ears"; "one sees God's face" ("head," "body," etc.)-never occur. The expression "Yhwh's eyes" indicates divine knowledge of what may be seen through personal apperception; "Yhwh's ears," what may be heard; = "God's anger" indicates the reaction of God's moral nature against evil; "Yhwh's mouth" indicates the utterances of the God who speaks personally; "Yhwh's face" indicates immediate personal intercourse with the God who is felt to be present; "Yhwh's hand" indicates His sensible manifestations of power; "Yhwh's heart" indicates His thoughts and designs. The phrase "Yhwh, a personal God," characterizes fully the use of this name. A person or a nation can have personal relations with the personal Yhwh only; and only He can plan and guide the fate of either with a personal interest. Yhwh is the God of history and of the education of the human race. Only Yhwh can exact a positive attitude toward Himself, and make demands upon man that are adequate, i.e., moral: Yhwh is the God of positive morality. A personal, inner life longing for expression can be organized into definite form and find response only if Yhwh be a personal, living God. Yhwh is the God of ritual, worship, aspiration, and love.

§ 18. "Elohim" is an appellative, and the general name for the divinity, the superhuman, extramundane being, whose existence is felt by all men-a being that possesses intelligence and will, exists in the world and beyond human power, and is the final cause of all that exists and happens. "Yhwh" is concrete; "Elohim" is abstract. "Yhwh" is the special," Elohim" the general, God. "Yhwh" is personal; "Elohim." impersonal. Yet there is no other Elohim but Yhwh, who is "ha-Elohim" (the Elohim).

The following points may be observed in particular:

(a) "Elohim," as genitive of a person, indicates that the latter has superhuman relations (xxiii. 6; similarly of an object, xxviii. 17, 22).

(b) It also indicates ideal humanity (xxxiii. 10; comp. xxxii. 29).

(c) "Elohim" expresses the fate imposed by a higher power. The statement "A person is prosperous" is paraphrased by "Elohim is with him," which is distinctly different from "Yhwh is with him." While the former indicates objectively a person's prosperity with regard to a single event, the latter expresses the higher intentions and consecutive plans of the personal God in regard to the person in question. Abimelech says to Abraham, "Elohim is with thee in all that thou doest" (xxi. 22), while he says to Isaac, "Yhwh is with thee," and "thou art now the blessed of Yhwh" (xxvi. 28, 29). For Abimelech had at first tried in vain to injure Isaac; but later he convinced himself () that evidently () it was the Yhwh worshiped by Isaac that designedly protected and blessed the latter. Again, in xxi. 20: "And Elohim was with the lad"; for Ishmael did not belong to the chosen line, concerning which God had special plans. Yhwh, however, is always with Israel and its heroes (xxvi. 3, 28; xxviii. 15 [xxxii. 10, 13]; xlvi. 4; Ex. iii. 12; Num. xxiii. 21; Deut. ii. 7; xx. 1; xxxi. 8, 23; Josh. i. 5, 9, 17; iii. 7; Judges ii. 18; vi. 12, 16; I Sam. iii. 19; xvi. 18; xviii. 12, 14; xx. 13; II Sam. vii. 3, v. 10; I Kings i. 37; II Kings xviii. 7). Particularly instructive is Jacob's vow, xxviii. 20 et seq., "If Elohim will be with me . . . then shall Yhwh be my Elohim." Adverse fate especially is, out of fear, euphemistically ascribed to the general Elohim, the impersonal God, rather than to Yhwh xlii. 28).

(d) As "Elohim" designates the universal ruler of the world, that term is used in ch. i. in the story of the Creation; but in order to designate this Elohim as the true God the word "Yhwh" is always addedin the following chapters (ii., iii.). (e) In so far as man feels himself dependent upon Elohim, whom he needs, the latter becomes his Elohim. As the term "Elohim" includes the idea of beneficent power, this relation becomes, on the part of God, that of the omnipotent patron, and, on the part of man, that of the protégé, the one who needs protection and offers respect and obedience (xvii. 7, xxviii. 22). The same interpretation applies to "Elohim" followed by the genitive of a person. (f) Elohim is the religious meeting-ground between the believer in Yhwh and persons of a different faith (xiv. 22; xx. 13; xxi. 23; xxxix. 9; xli. 16, 25, 28, 32, 38). (g) "Elohim" is the appellation of God used in connection with the person who is inclined toward Yhwh, but whose faith is not yet fully developed; for the one who is on the way to religion, as Melchizedek (ch. xiv.) and Abraham's servant (ch. xxiv.; comp. Jethro in Exodus and Balaam in Numbers; see §§ 28, 31).

(h) "Elohim" represents God for those whose moral perception has been blunted by sin (iii. 3, 5); from the mouths of the serpent and the woman instead of "Jahweh" is heard "Elohim"; they desire to change the idea of a living God, who says, "Thou shalt," into a blurred concept of an impersonal and indefinite God. But the God who pronounces judgment is Yhwh (ch. ii., iii.; on Cain, ch. iv.; in connection with the Flood, vi. 3-8; the tower of Babel, xi. 5 et seq.; Sodom and Gomorrah, xviii. 19; Er and Onan, xxxviii. 7, 10). (i) Although the personality of Elohim is indistinct, he yet is felt to be a moral power making moral demands. The moral obligation toward him is the negative virtue of the "fear of God," the fear of murder (xx. 11), unchastity (xxxix. 9), injustice (xlii. 18), and renunciation (xxii. 12). (k) "Elohim" also means the appearance of the Deity, and hence may be synonymous with "mal'ak." It may also designate an object of the ritual representing or symbolizing the Deity (xxxv. 2).

§ 19. "Elohim" is more explicitly defined by the article; "ha-Elohim," i.e., "the Elohim" or "of the Elohim," is sometimes used to identify an "Elohim" previously mentioned (xvii. 18; comp. verse 17; xx. 6, 17; comp. verse 3). The single, definite, previously mentioned appearance of an Elohim is called "ha-Elohim," being as such synonymous with "Mal'ak Yhwh" (xxii. 1, 3, 9, 11, 15), both speaking for Yhwh (verse 16; comp. xlviii. 15). "Ha-Elohim," when derived from "Elohim," is a preparation for "Yhwh"; when derived from "Yhwh" it is a weakening of the idea of God (see §§ 31 et seq.). Although these examples do not exhaust the different uses of these two names, they are sufficient to show the author's intentions.

§ 20. A rare term for "God" is "El Shaddai" (xvii. 1, xxviii. 3, xxxv. 11, xliii. 13, xlviii. 13; "Shaddai" in xlix. 25). The usual translation and interpretation, "Almighty," is entirely unsupported. The term, when closely examined, means "the God of faith," i.e., the God who faithfully fulfils His promises. Perhaps it also means a God of love who is inclined to show abundant love.

§ 21. God as a personal being is not only referred to in anthropomorphistic and anthropopathic terms, but He also appears to man and speaks with him. Thus He speaks with Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Hagar, Abimelech, Isaac, Jacob, and Laban. But He appears only from the time of Abraham, and in different ways. An Elohim "appears" to Abimelech and Laban in a dream at night (xx. 3, xxxi. 24); a mal'ak Yhwh appears to Hagar (xvi. 7 et seq.), being called in verse 13 simply "Yhwh." Yhwh appears to Abram (xii. 7, xv. 1); in a vision (xii. 1, 7) apparently accompanied by darkness, a pillar of smoke, and fire; in xvii. Yhwh, who is subsequently called "Elohim" (verses 9, 15, 19), appears, and then ascends (verse 22); in xviii. Yhwh appears in the form of three men who visit Abraham, but these speak as one Yhwh in verses 13, 17, 20, 26, and 33, who then leaves, while the two messengers go to Sodom. Yhwh appears to Isaac on a certain day (xxvi. 2), and again that night (verse 24). Jacob is addressed in a dream by Yhwh (xxviii. 12 et seq.). In xxxi. 3 Yhwh speaks to Jacob; Jacob says (verse 11) that a mal'ak of Elohim appeared to him in a dream. In xxxv. 9 Elohim again appears to him, in reference to the nocturnal encounter with a "man" (xxxii. 14 et seq.), and ascends (xxxv. 13). In xlvi. 2 Elohim speaks to him in a vision of the night.

Hence, the appearance of God means either a dream-vision, or the appearance of a messenger sent by God, who speaks in His name, and may therefore himself be called "Elohim of Yhwh."

§ 22. "Mal'ak of God" signifies, in the first place, the fortunate disposition of circumstances (xxiv. 7, 40; comp. xlviii. 16), in which case it is parallel to "ha-Elohim," the divine guidance of human life; more often, however, it denotes the "angels" ("mal'akim"), messengers of God in human shape who carry His behests to men and who seem to enter and leave heaven through a gate (xxviii. 11); e.g., "Yhwh's messenger" (xvi. 7, 11; xxii. 11, 15); "Elohim's messenger" (xxi. 17; in the plural, xix. 1, 15; xxviii. 12; xxxii. 2); or "ha-Elohim's messenger" (xxxi. 11). The "man" who wrestled with Jacob likewise seems to have been a mal'ak (xxxii. 25, 29, 31), and the men whom Abraham entertained and who saved Lot were also mal'akim (xviii., xix.). According to the popular belief, it is disastrous to meet them (xvi. 13, xxxii. 31). On this point, more than on any other, the author seems to have followed popular ideas.

§ 23. It appears from the foregoing that the conception of God found in Genesis is throughout a practical, religious one. God is treated exclusively with reference to His dealings with the world and with man, and to the interest that He takes in man's fate and behavior. He guides, educates, and punishes. He assigns to the first of mankind a habitation in Eden, sets them a task, and commands them not to do a certain thing. When they break this command He punishes them; but even after that He cares for them. Although punishing the murderer Cain, He affords him protection; the cruelties and unnatural sins of the generation of the Flood arouse His sorrow and anger; He humiliates the pride of the men who are planning to build a tower that shall reach to heaven; He utterly destroys with fire and brimstone the sinful generation of Sodom and Gomorrah. The punishments are either the natural consequences of sin-the first of mankind haverobbed the earth, which had willingly offered the fruit of its trees, hence it is cursed and paralyzed, and can no longer give its fruit freely, so long as Adam is living; Eve has succumbed to desire, hence she has become the slave of desire; Cain has defiled the earth by murder, hence he has deprived it of its strength-or they correspond exactly to the sins; e.g., men build a tower in order to remain united, hence they are dispersed; Jacob wishes to rule his brother, therefore he must humiliate himself before that brother; he deceives, and is deceived in return; he dresses up in a goatskin in order to obtain a blessing fraudulently, therefore he is terribly deceived and plunged in sorrow through a goatskin; Judah advises the sale of Joseph as a slave, therefore he himself is forced to offer himself as a slave.

God, on the other hand, is pleased with the pious, with Enoch and Noah, and especially with Abraham's unshakable faith (xv. 6); his righteousness and justice, which he recommends to his children and household (xviii. 19); his implicit obedience, which is ready to make the supreme sacrifice (xxii. 12, 16). For Abraham's sake God saves Lot (xix. 19); blesses Abraham's son Isaac (xxvi. 5), his children, and his children's children; protects them through all dangers; prevents others from doing evil to them (xii. 17, xiv., xv., xx. 3, xxvi., xxxi. 24); and leads them in a marvelous manner. He gives commands to men, and binds them to Himself by covenants and promises. They are the objects of His designs, as they are His work.

§ 24. The Creation.

The entire universe is the work of God; this proposition is the necessary consequence of the idea of God as found in Genesis and the Pentateuch and in the whole Bible generally. From this arises doubtless the author's belief that God created the world out of nothing. He does not say how this primal act of creation was accomplished. In the beginning the earth was a desolate watery chaos ("tohu wa bohu"), over which the spirit of God brooded, and which God divided into heaven and earth and arranged and peopled in six days. The living beings are created in an orderly sequence, proceeding from the inorganic to the organic, from the incomplete to the complete, man being the crown. In the beginning God creates light together with time and the day. The outer firmament separates the waters above and below it; then when the lower waters recede the land appears; the earth produces grass and trees; and plants and animals are created, each "after its kind," and endowed with the faculty of propagating within their kind in their respective elements. Every organic being, therefore, is endowed with a nature of its own, which the Creator intends it to keep by pairing only with its own kind. The lights that God has fixed in the firmament serve to separate the day from the night; they shall be for "signs, periods, seasons, and years," and shall give light to the earth. The sun is the greater light, that rules the day; the moon is the lesser light, that rules the night.

§ 25. The Creation is, in the judgment of God, good in particular, and very good in general, i.e., fit for life, commensurate to its purpose, salutary, harmonic, and pleasing. The book expresses an optimistic satisfaction and pleasure in the world, a lively veneration for God's arrangements and the peculiar dignity of each being as determined by God. The simplicity, sublimity, depth, and moral grandeur of this story of the Creation and its superiority to every other story dealing with the subject are universally recognized.

§ 26. Humanity.

Man, the crown of Creation, as a pair including man and woman, has been made in God's image. God forms the first man, Adam, out of earth ("adamah"). This indicates his relation to it in a manner that is fundamental for many later laws. Man is a child of the earth, from which he has been taken, and to which he shall return. It possesses for him a certain moral grandeur: he serves it; it does not serve him. He must include God's creatures in the respect that it demands in general, by not exploiting them for his own selfish uses. Unlawful robbery of its gifts (as in paradise), murder, and unchastity anger it, paralyze its power and delight in producing, and defile it. God breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of man, whom He formed out of earth. Therefore that part of him that is contrasted with his corporeal nature or supplements it-his life, soul, spirit, and reason-is not, as with the animals, of earthly origin, existing in consequence of the body, but is of divine, heavenly origin. Man is "toledot" (ii. 4) of heaven and earth. The creation of man also is good, in the judgment of God; the book, therefore, is cognizant of nothing that is naturally evil, within man or outside of him. After God has created man, He says: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (ii. 18). In order that man may convince himself that there is no being similar to him among all the creatures that have been made, God brings all the animals unto Adam, that he may name them, i.e., make clear to himself their different characteristics. Hence man, looking for a being like unto himself among the animals, finds language. God thereupon creates woman out of the rib of man, who gladly recognizes her as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh"; meaning that the mature man may and shall leave the paternal house, where he has been merely a dependent member of the family, and, urged by the longing for a sympathetic being that will supplement him, shall live with the woman of his choice, and found with her a family of his own, where the two shall be combined in an actual and a spiritual unity. In this passage the relation between man and woman is expressed, and also the nature of marriage, which is a life partnership in which one helps and supplements the other. Procreation is not its purpose, but its consequence. God has given to man, as to all living beings, the faculty of multiplying.

§ 27. God gives to man dominion over the earth and over all living beings. The food of the first man consists solely of the fruits of the field, that of the animals being grass (i. 29). His occupation is to cultivate and watch over the Garden of Eden (ii. 15), the only restriction placed upon its enjoymentbeing that he shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the Garden of Eden men go naked and know no shame; this feeling is aroused only after they have broken God's command, and then He makes them garments of skins to cover their nakedness.

§ 28. All men on earth are descended from the first pair, Adam and Eve, and are therefore also of the image of God. This statement expresses the unity of the whole human race. Man is a created being, made in the image of God, and all men are related: these doctrines are among the most fundamental and weighty of the whole Bible.

The branch descended from Cain, the fratricide, the eldest son of the first pair, is the founder of civic and nomadic culture. The branch descended from Seth develops along religious lines: from Elohim (Seth, in iv. 25) through ha-Elohim (Enoch, in v. 22) to Yhwh (Noah, in vi. 8). But punishment has been made necessary on account of Adam's sin; the human race must be destroyed on account of its cruelties and excesses. A new race begins with Noah and his sons, and God promises that He will neither curse the earth again, nor destroy all living beings, but that, on the contrary, "seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (viii. 22). He blesses Noah and his family, that they may multiply and fill the earth and be spiritually above the animals. He permits men to eat meat, but forbids them to eat blood, or meat with the blood thereof. God will demand the blood (life) of every man or animal that spills it. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (ix. 6). God enters into a covenant with Noah and his descendants, promising them that He will not again send a general flood upon the earth, and instituting the rainbow as a token thereof (ch. ix.). The God whom all the Noachidæ worship is Elohim (ix. 1, 7, 8, 12, 16, 17), Yhwh being worshiped by Shem and his descendants. All the peoples dispersed over the earth are grouped as descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The genealogy of these peoples which the author draws up in ch. x. according to the ethnographic knowledge of his time, finds no parallel in its universality, which includes all men in one bond of brotherhood. In this way have originated the peoples that shall be blessed in Abraham.

§ 29. Israel's Patriarchs.

Terah, the descendant of Shem and Eber, has three sons, one of whom, Abraham, is destined by God for momentous events. He shall leave his home; and God says to him: "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (xii. 2-3). God often repeats the promise that Abraham's descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in heaven and as the sand on the seashore (xv. 5, xxii. 17); that He will make him a father of many nations, and cause him to be exceedingly fruitful; that kings and nations shall be descendants of him and Sarah (xvii. 5, 6, 16); that he shall become a great people; that all nations of the earth shall be blessed in him (xviii. 18, xxii. 18); and that his descendants shall receive the entire land of Canaan as a hereditary possession (xiii. 14 et seq., xv. 7, xvii. 18). But before all this comes to pass Israel shall be sorely oppressed for four hundred years as servants in a strange land, after which they shall go out with rich possessions, and God shall judge their oppressors (xv. 13 et seq.). In confirmation of these promises God enters twice into a covenant with Abraham: the first time (xv. 18 et seq.) as an assurance that his descendants shall possess Canaan; and the second time, before Isaac's birth, as a sign that He will be their God. In token thereof God changes Abram's and Sarai's names into "Abraham" and "Sarah" (), combining His own name with theirs, and institutes the circumcision of all the men of Abraham's household and their male descendants as an eternal sign of the covenant between Himself and Abraham. Abraham acknowledges Yhwh (xiv. 22), builds altars to Him (xii. 7, 8; xiii. 18); calls upon His name (xii. 8, xiii. 4, xxi. 33); shows an invincible faith in His promises, whatever present circumstances may be; is ready for the greatest sacrifice; and proves himself, by his human virtues-his helpfulness, unselfishness, hospitality, humanity, uprightness, dignity, and love of peace-worthy of divine guidance.

§ 30. Of Abraham's two sons Ishmael shall be blessed, and become the father of twelve princes and the progenitor of a great people (xvi. 10, xvii. 20, xxi. 18). Ishmael himself becomes an archer, lives in the wilderness, and marries an Egyptian woman (xxi. 20 et seq.). But the one to inherit the promises and the land is Isaac (xvii. 21, xxi. 12), Sarah's son. Therefore his father chooses for him a wife from among his own relations (ch. xxiv.). God renews to him the promises given to Abraham (xxvi. 3, 24). Isaac is truly the son of his great father, though he has a somewhat passive nature. He also builds an altar to Yhwh, and calls upon His name (xxvi. 2).

§ 31. Isaac's sons are twins; Esau, the elder, scorns the rights of the first-born, leaving them to Jacob (xxv. 34). Esau is a hunter, whose fate it is to live by the sword and be subject to his brother, though in time he will throw off his yoke (xxvii. 40). He is also called "Edom," and subsequently lives in the land of that name in the mountainous region of Seir. He is loved by his father, but Rebekah loves Jacob; and when Esau marries a Canaanite woman, Isaac, deceived by a trick, blesses Jacob, who, before he sets out for Haran, receives from his father Abraham's blessing also (xxviii. 4). Jacobattains to right relations with God only after mistakes, trials, and struggles. He knows Yhwh, whose hand he has seen in his father's life (xxvii. 20); he recognizes Him in the divine appearance (xxviii. 16); but he has not experienced God in his own life. God has not yet become his God; hence he avoids the name of Yhwh so long as he is in a strange country (xxx. 2; xxxi. 7, 9, 42, 53; xxxii. 3); but the narrator does not hesitate to say "Yhwh" (xxix. 31; xxxi. 3; xxxviii. 7, 10), that name being also known to Laban (xxx. 27, 30) and his daughters (xxix. 32 et seq., xxx. 24). Not until a time of dire distress does Jacob find Yhwh, who becomes for him Elohim when the vow turns to a prayer. He has overcome Elohim, and himself receives another name after he hasamended his ways (i.e., has gained another God), namely, "Israel," i.e., "warrior of God." God now gives him the same promises that were given to Abraham and Isaac (xxxv. 11 et seq.), and Jacob builds an altar to God ("El"), on which he pours a drink-offering. Similarly he brings offerings to the God of his father when he leaves Canaan to go with his family to Egypt, God promising to accompany him and to lead his descendants back in due time. Jacob finds the name of Yhwh again only on his death-bed (xlix. 18).

§ 32. With Jacob and his twelve sons the history of the Patriarchs is closed; for the seventy persons with whom Jacob enters Egypt are the origin of the future people of Israel. God does not appear to Jacob's sons, nor does he address them. Joseph designedly avoids the appellation "Yhwh"; he uses "Elohim" (xxxix. 9; xl. 8; xli. 16, 51, 53; xlv. 5, 9; xlviii. 9; 1. 25; "ha-Elohim," xli. 25, 28, 32; xlii. 18 [xliv. 16]; xlv. 9; and the Elohim of his father," xliii. 23). The narrator, on the other hand, has no reason for avoiding the word "Yhwh," which he uses intentionally (xxxix. 2, 3, 5). Yhwh takes a secondary place in the consciousness of Israel while in Egypt, but becomes all-important again in the theophany of the burning bush. The book prescribes no regulations for the religious life. The Patriarchs are represented in their family relations. Their history is a family history. The relations between husband and wife, parents and children, brother and sister, are displayed in pictures of typical truthfulness, psychologic delicacy, inimitable grace and loveliness, with an inexhaustible wealth of edifying and instructive scenes.

§ 33. Scientific Criticism.

Since the time of Astruc (1753) modern criticism has held that Genesis is not a uniform work by one author, but was combined by successive editors from several sources that are themselves partly composite, and has received its present form only in the course of centuries; its composition from various sources being proved by its repetitions, contradictions, and differences in conception, representation, and language. According to this view, three chief sources must be distinguished, namely, J, E, and P. (1) J, the Jahvist, is so called because he speaks of God as "Yhwh" In his work (chiefly in the primal history, ch. i.-xi., as has been asserted since Budde) several strata must be distinguished, J1, J2, J3, etc. (2) E, the Elohist, is so named because down to Ex. iii. he calls God "Elohim." A redactor (RJE) at an early date combined and fused J and E, so that these two sources can not always be definitely separated; and the critics therefore differ greatly in regard to the details of this question. (3) P, or the Priestly Codex, is so called on account of the priestly manner and tendencies of the author, who also calls God "Elohim." Here again several strata must be distinguished, P1, P2, P3, etc., though only P2 is found in Genesis. After another redactor, D, had combined Deuteronomy with JE, the work so composed was united with P by a final redactor, who then enlarged the whole (the sequence J, E, D, P is, however, not generally accepted). Hence the present Book of Genesis is the work of this last redactor, and was compiled more than one hundred years after Ezra. The works of J, E, and P furnished material for the entire Pentateuch (and later books), on whose origin, scope, time, and place of composition see Pentateuch.

As it would take too much space to give an account of all the attempts made to separate the sources, the analysis of only the last commentator, namely, of Holzinger, who has made a special study of this question, will be noted. In his "Einleitung zum Hexateuch" he has given a full account of the labors of his predecessors, presenting in the "Tabellen" to his work the separation into sources laid down by Dillmann, Wellhausen, Kuenen, Budde, and Cornill. The commentary by Gunkel (1901) is not original as regards the sources.

§ 34. see Analysis of the Sources. "a" and "b" denote respectively the first and second half of the verse; α, β, γ, etc., the smaller parts; * ="worked over"; "s" added to a letter means that the matter contains elements belonging to R or J or E or to the latter two ; "f" = " and the following verse " or "verses."

§ 35. Objections.

Serious objection may be brought to this analysis of sources on the following grounds: (1) It is unsupported by any external proof whatever; there is no authentic information showing that the Pentateuch, or Genesis in particular, was compiled from various sources, much less have any such sources been preserved in their original form. (2) Hence the critics must rely solely upon so-called internal evidence. But the subjective state of mind with which the final decision rests is unstable and deceptive. It is hazardous to apply modern criteria and rules of composition and style to such anancient and peculiar work, whose origin is entirely unknown. (3) Even if it be demonstrated that Genesis has been compiled from various sources, yet the attempt to trace the origin of each verse and of each part of a verse will never meet with success; the critics themselves confess that the process of combination was a most complicated one. (4) If the contradictions and repetitions said to be found in the book really existed, this would not necessarily prove that there had been more than one author; for the literatures of the world furnish numerous similar examples. The existence of such repetitions and contradictions, however, has never been demonstrated.

(5) The theory of sources is at best a hypothesis that is not even necessary; for it is based on a total misconception of the dominant ideas, tendencies, and plan of the book. Its upholders have totally misconceived the theology of Genesis; transforming the interchange of the name of God, which is the soul of the book, into an external criterion for distinguishing the different authors. They have not understood the reason for the variation in the use of and , which in itself is a proof of uniform composition; and they have, therefore, missed a second fundamental idea, namely, that implied in the genealogies and their intimate relation to the Israelitic concept of the family. In criticizing the unequal treatment of the various portions of the material, the theory misconceives the different degrees of their importance for the author. Difference in treatment is proof, not of different authors, but of different subjects and of the different points of view in one author. (6) This would also explain the variations in the language of different passages. But criticism on this point runs in a circle, diversity of sources being proved by differences of language, and vice versa. (7) The separation into sources in particular is based on numberless exegetic errors, often of the most obvious kind, showing not only a misconception of the scope and spirit of the book, and of its mode of narration, but even of the laws of language; and this separation is in itself the greatest barrier to a correct insight into the book, in that it encourages the student to analyze difficult passages into their sources instead of endeavoring to discover their meaning.

§ 36. Notwithstanding all these objections, however, it can not be denied that various portions of Genesis palpably convey the impression of difference in origin and a corresponding difference in conception; but as the impression that the work gives of having been uniformly planned in every detail is still stronger, the explanation given in § 2 is here repeated; namely, Genesis has not been compiled from several sources by one redactor or by several redactors, but is the work of one author, who has recorded the traditions of his people with due reverence but independently and according to a uniform plan. Genesis was not compiled from various books.

§ 37. Historical Criticism.

The historicity of the Book of Genesis is more or less denied, except by the representatives of a strict inspiration theory. Genesis recounts myths and legends. It is generally admitted that the primal story is not historical (ch. i.-xi.); but critics vary in ascribing to the stories of the Patriarchs more or less of a historical foundation. For details see the articles under their respective names; here only a summary can be given:

(a) The story of the Creation can not be historically true, for the reasons

(1) that there can be no human traditions of these events;

(2) its assumption of a creation in six days, with the sequence of events as recounted, contradicts the theories of modern science regarding the formation of the heavenly bodies during vast periods of time, especially that of the earth, its organisms, and its position in the universe. The popular view of Genesis can not be reconciled with modern science. The story is a religio-scientific speculation on the origin of the world, analogous to the creation-myths found among many peoples. The similarities to the Babylonian creation-myth are most numerous and most striking. The extent of its dependence on other myths, the mode of transmission, and the age and history of the tradition and its adaptation are still matters of dispute.

(b) The story of the Garden of Eden (ch. ii., iii.) is a myth, invented in order to answer certain questions of religion, philosophy, and cultural history. Its origin can not be ascertained, as no parallel to it has so far been found.

(c) The stories of Cain and Abel and the genealogies of the Cainites and Sethites are reminiscences of legends, the historical basis for which can no longer be ascertained. Their historical truth is excluded by the great age assigned to the Sethites, which contradicts all human experience. A parallel is found in the ten antediluvian primal kings of Babylonian chronology, where the figures are considerably greater.

(d) The story of the Flood is a legend that is found among many peoples. It is traced back to a Babylonian prototype, still extant. It is perhaps founded on reminiscences of a great seismic-cyclonic event that actually occurred, but could have been only partial, as a general flood of the whole earth, covering even the highest mountains, is not conceivable.

(e) The genealogy of peoples is a learned attempt to determine genealogically the relation of peoples known to the author, but by no means including the entire human race; this point of view was current in antiquity, although it does not correspond to the actual facts.

(f) The stories of the Patriarchs are national legends. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his sons are idealized personifications of the people, its tribes, and families; and it can not now be ascertained whether or not these are based on more or less obscure reminiscences of real personages. In any case, these legends furnish no historically definite or even valuable information regarding the primal history of the people of Israel. The whole conception of the descent of one people from one family and one ancestor is unhistorical; for a people originates through the combination of different families. It has also been maintained that the stories of the Patriarchs are pale reflections of mythology or nature-myths.


Commentaries: Calvin, In Librum Geneseos Commentarius, ed. Hengstenberg, Berlin, 1838; J. Gerhard, Commentarius Super Genesin, Jena, 1637; Von Bohlen, Die Genesis Historisch-Kritisch Erläutert, Königsberg, 1832; Friedrich Tuch, Halle, 1838; 2d ed. (Arnold and Merx), 1871; C. F. Keil, Leipsic, 1878; Franz Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar zur Genesis, 1887; M. Kalisch, 1858; A. Knobel, revised by Dillmann 1892; J. P. Lange, 2d ed., 1877; E. Reuss, La Bible, pt. iii., 1897; E. H. Brown, 1871 (Speaker's Commentary); R. Payne Smith (Ellicot's Commentary, 1882); G. I. Spurrell, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Book of Genesis, 1887; M. Dods, The Book of Genesis, 4th ed., 1890; A. Tappehorn, Erklärung der Genesis (Roman Catholic), 1888; Strack, in Kurzgefasster Commentar (Strack-Zöckler), 1894; Holzinger, in Kurzer Handcommentar, ed. Marti, 1898; H. Gunkel, in Handkommentar zum A. T. ed. Nowack, 1901. Criticism: Astruc, Conjectures surles Mémoires Originaux Dontil Paroitque Moyses' Est Servi pour Composer le Livre de la Gènèse, Brussels, 1753; Karl David Ilgen, Die Urkunden des Jerusalemischen Tempelarchivs, etc.: I. Urkunden des Ersten Buches von Moses, Halle, 1798; F. Bleek, De Libri Geneseos Origine Atque Indole Historica, Bonn, 1836;

I. Stähelin, Kritische Untersuchungen über die Genesis, Basel, 1830; H. Hupfeld, Die Quellen der Genesis und die Art Ihrer Zusammensetzung, Berlin, 1853 (this work laid the foundation for the modern theory of sources, i.e., the compilation of Genesis from three independent works);

E. Böhmer, Liber Geneseos Pentateuchicus, Halle, 1860 (first graphical distinction of the sources by means of different type); idem, Das Erste Buch der Thora, Uebersetzung Seiner Drei Quellenschriften und Redactionszusätze mit Kritischen, Exegetischen, und Historischen Erörterungen, ib. 1862; T. Nöldeke, Untersuchungen zur Kritik des A. T. Kiel, 1809; J. Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs, in Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie, xxi., xxii., reprinted 1885, 1889, 1893; Karl Budde, Die Biblische Urgeschichte, Giessen 1883; Kautzsch and Socin, Die Genesis mit Aeusserer Unterscheidung der Quellen, Freiburg-in-Breisgau, 1888, 1891; D. W. Bacon, Pentateuchical Analysis, in Hebraica, iv. 216- 243, v. 7-17: The Genesis of Genesis, Hartford, 1892; E. C. Bissell, Genesis Printed in Colors (transl. from Kautzsch-Socm), Hartford, 1892; E. I. Fripp, The Composition of the Book of Genesis, 1892; C. I. Ball, Genesis, 1896 (critical text in colors in S. B. O. T. ed. Haupt).

Compare also the introductions to the Old Testament by Kuenen, Cornill, Strack, Driver, and König, and to the Hexateuch by Holzinger, 1893, and Steuernagel, 1901; A. Westphal, Les Sources du Pentateuque, Paris, 1888, 1892; W. E. Addis, The Documents of the, Hexateuch Translated and Arranged in Chronological Order, 1893, 1898; I. E. Carpenter and G. Hartford Battersby, The Hexateuch, 1900. Anti-Criticism: C. H. Sack, De Usu Nominum, Dei et in Libro Geneseos, Bonn, 1821; H. Ewald, Die Composition der Genesis Kritisch Untersucht, Brunswick, 1823 (subsequently retracted for the greater part by the author);

E. W. Hengstenberg, Die Authentie des Pentateuchs, Berlin, 1836, 1839 (i. 181-414 contains an epoch-making proof of the meaning and intentional use of the names of God); M. Drechsler, Die Einheit und Echtheit der Genesis, 1838 (including Nachweis der Einheit und Planmässigkeit der Genesis); F. H. Ranke, Untersuchungen über den Pentateuch, Erlangen, 1834-40; I. H. Kurtz, Die Einheit der Genesis, 1846; C. Keil, Ueber die Gottesnamen im Pentateuch, in Zeitschrift für Lutherische Theologie und Kirche, 1851, pp. 215-280; J. Halévy, Recherches Bibliques, i. 1895; W. H. Green, criticism of Harper, in Hebraica, v., vi., vii.; idem, The Unity of Genesis; E. C. Bissell, The Pentateuch, Its Origin and Structure, pp. 410-475, New York, 1885 (includes a voluminous bibliography on the Pentateuch). B. J.

-Critical View:

Genesis forms part of the Hexateuch. As such it is regarded by the critical schools as a composite work, containing data from P and JE, the latter a history which, itself a combination of two distinct compilations-one, northern or Israelitish, E; the other, southern or Judean, J-tells in detail and in popular style the story of Israel from the beginning of things to the completed conquest of Canaan. In addition to these elements, some independent material is distinguished from that ascribed to the sources named; and editorial comments (R) and changes have been separated in the critical analysis. There is practical unanimity among critics with regard to the character of P and what must be assigned to him. Elements.

The P elements in Genesis consist of a series of interconnected genealogies, uniform in plan, and always prefaced by the introductory phrase "These are the generations of." Connected with them is a scheme of Chronology around which a few historical glosses are grouped. In fuller detail the stories of Abraham's covenant and his purchase of a burialplace at Hebron are elaborated. The accounts of Creation (see Cosmogony) and of the Flood are also given fuller treatment. It would thus seem that P presupposes acquaintance with and the existence of a history or histories of the Patriarchs and of the times preceding theirs. P is thus a work of a student aiming to present certain ideas and emphasizing certain conclusions. He traces the origin of Israel and his descendants as the one family chosen from among all the children of Adam. He lays particular stress on the religious institutions; e.g., the Sabbath ordained by God Himself at the completion of the week of Creation; the command to abstain from partaking of blood; the covenant of circumcision; and the purity of the Israelitish stock (contrast Esau's marriages with Jacob's).

The theory has been advanced that P is based on J, his story of Creation presupposing the use of historical and traditional material collected in J. On the whole, this may be admitted; but it is also plain that for the P account of the Creation and the Flood Babylonian sources and information were drawn upon. The theology of P is of a high order. God is One; He is supramundane. Creation is a transcendental, free act of the Absolute Creator (hence ). In history are revealed a divine plan and purpose. God communicates His decrees directly without the intervention of angels or dreams, and without recourse to theophanies. He is Elohim for Noah, El Shaddai for Abraham, and Yhwh for Israel. Anthropomorphisms are few and inoffensive. This theology reveals the convictions and reflections of a late epoch in Israel's religious and historical development. JE, after the elimination of P, presents an almost unbroken narrative. In the earlier chapters J alone has been incorporated; E begins abruptly in Gen. xx. It is a moot point whether E contained originally a primeval history parallel to that now preserved in Genesis from J. That of the latter, as incorporated in the pre-Abrahamic chapters, is not consistent throughout; especially do the account of the Flood, the fragments of a genealogy of Seth, and other portions suggest the use of traditions, probably Babylonian, which did not originally form part of J.


JE, as far as Genesis is concerned, must be regarded as compilations of stories which long before their reduction to written form had been current orally among the people. These stories in part were not of Canaanitish-Hebrew origin. They represent Semitic and perhaps other cycles of popular and religious tales ("Sagen") which antedate the differentiation of the Semitic family into Hebrews, Arabs, etc., or, migrating from one to the other of the Semitic groups after their separation, came to the Hebrews from non- Semitic peoples; hence the traces of Babylonian, Egyptian, Phenician, Aramaic, and Ishmaelitish influence. Some of the narratives preserve ancient local traditions, centered in an ancient religious sanctuary; others reflect the temper and exhibit thecoloring of folk-tales, stories in which the rise and development of civilization and the transition from pastoral to agricultural life are represented as the growth and development of individuals. Others, again, personify and typify the great migratory movements of clans and tribes, while still others are the precipitate of great religious changes (e.g., human sacrifices are supplanted by animal ones). The relations and interrelations of the tribes, septs, and families, based upon racial kinship or geographical position, and sometimes expressive of racial and tribal animosities and antipathies, are also concreted in individual events. In all this there is not the slightest trace of artificiality. This process is the spontaneous assertion of the folk-soul ("Volksseele"). These traditions are the spontaneous creation of popular interpretation of natural and historical sentiments and recollections of remote happenings. The historical and theological interpretations of life, law, custom, and religion in its institutions have among all men at one time taken this form. The mythopeic tendency and faculty are universal. The explanations of names which exhibit signs of being the result of intentional reflection, are, perhaps, alone artificial.


Naturally, in the course of oral transmission these traditions were modified in keeping with the altered conditions and religious convictions of the narrators. Compiled at a time when literary skill had only begun to assert itself, many cycles of patriarchal histories must have been current in written form prior to the collections now distinguished by critics as E and J. Criticism has to a great extent overlooked the character of both of these sources as compilations. It has been too free in looking upon them as works of a discriminating litterateur and historian. P may be of this nature, but not J and E. Hence any theory on the literary method and character of either is forced to admit so many exceptions as to vitiate the fundamental assumption. In E are found traits (elaborations, personal sentiment) ascribed exclusively to J; while J, in turn, is not free from the idiosyncrasies of E.

Nor did R (the editor, editors, or diaskeuasts) proceed mechanically, though the purely literary dissection on anatomical lines affected by the higher criticism would lead one to believe he did. He, too, had a soul. He recast his material in the molds of his own religious convictions. The Midrashic method antedates the rabbinical age. This injection of life into old traditional material unified the compilation. P's method, rightly regarded as under theological intention ("Tendenz"), was also that of R. Hence Genesis, notwithstanding the compilatory character of its sources, the many repetitions and divergent versions of one and the same event, the duplications and digressions, makes on the whole the impression of a coherent work, aiming at the presentation of a well-defined view of history, viz., the selection of the sons of Israel as the representative exponents of Yhwh's relations to the sons of Adam, a selection gradually brought about by the elimination of side lines descended, like Israel, from the common progenitor Adam, the line running from Adam to Noah-to Abraham-to Jacob = Israel.

Later Additions.

Chapter xiv. has been held to be a later addition, unhistorical and belonging to none of the sources. Yet the story contains old historical material. The information must be based on Babylonian accounts (Hommel, "Alt-Israelitische Ueberlieferung," p. 153, speaks of an old Jerusalem tradition, and Dillmann, in his commentary, of a Canaanitish tradition; see Eliezer); the literary style is exact, giving accurate chronological data, as would a professional historian. The purpose of the account is to glorify Abraham. Hence it has been argued that this chapter betrays the spirit of the later Judaism. Chapter xlix., the blessing by Jacob, is also an addition; but it dates from the latter half of the period of the Judges (K. Kohler, "Der Segen Jacob's"). The theory that the Patriarchs especially, and the other personages of Genesis, represent old, astral deities, though again advanced in a very learned exposition by Stucken ("Astral Mythen"), has now been generally abandoned.E. G. H.

Benno Jacob, Emil G. Hirsch

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

This page - - - - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -

Copyright Information

Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail genesis

The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet