Genesis is the first book of the Hebrew Bible (The Torah) and of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible. It tells the story of the Creation of the universe and man by God, the Fall of mankind and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the story of Noah, Cain and Abel, the testing of Abraham's faith by God, and the founding of Israel. It is followed by Exodus.
The name Genesis is the Greek name for this book used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. In Hebrew, the book is called Berēšît. The name denotes the opening word of the book and means 'beginning' or 'origin' in English.
For a fuller treatment see Authors of the Bible.
The authorship, or at least compilation, of the book has traditionally been ascribed to Moses; some religious groups continue to follow this tradition. Mainstream scholarship today, however, based on research since the nineteenth century, has put the dates of its writing (by various authors) and compilation into its current form at a period stretching from the tenth to fifth centuries BCE, long after the time of Moses, although the material may have been transmitted orally before then.
The first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis present a view of the Creation and the first generations of man on this earth.
Chapter 1 describes God's creation of the heavens and the earth, with the earth originally "without form, and void". (v. 1-2)
- On the 1st day, God creates light, calling the light day, and the darkness night - the evening and morning are said to be the first day. (vv. 3-5)
- On the 2nd day, God splits the water, dividing the water above from the water below with a firmament. (vv. 6-8)
- On the 3rd day, God gathers the waters under heaven into one place so dry land may appear, and commands the earth to bring forth grass, herbs with seeds, and fruit trees with fruit. (vv. 9-13)
- On the 4th day, God creates lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from night, a greater light for the day, a lesser light for the night, as well as the stars. (vv. 14-19)
- On the 5th day, God commands the waters to bring forth moving creatures with life, whales and moving creatures to "fill the waters in the seas" and birds to fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (vv. 20-23)
- On the 6th day, God commands the earth to bring forth cattle, creeping things (poss. reptiles and/or insects), and beasts of the earth. He then creates man in his own image to have rule over birds, marine life, land life, and all the earth, and blesses the new humans, telling them to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, taking rule over all the creatures. He gives the herbs and fruit trees to all his creations as foods. (vv. 24-31)
Chapter 2 begins by stating that thus were the heavens and earth finished, and that on the 7th day, God ended his work, resting on the 7th day, blessing and sanctifying it because he had rested from it. (vv. 1-3)
Chapter 2, from this point on, is a detailed, more specific account of "the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens". (v. 4) Also is stated this account of the generations is also of the plants and herbs, before they grew, since rain and farming did not yet exist, as rain did not occur, but rather a mist came up from the ground, to water it, similar to Oman's self-watering forest or the Brazilian rain forest. (vv. 5-6)
Verse 7 states that God formed man of the dust/earth of the ground, breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and made him a living soul. Following this, God plants an eastern garden in Eden to put the man whom he's created, full of trees, with the trees of life and of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. (v. 8-9) One river watering the garden leaves it, splitting into four tributaries (Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, Euphrates). (vv. 10-14) God puts man in the garden to take care of it, allowing him to eat of all trees, save for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, warning him that the day he eats of it he will certainly die. (vv. 15-17)
God then decides it would be improper for man to be alone, and decides to make a helper for him. God then forms additional animals out of the ground, both beasts and birds (marine life not mentioned), to see what Adam will call them, allowing Adam to give them their names. God then makes Adam fall asleep, takes one of his ribs, closes up the flesh, and uses the rib to make woman with, then brings her to Adam. (vv. 18-22)
Adam declares her "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh", naming her woman, because she was taken from man. The chapter concludes that for this reason a man will leave his parents, to cleave to a wife, so they may be one flesh, and states that though the humans were both naked, they were not ashamed. (vv. 23-25)
- Man. (Hebrew "iysh") Interestingly, the Hebrew word "adam" is the word used for man in all places from Genesis 1:26 to until Genesis 2:23, where "iysh" is used for the first time.
- Woman. (Hebrew "ishshah") It is interesting how even in the Hebrew, as with terms male and female or man and woman, the word appears to carry the idea of "part of man", with the name "man" as part of the word.
Chapter 3 is an account of the fall of man. A serpent tempts the woman into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and calls God's former warning not to eat from it a lie, claiming that the tree's fruit will instead make them like gods, able to know good and evil. (vv. 1-5) The woman then goes to the tree, seeing it and the fruit appear good, takes some of the fruit, eats, and gives some to her husband who is with her. (v. 6)
Following this, the humans discover shame, recognizing their nakedness, and sew together clothes from fig leaves. On hearing the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden, they hide themselves among the trees. (vv. 7-8) God then calls to Adam, asking where he's at. Adam answers he was afraid because he was naked, and hid. God realizes they ate of the tree, and learns from the woman the serpent was also responsible. (vv. 9-13)
God curses the serpent to crawl on its belly, cursing it above all other creatures, and creates hatred between it and man. He then multiplies the woman's sorrow in childbirth, and says her desire will be to her husband, who will rule over her. He also curses the ground for Adam's sake, so that it will bring thorns and thistles, forcing him to labor until returning to the ground from which he was made. (vv. 14-19)
Adam is then recorded as calling the woman Eve (Hebrew "chavvah"), because she is the mother of all living. God makes leather garments for them to wear, and says to someone (audience uncertain) that the man has become as one of them to know good and evil, and there is now a risk he could take of the tree of life as well and live forever. Therefore, God sends man from the garden to till the ground from which he was taken, and places east of the garden Cherubims and a flaming sword to protect the path to the tree of life. (vv. 20-24)
Chapters 4-5, Pre-Flood
Chapters 4-5 cover the period prior to the Flood, of the first murder (Cain killing Abel), the beginnings of tent-dwelling, cattle herding, use of musical instruments, and metal-working, and the genealogies of Chapter 5.
Chapter 6-8, Flood
God sees the wickedness of man, whose every imagination is only evil continually, and regrets making mankind. (6:5-6) He decides to destroy mankind from the earth, since the earth has become corrupt and filled with violence, stating he will destroy men, beasts, creeping things, and birds (marine life not mentioned). (6:7-11) However, Noah, a just man who walked with God, finds mercy in God's eyes, so God tells Noah he will destroy the earth, commanding Noah to make a 4-deck Ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits wide (Egypt's cubit was approximately 1.5-2.0 feet long). (6:12-16) God tells Noah He will establish His covenant with Noah and his family, and tells Noah to bring 2 of each living creature, a male and a female (birds, cattle, and creeping things are named, but not marine life) to the Ark, as well as all kinds of food that is eaten necessary to keep them alive; commands which Noah is then said to follow. (6:18-22)
God then tells Noah to come to the Ark along with 7 of each clean creature, 7 of each bird, and 2 of each unclean creature, to keep them alive; and says the Flood will last 40 days, and 40 nights. Noah again obeys. (7:1-5) One week later, when Noah is 600 years, 2 months, and 17 days old, the Flood comes upon the earth; the fountains of the great depths burst open, and the sluices of heaven open up. Noah, his family, and the creatures go into the Ark, and God shuts them in. (7:10-16) For 40 days the Flood lasts, with all the high hills and mountains under the whole heaven said to be covered, (v. 19) so that all flesh upon the earth died, men, birds, cattle, beasts, and creeping things (marine life not named - v. 21), so that every living thing on the face of the ground is destroyed, with only Noah and those left in the Ark left alive. (7:17-23)
God remembers Noah and causes a wind to pass over the earth to stop the waters, and causes the fountains of the depths and windows of heaven to stop, restraining the rain from heaven. After 150 days, the waters recede from the earth. Then, in the 7th month, 17th day (presumably Noah's life now being used as the method of time-tracking, meaning 5 months later), the Ark rests upon the Mountains of Ararat. The waters continue receding until the 10th month, 1st day, so that the mountains can finally be seen. (vv. 1-5) ===Chapters 9
With the advance of science and the adoption of Darwinistic Evolutionary Theory as the primary theory of the origin and development of life in the twentieth century, many scientists, as well as theologians, felt unable to accept the Genesis account of the origins of the world and of man, given the short amount of time they were said to occur in, as well as the order involved.
For Creationist believers from both Judaic and the Christian backgrounds, the apparent contradiction between Genesis and modern science has produced a dilemma, revolving around the central question: Is the Bible really the infallible Word of God? Many now hold to a theory called Day Age which implies 2 Peter 3:8, "But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," allows for interpreting the days mentioned in Genesis as much longer periods of time.
When polled by Gallup, 40% of Americans believe that the statement, "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" is more accurate than "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process" (38%) or "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process" (16%). These numbers have held relatively constant over Gallup's 10 polls from 1982-2010.
Therefore, there is still a slightly greater percentage of Americans that believe God created mankind within the last 10,000 years (Creationism) than believe God created us over millions of years from less advance forms of life (Evolution). Atheistic evolutionists who believe God played no role in the process have grown from a low of 9% in 1999 to their present 16%.
Day Age theory is the attempt by Theistic Evolutionists to reconcile modern Evolutionary belief with the seemingly conflicting Biblical account of Genesis. The argument centers around 2 Peter 3:8, that such a verse provides precedent for interpreting the days in Genesis 1 as much longer time periods. As cited at the website for Reasons to Believe, the Presbyterian Church conducted a 2-year study concluding there were four views possible for the word 'day' used in Genesis chapters 1-3. The study cited the use of the word day in Isaiah 11:10-11 and denied that the Day Age theory was merely a response to Darwinism, but had existed "from ancient times".
The American Scientific Affiliation has referenced the views of Augustine from the 4th century as precedent for Day Age theory, who said he had:
"worked out and presented the statements of the book of Genesis in a variety of ways according to my ability; and, in interpreting words that have been written obscurely for the purpose of stimulating our thought, I have not rashly taken my stand on one side against a rival interpretation which might possibly be better. I have thought that each one, in keeping with his powers of understanding, should choose the interpretation that he can grasp. Where he cannot understand Holy Scripture, let him glorify and fear for himself... (pp. 43-44)
It is a laborious and difficult task for the powers of our human understanding to see clearly the meaning of the sacred writer in the matter of these six days". (p. 103)
The websites for Creation Ministries International, Apologetics Press, and the Institute for Creation Research have denied the interpretation of a day being equivalent to a thousand years, stating that the use of the words "like" or "as" in saying "a day is as a thousand years" indicate a simile, and share a likeness rather than being directly equivalent. As Apologetics Press and ICR, also note, even if the 6 days mentioned in Genesis were each exactly 1 thousand years, it would not be nearly sufficient for the millions of years required by Evolutionary theory. ChristianAnswers.net notes that there is no indication the Hebrew word 'yom' is intended as anything other than a literal, 24 hour day from Genesis chapter 1, and ICR that the word is overwhelmingly used in all cases in the Old Testament as reference to a 24-hour day.
Guy N. Woods once pointed out, as also mentioned by ICR, that the plants were created on the 3rd day before the sun according to Genesis, and could not have survived a 'day' of millions of years:
"Botany, the field of plant-life, came into existence on the third day. Those who allege that the days of Genesis 1 may have been long geological ages, must accept the absurd hypothesis that pla≈≈nt-life survived in periods of total darkness through half of each geologic age, running into millions of years."
- Grigg, R. Did Moses really write Genesis?. Creation Ministries International.
- ChristianAnswers.net. Genesis.
- Nahum M. Sarna, "Biblical Literature: Hebrew Scriptures," Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones, vol. 2, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005), 878-96, at 883-84.
- Thompson, Andrea (2006-09-22). Unique cloud forest has self-watering trees. LiveScience. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2011-03-11.
- Rain Forest. National Geographic. Retrieved on 2011-03-11.
- Cubits, Merriam Webster. Retrieved on 2011-03-10. Scofield, C.I.; Rikkers (2003). The Scofield Study Bible III. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, pg. 611. ISBN 0195275276.
- Niessen, R. Theistic Evolution and the Day-Age Theory. The Institute for Creation Research.
- Gallup. Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design.
- Four Views of the Biblical Creation Account. Reasons To Believe (2000-08-08). Retrieved on 2011-03-10.
- Young, Davis (1988). The Contemporary Relevance of Augustine's View of Creation. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. American Scientific Affiliation. Retrieved on 2011-03-10.Aurelius, Augustine (415). On the Literal Meaning of Genesis.
- Sarfati, J. 2 Peter 3:8—‘one day is like a thousand years’. Creation Ministries International.
- Lyons, E. (2007). “With God One Day is a Thousand Years”? Apologetics Press.
- Bebber, M.V. and Taylor, P.S. (1995). Is the bible clear about the age of the earth and universe? ChristianAnswers.net/Eden Communications.
- Thompson, Bert (1994). Popular Compromises of Creation—The Day-Age Theory. Apologetics Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-10.Woods, Guy (1976). Questions and Answers: Open Forum. Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman University.