Course Hero. "Old Testament Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Apr. 2018. Web. 15 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/>.
Course Hero. (2018, April 27). Old Testament Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 15, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/
(Course Hero, 2018)
Course Hero. "Old Testament Study Guide." April 27, 2018. Accessed July 15, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/.
Course Hero, "Old Testament Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed July 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/.
Genesis is often divided into four sections. The first, known as the primeval history (Chapters 1–11), relates the famous stories of the creation of the world (1–2), the Garden of Eden (3), Cain's murder of Abel (4), the flood (6–9), and the Tower of Babel (11), with genealogies interspersed. The next two sections revolve around the lives of Israel's patriarchs, Abraham (Chapters 12–25) and Jacob (Chapters 27–36)—one intervening chapter (26) connects these two figures through Isaac, the son of Abraham and father of Jacob. The final section centers around Joseph, one of Jacob's 12 sons (Chapters 37–50).
Genesis offers many explanations for the nature of Yahweh, the origin of the world, the human condition, and the backstories of the ancestors of Israel. It also introduces themes that echo throughout the rest of the Torah, especially Yahweh's interest in a special relationship with his people—epitomized by the promises to Abraham—and the human tendency to stray from Yahweh's expectations, beginning with Adam and Eve. From a distance Genesis looks like an orderly narrative that takes readers from creation to Egypt. But it achieves its broad coverage of topics by combining stories from different sources and perspectives that are not always fully harmonized. Yet together, they create an intelligible narrative arc.
Traditions about the ancestors of Israel in the rest of Genesis likely originated in diverse times and places. The familial relationships between the important figures may even be later inventions meant to present these diverse traditions as the traditions of one Israelite people. Many of the episodes included in Genesis are etiological, explaining the origins of the names of individuals such as Israel, places such as Bethel, and practices such as circumcision. The Joseph story stands out because of its well-crafted, novella-like format, which may signal a distinct origin and function.
Despite the diverse origins for these stories, they are well organized in Genesis. Beginning with 2:4, headings stating "These are the generations of ... " introduce genealogical lists and narrative hinges that reaffirm the historical connections of characters and events in the book (see Genesis 2:4, 5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, and 37:2). The Greek word genesis, which translates "generation" in Greek versions of these passages, is where the title Genesis comes from. Genesis also includes the first segments of a basic structure for the narrative arc of the Torah, based on a series of three covenants, or formal agreements between Yahweh and central characters: Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
The impressive combination of all these stories in Genesis communicated a clear message to its ancient Hebrew readers: they were one people, all children of Abraham who worshipped the same god and whose ancestral ties to the land of Canaan were intertwined.