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   Book Structure






   Interpretation Difficulties

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1. The Name


The first book of Moses is named by the Jews from the first word, viz. בְּרֵאשִׁית, berē’shīth, i.e. “in the beginning” (cf the Βρησιθ of Origen). In the LXX it is called Γένεσις, Génesis, because it recounts the beginnings of the world and of mankind. This name has passed over into the Vulg (Liber Genesis). As a matter of fact the name is based only on the beginning of the book.

2. General Survey of Contents

The book reports to us the story of the creation of the world and of the first human beings (ch 1); of paradise and the fall (chs 2f); of mankind down to the Deluge (chs 4 f; cf ch 4, Cain and Abel); of the Deluge itself (chs 6–9); of mankind down to the age of the Patriarchs (10:1–11:26; cf 11:1 ff, the building of the tower of Babel); of Abraham and his house (11:27–25:18); of Isaac and his house (25:19–37:2); of Jacob and of Joseph (37:2–50:26). In other words, the Book of Gen treats of the history of the kingdom of God on earth from the time of the creation of the world down to the beginning of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and to the death of Joseph; and it treats of these subjects in such a way that it narrates in the 1st part (1:1–11:26) the history of mankind; and in the 2d part (11:27–50:26) the history of families; and this latter part is at the same time the beginning of the history of the chosen people, which history itself begins with Ex 1. Though the introduction, chs 1–11, with its universal character, includes all mankind in the promise given at the beginning of the history of Abraham (12:1–3), it is from the outset distinctly declared that God, even if He did originally set apart one man and his family (Gen 12–50), and after that a single nation (Ex 1 ff), nevertheless intends that this particularistic development of the plan of salvation is eventually to include all mankind. The manner in which salvation is developed historically is particularistic, but its purposes are universal.


3. Connection with Succeeding Books

By the statements just made it has already been indicated in what close connection Gen stands with the subsequent books of the sacred Scriptures.


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