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Book of Genesis

Book of Genesis
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The first book of the Pentateuch is known among Christians by the name of Genesis, which means origin or beginning. The title "Genesis" was given to the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the book, because of its concern with the origins of the world, the human race, and, in particular, of the Hebrew people. It is 50 chapters in length snd takes Moses as its author.

The Book of Genesis can be divided into four principal parts.

  1. The Primeval History
  2. The Patriarchs
  3. The Patriarchs Isaac and Jacob
  4. Joseph and His Brothers

A basic outline of the Book of Genesis is as follows.

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I. The Primeval History - Genesis 1-11.

God created the world, which is good, but sin enters the world through human disobedience. Adam and Eve eat fruit that was forbidden to them and Cain murders his brother Abel. God commands Noah to build an ark in which pairs of all living things are preserved from the great flood that God sends to purge the earth. Afterward, people begin building a tower that would reach to heaven in order to make a name for themselves, but God confuses their speech and scatters them.

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II. The Patriarchs - Genesis 12-25.

God promises Abraham he will receive land and many descendants, and that through him all the families of the earth will be blessed. Abraham's wife, Sarah, is barren, so he fathers a son Ishmael through Sarah's servant Hagar. Messengers repeat god's promise and in advanced old age, Sarah gives birth to Isaac. God tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrafice Isaac, but before Abraham completes the sacrafice God intervenes and preserves the young boy. Isaac marries Rebekah, who bears Jacob and Esau.

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III. The Patriarch Isaac and Jacob - Genesis 26-36.

Jacob barters for his brother's birthright and tricks his father Isaac into blessing him, then flees to his uncle Laban. On the way he dreams of a ladder stretching to heaven, and God promises him land and descendants. Jacob marries Laban's daughters Rachel and Leah, becomes rich, and has twelve sons. Upon his return to Canaan, Jacob wrestles with an angel and is named "Israel."

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IV. Jacob and His Brothers - Genesis 37-50.

Joseph was Jacob's favorite son. His brothers become jealous and sell him as a slave into Egypt. There Joseph is imprisoned on false charges, but after successfully interpreting Pharaoh's dreams, he is given responsibility over Egypt's food stores. During a famine, Joseph's brothers come to Egypt for food. At first Joseph hides his identity, but later reveals that he is their brother and brings the family to Egypt.

The next article in our biblical journey will take us to the Book of Exodus.

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