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The book of Genesis


There is no other monument of antique literature that can be compared to the holy Book of Genesis, the most precious ancient document, containing a lot of very important data. Though Genesis cannot be labeled as the most ancient book in the world literature, it is still the oldest reliable book of history. This predominant significance of Genesis becomes obvious when this book is compared to other literary monuments, compiled at about the same time. For example, the ancient Egyptian papyri contain very fragmentary information of low historical value. The surviving fragments of the ancient Chinese literature contain astronomical calculations and some local history facts. Assyrian and Babylonian clay tablets are mostly commercial and legal documents. They may sometimes provide historical information, contaminated with incredible mythological stories, which make it almost impossible to refine the truth.

Tradition has it that the Book of Genesis was written by the Prophet Moses 1,300 years before Christ. It was the first of the five books he compiled. The Mosaic books had no specific names in Hebrew; as the time passed, the Jews came to calling each book by its initial words: the Hebrew title of the book of Genesis is Bereshit, which means "In the beginning," because these words open the narrative of the Creation of the World. The modern names of the books of Moses are taken from the Septuagint ("the work of seventy interpreters"), the Greek translation of the Bible made in the 3rd century BC. These five Mosaic books are also called the Pentateuch in the Bible science.

The tradition believes that Moses was the writer of the first five books of the Bible, but it does not claim that he wrote each word in these books. They include some additions that were obviously made after his death, e.g. the story of Moses’ death, explanations of geographical names and names of peoples that were unknown to the later generations, and other such comments. The use of ancient genealogies, chronicles and brief descriptions of the past events does not contradict to the concept of Mosaic authorship. It is known that letters first appeared by only 1,200 years before Moses in Mesopotamia, where Abraham came from. Abraham could have passed to his descendants some notes, which later became the basis of the Book of Genesis. We can suggest that such written notes existed because Moses’ disciple Joshua had mentioned a Book of Jasher (the Upright) that later disappeared. Moses was writing his books during the Jews’ forty-year-long wandering in the desert. The volume of these books is almost equal to that of the New Testament. It is natural to reckon that Moses had secretaries, who probably recorded the events involving Moses himself, as these facts were described in the third person. By no means could the scribes, assisting Moses to compile the Pentateuch, have any established style of writing, which is characteristic of professional writers only. Therefore, there is nothing surprising when modern Bible researchers find that portions of Mosaic writing are written in different styles. However, we also have to admit that the stylistic differences depend on the content of components of the Pentateuch, rather than on the assistance of scribes. By its nature, the legislative language varies from narrative, economic and construction lingo is different from contemplative; yet the Prophet Moses had to cover a wide range of topics. Certain parts of the Pentateuch, especially those containing Divine revelation, were written by Moses personally, and this was many times mentioned in the Mosaic books.

The Prophet Moses was an outstanding person for all times. Being a prophet, he received a distinguished intimacy with God, and the Bible witnessed that "The LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11). Being a writer and legislator, he had excellent education for his time, because he had been brought up at Pharaoh’s court as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him in infancy.

Moses included in the Book of Genesis the story of Creation of the world and man by God, narration about the life of our forefathers in Eden and about the Fall, about lives of the antediluvian patriarchs, Noah, the universal Flood and the post-Flood patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In line with the lives of patriarchs, Moses recorded in his book a lot of information on ancient kingdoms and dispersion of peoples. The Book of Genesis is closed with the story of Joseph and the relocation of Jacob’s family to Egypt. The content of the book of Genesis follows a schema that allows dividing it into five parts, built on the same principle. Each part has a formalized introduction and a special heading, followed by a brief summary of events, described in the preceding part.

The whole Book of Genesis lets you feel consistency and integrity of composition, thus giving evidence for the existence of an editor. The author of Genesis provided much precious historical information about events, which had not been mentioned elsewhere, or had been recorded in a mythologically distorted manner. However, it was not the goal of the Prophet Moses to encompass the entire complexity of history in this book. Out of all information available to him, Moses selected only what was related to the religious life of people. That is why his book should not be treated as mere history, but as a source of spiritual wisdom, a book inspired by God Himself.

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