The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Old Testament and one of the most important books of the Bible.
Genesis famously tells the story of how God created the world. It also introduces us to the first man, Adam and his companion, Eve.
As well as the incredible creation story and the tale of humanity’s fall, Genesis contains some of the best-known Bible stories and people. We learn about heroes of the faith like Abraham and Noah in the book of Genesis.
Genesis spans such a vast amount of time, and contains so many incredible stories, it can be tricky to figure out who actually wrote it. Understanding who wrote Genesis is important. It can help you connect to the stories in a new way and understand the context of when it was written and who the author was.
Who in the Bible wrote the book of Genesis?
As we’ll discover, there’s more than one theory about who wrote the book of Genesis. Many names have been put forward, with the most popular being Moses. The book of Genesis is thought to have been written between the 16th and 5th centuries BCE.
Genesis is the first book of the Old Testament and the Hebrew Tanakh. It also forms part of the Pentateuch, which is the Hebrew name for the first five books of the Old Testament.
So, who wrote the Book of Genesis in The Bible?
Theories about who wrote Genesis have been talked about for hundreds of years, and these two main ones are the most credible.
The Mosaic Authorship Theory
The definition is in the name of the first theory we’re going to look, the Mosaic Authorship. This approach suggests that Genesis was written by Moses alone.
The main argument for this theory is that elsewhere in the Old Testament it says that Moses wrote down the law and commands of God. Jesus, in John 5, also refers to Moses writing about him.
Moses is credited with writing the entirety of the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
These five books contain the law and the commands of God. So, when you read in passages like Deuteronomy 31:9 and Joshua 1:7-8 about Moses writing down God’s law and His commands, you find a compelling link to Moses as the author of Genesis.
The Documentary Hypothesis
The second theory we’ll explore is the Documentary Hypothesis.
This theory suggests that Genesis was written by more than one person and later put together into a single document. The ‘compilation’ style of authorship is supported by one main thing.
Textual analysis shows that the book’s style, language, and content vary, to a degree, throughout the book. These varieties in style, language and content are the main reason the Documentary Hypothesis evolved.
Another interesting detail in the Documentary Hypothesis is the observation that God being called by different names throughout Genesis and Exodus could also suggest that the book was written by more than one person.
So, Which One’s Correct?
Which theory you side with can come down to your church tradition or maybe the result of your own study and interpretation. But, whether you believe Moses wrote and compiled the book of Genesis, or a mixture of authors, the book remains as the inspiring and powerful word of God.
The more you study Genesis the more you realise how many important and interesting details about our faith it contains. Here are a few to dive into and inspire your Bible study going forward:
The First Covenant
Genesis contains the first covenant made between man and God. Covenants are an important theme throughout the Bible. Simply put, a covenant is a relationship between two partners who make binding promises to each other and work together to reach a common goal. Covenants are often accompanied by oaths, signs, and ceremonies.
Covenants are a form of spiritual pledge, a relationship that bonds the two parties together. The first example of a covenant in the Bible is between God and Abraham in Genesis. We refer to this now as the Abrahamic covenant.
God continues to make covenants with His people throughout the Bible, you can follow the theme of covenants across scripture starting with Abraham and going onto Noah and David.
Covenants do more than just remind us of an agreement, or mark key moments in the Bible, they demonstrate the heart of God to be in partnership with us.
A Lot Of History
Genesis covers over 2,000 years of history. Isn’t that incredible? The time span in Genesis is more than the rest of the Bible combined.
As we read about Abraham, Noah and Joseph we are getting an incredible insight into the origins of society and cultures across the world.
The Foundation Of Our Faith
It sounds obvious but Genesis also contains the very foundation of our faith. Reading through this book reminds us of three crucial things:
- God is the creator of the whole universe. He is the creator and we are the created.
- God made us in his likeness. We are the only part of his creation that He made in his image.
- When God made us His desire was to live in intimacy with us.
Just reminding yourself of those three simple truths can be a powerful way to connect with God again.
An Ongoing Process
There is so much more to learn about the Bible. From who wrote the book of Genesis, to the full meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross or the Church and its role in world today.
While studying scripture in its entirety can be daunting, you can read and meditate on small passages every day. As you do you’ll build up an understanding of the bigger picture that the Bible tells and you’ll find that the Holy Spirit brings specific words to life for you too.
Why not try following a Bible reading plan, or listening to a snippet of an audio Bible every day?
Diving into Genesis really is just the beginning.
Photos by Derek Sutton on Unsplash