Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Search for…
Prev Entry
Next Entry
Gennaeus; Genneus
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

jen´e - sis :

I. General Data

1. The Name

2. Survey of Contents

3. Connection with Succeeding Books

II. Composition of Genesis in General

1. Unity of the Biblical Text

(1) The Toledhoth

(2) Further Indication of Unity

2. Rejection of the Documentary Theory

(1) In General

(a) Statement of Theory

(b) Reasons Assigned for Divisions

(c) Examination of the Documentary Theory

(i) Style and Peculiarities of Language

(ii) Alleged Connection of Matter

(iii) The Biblico-Theological Data

(iv) Duplicates

(v) Manner in Which the Sources Are Worked Together

(vi) Criticism Carried to Extremes

(2) In View of the Names for God

(a) Error of Hypothesis in Principle

(b) False Basis of Hypothesis

(c) Improbability That Distinction of Divine Names Is without Significance

(d) Real Purpose in Use of Names for God

(i) Decreasing Use of Yahweh

(ii) Reference to Approach of Man to God, and Departure from Him

(iii) Other Reasons

(iv) Systematic Use in History of Abraham

(e) Scantiness of the Materials for Proof

(f) Self-Disintegration of the Critical Position

(g) Different Uses in the Septuagint

III. Structure of the Individual Pericopes

1. The Structure of the Prooemium (Genesis 1 through 2:3)

2. Structure of the 10 Toledhoth

IV. The Historical Character

1. History of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12 through 50)

(1) Unfounded Attacks upon the History

(a) From General Dogmatic Principles

(b) From Distance of Time

(c) From Biblical Data

(d) From Comparison with Religion of Arabia

(2) Unsatisfactory Attempts at Explaining the Patriarchal Age

(a) Explanation Based on High Places

(b) The Dating Back of Later Events to Earlier Times

(c) The Patriarchs as heroes eponymi

(d) Different Explanations Combined

(3) Positive Reasons for the Historical Character of Genesis

2. The Primitive History of Genesis 1 through 11

(1) Prominence of the Religious Element

(2) Carefulness as Regards Divergent Results of Scientific Research

(3) Frequent Confirmation of the Bible by Science

(4) Superiority of the Bible over Pagan Mythologies

Babylonian and Biblical Stories

V. Origin and Authorship of Genesis

1. Connection with Mosaic Times

2. Examination of Counter-Arguments

(1) Possibility of Later Additions

(2) "Prophecy after the Event" Idea

(3) Special Passages Alleged to Indicate Later Date

VI. Significance

1. Lays Foundation for the Whole of Revelation - C reation, Fall, Man in Image of God, Sin, etc.

2. Preparation for Redemption - P romises and Covenants


I. General Data

1. The Name

The first book of Moses is named by the Jews from the first word, namely, בּראשׁית , berē'shı̄th , i.e. "in the beginning" (compare the Βρησιθ , Brēsith of Origen). In the Septuagint it is called Γένεσις , Génesis , because it recounts the beginnings of the world and of mankind. This name has passed over into the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible , 390-405 ad) ( Liber Genesis ). As a matter of fact the name is based only on the beginning of the book.

2. Survey of Contents

The book reports to us the story of the creation of the world and of the first human beings (Genesis 1 ); of paradise and the fall (Genesis 2 f); of mankind down to the Deluge ( Genesis 4 f; compare Genesis 4 , Cain and Abel); of the Deluge itself (Genesis 6 through 9); of mankind down to the age of the Patriarchs ( Genesis 10:1 through 11:26; compare Genesis 11:1 , the building of the tower of Babel); of Abraham and his house (Gen 11:27 through 25:18); of Isaac and his house (Gen 25:19 through 37:2); of Jacob and of Joseph (Gen 37:2-50:26). In other words, the Book of Genesis 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 (Gen 1:1 through 11:26) the history of mankind; and in the 2nd part (Gen 11:27 through 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, Gen 1-11, with its universal character, includes all mankind in the promise given at the beginning of the history of Abraham (Genesis 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 through 50), and after that a single nation (Ex 1ff), 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 Genesis stands with the subsequent books of the sacred Scriptures. The history of the chosen people, which begins with Exodus 1 ff, at the very outset and with a clear purpose, refers back to the history as found in Genesis (compare Exodus 1:1-6 , Exodus 1:8 with Genesis 46:27; Genesis 50:24; and see EXODUS , I, 3), although hundreds of years had clasped between these events; which years are ignored, because they were in their details of no importance for the religious history of the people of God. But to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 the promise had been given, not only that he was to be the father of a mighty nation that would recognize him as their founder, and the earliest history of which is reported in Exodus and the following books of the Pentateuch, but also that the Holy Land had been promised him. In this respect, the Book of Joshua, which gives the story of the capture of this land, is also a continuation of the historical development begun in Genesis. The blessing of God pronounced over Abraham, however, continued to be efficacious also in the later times among the people who had descended from him. In this way Genesis is an introduction to all of the books of the Old Testament that follow it, which in any way have to do with the fate of this people, and originated in its midst as the result of the special relation between God and this people. But in so far as this blessing of God was to extend to all the nations of the earth ( Genesis 12:3 ), the promises given can be entirely fulfilled only in Christ, and can expand only in the work and success of Christian missions and in the blessings that are found within Christianity. Accordingly, this book treats first of beginnings and origins, in which, as in a kernel, the entire development of the kingdom of God down to its consummation is contained (compare VI below).

II. Composition of Genesis in General

1. Unity of the Biblical Text

(1) The tōl edhōth

The fact that Genesis is characterized by a far-reaching and uniform scheme has, at least in outline, been already indicated (see I, 2,3). This impression is confirmed when we examine matters a little more closely and study the plan and structure of the book. After the grand introitus, which reports the creation of the world (1:1-2:3) there follows in the form of 10 pericopes the historical unfolding of that which God has created, which pericopes properly in each case bear the name tōledhōth , or "generations." For this word never signifies creation or generation as an act, but always the history of what has already been created or begotten, the history of generations; so that for this reason, Genesis 2:4 , where mention is made of the tōledhōth of heaven and of earth, cannot possibly be a superscription that has found its way here from Genesis 1:1 . It is here, as it is in all cases, the superscription to what follows, and it admirably leads over from the history of creation of the heavens and the earth in Gen 1 to the continuation of this subject in the next chapter. The claim of the critics, that the redactor had at this place taken only the superscription from his source P (the priestly narrator, to whom 1 through Genesis 2:3 is ascribed), but that the section of P to which this superscription originally belonged had been suppressed, is all the more monstrous a supposition as Genesis 2:4 throughout suits what follows.

Only on the ground of this correct explanation of the term tōledhōth can the fact be finally and fully explained, that the tōledhōth of Terah contain also the history of Abraham and of Lot; the tōledhōth of Isaac contain the history of Jacob and Esau; the tōledhōth of Jacob contain the history of Joseph and his brethren. The ten tōledhōth are the following: I, Genesis 2:4-4:26 , the tōledhōth of the heavens and the earth; II, 5:1 through 6:8, the tōledhōth of Adam; III, 6:9 through 9:29, the tōledhōth of Noah; IV, 10:1 through 11:9, the tōledhōth of the sons of Noah; V, 11:10-26, the tōledhōth of the sons of Shem; VI, 11:27 through 25:11, the tōledhōth of Terah; VII, Genesis 25:12-18 , the tōledhōth of Ishmael; VIII, 25:19 through 35:29, the tōledhōth of Isaac; IX, 36:1 through 37:1, the tōledhōth of Esau (the fact that Genesis 36:9 , in addition to the instance in Genesis 36:1 , contains the word tōledhōth a second time, is of no importance whatever for our discussion at this stage, as the entire chapter under any circumstances treats in some way of the history of the generations of Esau; see III, Genesis 2:9 ); X, 37:2 through 50:26, the tōledhōth of Jacob. In each instance this superscription covers everything that follows down to the next superscription.

The number 10 is here evidently not an accidental matter. In the articles EXODUS , LEVITICUS , DAY OF ATONEMENT , also in EZEKIEL , it has been shown what role the typical Numbers 4,7 , 10,12 play in the structure of the whole books and of the individual pericopes. (In the New Testament we meet with the same phenomenon, particularly in the Apocalypse of John; but compare also in Matthew's Gospel the 3 10 14 generations in Matthew 1:1 , the 7 parables in Matthew 13:1 , the 7 woes in Matthew 23:13 .) In the same way the entire Book of Lev naturally falls into 10 pericopes (compare LEVITICUS , II, 2, 1), and Lev 19 contains 10 groups, each of 4 (possibly also of 5) commandments; compare possibly also Leviticus 18:6-18; Leviticus 20:9-18; see LEVITICUS , II, 2, 21, VI. Further, the number 10, with a greater or less degree of certainty, can be regarded as the basis for the construction of the pericopes: Ex 1:8-7:7; 7:8-13:16 (10 plagues); 13:17-18:27 (see EXODUS , II, 2:1-3); the Decalogue (Exodus 20:1 ); the first Book of the Covenant (21:1 through 23:13; Exodus 23:14-19 ), and the whole pericope 19:1 through 24:18a, as also 32:1 through 35:3 (see EXODUS , II, 2, 4, 6). In the Book of Genesis itself compare further the 10 members from Shem to Abraham (11:11-26), as also the pericopes 25:19 through 35:29; 37:2 through 50:26 (see III, 2, 8, 10 below), and the 10 nations in Genesis 15:19 . And just as in the cases cited, in almost every instance, there is to be found a further division into 5 X 2 or 2 X 5 (compare, e.g. the two tables of the Decalogue); thus, too, in the Book of Genesis in each case, 5 of the 10 pericopes are more closely combined, since I-V (tōledhōth of Shem inclusive) stand in a more distant, and VI-X (treating of the tōledhōth of Terah, or the history of Abraham) in a closer connection with the kingdom of God; and in so far, too, as the first series of tōledhōth bring into the foreground more facts and events, but the second series more individuals and persons. Possibly in this case, we can further unite 2 tōledhōth ; at any rate I and II (the primitive age), III and IV (Noah and his sons), VII and VIII (Ishmael and Isaac), IX and X (Esau and Jacob) can be thus grouped.

(2) Further Indication of Unity

In addition to the systematic scheme so transparent in the entire Biblical text of the Book of Genesis, irrespective of any division into literary sources, it is to be noticed further, that in exactly the same way the history of those generations that were rejected from any connection with the kingdom of God is narrated before the history of those that remained in the kingdom of God and continued its development. Cain's history (Genesis 4:17 ) in Jahwist (Jahwist) stands before the history of Seth (Genesis 4:25 f J; Genesis 5:3 P); Japheth's and Ham's genealogy ( Genesis 10:1 P; Genesis 10:8 P and J) before that of Shem ( Genesis 10:21 J and P), although Ham was the youngest of the three sons of Noah ( Genesis 9:24 ); the further history of Lot (Genesis 19:29 P and J) and of Ishmael's genealogy ( Genesis 25:12 P and J) before that of Isaac ( Genesis 25:19 P and J and E); Esau's descendants ( Genesis 36:1 R and P) before the tōledhōth of Jacob (Genesis 37:2 P and J and E).

In favor of the unity of the Biblical text we can also mention the fact that the Book of Genesis as a whole, irrespective of all sources, and in view of the history that begins with Exodus 1 ff, has a unique character, so that e.g. the intimate communion with God, of the kind which is reported in the beginning of this Book of Genesis (compare, e.g. Genesis 3:8; Genesis 7:16; Genesis 11:5 J; Genesis 17:1 , Genesis 17:22; Genesis 35:9 , Genesis 35:13 P; Genesis 18:1; Genesis 32:31 J), afterward ceases; and that in Ex, on the other hand, many more miracles are reported than in the Book of Genesis (see EXODUS , III, 2); that Genesis contains rather the history of mankind and of families, while Exodus contains that of the nation (see I, 2 above); that it is only in Exodus that the law is given, while in the history of the period of the patriarchs we find only promises of the Divine grace; that all the different sources ignore the time that elapses between the close of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus; and further, that nowhere else is found anything like the number of references to the names of persons or things as are contained in Genesis (compare, e.g. Genesis 2:23; Genesis 3:20; Genesis 4:1 , Genesis 4:25 , etc., in J; Genesis 17:5 , Genesis 17:15 , Genesis 17:17-20 , etc., in P; Genesis 21:9 , Genesis 21:17 , Genesis 21:31 , etc., in E; Genesis 21:6; Genesis 27:36 , etc., in J and E; Genesis 28:19 , etc., in R; Genesis 49:8 , Genesis 49:16 , Genesis 49:19 , etc., in the blessing of Jacob); that the changing of the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah from Genesis 17:5 , Genesis 17:15 goes on through all the sources, while before this it is not found in any source. Finally, we would draw attention to the psychologically finely drawn portraits of Biblical persons in Genesis. The fact that the personal pronoun hū' and the noun na‛ar are used of both masculine and feminine genders is characteristic of Genesis in common with all the books of the Pentateuch, without any difference in this regard being found in the different documents, which fact, as all those cited by us in number 1 above, militates against the division of this book into different sources. Let us now examine more closely the reason assigned for the division into different sources.

2. Rejection of the Documentary Theory

(1) In General

(A) Statement of Theory

Old Testament scholars of the most divergent tendencies are almost unanimous in dividing the Biblical text of Genesis into the sources the Priestly Code (P), Jahwist and Elohist, namely Priestly Codex, Jahwist, and Elohist. To P are attributed the following greater and connected parts: 1:1-2:4 a ; 5; a part of the story of the Deluge in chapters 6-9; Genesis 11:10; 17; 23; Genesis 25:12; Genesis 35:22 ff; the most of 36. As examples of the parts assigned to J we mention 2:4b -4:26; the rest of the story of the Deluge in chapters 6-9; Genesis 11:1; 12 f; 16; 18 f, with the exception of a few verses, which are ascribed to P; chapter 24 and others. Connected parts belonging to the Elohist (E) are claimed to begin with chapters 20 and 21 (with the exception of a number of verses which are attributed to P or J or R), and it is thought that, beginning with chapter 22, E is frequently found in the history of Jacob and of Joseph (25:19-50:26), in part, however, interwoven with J (details will be found under III, in each case under 2). This documentary theory has hitherto been antagonized only by a few individuals, such as Klostermann, Lepsius, Eerdmans, Orr, Wiener, and the author of the present article.

(B) Reasons Assigned for Divisions

As is well known, theory of separation of certain books of the Old Testament into different sources began originally with the Book of Genesis. The use made of the two names of God, namely Yahweh (Jehovah) and Elohim, caused Astruc to conclude that two principal sources had been used in the composition of the book, although other data were also used in vindication of theory; and since the days of Ilgen the conviction gained ground that there was a second Elohist (now called E), in contradistinction to the first (now called the Priestly Code (P), to whom, e.g., Genesis 1 is ascribed). This second Elohist, it was claimed, also made use of the name Elohim, as did the first, but in other respects he shows greater similarity to the Jahwist. These sources were eventually traced through the entire Pentateuch and into later books, and for this reason are discussed in detail in the article PENTATEUCH . In this article we must confine ourselves to the Book of Genesis, and limit the discussion to some leading points. In addition to the names for God (see under 2), it is claimed that certain contradictions and duplicate accounts of the same matters compel us to accept different sources. Among these duplicates are found, e.g., Genesis 1:1 through 2:4 a the Priestly Code (P), and Genesis 2:4 ff J, containing two stories of creation; Genesis 12:9 J; Genesis 20:1 E; Genesis 26:1 J; with the narrative of how Sarah and Rebekah, the wives of the two patriarchs, were endangered; chapters 15 J and 17 the Priestly Code (P), with a double account of how God concluded His covenant with Abraham; Genesis 21:22 E and Genesis 26:12 J, the stories of Abimelech; chapters 16 J and 21 E, the Hagar episodes; Genesis 28:10 J and E and Genesis 35:1 E and the Priestly Code (P), the narratives concerning Bethel, and in the history of Joseph the mention made of the Midianites E, and of the Ishmaelites J, who took Joseph to Egypt ( Genesis 37:25; Genesis 39:1 ); the intervention of Reuben E, or Judah J, for Joseph, etc. In addition a peculiar style, as also distinct theological views, is claimed for each of these sources. Thus there found in P a great deal of statistical and systematic material, as in Genesis 5:1; Genesis 11:10; Genesis 25:12; Genesis 36:6 (the genealogies of Adam, Shem, Ishmael, Esau); P is said to show a certain preference for fixed schemes and for repetitions in his narratives. He rejects all sacrifices earlier than the Mosaic period, because according to this source the Lord did not reveal himself as Yahweh previous to Exodus 6:1 . Again, it is claimed that the Elohist (E) describes God as speaking to men from heaven, or through a dream, and through an angel, while according to J Y ahweh is said to have conversed with mankind personally. In regard to the peculiarities of language used by the different sources, it is impossible in this place to enumerate the different expressions, and we must refer for this subject to the different Introductions to the Old Testament, and to the commentaries and other literature. A few examples are to be found under (c ) below, in connection with the discussion of the critical hypothesis. Finally, as another reason for the division of Genesis into different sources, it is claimed that the different parts of the sources, when taken together, can be united into a smooth and connected story. The documents, it is said, have in many cases been taken over word for word and have been united and interwoven in an entirely external manner, so that it is still possible to separate them and often to do this even down to parts of a sentence or to the very words.

(C) Examination of the Documentary Theory

(i) Style and Peculiarities of Language

It is self-evident that certain expressions will be repeated in historical, in legal, and in other sections similar in content; but this is not enough to prove that there have been different sources. Whenever J brings genealogies or accounts that are no less systematic than those of P (compare Genesis 4:17; Genesis 10:8; Genesis 22:20-24 ); or accounts and repetitions occur in the story of the Deluge (Genesis 7:2 ,Genesis 7:7; or Genesis 7:4 , Genesis 7:12 , Genesis 7:17; Genesis 8:6; or Genesis 7:4; Genesis 8:8 , Genesis 8:10 , Genesis 8:12 ), this is not enough to make the division into sources plausible. In reference to the linguistic peculiarities, it must be noted that the data cited to prove this point seldom agree. Thus, e.g. the verb bārā' , "create," in Genesis 1:1 is used to prove that this was written by the Priestly Code (P), but the word is found also in Genesis 6:7 in J. The same is the case with the word rekhūsh , "possession," which in Genesis 12:5; Genesis 13:6; Genesis 36:7 is regarded as characteristic of the Priestly Code (P), but in Genesis 14:11 f,16, 21 is found in an unknown source, and in Genesis 15:14 in J. In Genesis 12:5; Genesis 13:12; Genesis 16:3; Genesis 17:8 it is said that 'erec kena‛an , "land of Canaan," is a proof that this was written by P; but in chapters 42; 44 f; 47; 50 we find this expression in Jahwist and Elohist, in Numbers 32:32 in J (R); compare also Numbers 33:40 (PR) where Numbers 21:1-3 (JE) is quoted; shiphḥāh , "maid servant," is claimed as a characteristic word of J in contrast to E (compare Numbers 16:1 ); but in Numbers 16:3; Numbers 29:24 , Numbers 29:29 we find this word not only in P but in Numbers 20:14; Numbers 30:4 , Numbers 30:7 , 18; in E Mı̄n , "kind," is counted among the marks of P (compare e.g. Numbers 1:11 ), but in Deuteronomy 14:13 , Deuteronomy 14:14 , Deuteronomy 14:18 we find it in Deuteronomy; rather remarkably, too, in the latest find on the Deluge made by Hilprext and by him ascribed to 2100 bc. Compare on this subject my book, Wider den Bann der Quellenscheidung , and Orr, POT , chapter vii, section vi, and chapter x, section i; perhaps, too, the Concordance of Mandelkern under the different words. Even in the cases when the characteristic peculiarities claimed for the sources are correct, if the problem before us consisted only in the discovery of special words and expressions in the different sources, then by an analogous process, we could dissect and sever almost any modern work of literature. Particularly as far as the pieces are concerned, which are assigned to the Priestly Code (P), it must be stated that Gen 1 and 23 are, as far as style and language are concerned, different throughout. Gen 1 is entirely unique in the entire Old Testament. Gen 23 has been copied directly from life, which is pictured with exceptional fidelity, and for this reason cannot be claimed for any special source. The fact that the story of the introduction of circumcision in Gen 17 in many particulars shows similarities to the terminology of the law is entirely natural: The same is true when the chronological accounts refer one date to another and when they show a certain typical character, as is, e.g., the case also in the chronological parts of any modern history of Israel. On the other hand, the method of P in its narratives, both in matter and in form, becomes similar to that of Jahwist and Elohist, just as soon as we have to deal with larger sections; compare Genesis 28:1; Genesis 35:9; Genesis 47:5 , and all the more in Exodus and Numbers.

Against the claim that P had an independent existence, we must mention the fact of the unevenness of the narratives, which, by the side of the fuller accounts in Genesis 1; 17,23 , of the genealogies and the story of the Deluge, would, according to the critics, have reported only a few disrupted notices about the patriarchs; compare for this in the story of Abraham, Genesis 11:27 , Genesis 11:31 f; Genesis 12:4 f; Genesis 13:6 11b , 12a; Genesis 16:1 , Genesis 16:3 , Genesis 16:15 f; Genesis 19:29; Genesis 21:1 , Genesis 21:2-5; Genesis 25:7-11 ; and in its later parts P would become still more incomprehensible on the assumption of the critics (see III below). No author could have written thus; at any rate he would not have been used by anybody, nor would there have been such care evinced in preserving his writings.

(ii) Alleged Connection of Matter

The claim that the different sources, as they have been separated by critics, constitute a compact and connected whole is absolutely the work of imagination, and is in conflict with the facts in almost every instance. This hypothesis cannot be consistently applied, even in the case of the characteristic examples cited to prove the correctness of the documentary theory, such as the story of the Deluge (see III, 2, in each case under (2)).

(iii) the Biblico-Theological Data

The different Biblical and theological data, which are said to be characteristic in proof of the separation into sources, are also misleading. Thus God in J communes with mankind only in the beginning (Genesis 2 f; 16ff; Genesis 11:5; 18 f), but not afterward. In the beginning He does this also, according to the Priestly Code (P), whose conception of God, it is generally claimed, was entirely transcendental (compare Genesis 17:1 , Genesis 17:22; Genesis 35:9 , Genesis 35:13 ). The mediatorship of the Angel of Yahweh is found not only in E, (Genesis 21:17 , 'Ĕlōhı̄m ), but also in J (Genesis 16:7 , Genesis 16:9-11 ). In Genesis 22:11 in E, the angel of Yahweh (not of the 'Ĕlōhı̄m ) calls from heaven; theophanies in the night or during sleep are found also in J (compare Genesis 15:12; Genesis 26:24; Genesis 28:13-16; Genesis 32:27 ). In the case of the Priestly Code (P), the cult theory, according to which it is claimed that this source does not mention any sacrifices before Exodus 6:1 , is untenable. If it is a fact that theocracy, as it were, really began only in Ex 6, then it would be impossible that P would contain anything of the cults before Ex 6; but we have in P the introduction of the circumcision in Gen 17; of the Sabbath in Genesis 2:1; and the prohibition against eating blood in Genesis 9:1; and in addition the drink offerings mentioned in Genesis 35:14 , which verse stands between Genesis 35:13 and Genesis 35:15 , and, ascribed to the Priestly Code (P), is only in the interests of this theory attributed to the redactor. If then theory here outlined is not tenable as far as P is concerned, it would, on the other hand, be all the more remarkable that in the story of the Deluge the distinction between the clean and the unclean (Genesis 7:2 .8) is found in J, as also the savor of the sacrifice, with the term rēaḥ ha -nı̄ḥōaḥ , which occurs so often in P (compare Genesis 8:21 with Numbers 15:3 , Numbers 15:7 , Numbers 15:10 , Numbers 15:13 f, 24; Numbers 18:17 ); that the sacrifices are mentioned in Genesis 8:20 , and the number 7 in connection with the animals and days in Genesis 7:4; Genesis 8:8 , Genesis 8:10 , Genesis 8:12 (compare in the Priestly Code (P), e.g. Leviticus 8:33; Leviticus 13:5 f, 21, 26 f, 31, 33, 10, 54; Leviticus 14:8 f, 38 f; Leviticus 14:7 , Leviticus 14:51; Leviticus 16:14 f; Numbers 28:11; Numbers 29:8 , etc.); further, that the emphasis is laid on the 40 days in Genesis 7:4 , Genesis 7:12 , Genesis 7:17; Genesis 8:6 (compare in the Priestly Code (P), Exodus 24:1-8; Leviticus 12:2-4; Numbers 13:25; Numbers 14:34 ), all of which are ascribed, not as we should expect, to the Levitical the Priestly Code (P), but to the prophetical J. The document the Priestly Code (P), which, according to a large number of critics, was written during the Exile (see e.g. LEVITICUS , III, 1, or EZEKIEL II , 2) in a most surprising manner, instead of giving prominence to the person of the high priest, would then have declared that kings were to be the greatest blessings to come to the seed of Abraham (Genesis 17:6 , Genesis 17:16 ); and while, on the critical assumption, we should have the right to expect the author to favor particularistic tendencies, he, by bringing in the history of all mankind in Gen 1 through 11, and in the extension of circumcision to strangers (Genesis 17:12 , Genesis 17:23 ), would have displayed a phenomenal universality. The strongest counter-argument against all such minor and incorrect data of a Biblical and a theological character will always be found in the uniform religious and ethical spirit and world of thought that pervade all these sources, as also in the unity in the accounts of the different patriarchs, who are pictured in such a masterly, psychological and consistent manner, and who could never be the result of an accidental working together and interweaving of different and independent sources (see III below).

(iv) Duplicates

In regard to what is to be thought of the different duplicates and contradictions, see below under III, 2, in each case under (2).

(v) Manner in Which the Sources Are Worked Together

But it is also impossible that these sources could have been worked together in the manner in which the critics claim that this was done. The more arbitrarily and carelessly the redactors are thought to have gone to work in many places in removing contradictions, the more incomprehensible it becomes that they at other places report faithfully such contradictions and permit these to stand side by side, or, rather, have placed them thus. And even if they are thought not to have smoothed over the difficulties anywhere, and out of reverence for their sources, not to have omitted or changed any of these reports, we certainly would have a right to think that even if they would have perchance placed side by side narratives with such enormous contradictions as there are claimed to be, e.g. in the story of the Deluge in P and J, they certainly would not have woven these together. If, notwithstanding, they still did this without harmonizing them, why are we asked to believe that at other places they omitted matters of the greatest importance (see III, 2,3)? Further, J and E would have worked their materials together so closely at different places that a separation between the two would be an impossibility, something that is acknowledged as a fact by many Old Testament students; yet, notwithstanding, the contradictions, e.g. in the history of Joseph, have been allowed to stand side by side in consecutive verses, or have even intentionally been placed thus (compare, e.g. Genesis 37:25 ). Then, too, it is in the nature of things unthinkable that three originally independent sources for the history of Israel should have constituted separate currents down to the period after Moses, and that they could yet be dovetailed, often sentence by sentence, in the manner claimed by the critics. In conclusion, the entire hypothesis suffers shipwreck through those passages which combine the peculiarities of the different sources, as e.g. in Genesis 20:18 , which on the one hand constitutes the necessary conclusion to the preceding story from E (compare Genesis 20:17 ), and on the other hand contains the name Yahweh; or in Genesis 22:14 , which contains the real purpose of the story of the sacrificing of Isaac from E, but throughout also shows the characteristic marks of J; or in Genesis 39:1 , where the so-called private person into whose house Joseph has been brought, according to J, is more exactly described as the chief of the body-guard, as this is done by E, in Genesis 40:2 , Genesis 40:4 . And when the critics in this passage appeal to the help of the redactor (editor), this is evidently only an ill-concealed example of a "begging of the question." In chapter 34, and especially in chapter 14, we have a considerable number of larger sections that contain the characteristics of two or even all three sources, and which accordingly furnish ample evidence for protesting against the whole documentary theory.

(vi) Criticism Carried to Extremes

All the difficulties that have been mentioned grow into enormous proportions when we take into consideration the following facts: To operate with the three sources J, E and P seems to be rather an easy process; but if we accept the principles that underlie this separation into sources, it is an impossibility to limit ourselves to these three sources, as a goodly number of Old Testament scholars would like to do, as Strack, Kittel, Oettli, Dillmann, Driver. The stories of the danger that attended the wives of the Patriarchs, as these are found in Genesis 12:9 and in Genesis 26:1 , are ascribed to J, and the story as found in Genesis 20:1 to E. But evidently two sources are not enough in these cases, seeing that similar stories are always regarded as a proof that there have been different authors. Accordingly, we must claim three authors, unless it should turn out that these three stories have an altogether different signification, in which case they report three actual occurrences and may have been reported by one and the same author. The same use is made of the laughter in connection with the name Isaac in Genesis 17:17; Genesis 18:12; Genesis 21:6 , namely, to substantiate the claim for three sources, P and J and E. But since Genesis 21:9 E; Genesis 26:8 J also contain references to this, and as in Genesis 21:6 JE, in addition to the passage cited above, there is also a second reference of this kind, then, in consistency, the critics would be compelled to accept six sources instead of three (Sievers accepts at least 5, Gunkel 4); or all of these references point to one and the same author who took pleasure in repeating such references. As a consequence, in some critical circles scholars have reached the conclusion that there are also such further sources as J1 and Later additions to J, as also E1 and Later additions to E (compare Budde, Baudissin, Cornill, Holzinger, Kautzsch, Kuënen, Sellin). But Sievers has already discovered five subordinate sources of J, six of the Priestly Code (P), and three of E, making a total of fourteen independent sources that he thinks can yet be separated accurately (not taking into consideration some remnants of J, E and P that can no longer be distinguished from others). Gunkel believes that the narratives in Genesis were originally independent and separate stories, which can to a great extent yet be distinguished in their original form. But if J and E and P from this standpoint are no longer authors but are themselves, in fact, reduced to the rank of collectors and editors, then it is absurd to speak any more of distinct linguistic peculiarities, or of certain theological ideas, or of intentional uses made of certain names of God in J and E and the Priestly Code (P), not to say anything of the connection between these sources, except perhaps in rare cases. Here the foundations of the documentary theory have been undermined by the critics themselves, without Sievers or Gunkel or the other less radical scholars intending to do such a thing. The manner in which these sources are said to have been worked together naturally becomes meaningless in view of such hypotheses. The modern methods of dividing between the sources, if consistently applied, will end in splitting the Biblical text into atoms; and this result, toward which the development of Old Testament criticism is inevitably leading, will some day cause a sane reaction; for through these methods scholars have deprived themselves of the possibility of explaining the blessed influence which these Scriptures, so accidentally compiled according to their view, have achieved through thousands of years. The success of the Bible text, regarded merely from a historical point of view, becomes for the critic a riddle that defies all solutions, even if all dogmatical considerations are ignored.

(2) In View of the Names for God

(A) Error of Hypothesis in Principle

The names of God, Yahweh and Elohim, constituted for Astruc the starting-point for the division of Genesis into different sources (see (1) above). Two chief sources, based on the two names for God, could perhaps as a theory and in themselves be regarded as acceptable. If we add that in Exodus 6:1 , in the Priestly Code (P), we are told that God had not revealed Himself before the days of Moses by the name of Yahweh, but only as "God Almighty," it seems to be the correct thing to separate the text, which reports concerning the times before Moses and which in parts contains the name Yahweh, into two sources, one with Yahweh and the other with Elohim. But just as soon as we conclude that the use made of the two names of God proves that there were three and not two sources, as is done from Gen 20 on, the conclusive ground for the division falls away. The second Elohist (E), whom Ilgen was the first to propose (see (1) above), in principle and a priori discredits the whole hypothesis. This new source from the very outset covers all the passages that cannot be ascribed to the Yahweh or the Elohist portions; whatever portions contain the name Elohim, as P does, and which nevertheless are prophetical in character after the manner of J, and accordingly cannot be made to fit in either the Jahwistic or the Elohistic source, seek a refuge in this third source. Even before we have done as much as look at the text, we can say that according to this method everything can be proved. And when critics go so far as to divide J and E and P into many subparts, it becomes all the more impossible to make the names for God a basis for this division into sources. Consistently we could perhaps in this case separate a Yahweh source, an Elohim source, a ha -'Ĕlōhı̄m source, an 'Ēl Shadday source, an 'Ădhōnāy source, a Mal'akh Yahweh source, a Mal'akh 'Ĕlōhı̄m source, etc., but unfortunately these characteristics of the sources come into conflict in a thousand cases with the others that are claimed to prove that there are different sources in the Book of Genesis.

(B) False Basis of Hypothesis

But the basis of the whole hypothesis itself, namely, Exodus 6:1 P; is falsely regarded as such. If Yahweh had really been unknown before the days of Moses, as Exodus 6:1 P is claimed to prove, how could J then, in so important and decisive a point in the history of the religious development of Israel, have told such an entirely different story? Or if, on the other hand, Yahweh was already known before the time of Moses, as we must conclude according to J, how was it possible for P all at once to invent a new view? This is all the more incredible since it is this author and none other who already makes use of the word Yahweh in the composition of the name of the mother of Moses, namely Jochebed (compare Exodus 6:20 and Numbers 26:59 ). In addition, we do not find at all in Exodus 6:1 that God had before this revealed Himself as 'Ĕlōhı̄m , but as 'Ēl Shadday , so that this would be a reason for claiming not an 'Ĕlōhı̄m but an 'Ēl Shadday source for P on the basis of this passage (compare Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 48:3 P - Genesis 43:14 E! compare also Genesis 49:25 in the blessing of Jacob). Finally, it is not at all possible to separate Exodus 6:1 P from that which immediately precedes, which is taken from JE and employs the name Yahweh; for according to the text of P we do not know who Moses and who Aaron really were, and yet these two are in Exodus 6:1 regarded as well-known persons. The new revelation of God in Exodus 6:1 (P) by the side of Exodus 3:1 (JE and E) is also entirely defensible and rests on a good foundation; for Moses after the failure of Ex 5 needed such a renewed encouragement (see EXODUS II , 2, 1). If this is the case, then the revelation of the name of Yahweh in Exodus 6:1 cannot mean that that name had before this not been known at all, but means that it had only been relatively unknown, i.e. that in the fullest and most perfect sense God became known only as Yahweh, while before this He had revealed His character only from certain sides, but especially as to His Almighty Power.

(C) Improbability That Distinction of Divine Names Is Without Significance

In view of the importance which among oriental nations is assigned to names, it is absolutely unthinkable that the two names Yahweh and Elohim had originally been used without any reference to their different meanings. The almost total omission of the name Yahweh in later times or the substitution of the name Elohim for it in Psalm 42 through 83 is doubtless based in part on the reluctance which gradually arose in Israel to use the name at all; but this cannot be shown as probable for older times, in which it is claimed that E was written. In the case of P the rule, according to which the name Elohim is said to have been used for the pre-Mosaic period, and the reason for the omission of Yahweh would have been an entirely different one. Then, too, it would be entirely inexplicable why J should have avoided the use of the name Elohim. The word Elohim is connected with a root that signifies "to fear," and characterizes God from the side of His power, as this is, e.g., seen at once in Genesis 1 . Yahweh is splendidly interpreted in Exodus 3:14; and the word is connected with the archaic form hāwāh for hāyāh , "to be," and the word characterizes God as the being who at all times continues to be the God of the Covenant, and who, according to Gen 2:4-3:24, can manifestly be none other than the Creator of the universe in Gen 1:1 through 2:3, even if from Gen 12 on He, for the time being, enters into a special relation to Abraham, his family and his people, and by the use of the combined names Yahweh-Elohim is declared to be identical with the God who created the world, as e.g. this is also done in the section Ex 7:8 through 13:16, where, in the 10 plagues, Yahweh's omnipotent power is revealed (compare EXODUS , II, 2, 2); and in Exodus 9:30 it is charged against-Pharaoh and his courtiers, that they did not yet fear Yahweh-Elohim, i.e. the God of the Covenant, who at the same time is the God of the universe (compare also 1 Kings 18:21 , 1 Kings 18:37 , 1 Kings 18:39; Jonah 4:6 ).

(D) Real Purpose in Use of Names for God

But now it is further possible to show clearly, in connection with a number of passages, that the different names for God are in Genesis selected with a perfect consciousness of the difference in their meanings, and that accordingly the choice of these names does not justify the division of the book into various sources.

(i) Decreasing Use of Yahweh
Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Genesis'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​isb/​g/genesis.html. 1915.

Ads FreeProfile