Genesis Overview: The Creation Narrative & Genealogy

"Faith in creation is neither the basis nor the goal of the declarations in Genesis Chapters 1-2. Rather, the position of both the Yahwist and the Priestly document is basically faith in salvation and election. They undergird this faith by the testimony that this Yahweh, who made a covenant with Abraham and at Sinai, is also the creator of the world." (p46).

P's account is a concise statement of priestly doctrine.

1.1-3: the Hebrew Baraa is only used of Godly, creatio ex nihilo, effortless creation. 1.2 is not a regression but a reminder of the danger of falling back into chaos; the antithesis is not between nothingness and creation but between chaos and cosmos. Late authorship might suggest but does not necessitate knowledge of pagan myths.

1.3-5: Creation is not an emanation but a product of divine will; light, the created, is daily put out by darkness, chaos; naming is an expression of lordship.

1.6-8: Literally the "hammering" (Phoenician "tin dish") of the hemispherical universe into place, excluding the waters beneath and above; two competing ideas, the older "making", the later "commanding" emphasises distance between creator and created.

1.9-10: On the third day the work of the second is completed in the draining off of the waters from under the dome which are given their creation place in oceans, revealing the disc of dry land, surrounded and upheld by hostile water and beneath the water of the blue sky which gives rain (Psalm 24.2; 136.6; Exodus 20.4). Through naming God undertakes to control the threat of chaos.

1.11-13: Plants are created from a 'female' earth.

1.14-19: Stars as prosaic creatures (lamps), distinct from the sun, and quite distinct from the astrological which was pervasive at the time of writing. (VR is silent on the creation of the sun and moon - KC).

1.20-23: In Hebrew taxonomy plants did not have life; the special word for creation in 1.1 is used for living creatures; the sequence is from the mysterious to the domestic.

1.24-25: Animal procreation is received not from God but from the 'mother' earth; three groups: wild; cattle; small beasts.

1.26-28: Divine resolution: "let us make man"; baraa in 1.27; Adam means mankind; "image" is abstract and does not refer to "likeness"; the whole man is created in God's image (Ezekiel 28.12; Psalm 8; Genesis 3.22). The concept of selem is linked to man's dominion. Man created for the "thou" of the other sex: "That is the immense double statement, of a lapidary simplicity, so simple indeed that we hardly realise that with it a vast world of myth and Gnostic speculation, of cynicism and asceticism, of the deification of sexuality and fear of sex completely disappears." (Brunner) (p60). Man is completely referred to and understood from God; zi is a special kind of blessing of procreation but it is not divine, not to be confused with pagan myths of "holy harlotry".

1.29-30: Man, like the animals, is vegetarian; there was no slaughtering in Eden; slaughter was not by God's design, dominion is limited.

1.31: God creates the world perfectly wonderful in purpose, not aesthetic.

2.1-3: God's rest, from which the Sabbath derived, is the climax; God completed on the seventh day, not the logical sixth. God not only blesses but sanctifies (sets it apart for himself); the preparation of the way for an exalted, saving good; once the cult is established it will be bound to share God's rest; the Sabbath as an identifier in exile.


Chapter 5 is the direct continuation of 2.4a: a remembered genealogical table with exact figures for age and begetting of the first-born, taking us to Noah. The figures in the Masoretic, canonical, text are different from the Septuagint (LXX) and the Samaritan Pentateuch; and there are signs of re-alignment and correction, e.g. Codex A would have Methuselah out-living the flood by 14 years. The diminishing life span is a sign of deteriorating vitality; death by sin slowly breaking the powerful physical resistance of primitive human nature. The names in the Sethite P table correspond closely with the Kenite genealogy in J from 4.17 and relates to the Babylonian table of ten kings up to the flood.

5.1-3 Adam is a person, whom God names, not mankind; and Adam's son Seth inherits being in God's image. The long lives cause great overlaps:

5.22-24: The intimate association between Enoch and God. It is an open question whether the Enoch apocalyptic tradition is older than or succeeds P.

5.29: Futuristic, based on a long experience of human sorrow, offering hope of divine comfort.

KC V/14

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