Genesis

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Genesis (Hebrew: Bereshit) is The first book of the Torah and also the first book of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament).

Jewish custom divides the book into twelve parashiot (weekly readings); one of which is read each week during the yearly cycle of Torah readings.

Genesis tells the story of God's creation of the world, the creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden, and God's discovery that man alone could never be happy, for "man had no helpmate;" God thus creates a mate for man, Chava [in English: Eve]. Genesis goes on to recount the story of their first two children, Cain and Abel, the development of the peoples of the world, and the eventual flood that God brough upon the world to blot out sin and give the world a fresh start (the story of Noah and the Ark). The story then moves on to cover the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob, Rachel and Leah.

Genesis makes no claims about its authorship; Jewish tradition from early on assumed that the entire book was dictated, in its entirety, by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. For a number of reasons, this view is no longer accepted by most biblical scholars, non-Orthodox Jews, Catholics, and liberal Protestants. Instead, they accept that the text of Genesis as we see it today was redacted together very early on from two earlier sources, denoted as the "J" source and "E" source. See the JEDP_theory entry for more information.

Nonetheless, all agree that the text has a distinct unity of its own, and is very unlike the other four books of the Torah.

Teachings

  • Unlike other texts, e.g., from Sumerian Mythology, Genesis posits the existence of one and only being that may properly be called God. All other non-human intelligences implied to exist in the text may only be considered angels or the like. God is presented as being the sole creator of nature, and exist outside of it and beyond it.
  • The primary purpose of the book is not historical or legal, but to explain man's origins, and to describe man's relationship to God, and how man's relationship to man must be seen in that light.
  • All of mankind is descended from a common ancestor; therefore, all humans are equally created in the image of God.
  • God created an eternal, unbreakable covenant with all mankind at the time of Noah; this is known as the Noachide covenant. This universal concern with all mankind is paralleled by a second covenant made to the descendent's of Abraham in particular, through his son Isaac, in which their descendents will be chosen to have a special destiny. The Jewish people are chosen by God to be in a special covenant with God; this covenant is the Torah. In the words of the later prophets, they are to be a light unto the nations.

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Genesis is also the name of a British pop group. See Genesis/group

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