The Book of Genesis

Keely Burns


Why "Genesis"?

The word Genesis means "birth" or "origin" and refers to the story of creation in different languages. It is called this because the book is about the creation of our world and the origin of the Israelites- God's people.

Author Info

The book of Genesis does not have a confirmed author. Many believe that the book was written by the prophet Moses. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and collected the Ten Commandments from God which is written about in Exodus. Scholars have also shown that the book could have been compiled by several sources.

What's In The Book?


  • creation
  • Original Sin
  • covenants
  • origins of God's people
The book is divided into two parts. Chapter 1-11 is the primeval age. It is about universal prehistory and has stories that relate to all people. Chapters 12-50 is the patriarchal age. It is about the Hebrew Patriarchs mainly Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the history of the Hebrew nation.
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Main Characters and Plot

  • Adam and Eve- first humans created by God. The snake tricked Eve to eat fruit from the tree which she also came to Adam and Original Sin was created. They were then driven out of the Garden of Eden.
  • Cain and Abel- sons of Adam and Eve; Abe; was favored by God because of good worship and faith so Cain became jealous and killed Abel. God asked where Abel was and when He found out what Cain had done, he drove him out to become a wanderer. Cain's descendants were without God and came to have the destruction of the flood
  • Noah and His Family- God was not happy with the world and sin so He decided to destroy it all. He found favor with Noah and his family- wife and sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. God told Noah to build an ark for his family and two of every animal. The flood came and lasted 190 days. God made the covenant with Noah through the dove with the olive branch when the flood was over. God's covenant was to never destroy the earth again.
  • Abraham and Sarah- God makes a covenant with Abrahm and Sarai that their descendants would be a great nation. Their names were then changed to Abraham and Sarah. They move to land that God directs them to along with their son, Lot. Eventually they move back to Canaan. God says Sarah will have a son at ninety years old. After, God goes to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God warns Lot and his wife to flee but when the wife looks back at the city she turn into a pillar of salt. Sarah gives birth to Isaac and God tells Abraham to kill his son. Because of Abraham's great faith eh prepares to do so, but God stops him and reaffirms his covenant.
  • Isaac- must find a wife and God leads him to Rebekah. She has the twins Jacob and Esau. Isaac favored Esau who was a burly hunter while Rebekah favored Jacob who was more thoughtful.
  • Jacob and Esau- Jacob tricks Esau to give him his inheritance rights for a bowl of soup. Isaac is close to death and tells Esau to hunt game and prepare a meal so that he can receive his father's final blessing. Jacob pretends to be Esau and receives the blessing and Esau is furious. Jacob escapes Esau and has a dream where God promises him the same covenant as Abraham and Isaac. Jacob wants to marry Rachel but is tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah. He eventually works for Rachel and they are married. Jacob wrestles with God and is renamed Israel which means " he struggles with God." He makes peace with Esau but their tribes fight.
  • Joseph and his brothers- Joseph is the youngest of his brothers and is favored by Jacob and God. When Joseph is presented with a beautiful coat, his brothers get jealous and sell him to a high ranking official in Egypt named Potiphar. There, Joseph works hard until Potiphar's wife tries to seduce him. Joseph is then thrown in jail until he is called out to interpret the Pharaoh' dream. Eventually the Pharaoh elects Joseph to be his highest official before the famine to come. Because of the famine, Joseph's brothers come to Joseph for food. Joseph reveals himself as their lost brother and they rejoice.


It is "a theological interpretaion of history intended to throw light on later Israelite history." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 130-134)

It also tells of the economy of salvation and the description of the origin of the human race. The book relates all of creation, and history to God to explain the role of Israel in the world

Tells Us About Relationships With God

The book of Genesis tell us the the world only exists because God does and because He chose to make it. Therefore, everything belongs and depends on God. Rejection of God leads to evil, destruction, chaos, and pain based on the stories. Although we may reject God, God does not reject us. He has a plan to save humanity from its chosen path of sin and death. The book tells us of the importance of our relationship with God, about family relationships, and reminds us of our responsibilities to the world. In the book we find out a lot about God:

  • He is the creator and life giver
  • Is personal and desires a relationship with human beings
  • is holy and judges sinful humans
  • is merciful even in judgement
  • and is sovereign over every power


The stories take place int he first half of the second millennium B.C.


The people in Genesis gradually migrate throughout Upper Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Egypt.

Written Down

The stories in Genesis have been passed down orally since the time of the characters in it. There are multiple theories to when the book was actually written. Some include:

  • Moses wrote between 1446 and 1406 BCE
  • written by Israelites during the reign of Solomon- 961-931 BCE

Some of the oldest manuscripts we have of Genesis date to somewhere between 150 BCE and 70 CE

Works Cited

"Genesis, Book of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

130-134. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

"Genesis." Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2014. KY Virtual Library. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Alles, Gregory D., and Robert S. Ellwood. "Genesis." World Religions Online. Infobase

Learning. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Finlay, Tim & Herst, Jim."Exploring Genesis." Grace Communion International. Grace

Communion International, 2015. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Cline, Austin. "Introduction to the Book of Genesis." About Religion., 2015.

Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

(the format of smore would not let the second line of the citations be indented)