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Free Research Paper on Genesis

Bible Passages: Genesis Chapter I – 25 & Job

The purpose of us reading through the Bible in a year is not primarily to improve your bible knowledge but to get to know God more and to understand his ways as He has acted in human history. The Bible is not fundamentally a book of doctrine because God has chosen to reveal himself through what he has done in history – how He has tangibly and dynamically broken into people’s lives and not through dictating a theoretical book about the concepts about Himself. The uniqueness of Christianity does not lie in us believing in an all knowing, all powerful and ever present God but that this same invisible God has chosen to make Himself know through being lovingly, tangibly and manifestly involved in our lives. This is in order for us to enter into a chosen, loving relationship with Him, The very purpose for which we were created (see Genesis I & 2).

Therefore we are to be people of the Spirit first and foremost rather than people of the book. The truth of Christianity is not found by dissecting “The Book of Truth”, but by encountering “The Person who is The Truth, Jesus Christ”. Our boast is not that we have a better book but that we can live in relationship with the author, the Holy Spirit.

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The purpose then of reading through the whole Bible is to get to know and understand how God has lived with His people in the past so that we can walk more closely and faithfully with him now; to know the plot of God’s story and so faithfully improvise with the Holy Spirit as we fill out the rest of God’s story. That’s exciting! So lets be totally dependent on, and expectant for, the Holy Spirit to be intimately teaching us when we read the Bible. Lets be charismatic in our Bible reading.

The Bible notes we are using written by CWR have arranged the Bible passages in a chronological order. The books of the Bible were not written and compiled primarily to give a chronological account, they are each a book in their own right and are best read that way.

However, in order for you to see how the overall story of God hangs together and for you to see more of the historical context of the books we have decided to go for a chronological approach. So please hang with it and don’t whinge about having to flit about the Bible so much you will find your way around it more and know where books like Hezekiah are!

“This section of the book of Genesis is one of the most important parts of the OT; in the stories of creation, the fall, Cain and Abel, the flood and the tower of Babel we find a concise summary of the whole of the OT faith. Such basic themes as the character of God, the nature of the world and the basic meaning of life are presented here with an imaginative subtlety that has given these chapters a place among the great classics of world literature.”
(J Drane Introducing the Old Testament)

In doing this Genesis makes clear that we are not just reading the history of a particular ethnic group (the unique and unrepeatable history of Israel) but rather these record’s of God’s activities are truly international and that His claims over people’s lives are universal because His handiwork is evident in the very stuff of which the world is made. This was a vital truth for Israel as she entered Canaan. Was Yahweh just the God of their history or was he the God of the land and the weather? The claim of the idols that the Canaanites worshipped was that they could explain and control the mysterious workings of nature.

Genesis also establishes that in founding a nation like Israel God’s intentions were to restore all peoples to himself and not just one nation. Genesis I to I I and the call of Abraham clearly show how Israel’s destiny related to other nations .

These foundational truths have been somewhat obscured over the last 200 years by the ongoing debate of Genesis’ historical and scientific accuracy, spurred on greatly by the publishing of Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” in 1859. In viewing Genesis primary purpose as trying to give an historically detailed and scientifically exact account of human history both fervent Christian fundamentalists and scientists imbued with a materialistic view of the world have forced the text to say things that were never in the author’s original intention.

Genesis is primarily about giving theological explanation rather than historical analysis or scientific theory. Attempts to make it either of the latter are a relatively recent development of the last 200 years where as theologians and scientists from the early church to the eighteenth century were much less inclined to force Genesis into a strait-jacket of scientific theory. Even John Calvin, the sixteenth century reformer known as a man of the book, viewed such attempts as “opposed to common sense, and quite incredible”.

Just as Jesus in the New Testament used aspects of ordinary life to illustrate vital theological truths so the writer of Genesis is using familiar experiences from everyday life to show the truth about how God relates to both the joys and miseries of the world and it’s people. This is it’s primary function above anything it might mention which relates to Eden’s agriculture or it’s primitive sociology.

Many scholars refer to the Genesis stories as myths but this is not meant to infer that they are untrue or fanciful but rather that they;
“describe a story which expresses a truth about human life that cannot adequately be described in terms of science or history. In this sense, myth is as valid and respectable a way of thinking about life’s deepest meaning as science, art or philosophy “. (J. Drane)

Even within Genesis there are different types of stories or myths. Chapter I is a hymn of praise of creation, celebrating God’s goodness over all He has made which may well have been recited during worship in ancient Israel. What follows in chapter 2 is more a narrative written in a straight forward manner but packed with profound theology where the experience of Adam and Eve enshrines that of all subsequent generations.

Contrary to most other religious books of it’s time Genesis asserts that creation and the whole physical dimension of life is not incompatible with spiritual enlightenment, but essentially part of the same whole. What is more God is distinct from creation but still intimately involved in life in this world. This cuts across any dualism between the physical and the spiritual.

The more recent archaeological discoveries of the 7th century empire of the Assyrians and the religious writings in Ugarit, the predominant culture surrounding Israel during it’s development as a nation was Canaanite. Whilst giving very clear condemnations of it’s religious practices Genesis uses a lot of the religious imagery found in Canaanite religion but separates it from it’s original context and gives it a new setting and emphasis that celebrates the most distinctive aspects of Old Testament faith.

(see Drane pages 246 – 248 and 248 -249 for comparison to Babylonian Creation Myth)


All of the Old Testament Scriptures agree that the life of men and women finds its true fulfilment when they are living in personal fellowship with God. Genesis describes God in relation to what He does not by reference to what he is made of. So, when God makes men and women to be like himself He does not mean them to look like him or to be made of the same substance. Rather, God intends them to be a kind of extension of His personality and an essential part of His own activity in the world. In claiming that humans are God’s representatives Genesis puts at least three important ideas forward concerning the relationship between people the earth and God.

Genesis asserts that God has made a world of order and balance out of chaos and that as His representatives men and women are called to maintain and preserve the world as God intended. God is still actively involved in all of creations workings and men and women are not above creation but part of it intended to have a relationship of mutual respect between them and the earth they give shape to.

Men and women having been made in God’s image are incomplete without God and were made to relate to Him on a personal level. Like the characters in the Garden of Eden, each human being has been made for direct encounter with God Himself.

Socially human beings are of equal value and importance because each is made in God’s image. Consequently, every person knows the difference between issues of right and wrong even though this knowledge has been hindered by the fall. Sexual relationships between man and wife are to be enjoyed as a gift from God for it’s own sake. In family relationships, the marriage relationship takes precedence over all other traditional family commitments. When Genesis talks of a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife it issues a very strong challenge to the ancient supremacy of the family patriarch.

In the stories of the fall and the Tower of Babel, Genesis states clearly that the root problem in the world is that men and women have refused to accept God’s will and tried to be controllers of their own destiny. They have sought to “make a name for themselves” and “to be like God”. In refusing to have a childlike trust in God as their creator, humans have indulged their selfishness and overstepped God’s benevolent limits and been plunged into disaster. Genesis summarises the results of their disobedience and selfishness as disharmony in nature alienation from God and a broken society. However, though making clear that God’s judgement on Adam and Eve is well deserved Genesis tells us that God will never leave people to languish in the results of their own sin. God’s love and forgiveness for the world and it’s people will never be defeated and in the call of Abraham the hope of a new beginning for humanity is firmly established.

The book of Job falls into two parts, with the prologue and epilogue written in prose (1-2,42:7-17) and the rest in poetry. Some features of this story, such as the part played by Satan, suggest a fairly late date in Jewish history where as others set it in very early.

Job is different from some of the other wisdom books like Proverbs in it’s questioning of the assumption that doing good will lead to success and prosperity. Job does not get an answer to his questions to God as to why he is suffering and the common belief of his friends that suffering is indicative of a life of sin is also portrayed as inadequate and misguided.

The introduction of Satan at the start of Job begins to sow the concept that human suffering is part of a bigger spiritual battle. This concept is only fully developed in the New Testament and it’s seems for Job that the resolution of his own suffering lay not in fighting Satan, but in trusting and worshipping God in the midst of suffering and confusion. Job found his broken heart was healed as God burst into his life which assured him of constant care and love.

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