Genesis: How’d We Get Here?

We all know what’s in the book of Genesis. We’re familiar with the stories of creation and Noah and Joseph and his coat. But what is Genesis about? Another way to ask the question would be to ask why Moses wrote it. One way to try to determine what a story is about is to track narrative time. How much time passes across how many pages? When narrative time slows down, there is probably something important going on. So take a look at this:

Let me walk you through this. What I did was to pick out the major themes of the book and put them across the top with the chapter divisions. I was surprised to see it line up in pretty neat quarters.

  • Chapters 1-11 introduce God and how he created. They also explain why the world is a mess and show how bad and how far reaching that problem is but they also include the promise that someone will do something about it, the Seed of the Woman.
  • Chapters 12-24 tell us Abraham’s story. God carries his promise forward in one man. The promises to Abraham are a land, a people and a blessing to the nations.
  • Chapters 25-36 cover the lives of Abraham’s son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Isaac is covered very briefly and the majority of the section is spent on Jacob. We meet Jacob’s sons.
  • Chapters 57-50 focus on one of Jacob’s boys, Joseph. He goes in to Egypt as a slave and soon rises to the second in charge of the nation. At the end he’s reunited with his family and they are brought in to Egypt as celebrated guests.

That’s the story in a nutshell. The sections receive pretty much the same amount of paper but consider the bottom line of the chart. The first section takes thousands, maybe millions of years. The next two sections take about 100 years each. But the final one, though equal in length, covers only about 56 years. Moses really slows down and includes a lot of detail in Joseph’s story.

The reason, I suppose, Moses does this is because in Genesis he’s explaining to the Israelites where they came from. He covers how Yahweh created the world and worked to preserve it through Adam, Seth (not Cain), Noah, Shem (not Ham), Abraham, Isaac (not Ishmael), Jacob (not Esau) and Joseph. He spends the most time on Joseph so the Israelites will understand how they came to be in Egypt. Not as a captured people but as honored guests.

This is very interesting. Consider how much the New Testament talks about Joseph versus how much it talks about Abraham. ¬†Joseph is seldom mentioned whereas Abraham is prevalent in the Gospels and in Paul. So what are we to take from this? We are Christians so we should follow the New Testament. Abraham has more to do with us than Joseph. But then again, Abraham has more to do with Joseph too. If it weren’t for Abraham, there would be no Joseph. I think all of this shows just how important Abraham is to biblical theology.¬† Joseph explains how Israel got to be where they were, Jacob explains how they came to be but Abraham offers an explanation of why they are who and where they are. And he offers the same explanation to us: And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:29.

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  • or MILLIONS of years? HERETIC!!! :)

    Actually, I just realized the other day that the BJU creed allows for evolution and day age Christians. All it says about creation is “I believe in the creation of man by the direct act of God.” Interesting. I still like to bring up your points about not breaking fellowship over this issue. It infuriates people down here, especially the Ken Hamenites. :)

  • Oh yea. The creationists have made it THE issue of Biblical interpretation. Generally through the slippery slope argument. But if they were to go back and read The Fundamentals, they’d find that both Warfield and the other fella whose name I can’t recall who wrote the section on Genesis, were way old earthers who believed in evolution. Just not atheistic, scientific evolution.

    What I think this chart shows is that when it comes to interpreting the book of Genesis, you’re majoring on the minors when you spend all your time in the first 11 chapters.

  • Slippery Slope! Slippery Slope!!!

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