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"Genesis" is from the Greek γενεσις for "birth".

Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Its fifty chapters describe the creation of the world, early Middle Eastern history, the lineage of mankind and the beginnings of the Israelites, up to the death of Joseph. The stories of the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel and the destruction of Sodom can all be found in Genesis.



Genesis can be divided into rough sections as follows:

  • Chapters 1-4 - The creation of the world and the story of Adam and Eve, the Fall of Man, and their children.
  • Chapters 5-10 - The story of Noah, including the Noachian Deluge.
  • Chapter 11 - The Tower of Babel, and the subsequent scattering of Mankind.
  • Chapters 12-23 - The story of Abraham and his family, and his covenant with God.
  • Chapters 24-27 - The story of Isaac and his sons Jacob and Esau.
  • Chapters 28-36 - The story of Jacob after he left Isaac, including several quite obscure episodes.
  • Chapters 37-50 - Tales concerning Joseph and his brothers, particularly what befell Joseph in Egypt, ending with Jacob's blessing of his sons and his death.

At the end of the book, Joseph and his brothers are all living in Egypt. The story is picked up again some generations later at the start of the Book of Exodus, when their descendents, still in Egypt, have grown very numerous and begun to be oppressed by the Egyptians.


In describing the origins of mankind, it lays the foundations for many doctrines found throughout the rest of the Bible. In particular, it explains the origin of sin, and therefore why a Saviour (Jesus) was needed.

Sin and death

Genesis explains that the original creation was "very good"[1], but that Adam disobeyed God.[2] Romans 5:12 explains that this was the origin of sin: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man...".


Genesis explains that we were not originally meant to die, but death was introduced as a result of sin.[3]


God created man in His (God's) image.[4]


God said that it was not good for man to live alone, so created a companion.[5]. Jesus quoted this in discussing marriage.[6]


Mankind was originally naked, but when they sinned, they felt shame, and tried to cover their shame with clothing.[7] God replaced their clothes with ones made from the death of an animal,[8] the first shedding of blood as a covering of sin.


The seven day week finds its origin in the creation week of Genesis 1, as explained in the Ten Commandments.[9]


Moses is traditionally considered to be the human author of Genesis. However, although there are references in the Bible to his having written parts of the Pentateuch, it does not specifically say that he wrote the Book of Genesis.[10] Scholars in the 18th and 19th centuries developed a theory (the Documentary Hypothesis) that Genesis had two separate authors, whose contributions can be distinguished in part by the different names they use for God.[11]

One of the rationales for the Documentary Hypothesis was the belief that writing was not yet known by the Hebrews or Egyptians at the time of Moses, so Moses could not have written them. And this belief was predicated on the evolutionary view that mankind was originally primitive and gradually became civilised and at some stage developed writing. This contrasts with a biblical view that mankind was created very intelligent, and with no reason to think that Adam could not have written. Later, scholars came to realise that writing was known in that part of the world in Moses' time, and there is no reason to think that Moses could not have written, especially as he was raised in Pharaoh's house.

In the 20th century, following the discovery that ancient documents often concluded with a 'colophon', it was recognised that Genesis contained a number of these colophons, leading to the idea that the colophons in Genesis indicate the ends of the original source documents that Moses would have compiled together into the book. In this idea, these original documents would have been written by the people who's names appeared in the colophons, with the second one (Genesis 2:4b to Genesis 5:1) being written by Adam. Indeed, this one specifically states that it is the written record of Adam.


  1. Genesis 1:31
  2. Genesis 3:6
  3. Genesis 2:17, 3:22
  4. Genesis 1:26-27
  5. Genesis 2:18,22,24
  6. Mark 10:6-8
  7. Genesis 3:7
  8. Genesis 3:21
  9. Exodus 20:9-11
  10. The Pentateuch -
  11. The Documentary Hypothesis

Books of the Bible
Old Testament
Pentateuch (Torah) GenesisExodusLeviticusNumbersDeuteronomy
History JoshuaJudgesRuthI SamuelII SamuelI KingsII KingsI ChroniclesII ChroniclesEzraNehemiahEsther
Wisdom Literature JobPsalmsProverbsEcclesiastesSong of Solomon
Major Prophets IsaiahJeremiahLamentationsEzekielDaniel
Minor Prophets HoseaJoelAmosObadiahJonahMicahNahumHabakkukZephaniahHaggaiZechariahMalachi
New Testament
The Gospels According to MatthewAccording to MarkAccording to LukeAccording to John
History Acts of the Apostles
Pauline Epistles RomansI CorinthiansII CorinthiansGalatiansEphesiansPhilippiansColossiansI ThessaloniansII ThessaloniansI TimothyII TimothyTitusPhilemon
General Epistles HebrewsJamesI PeterII PeterI JohnII JohnIII JohnJude
Prophecy The Revelation to John
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