Date: ca. 1,400 BC
The book of Genesis is a theological explanation for the origin of the universe. It tells of the creation of plants, animals and man; about the human nations; the election of Abraham and the nation of Israel as the historical bearers of God's redemption. It tells how God is carrying out His plan for this people and how He especially protects the family of Joseph through His providence. The origin of all kinds of things in our world of experience is described in the book of Genesis:
Other realities underlying the stories of Genesis, such as the creation of Satan and the Angels, are not described. Obviously, the book of Genesis contains a selective description of the origin of all things. It is not the purpose of Moses, led by God, to tell how everything came to be. Moses limits himself to matters that advance the religious and theological understanding of history. This is not to say that the book of Genesis is merely theological and not a factual truth. The facts described may be taken as true, but they have theological significance first, rather than scientific or historical. In other words: What would be interesting to scientists, but of less interest to theologians, has been omitted.
Some of the presupposed ideas in the book of Genesis help us understand the connection between otherwise seemingly unrelated elements.
Basic Thought 1
The fact of the existence of God. The earth exists because it is God and because He chose to make it. The existence of the earth is not a necessity. Even though nothing was ever created, yet God would be, forever.
Basic Thought 2
Everything depends on God and on God. Nothing consists of its own strength or purpose. God rules over everything and He knows what He is doing.
Basic Thought 3
It is possible, but very foolish and negative, to reject God. When God is in charge, everything goes well, but when we try on our own, the result is: evil, chaos, destruction, pain. Sin is inextricably linked to human existence.
Basic Thought 4
Though we reject God, He does not reject us. Even now, God is redeeming people on earth. Love and compassion for His lost creation are attributes of God.
Basic Thought 5
God works in history. His involvement doesn't begin until after our death. Like the patriarchs of faith, we may also know that God is present here and now in human history, with its problems and uncertainty. We can learn that from the book of Genesis.
1. Creation (1:1-2:7),
2. The Tragedy of the Fall (3:1-5:32),
3. Guilt and Penance: The Flood and After (6:1-10:32),
4. The dispersion of the people over the earth (11:1-32),
5. The History of Abraham (12:1-25:11),
6. Isaac and Ishmael (25:12-27:46),
7. Jacob and Esau (28:1-36:43),
8. Joseph and the Last Days of Jacob (37:1-50:26).