After surveying the evidence for Mesopotamian and Egyptian influence on Genesis 1 , several conclusions become clear. After years of study, notwithstanding several excessive perspectives, one must conclude that Genesis 1 does not plagiarize other texts as some have asserted.
But it is equally impossible to overlook significant thematic parallels, similarities which indicate that each of the issues Genesis 1addresses represents topics of shared concern throughout the entire region.
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Our literary survey shows how diverse and complex the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmogonies were. Further, no cautious study should attempt to focus only on one element of an account, talking motifs out of their contexts, and ignoring conflicting evidence.
Thus, Genesis 1 stands as a powerful polemic against the prevailing cosmogonies of the era, and against several particular theological tenets. The most distinctive element in Genesis 1 is its view of God. Genesis begins with God, existing and creating at his own choice. God and his creation are distinct, never to be confused or merged with one another.
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In no way does Genesis describe these waters mythologically as the source of life as many other ancient cosmogonies do. The creation of the expanse surely repudiated Egyptian influences of the sky god cult, as well as the Mesopotamian view that the heavenly bodies were themselves gods. For example, the deity Shamash Heb. God even delegated dominion to humanity, overseeing everything else God had created.
Contrast this with the raison in the other creation stories. Most notoriously, the gods created humans in the Sumerian accounts in order to provide sustenance and to fulfill menial tasks for the gods, viewing humans as worthy of little more than fulfilling lowly service. Genesis 1 does not merely shape ancient thought — it rejects it outright. Nothing less could begin to present God and his world as it is. Manifold additional literary features produce the same effect.
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While toledoth does not usually have chronological significance in Genesis, it does so in a. Perhaps the most compelling argument for the unified structure of Genesis 1is the use of chronological elements to frame the body of the chapter. Thus, the pattern of creative activity during six consecutive days, followed by the seventh, the sabbath, shapes the whole creation story. The following patterns emerge: day one: light parallels day four: luminaries; day two: heaven and sea parallels day five: birds and fish; and day three: earth and herbage parallels day six: the land and humanity. While far from exhaustive, this survey of literary features in Genesis 1 emphasizes its structural unity.
However, the chapter presents an equally compelling canonical unity. Canonically, Genesis 1 serves as an introduction not only to Genesis, but to the entire Torah. Bellinger, Jr.
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The Noahic covenant represents a partial restoration of the perfect world God made in chapter 1. Further, both the Abrahamic and Sinaitic covenants continue various themes established in Genesis 1, particularly that of blessing. Nevertheless, the Sinaitic covenant extended the hope of a restoration to those who would obey God, the test in Genesis 3. But Israel refused to obey her God, just like her ancestors Adam and Eve, and forestalled blessing once more. Thematically, Genesis 1 has two foci.
The creation of humanity is one, an often-noted emphasis of the chapter. God created humans expressly for the purpose of blessing them. Unfortunately, this theme has received limited attention.
The owner thus has the right to dictate how the inhabitants will conduct themselves. However, this text functions at another level. Chapter 1 also demonstrates that the God who can create the cosmos can create a nation of Israel. Biblical law serves as but one example of this point. Chapter 1 lays the foundation upon which law rests.
Thinking about Genesis 1canonically also forces the reader to consider theological themes outside of the Torah. The first chapter shares an important relationship with Old Testament wisdom. Genesis 1 and wisdom both place great emphasis on the powerful word of God, equally of creating the cosmos or a wise life. Waltke, eds. Packer and S. K Soderlund Grand Rapids: Zondervan, , On a broader scale, the beginning compels the reader to ask, What will the end be?
Finally, one must view Genesis 1 as an introduction to the entire Bible. For example, Isaiah appropriates earlier teachings on creation to persuade his audience that God has the power and the personal relation — ship with Israel to restore their blessings after the Exile. Psalms 8, 19, and employ creation to exalt God, and in so doing, humanity as well. Likewise, the New Testament underscores God as Creator when seeking to portray his servants in their proper light Acts ; ; or when desiring to extol God himself Ephesians ; Revelation ; Genesis 1 begins with God creating order out of chaos.
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These narratives pave the way for the patriarchs, Abraham in particular, for it will be through him and his descendants that the lost blessings of God can be regained. The Genesis narrative does not seek to make intelligible what is beyond human ken. To draw upon human language to explain that which is outside any model of human experience is inevitably to confront the inescapable limitations of any attempt to give verbal expression to this subject.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And he said, A rod. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness:. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
Let my people go, that they may serve me. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. And they spoiled the Egyptians. And they did so. For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. The Fear of the Lord 18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. The unique, beyond the human, turned into a god with a human face.