Bible: Genesis

(ca. 1400–400 BCE)

The book of Genesis is one of the most significant books in the Bible and is considered sacred scripture for Jews, Samaritans, and Christians. It is the first book of the Bible and begins the section often called the Pentateuch, from the Greek for Five Books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Traditionally, Jews and Christians have held that Moses was the primary author responsible for compiling and composing Genesis as well as the rest of the Pentateuch, although some medieval Jewish scholars favored the scribe Ezra. The Samaritans, descendants of the northern tribes of Israel whose central sanctuary is on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem, use their own version of the Pentateuch as sacred scripture. Contemporary scholars remain divided over the identity of the author, or authors, of Genesis.

Genesis is a complex document that embraces many diverse literary genres. Portions of it, like Genesis 1, are highly stylized and include poetic elements like...

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“Adam and Eve” by Heinrich Campendonk (Yale University Art Gallery)

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