Who Wrote Genesis? -- By: Anonymous
BSP 1:1 (Winter 1988) p. 19
Who Wrote Genesis?
Many people wonder how Moses could have written Genesis, since everything in it occurred before his time. Even Jesus, when quoting Genesis, never refers to it as a book of Moses. Yet, when quoting from passages in the other four books (Exodus through Deuteronomy), he does attribute them to Moses.
Suggestions have been made as to how Moses himself could have written Genesis, including direct dictation, or revelation from God through His Spirit. These methods cannot be ruled out.
Biblical critics, on the other hand, credit Genesis to scribes during the time of Israel’s Kingdom period. They claim it is little more than a pious fraud, attributed to Moses, but actually composed of Canaanite and Mesopotamian literature combined with campfire stories about the Patriarchs.
In the Spring, 1977 issue of Bible and Spade can be found an explanation for the origin of Genesis which has real merit and needs to be brought to our readers’ attention. We review it ten years later because: 1) It up-dates and improves on the suggestion of P.J. Wiseman (in 1936) that Genesis was originally written on clay tablets; and 2) It is a good answer to the antiquated and erroneous JEDP, or Documentary Theory.
The key to understanding the phrase “…these are the generations of…,” which occurs 10 times in Genesis, is to understand them as part of a colophon. From earliest times, colophons were added to the main text written on clay tablets to describe a number of things: the author, the owner, witnesses, a date, a summary of the tablet’s contents, the title, etc. We might compare them to what is written on the edge of the binding of a book with: title, author, publisher, date, etc. This information helps in filing the book (in ancient times, a clay tablet) on a shelf.
Dale DeWitt, the author of the Bible and Spade article, suggests three improvements on the earlier proposal of Wiseman (that Genesis was originally written on clay tablets). 1) The phrase “these are the generations of…” refers both to what precedes and to what follows. 2) The words following the phrase refer not to the owner or writer of the tablet, but to its contents. 3) The most likely writer of the tablets was Abraham, or some earlier saint, followed by Jacob. Then Jacob’s descendents passed them on to someone who finally gave them to Moses to use in composing Genesis.
As DeWitt applies these principles to the understanding of Genesis, many interesting and exciting comments open the book up to the reader. We highly recommend that our readers order a full set of Bible and Spade and read this, as well as dozens of other profitable articles. I
BSP 1:1 (Winter 1988) p...
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