The First Chapter Of Genesis -- By: Thomas Hill

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:126 (Apr 1875)
Article: The First Chapter Of Genesis
Author: Thomas Hill


The First Chapter Of Genesis

Rev. Thomas Hill

It has been observed by many biblical critics during the last six score years, that the Book of Genesis was not written by the author of the Pentateuch; but rather compiled by him as an introduction to his own writings. Two principal documents, or sources, seem to have been used by Moses in this compilation, embracing accounts of the creation and fall, the deluge, the dispersion of nations, agreeing in a striking manner with the early traditions preserved in sundry profane writers. Those disposed to regard the Book of Genesis with reverence, as the compilation of a divinely illuminated man, look upon these traditions recorded by him as the true versions, giving us the realities; those who wish to disparage the Bible, assume that the first book of Moses is of no more value than any of the traditions of the Etrurians, the Chaldeans, or the earlier Aryans. The latter class seize upon the anthropomorphitic character of many passages in Genesis to show, as they think, that the writers had no higher conceptions of the Deity than those held by any of the pagans. To this the defenders of Moses reply, that we must consider the extreme antiquity of these fragments, that they far antedate Moses, and were addressed originally to a people more rude and uncultivated than the earliest Hebrews. Those people must be addressed in their own language and in their own style of speech, else they would not comprehend the lesson. These fragments in Genesis contain, each, a lesson well worth learning, and which can be conveyed to rude, uncultivated people, even at the present day, in no paraphrase so well and so forcibly as in the biblical form.

This general line of defence and of argument will not avail, unless it be directly and distinctly applied to the individual cases. Let us take up, therefore, the first of those two apparently contradictory accounts of the creation with which the book opens, and see if we can discover the divine lesson which it contains. At some future time we may endeavor to show that the second account is equally wonderful, — that it needs only a generous and appreciative interpretation to show that it was, for the age in which it was given, the best possible form in which the great lessons of our moral freedom and our responsibility to God could possibly have been given. But at present we will confine ourselves to the consideration of the first account, which includes the whole of the first chapter, and ends with the word “created “in the fourth verse of the second chapter; and endeavor to show the correctness of Professor Benjamin Peirce’s view, that this chapter contains in itself, just as it stands in our ordinary English translation, demonstrative evidence, first, of its ext...

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