On the Generations Of: Who Wrote Genesis? Part I: Genesis One

In my previous  November post, I presented an introduction to the my hypothesis regarding who wrote Genesis. Prior to that, in a July post, I discussed my theory regarding the patterns I saw in the usage of the phrase “the generations of . . .”  The July essay serves as the foundation for this series of essays on the six writings that I believe Möshëh edited together to form the book of Genesis.

The First Section:  Genesis 1.1 to Genesis 2.4a

Here is the New American Standard Version’s translation of the opening and ending verses of the story in Genesis One.  Other translations are much of a muchness.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Gen 1.1)

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.  (Gen 2.4)

This is how the verses are formatted in the Masoretic text.

Gen 1.1:  berë@shîth bärä@ @élöhîm @ëth hashshämayim we@ëth hä@ärets #

Gen 2.4: @ëlleh thôledhôth hashshämayim wehä@ärets behibäre@äm ~ (space)
(indent)  beyôm øásôth YHWH @élöhîm @erets weshämäyim  #

This is how I translate them.

In a beginning @Élöhîm brought into existence the heavens and the earth (the cosmos).

These [are] the proceedings of the heavens and the earth when they were brought into existence.

When YHWH @Élöhîm fashioned land and sky (planet earth).

Genesis 1.1

Gen 1.1:  berë@shîth bärä@ @élöhîm @ëth hashshämayim we@ëth hä@ärets #

In a literary analysis that I did of Genesis One, I concluded that Genesis One is an oral story that was written down verbatim and told around the campfires for generations.  Within that context, I think that Genesis 1.1 was the Ancient Near East equivalent of the current practice of dimming the lights to let the audience know that this particular story was about to begin.

The need to capture the audience’s attention before beginning a live pestorytellerrformance has
never changed down through the millennia of storytelling, whether by a storyteller or by actors on a stage or projected on a screen.  I strongly suspect that the storyteller would have stated Genesis 1.1 in a loud booming voice in order to quiet the conversations around the campfire and grab the attention of the audience.  This one short sentence effectively introduces the main character, @Élöhîm, and focuses the audience’s attention on the theme of creation.

However, the sentence structure of Genesis 1.1 is more a part of the discussion of the first sentence of Section 2 than it is part of the discussion of the ending transition point of Section 1.  So, I’ll leave further discussion of it until later.

Genesis 2.4

Gen 2.4:  @ëlleh thôledhôth hashshämayim wehä@ärets behibäre@äm ~ (space)
(indent)  beyôm øásôth YHWH @élöhîm @erets weshämäyim  #

This is the first of the five ending transition statements that I see in Genesis.  In terms of its formatting, it looks to me like the scribe(s) creating the verse divisions in the Masoretic text thought that the two halves of the verse did not form a complete sentence, and therefore separated the two halves of verse 4 by putting the second half on a new line and indenting it.  Also, the silluq (~) indicates a pause when the verse is read out loud.  So, the oral tradition preserves a separation between the two halves of the verse as well as the written tradition.

However, the Septuagint version reads:

This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth, when they were made, in the day in which the Lord God made the heaven and the earth.

<> {} HAútay hay biblos genéste­­­os ouranoû kaì gâys, hóte egéneto, hây haymérai epoíayse Kúrios ho Theòs tòn ouranòn kaì tàyn gâyn,

So, the Septuagint translators did not indicate a separation within the verse.  Yet, I think that the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia preserves a more accurate rendition of the verse by splitting it into two sections.

I agree with the Masoretic text that Genesis 2.4 is not one sentence, but no English translation I’ve found reflects the formatting in the Masoretic text.  They all translate it as one sentence.  But, again, I don’t think that it is one sentence.  Combining the Septuagint and Masoretic texts, I think that verse 4 should be translated and formatted as follows:

This is the book of the proceedings of the heavens and the earth in their being brought into existence #

(Indent)  When YHWH @Élöhîm fashioned land and sky #

My take is that this first transition statement represents the end of one story, Genesis One, or How @Élöhîm re-formed and re-filled the earth, and the beginning of the next story, Genesis Two, or How YHWH @Élöhîm created hä@ädhäm and his ishshäh (wife).  Since they are two separate stories, they might very well have been on separate scrolls, especially since the ending verses for each of these stories uses the phrase “This is the book of the proceedings of . . .”.

Genesis One:  Author and Scribe

Now I also call these transition statements, “signature statements,” because I think that they give the name of the author of the section, except in Genesis One.  As I stated earlier, based on my literary analysis of the text of Genesis One, I concluded that Genesis One is an oral story that was written down verbatim.  It works beautifully as an oral story, but it’s actually a little boring as a written story because of the repetition that an oral story needs to keep its listeners engaged.

So, who told the story first?  Did YHWH Himself as the Angel of YHWH tell @Ädhäm and Chäwwäh (Eve) this story, just sitting around in the Garden of ØËdën in the evening shooting the breeze?  Or, was it perhaps angels teaching them about the world in which they lived?  I rather like the idea of YHWH Himself telling the story, but there’s no way to know that from the text.

So, I speculate that the signature statement gives no human author because the author wasn’t human.  The answer to who told the story of Genesis One first is one that we’ll have to wait for until we get to heaven.

Who wrote the story down?  I think that @Ädhäm is the most logical candidate for the scribe.  He was the first to hear the story.  He might even have been directed to write it down.  In terms of whether or not he was literate and able to do so, I see no reason why @Ädhäm would not have learned to read and write during his 930-year long life.  I expect that the angels would have taught him how to do so.  Both Jubilees and Josephus appear to take it for granted that men could read and write from very early on.  I would think that literacy became a necessity after the population started growing and moving out of ØËdhën, scattering across the globe.  But again, this is information that we’ll have wait on until we get to heaven to hear the answer.

Thus, I think that Genesis One is the first of the pre-Flood books, recording the story of how @Élöhîm re-formed the earth and re-filled it with life, as it lay a wasteland and empty of life under the cover of darkness.  I think that the story and the Hebrew record of it predate the similar Ancient Near East stories and their records, which inaccurately re-told the creation story and incorporated the @élöhîm of the Ancient Near East nations as the “gods” who created the earth and all life on it, including man, instead of giving credit to the @Él ØÉlyön (God Most High), YHWH the Creator.

So, on to the next section, Genesis 2:4b to 5.1a, the book of the proceedings of @Ädhäm.

Grace and peace to you,

Dori

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