In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Book of Genesis

  • Introduction
  • Dictionary Treatments
  • Bibliographies
  • Surveys
  • Collections
  • Genesis 37–50 (Joseph Cycle)

Biblical Studies Book of Genesis
Victor H. Matthews
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 November 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0044


Genesis, the first book in the Pentateuch, was shaped by a variety of editors over a long period of time from original oral tradition, folklore, compilations of genealogies, and tales about eponymous heroes as a means of providing a literary and political foundation for events in the monarchic era. The book recounts etiological stories of the creation, Eden, the generations prior to the flood, an epic flood narrative, the establishment of the covenant with Abraham, and stories about his descendants as they establish a claim to the Promised Land. A wide range of methodologies have been employed in the study of these materials. Much of this discussion has centered on the identification and role of editorial groups known as the Yahwist, the Elohist, and the Priestly source. The formation history and historicity of the ancestral narratives, in particular, have come under scrutiny in recent years. A good deal of attention has been paid to gender-related readings and reconstruction of the social world of ancient Israel.

Text of Genesis

A wide range of resources is available to facilitate a student’s initial orientation to the text of Genesis or to reacquaint readers, including scholars less familiar with the book, with the contents and perspectives of the book. The subheadings below provide helpful volumes and web links for access to the Hebrew and Greek (Septuagint) text for those who wish to work with original languages.

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