Wednesday, January 20, 2016

“Elleh Toledoth” (Genesis Introductory Issues: Structure)

Genesis has a natural structure that is easily apparent to the reader. There is a natural divide between the early, universal human history and the later, patriarchal stuff. And that second half easily divides itself by the generations of the protagonists. But, there is an even more precise mechanism being used that solidifies this outline. The phrase “this is the history of the generations of…” occurs eleven times in the book. Each of these (save perhaps one) serve to introduce a section, so with the prologue of the creation week you get the following:

1:1-2:3 Prologue (Creation)

2:4-4:26 History of Heaven and Earth (Creation and Fall) 

5:1-6:8 History of Adam (Genealogical Interlude)

6:9-9:29 History of Noah 

10:1-11:9 History of Noah’s Sons (Genealogical Interlude)

11:10-26 History of Shem (Genealogical Interlude)

11:27-25:11 History of Terah (Abraham’s Story) 

25:12-18 History of Ishmael (Genealogical Interlude)

25:19-35:29 History of Isaac (Jacob’s Story) 

36:1-37:1 History of Esau (Genealogical Interlude)

37:2-50:26 History of Jacob (Joseph’s Story) 

Just about every other one of these sections is not a narrative, but rather a family tree that serves as an interlude that advances the history to the next major figure.

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