Audio and Multimedia
Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III
AN INTRODUCTION to the OLD TESTAMENT
The opening book of the Bible appropriately begins with the phrase “In the beginning.” This phrase is also used as the title of the book in Jewish tradition. Indeed, it is a book of beginnings or “origins” as its English title Genesis suggests. Although infrequently cited elsewhere, the book is foundational to the rest of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), to the Old Testament, and even to the New Testament. These five books of the Torah share a unity of history, plot, and theme that draws them together, as does their traditional ascription to a single author— Moses (see below). Thus it will be impossible to completely isolate Genesis from the other four books in the following discussion of authorship, style, and theological message. Genesis covers an immensely long period of time, longer perhaps than the rest of the Bible put together. It begins in the distant past of creation, an event about whose absolute date we cannot even speculate, through millennia to reach Abraham at the end of Gen. 11. At this point the story line slows down and focuses on four generations of the family of promise as they move from Mesopotamia to the land of promise, only to conclude the book in Egypt. Thus we have a book of foundations that spans a time period of unknown duration and follows the people of God as they travel from one end of the Near East to the other.