Genesis is a defining story without which it is hard to make sense of the rest of the Old Testament.
Now, as far as I understand it RJS is a scientist of some kind and not a biblical scholar so I’ll cut her(?) some slack, yet, I think RJS represents a dominant assumption that Genesis is essential to the rest of the OT, a foundational book, the sine qua non without which the OT would be lost and rudderless. On one hand, Genesis is important if you build a metanarrative of Scripture or employ a so-called canonical reading of the Bible. And, New Testament authors occasionally quote or allude to certain passages within Genesis. Yet, if we are talking about making sense of a book in relation to the Old Testament then I think it is important to note how the biblical authors themselves viewed portions of Scripture before saying that it is hard to make sense of the rest of the Old Testament without X passage or book. For instance, with respect to Genesis how do we deal with the facts that:
- The seven days of creation are not referred to outside of Genesis 1 except for in one of the decalogues (Exod 20:8-9)1
- Adam shows up nowhere else outside of the first handful of chapters in Genesis apart from the genealogy in Chronicles 1.
- The Fall isn’t brought up again outside of Genesis until Paul.
- Noah is absent throughout the entire OT apart from the Genesis account and genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1
- The Tower of Babel is never alluded to or cited within the OT
Not every figure within Genesis is absent within subsequent OT literature though.
- Abraham has a decent showing in the OT and, in fact, this is where Stephen begins his history of Israel in Acts 7
- Jacob figures more prominently–a lot more prominently–than Abraham within the Old Testament outside of the Pentateuch
- Joseph appears about as many times outside of the Pentateuch as does Abraham
- Jon Levenson sees a connection, however slight, between Gen 1 and Ps 104 yet I wonder whether the similarities he outlines are best explained as stemming from an organic connection or a conversion of tropes; Creation and the Persistence of Evil, 53-65. [back]