Genesis 1: In the Beginning
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
The Bible begins with these famous words in Genesis 1, laying the foundation for the rest of the Bible. Genesis 1:1–2:4a is the first of two creation accounts in Genesis, and it focuses on God’s creation of the cosmos.
The Bible’s creation account is the source of a lot of debate. Some modern readers strip away the cultural and theological significance of Genesis, and instead mine it for scientific details about how God created the heavens and the earth. Others suggest it is simply one of many ancient accounts of creation—a myth.
To help us understand this ancient Scripture, we’re drawing from the expertise of Tremper Longman III, a renowned Old Testament scholar. In his online course on the book of Genesis, Longman reveals the cultural and theological implications…
Sodom and Gomorrah: A Story about Sin and Judgment
Sodom and Gomorrah are two of the Old Testament’s most infamously sinful cities. Genesis 19 tells the story of how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, but spared Lot and his family (mostly).
The New Testament uses these cities as examples of behavior that God’s people need to avoid. But what exactly was the nature of Sodom’s sin? Why did God single them out? And why was Lot spared?
In his online course on the book of Genesis, Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III answers these questions and more, starting where the story actually begins in Genesis 18, when Abraham finds himself hosting three unknown visitors.
The following post is based on his online course.
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Cain and Abel: A Story of Rebellion, Judgment, and Grace
The story of Cain and Abel is one of sibling rivalry and murder. It’s shocking to realize that there is only one generation between the Bible’s story of creation and the first homicide. Mankind’s descent into sinfulness was fast and severe.
Cain and Abel each bring God a sacrifice. When God shows disappointment in Cain’s sacrifice and pleasure in Abel’s, Cain kills Abel with a stone.
God confronts Cain about murdering his brother. Cain lies about it. And God exiles him to the land of Nod, east of Eden.
This brief account in the Bible is just 16 verses long, but it paints a powerful picture of sin, judgment, and surprisingly, grace. Renowned Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III explores this famous passage in his online course on Genesis.
The following post is adapted from…
Abraham and Isaac: A Test of Faith
In Genesis 22, God tests Abraham’s obedience by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son.
To modern readers, this passage and this test feels like a nightmare. Why would God ask Abraham to do that? And why would Abraham be willing to go through with it?
Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III explores this challenging passage in his online course on the book of Genesis. The following analysis is adapted from his course.
But first, let’s look at the passage itself.
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Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?
Moses is traditionally considered the author of Genesis. But for over two centuries, one of the most contested questions in biblical scholarship has been “Who wrote the Book of Genesis—and when?”
Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and one of the five books of the Pentateuch. Several other books of the Pentateuch include passages that mention Moses recording events and writing down what God says. The authors of the New Testament—and even Jesus himself—appear to credit Moses as the author of Genesis.
So why don’t scholars agree?
There are passages in Genesis that Moses could not have written, because they describe events that happened after his death, known as postmosaica passages. And there are others that would simply be awkward for Moses to write, which are referred to as amosaica (such as Numbers 12:4).…
Understanding the Creation Story from Genesis
How did the world begin? Was the world a cosmological mistake or an intentional creation? What existed before the universe as we know it? Questions like these have generated tons of discussion (and arguments) in the historical, scientific, and religious communities.
While most people are familiar with the creation story found in Genesis, there’s a richness that’s often lost. In The Torah Story online course, Gary E. Schnittjer, Cairn University’s professor of Old Testament, plumbs the depth of the creation story while answering important questions like:
How did the author of Genesis receive the creation story? How does the narrative style of the creation story provide the backdrop for the rest of the biblical story? What does the creation story reveal about God? How are humans different than the rest of creation? What is mankind’s responsibility to creation?
Tremper Longman III Reflects on the Challenges of Studying Genesis
Genesis, like the rest of the Old Testament is a difficult book for us as twenty-first Christians to understand.
After all, we’re distant from this book in many ways. For one thing, it’s an ancient book. This is a book that was written three thousand five hundred years ago and has many strange and ancient customs.
The book of Genesis is also distant from us in terms of culture. It was written in an Ancient Near Eastern culture,…
Tremper Longman, III on Studying Genesis
We recently sat down with Tremper Longman to discuss some of the challenges in studying the book of Genesis. Take a look at what he had to say:
Genesis, like the rest of the Old Testament is a difficult book for us as twenty-first Christians to understand. After all, we’re distant from this book in many ways.
For one thing, it’s an ancient book. This is a book that was written three thousand five hundred years ago and has many strange and ancient customs.
The book of Genesis is also distant from us in terms of culture. It was…
The Faith of Abraham – An Excerpt From Genesis (The Story of God Bible Commentary Series)
The Story of God Bible Commentary explains and illuminates each passage of Scripture in light of the Bible’s grand story. It aims to set each passage within the context of Scripture and leads the reader to (1) “Listen to the Story,” (2) “Interpret the Story,” and (3) “Live the Story.”
In his commentary on Genesis, Tremper Longman III examines each portion of scripture through this three-step process. This week’s excerpt is taken from the “Live the Story” section of Genesis 11:27-12:9, and encourages us to reflect on Abraham’s faith journey, as well as our own.
THE JOURNEY OF FAITH
What Does Genesis 12:1–3 Mean, Why Does It Matter?
Earlier this year, we released another volume in the landmark The Story of God Bible Commentary series, written by none other than venerable Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III.
In Genesis, Longman helps pastors and teachers help those they shepherd live and apply the Story to real life. It also offers them a sturdy resource for hearing the voice of God in the text and finding an accessible explanation of its passages.
Let’s look at how Longman explains and applies Genesis 12:1–3—an important set of verses to be sure!
“One cannot overestimate the importance of these three verses not only for the Abraham story and the Pentateuch but for the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments.” (159)
So what does Read more
Is Noah’s Flood Still Relevant? Longman Offers 6 Ways to Live the Story
A few weeks ago, another volume in the landmark The Story of God Bible Commentary series was released. And by none other than the venerable Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III.
Genesis offers pastors, students, and interested Christians a sturdy resource for hearing the voice of God in the text and finding an accessible explanation of its passages. But like all SGBC volumes, this one goes further than most Genesis commentaries: Not only does it help us hear and explore the Story, it helps us live it.
Reading the Bible is not just about discovering what it meant back then; the intent of The Story of God Bible Commentary is to probe how this text might be lived out today as that story continues to march on in…
Tremper Longman on Genesis’ Theological Message and the Story of God
In his new Genesis commentary in the ground-breaking Story of God Bible Commentary series Longman argues, “it provides a foundation for the knowledge of God and his human creatures’ relationship with him.” (13)
He goes on to reveal how “varied and profound” its theological teachings are. Each part contains a “unique focus” and makes an “important theological contribution.” Which is why we’ve provided commentary from Longman on Genesis’ theological message and its relationship to the Story of God.
It will help you grasp the significance of reading Genesis in its Old Testament context, from…