Critical Analysis of Genesis 1:1-2:4a
World Behind the text
Historical and Cultural Context
Genesis illustrates the way Biblical writers J (Yahwist), E (Elohist) and P (Priestly) drew upon the cultural and religious legacy of the Ancient Near East (ANE) along with its stories and imagery and transformed it to conform to a new vision of a non-mythological God and a monotheistic, superior religion.
“The Pentateuch developed against the background of the Ancient Near Eastern culture first cultivated in and spread by Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires”. From this, we can see how Israelite religion was “shaped by responses to and reactions against this culture due both to contacts with neighboring Canaanites and to conflicts with Assyrian and Babylonian …show more content…
This contrasts to P who writes that humans are to ‘subdue’ and hold ‘dominion’ over the other living beings.
Furthermore, whilst P writes in a chronological and symmetrical structure, J has poorer structure and does not discuss the creation of the universe in as much depth and instead focuses on humans.
The genre of Genesis 1:1-2:4a serves as a ‘consciously planned’ historical narrative or genealogy, containing dialogue in the form of God’s commands of creation, climaxing with the creation of man in God’s image. ‘It has an introduction (1:1), a body (1:2-2:3) and a conclusion (2:4a) and together a unit is formed.’
In this passage, the author is the narrator; God himself is alive. “We first encounter God in motion – His spirit moving across the face of the deep. The entire creation account can be read as the result of this motion,” with the climax of this motion being the creation of human beings in God’s image. In this way, humans are set apart from the creation of other beings, which establishes their role on earth and facilitates communication between humans and God.
The passage uses imagery throughout along with the repetition of ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ in order to divide the passage into its seven-day structure. Genesis 1:1-2:3 comprises of six paragraphs for the six days of creation with the seventh paragraph emphasizing the importance of the Sabbath, repeating the theme of seven. ”The account itself is