they had even joyfully gone “beyond their actual ability,” contributing out of their poverty, made “the riches of their generosity abound.”—2Co 8:1-4.
Let it be noted that these scriptures on generosity and liberality are not in conflict or out of balance with others that condemn ingrates, sluggards, and lazy persons. For example, the lazy one who will not plow in cold weather deserves nothing when begging in harvesttime; he that refuses to work is not entitled to the generosity of others. (Pr 20:4; 2Th 3:10) Widows were not to be put on the list for relief unless they qualified. (1Ti 5:9, 10) The contributions made by the congregations throughout Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia were not for the needy ones among pagan worshipers in general but for “the holy ones” that were in need.—1Co 16:1; 2Co 9:1, 2.
GENESIS, BOOK OF
The first book of the Pentateuch (Greek for “five rolls” or “fivefold volume”). “Genesis” (meaning “Origin; Birth”) is the name given to the first of these books by the Greek Septuagint, whereas its Hebrew title Bereʼ·shithʹ (In the Beginning) is taken from the first word in its opening sentence.
When and Where Written. The book of Genesis was evidently part of the one original writing (the Torah), and it was possibly completed by Moses in the wilderness of Sinai in the year 1513 B.C.E. After Genesis 1:1, 2 (relating to the creation of the heavens and the earth), the book evidently covers a span of thousands of years involved in the preparation of the earth for human habitation (see CREATION; DAY), and thereafter it covers the period from man’s creation on down to the year 1657 B.C.E., when Joseph died.—See CHRONOLOGY (From Human Creation to the Present).
Writership. The objection once raised by some skeptics that writing was not known in Moses’ day is today generally discounted. In his book New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis (1949, p. 35), P. J. Wiseman points out that archaeological research gives ample proof that “the art of writing began in the earliest historical times known to man.” Virtually all modern scholars acknowledge the existence of writing long before the time of Moses (in the second millennium B.C.E.). Expressions such as that found in Exodus 17:14, “Write this as a memorial in the book,” substantiate the fact that writing was in common use in Moses’ day. Although Adam must have had the ability to devise a form of writing, God having given him, as a perfect man, a language, with the ability to handle it perfectly, the Bible gives no proof that he did so.—Ge 2:19, 23.
From where did Moses get the information he included in Genesis?
All the information contained in the book of Genesis relates to events that took place prior to Moses’ birth. It could have been received directly by divine revelation. It is obvious that someone had to receive the information relating to the events prior to man’s creation in that way, whether Moses or someone prior to him. (Ge 1:1-27; 2:7, 8) This information and the remaining details, however, could have been transmitted to Moses by means of oral tradition. Because of the long life span of men of that period, the information could have been passed from Adam to Moses through just five human links, namely, Methuselah, Shem, Isaac, Levi, and Amram. A third possibility is that Moses obtained much of the information for Genesis from already existing writings or documents. As far back as the 18th century, the Dutch scholar Campegius Vitringa held this view, basing his conclusion upon the frequent occurrence in Genesis (ten times) of the expression (in KJ) “these are the generations of,” and once “this is the book of the generations of.” (Ge 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2) In this expression the Hebrew word for “generations” is toh·le·dhohthʹ, and it is better rendered “histories” or “origins.” For example, “generations of the heavens and of the earth” would hardly be fitting, whereas “history of the heavens and the earth” is meaningful. (Ge 2:4) In harmony with this, the German Elberfelder, the French Crampon, and the Spanish Bover-Cantera all use the term “history,” as does the New World Translation. There is no doubt that even as men today are interested in an accurate historical record, so they have been from the start.
Although there is no Biblical proof, Vitringa and others have understood toh·le·dhohthʹ in Genesis to refer to an already existing written historical document that Moses had in his possession and that he relied on for the majority of the information recorded in Genesis. They believe that the persons named in direct connection with such ‘histories’ (Adam, Noah, Noah’s sons, Shem, Terah, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, and Jacob) were either the writers or original possessors of those written documents. This, of course, would still leave unexplained how all such documents came to be in the possession of Moses. It also leaves unexplained why documents obtained from men who were not distinguished as faithful worshipers of Jehovah (such as Ishmael and Esau) should be the source of much of the information used. It is entirely possible that the expression “This is the history of” is simply an introductory phrase serving conveniently to divide off the various sections of the long overall history. Compare Matthew’s use of a similar expression to introduce his Gospel account.—Mt 1:1; see WRITING.
No definite conclusion can be arrived at, therefore, as to the immediate source from which Moses obtained the information he recorded. Rather than just by one of the methods discussed, the information may have been received by all three, some through direct revelation, some through oral transmission, some by written records. The important point is that Jehovah God guided the prophet Moses so that he wrote by divine inspiration.—2Pe 1:21.
The material was to serve as an inspired guide to future generations. It was to be read to the people on frequent occasions (De 31:10-12; 2Ki 23:2, 3; Ne 8:2, 3, 18), and Israel’s kings were to take instructions from it.—De 17:18, 19.
The “Documentary Theory” of Critics. A theory has been set forth by some Bible critics that Genesis is not the work of one writer or compiler, namely, Moses, but rather that it represents the work of several writers, some of these living long after Moses’ time. On the basis of supposed differences of style and word usage, they have advanced the so-called documentary theory. According to this theory, there were three sources, which they call “J” (Jahwist), “E” (Elohist), and “P” (Priest Codex). Because of a double mention of a certain event or because of similarity of accounts in different parts of Genesis, some would add still further sources to the list, going so far in dissecting the book of Genesis as to claim that there were up to 14 independent sources. They contend that these various sources or writers held different views and theologies yet that, nevertheless, Genesis as an amalgamated product of these sources somehow forms a connected whole. There are many absurdities to which they go to support their theories, a few of which may be mentioned.
The original basis for the documentary theory was the use of different titles for God; the critics claim that this indicates different writers. The unreasonableness of such a view, however, can be seen in that in just one small portion of Genesis we find the following titles: “the Most High God” (ʼEl ʽEl·yohnʹ, Ge 14:18); “Producer of heaven and earth” (14:19); “Sovereign Lord” (ʼAdho·naiʹ, 15:2); “God of sight” (16:13); “God Almighty” (ʼEl Shad·daiʹ, 17:1); “God” (ʼElo·himʹ, 17:3); “the true God” (ha·ʼElo·himʹ, 17:18); “the Judge of all the earth” (18:25). Trying to use this as a basis for attributing each of these sections to a different writer produces insurmountable difficulties and becomes absurd. Rather, the truth is that the different titles applied to God in Genesis are used because of their meaning, revealing Jehovah in his different attributes, in his various works, and in his dealings with his people.
Other examples are: Because of the use of the word ba·raʼʹ, “created,” Genesis 1:1 is said to be written by the source called “P.” Yet we find the same word at Genesis 6:7 in the source supposed to be “J.” The expression “land of Canaan” appearing in several texts (among which are Ge 12:5; 13:12a; 16:3; 17:8) is said to be a peculiarity of the writer known as “P,” and therefore these critics hold that “P” wrote these passages. But in chapters 42, 44, 47, and 50, we find the same expression in the writings attributed by the same critics to “J” and “E.” Thus, while the critics claim that their theories are needed to account for supposed inconsistencies in Genesis, examination shows that the theories themselves are riddled with inconsistencies.
If the material attributed to each theoretical source is extricated portion by portion, and sentence by sentence, from the Genesis account and then reassembled, the result is a number of accounts each one of which by itself is illogical and incoherent. If we were to believe that these various sources were used and put together by a later compiler, we would be forced to believe that these incoherent accounts, before being amalgamated, were accepted as historical and were used for centuries by the nation of Israel. But what writer, especially a historian, would even construct such disconnected narratives, and if he did, what nation would accept them as a history of its people?
Illustrating the unreasonableness of the advocates of the “documentary theory” is this statement by Egyptologist K. A. Kitchen: “In Pentateuchal criticism it has long been customary to divide the whole into separate documents or ‘hands’. . . . But the practice of Old Testament criticism in attributing these characteristics