Reading Genesis and wondering how it all works together? Here are 5 things that helped me read and understand the first book of the Bible:
- Note how the book is structured: each time you read the phrase “these are the generations of” or “this is the book of the genealogies of” it’s a break in the book. How many do you count?
- Note the pace of the book: after the first 11 chapters things slow down quite a bit and our view narrows down to one man, his family and the promises God gives him. Everything that follows has to be read through the lens of these promises while at the same time keeping in mind how the mess of chapters 3-11 can be fixed. When a section or passage seems out of place or strange, we should ask how it fits in the broader plot of the book and what it’s got to do with God’s plan?
- Observe how Moses plays with contrasting parties or individuals all throughout the book: God vs. the serpent, Kain vs. Abel, Noah vs. humanity, Abraham vs. Lot, Sara vs. Hagar, Jacob vs. Esau, Joseph vs. his brothers. Notice also how God responds to each and what we learn about God’s plan by reading about their lives.
- Pay attention to God’s self-revelation. God introduces himself with various names in Genesis, each adding depth and richness to the promises he made to Abraham.
- Notice where the author provides great details or repetition, such as chapter 24, and where he skips over periods of time or events, such as between ch. 21 and 22. This is a way to communicate what’s important.
Hope this helps you as it helped me. If you think of other helpful tips for reading Genesis, please leave a comment so we can all benefit from it!