Critical Analysis of Genesis 1:1-2:4a Essays

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Gen 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
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Further evidence that the author of Genesis 1 is P is that “the account of creation in Genesis 1 has the refrains and solemn tones of a liturgical prayer…it maintains an interest in precise genealogy lists, a task of ancient temple scribes,” and pays close attention to structure and the repetition of key expressions, having a powerful effect on the reader, a style of writing that would only have been used by the well educated at the time, pointing directly to priests.

World of the text
Literary Context
Genesis is the first of the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, written in Hebrew in Israel, interweaving many genres including myth, epic and history.
“Israel’s Bible begins with an extended look at the world prior to Israel instead of assuming that the world began when it came to be.” “Gen 2-9 is introduced by Gen 1 and carried forward by Gen 10-11. Gen 1-11 then is a single story, an unusually sustained “philosophical” and “theological” explanation,” explaining our relationship with God, our flaws and destiny and religious institutions.

Whilst P is the author of Genesis 1, Genesis 2 has been tied to J and differs significantly in its tone and focus. J writes almost as if it is a fairytale and where the P account focuses on the origin of the world with the creation of mankind as its climax, J “begins with Gods creation of the man, and describes how subsequently God builds up a world for his

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