The first book of the Bible is called in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) "Genesis." Genesis means "origin." The Hebrews call it by the first Hebrew word "Bereshith"—in the beginning. It is the book of all beginnings. We can trace here the beginnings of creation and everything else, except God, who has no beginning. The book of Genesis is the great foundation upon which the entire revelation of God rests. The marvellous structure of the Bible, composed of the different books, written by different instruments of the Spirit of God at different times, is built upon this great, majestic book. It is the root out of which the tree of God's revelation has grown. Internal evidences prove the most complete unity, that is the work of one chosen instrument, Moses, and that it is not of a composite authorship. But more than that, the book of Genesis establishes the divine unity of the Bible. The last book of the Bible, the Revelation, confirms this. Genesis tells of the origin of all things; Revelation reveals the destiny of all things.
It is an interesting study, profitable and suggestive, to trace the great doctrines of the Bible in this first book. They are all found somewhere in Genesis, either in typical foreshadowings or in direct words. Here, too, we may discover the dispensational and prophetic truths of the Bible in germ. Genesis 3:15 is the prediction out of which the rest of prophecy has been developed. The entire New Testament in its doctrinal statements rests upon this book. It is quoted there as the Word of God scores of times. If the revelations of Genesis, especially the opening chapters, the supreme foundation, if these chapters were myths, the entire New Testament would have to be given up as unauthoritative. Indeed, the great doctrines in Romans, starting from the fact that man is a fallen being and lost, would be just as much myths, if the fall of man were a myth. The Lord Jesus Christ has put His seal to this great book.
The book of Genesis, being the foundation of the whole Bible, and of such vast importance, it does not surprise us that the enemy of the truth of God has directed first of all his attacks against this book to break down its authority. A hundred years ago and less the cunning inventions of the father of lies, directed against the inspiration of Genesis and its unity, occupied mostly, if not altogether, the minds of theologians and scholars. It is different now. The stock of trade of the destructive critics, differing but little from that of accredited infidels, has become the common property of evangelical Christendom. The rationalistic theories concerning the date and authorship of Genesis are now liberally and almost universally displayed. In theological seminaries they are openly taught and hundreds of men, who claim to be teachers of the oracles of God, deny the inspiration of the book of Genesis.
That such a denial is not of God is self-evident. But it is interesting to examine the source from which the destructive criticism of Genesis and the Pentateuch has come. The man who has been called the "Sir Isaac Newton of criticism" is jean Astruc. He was a French physician, a freethinker, who led a wicked, immoral life. In 1753 this man gave to the world his doubts in a work which he called, "Conjectures Regarding the Original Memoirs in the Book of Genesis." In this work he taught that the use of the two names of God in Genesis, Elohim (translated by God) and Jehovah (translated by Lord) showed that two different documents were used in the composition of the book. The hypothesis of a Jehovist and Elohist writer, so called, was invented by this unsaved man. It was, however, reserved for a German scholar and rationalist to formulate the denial of the unity and inspiration of Genesis into a system. This man was Professor Eichhorn. He coined the phrase, "higher criticism," and is therefore called the "father" of it. He introduced successfully into the theological institutions of Germany the theory of Astruc. On account of his great learning his invented higher criticism took hold upon the minds of thousands of people. But who was Professor Eichhorn? Let another higher critic give the answer. Ewald, himself such a powerful factor of this most dangerous infidelity, wrote: "We cannot fail to recognize that, from the religious point of view the Bible was to him a closed book."
Such is the paternity of the now widely accepted higher criticism: an immoral, infidel Frenchman and an unconverted, blind leader of the blind, a German Professor.
After Eichhorn came other men, such as Vater and Hartman, who tried to undermine the Mosaic authorship of Genesis by still another theory. Professor DeWette, of Heidelberg, followed closely in the steps of infidel Eichhorn. Bleeck taught still another theory. Then we mention Ewald, Hupfeld, Prof. Kuenen, Dr. Davidson, Robertson Smith, Canon Driver, George Adams Smith, Professor Briggs, W. Harper, Marcus Dods and many others, who may all be fitly called the disciples of the immoral Frenchman and the infidel German. For instance, George Adams Smith saith: "The framework of the first eleven chapters of Genesis is woven from the raw material of myth and legend" And the works of this man and others are now sold at popular prices by so called Christian publishers.
They call this kind of criticism scientific. It surely has all the marks of so-called science. Speculation, uncertainty and complicated statements are the leading characteristics of this criticism. They claim now that the Pentateuch (the five books written by Moses) were never written by him, but that these books consist of four diverse documents. These they designate as follows: The Jehovist. 2. The Elohist. 3. The Deuteronomist. 4. The Priestly Code. The authorship of Moses has been completely given up and it is claimed that the earliest part of the Pentateuch was written perhaps six hundred years after Moses' death. They put the date of the greater part of these five books after the Babylonian captivity.
A writer has recently given a fine description of this higher critical "scientific" nonsense, part of which we quote:
They conjecture that these four suppositive documents were not compiled and written by Moses, but were probably constructed somewhat after this fashion: For some reason, and at some time, and in some way, someone no one knows who, or why, or when, or where, wrote Jehovist. Then someone else, no one knows who, or why, or when, or where, wrote another document, which is now called Elohist. And then at a later time, the critics only know who, or why, or when, or where, an anonymous personage, whom we may call Redactor I, took in hand the reconstruction of these documents, introduced new material, harmonized the real and apparent discrepancies, and divided the inconsistent accounts of one event into two separate transactions. Then some time after this, perhaps one hundred years or more, no one knows who, or why, or when, or where, some anonymous personage wrote another document, which they styled Deuteronomist. And after awhile another anonymous author, no one knows who, or why, or when, or where, whom we will call Redactor II, took this in hand, compared it with Jehovist and Elohist, revised them with considerable freedom and, in addition, introduced quite a body of new material. Then someone else, no one knows who, or why, or when, or where, probably, however, about 525, or perhaps 425, wrote the Priestly Code; and then another anonymous Hebrew, whom we may call Redactor III, undertook to incorporate this with the triplicated composite Jehovist, Elohist, and Deuteronomist, with what they call redactional additions and insertions.
This describes the infidel mud puddle into which these "great" scholars have plunged and into which they would like to lead the sheep and even the little lambs.
"All tradition, from whatever source it is derived, whether inspired or uninspired, unanimously affirms that the first five books of the Bible were written by one man, and that man was Moses. There is no counter-testimony in any quarter." With these words, Prof. William Henry Green begins his learned work on the unity of Genesis. Other learned men in past generation up to the present time stand firm for the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, and thereby affirm the fact of revelation. The cry of the higher critics—"ripe scholarship," "access to better sources," etc.—is a bluff. The best scholarship stands by the truth. Some of the arguments advanced against Moses as writer of Genesis are exactly the argument for it and the evidences of inspiration. For instance, the use of the name of God as Elohim and Jehovah. Elohim is the name of God as Creator—Jehovah is His name as entering into covenant relation with man. The use of these names is a precious evidence of the work of the Spirit of God and not an evidence of different writers and documents.
The highest authority that Moses wrote Genesis and the other four books, and that Genesis is the revelation of God, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He spoke repeatedly of Moses and reminded His hearers of the historic facts as given in Genesis. This fact is met by the critics with the statement that our Lord was not a critical scholar and limited in His knowledge. Such statements are akin to blasphemy.
The information concerning the criticism upon this great Bible book we are about to study is much needed. Many Christians hear of higher criticism without knowing what it is and how it originated. The information given shows that it originated with wicked men and that it is an attempt to destroy the very foundations upon which the whole Scriptures rest. Sometimes higher critics have a way of telling uninformed Christians that the views they hold are the consensus of the best scholarship. This is untrue. Others, again, who have imbibed these views hide the worst features of them. For this reason we deem it expedient to give this information.
The study of Genesis will deepen the faith in the inspiration and revelation of the first book of the Bible. There is nothing which convinces of the divinity of the Bible like the prayerful and spiritual study of the Bible itself. And the Bible has nothing to fear. It needs neither apology nor concessions.