Who wrote the first book of the Bible—Genesis?

The Lord Jesus Himself and the Gospel writers said that the Law was given by Moses (Mark 10:3; Luke 24:27; John 1:17), and the uniform tradition of the Jewish scribes and early Christian fathers, and the conclusion of conservative scholars to the present day, is that Genesis was written by Moses.

This does not preclude the possibility that Moses had access to patriarchal records, preserved by being written on clay tablets and handed down from father to son via the line of AdamSethNoahShemAbrahamIsaacJacob, etc., as there are 11 verses in Genesis which read, ‘These are the generations [Hebrew: toledoth = 'origins' or by extension 'record of the origins'] of…’ [1]. As these statements all come after the events they describe, and the events recorded all took place before rather than after the death of the individuals so named, they may very well be subscripts or closing signatures, i.e. colophons, rather than superscripts or headings.

If this is so, the most likely explanation of them is that Adam, Noah, Shem, and the others each wrote down an account of the events which occurred in his lifetime, and Moses, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, selected and compiled these, along with his own comments, into the book we now know as Genesis [2].

Chapters 12-50 of Genesis were very clearly written as authentic history, as they describe the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his 12 sons who were the ancestral heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Jewish people, from earliest biblical times to the present day, have always regarded this portion of Genesis as the true record of their nation's history.

But our main concern is the first 11 chapters of Genesis. These chapters have incurred the most criticism from modern scholars, scientists, and skeptics. Click here to see a detailed study of the Genesis 1-11.


  1. See Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; 37:2. Return to text

  2. The seminal author on the colophon concepts was P.J. Wiseman, Creation Revealed in Six Days, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, London, 1948, pp. 45-53. For an excellent evaluation of this by a evangelical linguist see The Oldest Science Book in the World, by Dr. Charles V. Taylor, Assembly Press, Queensland, 1984, pp. 21-23, 73, 121. Return to text

Author: Russell Grigg, M.Sc. (Hons.), Creation Ex Nihilo Dec 93 - Feb 1994, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 38-41 Supplied by Creation Ministries International

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