The Unity of Genesis and the Unity of the Pentateuch

The Divine name does seem to change abruptly from God to The LORD between Genesis 2:3 and 2:4. And much of the material beginning with 2:4 was already covered in Chapter 1. This leads the elite scholar to conclude that Genesis is a collation of several independent accounts, meshed together to appear as one work. Indeed, modern scholarship tends to agree that the Pentateuch (the combined work of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy) is a collation of four independently written accounts. They don’t even argue the point any more. They just assume it. But attempts to isolate the documents according to the name of God fail. It seems “everybody” knows they are four separate documents. But given a passage, there is no general agreement on which of the four documents should contain it.

Nobody on either side of the discussion claims to have located physical evidence of a single one of these isolated documents. The existence of these separated and independently composed documents is discerned by faith, the same faith they criticize me for as I discuss divine revelation. As for the repetition of the account, Day 6 of creation was a glorious and magnificent day. Of course it deserves a second look. The first account was an overview, and it was presented in a manner that preserves the cadence of the several days of creation in chapter 1. The second look reveals the detail and design of the sixth day of creation. There is no valid reason to doubt that Moses is the author of both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and that it was authored as the first two chapters of what would become a comprehensive account of God’s revelation to man.

But the structure of Genesis 1 and 2 argue against them being written as separate and independent documents. Consider for example the contrast between what is good and what is not good. Genesis 1:4: God saw the light that it was good; 1:10: the dry earth and the seas, God saw that it was good; 1:12: the grass and tree yielding seed after itself, God saw that it was good; 1:18: the night and the day, God saw that it was good; 1:21: the sea and the air yielding seed after itself, God saw that it was good; 1:25: the beasts and the insects yielding seed after itself, God saw that it was good; 1:31: God looked on His accumulated six-day work, and God saw that it was very good; 2:9: God endowed the man with the vision that the tree was good for food; 2:12: the Gold was good; 2:9 and 2:17:all God did was so good that that the man did not have the capacity to perceive how good it was. All creation is performing like a record of a grand symphony, everything performing to perfection.

And 2:18 becomes the scratch in the record: It is NOT GOOD. For man to be alone. God had created a world that the grass of the field reproduced according to its kind, and that was good. Trees reproduced according to its kind, and that was good. Fish reproduced according to its kind, and that was good. Birds reproduced according to its kind, and that was good. Beasts reproduced according to its kind, and that was good. Insects reproduced according to its kind, and that was good. Man was alone, and that was NOT GOOD.

[Lest anyone misunderstand, this was not an oversight. This was a deliberate slow-motion account of the sixth day. For all other species, it was adequate to note in the macro account that the species reproduces after its kind. For man, the close-up account deliberately showed how tragic God's creation would have proven to be if man was decreed by God to live alone.]

The rhythm of Genesis 1 and 2 is clear. Good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... good ... NOT GOOD! A collation of two independent accounts never would have developed that synthesis of rhythm and grace. And failure to understand this synthesis will usually result in a deficient comprehension of the profundity of a status of "not good." It was not good and it was never intended. And separating Genesis 1 and 2 impairs the shock value of "not good." The two chapters are part of the same document, and were composed by the same author.

Jesus Himself attributes the authorship of the entire Pentateuch to Moses. He frequently cited each of the five books of the Pentateuch as citing Moses by name (Mark 7:10 and a few dozen other places). Whenever Jesus attributes a verse from either the book of Leviticus or from the book of Deuteronomy to Moses, He is rebuking the position that the Pentateuch is four separated and independently composed documents. For while there is no general agreement among the believers of the four-document theory on how the verses of the Pentateuch were “originally collated,” there is general agreement among them that the entirety of Leviticus and Deuteronomy was authored later than Moses could have possibly lived. By contrast, those who reject the four-document theory attribute all verses of all five books to Moses, and written within the lifetime of Moses. Unless you wish to argue that the Author and Finisher of our faith either lied, or deceived us otherwise by talking about Moses from ignorance, Genesis, and by extension the entire Pentateuch, were composed as a literary unity by Moses.

Even some who adhere to a literal read of Genesis take pause when they consider that Moses recorded his own death. And if it weren't for scripture itself, I would teach that a post-script to the law is a trivial issue not related to the document history of the law. But Deuteronomy 31:26 makes even this minor point - a point I would otherwise gladly grant a cynic - non-concedable. The scripture itself says that Moses handed the Levites a notarized copy of the law, a version of the law specifically noted to include the law to the very end (Deuteronomy 31:24). This means that all of the law - emphatically specified as all of the law - was included in Moses' copy to the Levites. And as an aside, it means not only was Deuteronomy 34 written prophetically, but the entirety of Deuteronomy 31:24 to Deuteronomy 34:12 is written prophetically.

Let those who disagree present their own case. I will not counter any Reply that is citing the case FOR JEDP (JEDP is the label given to the theory that the Pentateuch is a collation of four independent documents), though I may thank them for participating. But I judge it unethical for someone to present my point of view on an issue, and I will not risk mis-citing the position of the Collated Four Document Theory by presenting it on their behalf. To understand more of what goes into this process, a search on “Documentary Hypothesis” or “JEDP” will produce several hits.

 

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