Genesis Questions Interpretation, Significance, Application


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Genesis Questions

Interpretation, Significance, Application

Questions raised on the reading of sections of Wenham's and Fretheim's

Genesis Commentaries

Ch. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30,

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,

41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50

Genesis 1 Back to top

1. If Genesis opens the Torah ("law"), what does that tell us about the nature

of the Torah based on the contents of Genesis? Is the law to be

understood as all commandments? What other elements are important

to the Torah? (Wenham, 1:5)

2. How are Genesis 1:1-2 and Genesis 2:1-3 connected? (Wenham, 1:5)

3. Wenham notes the number 7 seems to be significant in Genesis 1-2:3 not

only in the day count but also "God" is mentioned 35 times, "earth"

-21 times, "and it was so" seven times, etc. How significant are these statistics and what is their significance? (Wenham, 1:6)

4. Does the phrase "This is the story of" or "This is the account of" usually

begin or end a storyline (Gen. 2:4)? Where elsewhere is that phrase

found in Genesis and what is its significance as a literary feature?

(Wenham, 1:6)

5. What elements of structure do each of the days have in common?

What is the significance of that structure? [For example each day

begins with a divine announcement: "And God said"] (Wenham, 1:6)

6. Which days have a doubled divine announcement and a double approval

formula? What is the possible significance of that? (Wenham, 1:6)

(Gen. 1)

7. What correspondences do you see between days 1 and 3; 2 and 4; and 3

and 6? How could you diagram these correspondences? What sense

do these correspondences leave with the reader (Gen. 1)?

(Wenham, 1:7)

8. How do the days of Genesis move between the "two poles" of the heaven

and earth? Where does the crossover take place? (Wenham, 1:7)

(Gen. 1)

9. How is the seventh day set off from the other six days? How is it bonded

to the beginning 1:1-2? What is an inclusio and how is it used in

literature? (Wenham, 1:7)

10. What are the similarities and differences between the cosmology and

creation account in Genesis 1 and the Enuma Elish (Babylonian ca.

1100 BC) and the Epic of Atrahasis (Mesopotamia, ca. 1600 BC)?

What are the similarities and differences with the Egyptian "Teaching

of King Merikare" (ca. 2200 B.C.)? (Wenham, 1:8f) (Gen. 1)

11. In what ways is Genesis 1 a polemic against the myths about the gods of

the Ancient Near East? For example: in ANE man is an afterthought

created to work and provide food for the gods; in Genesis 1 man is

the goal and God provides him food. (cf. Hasel; Wenham, 1:9)

12. How is the creation described and utilized elsewhere in Scripture (cf. Ps.

8, 136, 148; Prov. 8:22-3; Isa. 45:18; and Job 38)? How do the

accounts compare and contrast? How are the shaped by their

difference contexts? (Wenham, 1:10)

13. What is the relationship of Gen. 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3? Is 1:1 a subordinate

clause to the main clause in 1:2 or 1:3? Is 1:1 a title for 1:2-30? Is

1:1 the main clause describing the first action which is elaborated on

in 1:2-30? How do the different translations indicate how they

interpret the connection between 1:1 and 1:2 (cf. NIV/NASB/NLT

and the NEB/NRSV/TEV)? What difference do these different

approaches have on how the text is describing the creation of the

world? (Wenham, 1:11f)

14. Who is the only subject of the verb "create" (bara) in the Old

Testament? Does the fact that the word for create (bara) does not ever

state the material God made things out of prove creation ex nihilo (out

of nothing)? Cf. Ps 148:5; Prov. 8:22ff; Ps. 33:6. (Wenham, 1:14)

(Gen. 1:1)

15. Why is the title Elohim for God used in Genesis 1 and not Yahweh

(LORD)? (Wenham, 1:15)

16. How does the God of Genesis 1 who acts and speaks differ from a more

abstract philosophically conceived God? (Wenham, 1:15)

17. How is God's relationship to the world founded and described in

Genesis 1? How is God's sovereignty demonstrated?

18. What major attribute of God is manifested in Genesis 1?

19. "Heaven and earth" is a merismus using two words to describe a totality.

What are some merismus phrases we use in English? (Wenham, 1:15)

(Gen. 1:1)

20. Should Genesis 1:2 be taken as "The Spirit of God," "the breath of

God," "a divine wind" or "a mighty wind"? Compare which

translations support which reading (NIV/NRSV/New English

Bible/New American Bible/New Jerusalem Bible). What difference

does it make? (Wenham, 1:16f)

21. How often does the phrase "And God said" occur in Genesis 1?

What is the significance of the phrase in relation to the creation

account? How is the speaking of things into being developed

elsewhere in Scripture (Ps. 33:6; Jn. 1:1ff) (Wenham 1:17f)

22. What does the approval formula "and God saw it was good" imply

about the person and character of God? (Wenham, 1:18) (Gen. 1)

23. What kinds of things did God "separate" in Genesis 1? What does

that process have to do with the ordering of the cosmos?

(Wenham, 1:18f)

24. In God's subsequent word after creating, he either names something

or blesses it. What does that tell us about the character and work

of God in relation to what has already been created (Gen. 1)?

(Wenham, 1:19)

25. How long are the days of Genesis 1? How does what is described in

Genesis 1 fit with scientific discoveries on the origin and evolution of

the universe? Is the point of the author to give us a scientific

description of creation? What is the emphasis and direction the

original author is wanting to take his reader? What indications are

there in Gen. 1 itself as to the length of the days beyond the diverse

meanings of the word "day [yom]" itself?

26. Wenham says "The Bible-versus-science debate has, most regrettably,

sidetracked readers of Gen. 1. Instead of reading the chapter as the

triumphant affirmation of the power and wisdom of God and the

wonder of his creation, we have been too often bogged down in

attempting to squeeze Scripture into the mold of the latest scientific

hypothesis or distorting scientific facts to fit a particular

interpretation." Do you agree or disagree and why? (Wenham, 1:40)

26. How are the words used for the divine commands paralleled with the

fulfillments (Gen. 1)? What does that reinforce? (Wenham, 1:20)

27. The third day of creation was different in what way? Creative activity

often needs to be followed by what kind of activity? (Wenham, 1:20)

Chaos to cosmos involves what two types of activities (Gen. 1:14ff)?

28. How did the Hebrews view the watery depths and oceans (Gen. 1:20ff)?

(Wenham, 1:20)

29. What are the implications of God making things each after their kind

(Gen. 1)? What roles do ordering and separating play in the creation

account? What are the moral implications of things being made after

their own kind for modern biotech research on cloning and stem cell

research (cf. Lev. 19:19; Deut 22:9-11). How is the question a

complex one? (Wenham, 1:21)

30. Why was day four described in so much more detail that any of the

other days but day six (cf. ANE [Ancient Near East]) (Gen. 1:14ff)?

(Wenham, 1:21)

31. How do the functions of "divide", "rule" and "give light" pattern

themselves in Genesis 1:14-18? (Wenham, 1:22)

32. From a Canaanite mythology perspective, why would the creation of the

great sea creatures be mentioned using the word "create" (bara) for the

first time since 1:1 (cf. also Jer 51:34; Isa. 27:1; 51:9; Ps 74:13; Job

7:12)? (Wenham, 1:24)

33. Besides creating and ordering, God also blesses in Gen. 1. Where

does the notion of divine blessing show up in Genesis 1-12? In the

patriarchal narratives (Gen. 12-50) who are the primary blessers

there? (Wenham, 1:24) What role does the blessing of a father play

in modern culture? Who blesses today?

34. Why does God say "Let us" make man in the plural instead of "let me"

(Gen. 1:26)? [divine assembly, majesty, trinity, self-deliberation]

(Wenham, 1:27) (cf. Job 38:4,7; Lk 2:13f)

35. What is meant by the terms "image" and "likeness"? How are they

used elsewhere (Gen. 1:26)? (Wenham, 1:27) [distinct[natural/

supernatural faculties]; mental/spiritual qualities; physical

resemblance; representative; capacity to relate]. How does man being

made in God's image impact in our understanding of humankind in

post-modern culture in such realms as human rights, euthanasia,

cloning, the death penalty, love and war? What does this imply about

our interfacing with animals and with intelligent machines? What

implication does the image have in our relationship to God? Where

else in Scripture is the importance of God's image in humankind


36. When is the actual name "Adam" introduced in the different translations

(cf. KJV, NRSV, TEV and NEB)? Why is there a problem

determining when his name is first used? (Wenham, 1:32)

37. How is fruitfulness seen as a blessing throughout Genesis? How do

the genealogies and patriarchal blessing fit into that? How does the

idea of multiplying and being fruitful fit with the global population

explosion? Are we to be multiplying beyond our resources to

sustain life? At what point does the blessing become a curse?

(Wenham, 1:33)

38. What was Adam and Eve's initial relationship to the plant and animal

kingdoms (Gen. 1)? How does that change after the fall? How does

Noah's building a boat to preserve all the animals fit with modern

environmental concerns and human responsibilities? (Wenham, 1:33)

39. In the Mesopotamian myths, man was created to get food for the gods,

who supplies whom with food in Genesis 1? (Wenham, 1:33)

40. Why is Gen. 1:31 a bad place to break the chapter? Who originally

broke the text there? How do 1:1 and 2:2-3 fit together?

(Wenham, 1:34f)

41. While the term "Sabbath" is not used in Gen. 1-2 where else does this

notion come up in the Pentateuchal materials? (Wenham, 1:36)

What does the Sabbath have to teach post-modern culture? How

should it be understood today? Does the New Testament negate

or diminish its relevance? What does it mean to declare something

"holy" in Scripture?

42. How is Genesis 1 a polemic against the polytheistic mythico-religious

worldview of the ancient Near East? What are the points of contact

and contrast? (Wenham, 1:37)

43. What does Genesis 1 tell us about the essential nature of God? How

is God's relationship with humankind initiated already in Genesis 1?

(Wenham, 1:37f)

44. How does Genesis 1 appear in the apostles creed? (Wenham, 1:39)

45. How is Genesis 1-3 foundational to the construction of biblical world

views? Is the construction of biblical world views impacted as much

by Genesis 12-50

Genesis 2 Back to top
46. What role does Gen. 2:4 play in the over all structure of the

book of Genesis (cf. 6:9; 10:1; 11:27; 37:2; 5:1; 25:12)?

How is that phrase translated by the different translations

and commentators?

47. Genesis 2-3 may be broken into the following seven subunits:

1) 2:5-17; 2) 2:18-25; 3) 3:1-5; 4) 3:6-8; 5) 3:9-13; 6) 3:14-21;

7) 3:22-24. Wenham suggests a palistrophic or mirror-image

style (1:51). How are units 1 & 7; 2 & 6; 3 & 5 connected?

How does unit 4 stand as the center? How would you diagram

that out? What does such a literary construction say about the unity

of the biblical text in contrast to a more fragmentary stitched together

"sources" view?

48. What are the similarities and differences between the Genesis 2

account and the Sumerian flood story, Gilgamesh and Atrahasis epics?

Compare and contrast the Adapa myth. (Wenham, 1:52) What

symbols are shared between Genesis and the myths of the

ancient Near East?

49. How does Gen. 2-3 impact how one looks at culture and the roots

of the history of humankind? What roots are seen in those

chapters that flower in the records of history? How does Gen. 2-3

contrast with the world view of post-modernism or secular


50. How does Genesis 2-3 describe the human's connection to the land?

What does Adam's name mean and how does that play into a

paronomasia? Did God/Adam speak Hebrew in the naming of Adam

in Gen. 2? When did Hebrew as a language come into existence?

What role does dust/clay play in the rest of the Bible? How will that

land theme be developed in the rest of Genesis? Does this land theme

connect with modern environmental concerns? (Wenham, 1:58f)

51. What modern philosophical schools emphasize that man is mere

dust (Gen. 2)? (Wenham, 1:60) Which schools of thought emphasize

humans has having the divine breath?

52. What role does Eden play elsewhere in Scripture (Gen. 2)? What is

Eden's connection with "the east"? What is its etymology and

symbolism? Where was Eden? (Wenham, 1:61, 66)

53. What symbolic role do trees play in the ancient Near East and in

the rest of Genesis and Bible (cf. Gen. 2, Proverbs)? (Wenham, 1:62)

54. What is meant in Gen. 2 by "knowledge of good and evil"

[consequences of obeying/disobeying, moral discernment, sexual

knowledge, omniscience, human wisdom]. How does Ezek. 28 help

with a solution? (Wenham, 1:63f)

55. What symbolic role do rivers play in Scripture (cf. Gen. 2; Ezek. 47;

Rev. 22; Ps. 46:5)? What are the options for the Pishon and Gihon

rivers? How are the geographical descriptions of the rivers like a

genealogy? How does the reference to Ashur by the Tigris support

the antiquity of the biblical account (pre-1400 BC)? (Wenham, 1:65f)

56. In Gen. 2:18, God says man needs a "helper". How is that term used

elsewhere in Scripture? Is God himself ever called or viewed as

a helper? What does that statement show about God's concern about

human needs? Does the notion of "helper" mean woman was

under the authority of the man?

57. In Gen. 2:19 Adam names the animals? What role do names and

naming play in the stories in Genesis? (Wenham, 1:68)

58. What is learned about male/female relationships from the description of

Eve's being "built" in Gen. 2:21-25? How is repetition, poetic

parallelism and word play used in Adam's enthusiasm for his partner?

What other births have name word plays in Genesis? Why is poetry

used instead of straight narrative? How does the marriage relationship

restructure other closest of relationships? In what aspects does

"oneness" play itself out in the marriage relationship (physical,

mental, spiritual, emotional, kinship and economic, etc.)?

(Wenham, 1:70)

Genesis 3 Back to top
59. In Gen. 3:1 the serpent is said to be crafty or shrewd. How is this

term ambiguous? Is the serpent identified with Satan in Genesis 3?

What ancient Near Eastern imagery was brought up by snake

imagery? What role does a snake play in the Gilgamesh epic? In

Levitical terms was the snake viewed as an unclean or clean

animal (Lev. 11)? Does it initially contain any of the anti-God

imagery of Job 26:13 or Isa. 27:1? (Wenham, 1:72)

60. How were the serpent's words in Gen. 3:4f vindicated? What does that

tell us about the insidious nature of how evil moves? Does the

serpent/Satan speak the truth? What does the serpent's approach tell

us about the art of seduction? (Wenham, 73f)

61. How did Adam and Eve understand the notion of death in Gen. 3?

Was there plant and animal death while Adam and Eve were still in

the garden? Is it possible as Wright suggests that Adam/Eve would

have experienced death even if they had not eaten of the tree? What

do you think of that (Biblica 1996)? What are the different aspects of

death and how do they play out in the stories in Gen. 3-6 and

following? (Wenham, 1:74f)

62. What literary palistrophic (ABCDCBA) pattern is seen in description

of the seduction of Eve (Gen. 3:6-7)? How does 3:8-10 link back to

chapter 2? How are guilt and nakedness related in the story?

(Wenham, 1:75f)

63. God in Gen. 3:8 is portrayed as walking in the garden. When elsewhere

is Scripture does God "walk"? How do walking, presence and

relationship intertwine? "Walking" is used for portraying what

types of activities? (Wenham, 1:76)

64. What role does God's question "Where are you?" play in the Gen. 3:9

narrative and elsewhere (cf. Gen. 4:9; Isa 33:18; 36:19; Ps 42:4, 11)?

How does it function with God's omniscience? What are different

ways rhetorical questions are used? (Wenham, 1:77) How is this

discovery motif continued in God's questioning of Adam (Gen. 3:11)?

65. How do Adam and Eve readily confess their sinful actions but try to

deny their culpability (Gen. 3:12ff)? How is that similar move made

in modern times? (Wenham, 1:89)

66. What role did cursing play in the ancient Near East and in the rest

of Scripture (Num. 22:6; Deut. 27:15ff) and in Genesis (cf. 3:14)?

(Wenham, 1:78) What was eating dust a symbol of (cf. Mic. 7:17;

Isa. 49:23)?

67. Is the curse on the serpent (Gen. 3:15) an etiology on why women hate

snakes? Does the serpent stand for sin, death and the power of evil

so that the curse here is broader than a mere etiology referring to

the continual struggle between good and evil and humankind's

ultimate triumph? Does the serpent stand for Satan? How early

did that identification happen? How is this passage interpreted

in the New Testament (Rom. 16:20; Heb. 2:14; Rev. 12)?

Is there a fuller sense that develops later in the history of redemption?

Were Justin (ca. A.D. 160) and the early church fathers right in taking

this passage as the "Protoevangelium" (first gospel) in applying it

to Christ and Satan? (Wenham, 1:80f)

68. What is the "woman's desire for her husband" (Gen. 3:16)? Is female

subordination a part of the curse? Is her desire what subjects her

to exploitation? Is her desire a desire to dominate her husband? Is

the rule of the man part of the curse? Should the curse be accepted

or resisted? Does the verbal parallel with Gen. 4:7 help us understand

Gen. 3:16? What role does this verse play in the dialogue with

modern feminism? Does this verse tell us what roles of women were

effected by the curse? Is Vogels right when he says what kills the

relationship is the desire to possess, to keep, to hold, to dominate, or

to crush the other? How do each of these play out in male/female

relationships? (Biblica, 1996) (Wenham, 1:80f)

69. What play is made with "eating" in the curse of Adam (Gen. 3)? What

roles of the man were effected by the curse (food-producer)? Was

work a curse because of the fall (cf. 2:15)? How is the futility

of work a curse? How is such futility seen in our post-modern

culture? Was death part of the curse? Was there death before

the fall? How does Gen. 3:19 relate to Gen. 2:7? Where

elsewhere in Scripture is man's going to the dust seen? How

does the notion of death impact individuals and society (fear, grief,

hope, alientation, futility, etc.)? (Wenham, 1:83)

70. What play is seen in the naming of Eve right after Adam was cursed

(Gen. 3:22)? What does that reveal about how Adam looked at Eve

after the fall? (Wenham, 1:84)

71. How is God's provision of clothes another indication of God's tender

provision for human need (Gen. 3:21)? How does the idea of needing

clothing when approaching God come up in the tabernacle

descriptions both in the use of tunics and in covering one's

nakedness (vid. Exodus)? (Wenham, 1:84)

72. Could and did humans eat of the tree of life prior to being expelled from

the garden (Gen. 3:22ff)? Did the tree of life magically give life?

Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life. Where elsewhere in

Scripture are cherubim seen and what roles do they play in those

contexts (cf. Ex. 25:18ff; 26:31; 1 Kgs 6:29)? Was the flaming sword

the first laser sword? In what way did they die on the day they ate the fruit? (Wenham, 1:85f)

73. How is that connection between sin and consequence seen elsewhere in

Scripture (esp. wisdom lit., covenants, Deut 28. and prophets)? How

is that connection denied and marginalized in post-modern culture on

an individual, societal and even political spheres? How did

Adam/Eve's sin impact the whole human race (Rom 5:12)? Where

does the Bible place the blame for pain, suffering and alienation and

how and in what directions do we try to shift that blame?

(Wenham, 1:90)
Genesis 4 Back to top
74. What struggles are seen in Genesis between an older and young

brother in relation to divine favor or blessing (Gen. 4:3ff)? What

other battles of favored and unfavored sons takes place in Genesis and elsewhere in the Old Testament? Where else in Genesis is the "hostile

brother" motif? (Wenham, 1:97f)

75. How does God use rhetorical questions with Cain (Gen. 4:9ff) and how

does that compare with how he used them in Gen. 3:9ff? What other

parallels are there between Gen. 3 with Adam and Eve and Gen. 4 the

Cain and Able story? What contrasts are seen in Gen. 3 and 4? What

is fratricide? (Wenham, 1:99f)

76. What euphemism occurs in Gen. 4:1? What other topics does the Bible

use euphemisms to talk about? How do we use them today?

(Wenham, 1:100)

77. How does Gen. 4:1-2 parallel Gen. 25:15-27? (Wenham, 1:102)

78. How does the meaning of Abel's name foreshadow what will

happen (Gen. 4:1; cf. Eccl. 1:2)? (Wenham, 1:102)

79. Why was Cain's offering rejected and Abel's accepted (Gen. 4:5)?

[shepherds/gardeners; animal/gain; inscrutable; faith [Heb 11:4];

choicest firstlings versus normal 2 Sam 24:24) (Wenham, 1:104)

80. What is God's relationship to blood in Gen. 4:10 and elsewhere in

Scripture (cf. Lev. 17:11)? Why do people cry out to God?

Who are some biblical examples of people that cried out to God

when facing death or the shedding of their blood? In what other

passages is there a personalization of blood in Scripture (Rev. 6:9f;

Lk. 18:7f; Isa. 5:7; Exod. 20:13; 1 Kgs. 21; Num. 35, etc.) (Wenham,

1:107, 117)

81. When it says the one hurting Cain would be punished sevenfold is

that a hyperbole? How and when are hyperbole's used? What

might the number seven mean in this text (Gen. 4:15)?

(Wenham, 1:109)

82. Who founded the first cities in the biblical text (Gen. 4:14, 17) and how

do cities arise in the ancient Near Eastern materials (cf. Adapa,

Eridu and the seven apkallus)? What is the point of Genesis linking

nomadism and urbanization, music and metalworking to Cain's

genealogy? How is Cain condemned to wander yet he is the first city

builder? How are cities viewed in the biblical narrative? How do

cities function in post-modern times? (Wenham, 1:110f)

83. How is Lamech like his father Cain? What father-son parallels in

character and activity are seen in Genesis? Does that fit modern

phenomena? Why/why not? (Wenham, 1:112)

84. In the song of Lamech how is Hebrew poetic parallelism seen between

the lines (Gen. 4)? Did Lamech know Hebrew and did he understand

Hebrew poetry? How was this poem written? What progression is seen in the narrative between Adam, Cain and Lamech as sinners? How does Cain's evil play out elsewhere in Scripture (Jude 11; 1 Jn 3:11ff)? (Wenham, 1:114, 117)

85. Seth is born and named as a simple paronomasia (Gen. 4)? What is that

and how often does it occur in the naming of people and places in

Genesis and elsewhere? What do people's names mean today? Are

nick-names more accurate? (Wenham, 1:115)

86. How does the Sumerian flood story parallel the genealogies of

Cain (nomadism, city-building and institution of public worship; Gen.

4)? How does the Sumerian flood story parallel the long lives of the

people of Gen. 5? The last person in the Sumerian flood story

list as in Genesis is a survivor of the flood (Ziusudra/Noah).

What differences are there between the king lists and the genealogies

of Genesis (length of life [Sumerian 50x longer])? How does cultural

"progress" impact religious and moral categories? (Wenham, 1:124)

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