In a recent post I mentioned that Adam was the author of Genesis 2:4 through 5:1. I have been studying ancient history for so long (first to teach it to my children when they were being homeschooled, and then to write The Story of the Ancient World) that I forgot this statement wasn’t common knowledge. Some might say, Didn’t Moses write Genesis, and the other first five books of the Old Testament, and wasn’t it an oral tradition before that?
I linked to the article Genesis Contradictions? which was first published in Creation magazine in September 1996, which goes into greater detail:
‘Generations’ [from Genesis 2:4, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,”] is a translation of the Hebrew word toledoth, which means ‘origin’ or ‘record of the origin’. It identifies an account or record of events. The phrase was apparently used at the end of each section in Genesis identifying the patriarch (Adam, Noah, the sons of Noah, Shem, etc.) to whom it primarily referred, and possibly who was responsible for the record. There are 10 such divisions in Genesis.
Each record was probably originally a stone or clay tablet. There is no person identified with the account of the origin of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1–2:4), because it refers primarily to the origin of the whole universe, not any person in particular (Adam and Eve are not mentioned by name, for example). Also, only God knew the events of creation, so God had to reveal this, possibly to Adam who recorded it. Moses, as ‘author’ of Genesis, acted as a compiler and editor of the various sections, adding explanatory notes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The toledoths acknowledge the sources of the historical records Moses used. This understanding underlines the historical nature of Genesis and its status as eyewitness history, contrary to the defunct ‘documentary (JEDP) hypothesis’ still taught in many Bible colleges. [Ed. note: for a refutation of this fallacious and anti-Christian theory, see Did Moses really write Genesis?.]
Genesis: Finding Our Roots by Ruth Beechick also discusses the historicity of Genesis in a section titled Who Wrote Genesis? beginning on page 29. She provides several compelling reasons why Genesis had to have been originally a written history and not an oral one. I will just give one evidence here, but she touches on many more, for those interested. One evidence that Genesis was a written history, and never an oral one, is that the language of the book, the words used, contain roots that were used in different places in different times. For example, the chapters before Abram’s history contain roots that were used in Sumer. The chapters after Abram moved to Canaan and Egypt contain roots that were used in early Canaan and early Egypt, but not later Egypt. If all the written words had been original with Moses, “all the style would have been from later Egypt,” Dr. Beechick points out. She states, “Oral history tends to change over time because storytellers use the names and language of their own times instead of retaining the original language.”
One of Dr. Beechick’s sources of scholarship for her book is The Genesis Record by Henry Morris. Dr. Morris goes into much greater detail on all these points, for anyone not satisfied by Dr. Beechick’s summary. The more I study ancient history, the more it convinces me of the historicity and accuracy of Genesis (although I was convinced a priori), and by extension the entire record of Scriptures. Nothing in my study of ancient history has yet cast doubt on the accuracy of God’s word. This must be why ancient history is my favorite period of history to study.