As you may have guessed, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, is about the beginning.  Because of this, it also has a number of different functions.  It provides a foundation and back-story for the rest of the Bible by starting with the creation of the earth and introducing to us the creator and ruler of all, God.  And, although it was written to people alive thousands of years ago, it explains to us why things are the way the are today (sin), who God is, and begins to reveal His plan for once-and-for-all taking care of the sin problem that entered the world through Adam and Eve.

You’ll notice as you read through Genesis that it feels a lot like a long story.  That’s because it is written as a narrative and Moses wrote it in such a way that it is easily be broken up into sections that describe the story of different people and generations of the people (specifically the men) who came after Adam and Eve.

The first major section (Genesis 1-11) focuses on what is referred to as primeval history and it covers the history of mankind in general, while focusing specifically on Adam and Noah.

The second major section (Genesis 12-50) focuses on the patriarchal history of God’s people.  It is called this because it focuses on the male head of each generation (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph) and God’s relationship with them.

You’ll also notice that there is an underlying theme of obeying/disobeying God’s commands and the positive/negative results of these decisions.

Overall, Genesis functions the same way for us that it did for the original audience—it reminds us who God is, our problem (sin), and shows that every step of the way God has a plan to take care of sin and He keeps His promises.

Quick Facts 


Audience: The people of Israel (to encourage them as they traveled to the promised land)

Date Written: 1525-1405 B.C. (during the life of Moses)

Style: Narrative

Time Period Covered: Creation of the world until about 1805 B.C.

Other Facts: This falls into the larger section of Old Testament books called the Pentateuch (it literally means “five books” in Greek).  This grouping is also known as the Torah in Hebrew and was the books of the “Law” or “Teaching” to the Jewish people.  The Jewish people divided the Old Testament into 3 parts – Law, Writings, and Prophets.