Who Wrote The Book Of Genesis In The Bible

Experts believe the Book of Genesis in the Bible is the work of multiple authors and editors, composed across a period of roughly 1000 years. Originally written in Hebrew, the text endeavors to explain how the universe came into existence, the nature of divinity, the appearance of humanity and how this ties into the covenant between God and humanity. The oldest manuscripts of the Book of Genesis date back to the Masoretic period (c. 650–1000 CE).

Due to the complexity and deep topics of the book, scholars have proposed several theories of authorship. One of the major opinions on the original authors of Genesis states that Moses is the primary author and is responsible for the text in 1:1-2:4; this opinion is supported by references in the New Testament that link Moses to the work.

Many textual scholars however suggest that the Pentateuch was compiled from several independent or interrelated earlier sources, such as the Jahwist, Elohist and Priestly sources. These sources are thought to have been compiled and written together by the 7th century BCE. Further still, some criticize the notion that all of the text was written by Moses and suggest the text was produced during the Babylonian exile (586 BCE) and is a response to the political, economical and spiritual crisis of the period.

When it comes to determining the authorship it is important to consider the composition and sophisticated language of the Book of Genesis. The text reads as a unified piece of literature and is organized in a manner that suggests it was edited by an advanced intellect. It is highly structured, contains allusions to various ancient Near East motifs, metaphors and complex allusion to Primeval history.

The language used also reveals Hebrew literary techniques, such as acrostics, palindromes and chiastic organization, which supports the idea that the text was composed by a learned individual and is not the work of single author. This idea is further reinforced by the fact the book contains information that could not have been known by primitive societies at the time.

The Book of Genesis and Ancient Near East Mythological Texts

The Book of Genesis is also profoundly influenced by the mythology of Ancient Near East cultures. There are several parallels between Genesis and Ancient Near East Texts of Mesopotamia such as “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and “Atrahasis”. These compelling connections suggest the Book of Genesis was written during the Babylonian exile or shortly thereafter when there was a great deal of interaction with Mesopotamian culture.

At the very least, it is suggested that some authors at the time may have had access to those sources and fused them together with religious tradition. This is perpetuated by the foundational stories shared throughout these texts, such as the primeval history, the creation story and the flood narrative. All of which indicate a great deal of borrowing between these two ancient cultures.

These compelling parallels are also echoed in the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament contains several stories mentioned in the Book of Genesis, such as Adam and Eve, Noah and Jesus’ genealogy. This suggests the Book of Genesis was well known and regarded at the time and more than likely was the work of multiple authors.

The Complexity of the Text

The stylistic complexity of the text illustrates a long period of research, study and editing. This indicates its compilation was a lengthy process and could not have been done by a single author. Further still, the text contains references to world views and events which date back to different time periods, thus reinforcing the theory of multiple authors.

The scholars who have studied the text have also identified linguistic differences distinguishing certain segments from one another. This further supports the theory of multiple authors. Additionally, it is believed certain sections of the text were written long after those that preceded them, suggesting Genesis was added to over a period of many years.

The Influence of the Book of Genesis

Despite the fact the authorship of Genesis is still debated, the book is one of the most influential texts in history as it is the foundation of the world’s three major monotheistic religions. It is deeply respected and highly valued within the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cultures, and many insights into their religious traditions can be found within its verses.

Since its inception, the book has had a significant influence on the world in terms of art, history, science, literature and politics, thus making its authorship an object of continual research and study.

The Authorship of Genesis in Historical Beliefs

Throughout history there have been many opinions on who the author or authors of the Book of Genesis may have been. Judaism believes it was written by Moses, Christianity subscribes to the theory that the text was written by several authors and Islam states that it was written by a team of scribes.

The influential Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274 CE), argued that Moses wrote down the narrative of Genesis as revealed to him by divine inspiration, and also compiled source materials he was give access to.

In the Middle Ages, Abraham ibn Ezra (1089–1167 CE) argued that the book was a composition of different authors and scribes. He argued the text had several inconsistencies, and that fragments of poems could be seen in certain sections of the text which suggests a mixture of two types of sources.

From the Renaissance Through Modern Times

In the 16th century, Martin Luther (1483–1546 CE) was of the opinion that the Pentateuch or five books of Moses had several authors and that Moses did not write the whole of it.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, many biblical scholars largely subscribed to the Documentary Hypothesis, which states that the text is a compilation of various sources that were redacted and cohesive by later authors, as well as the concept of “supplementary hypothesis” that suggests the texts were compiled by a set of editors and redactors.

Biblical scholars such as Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918 CE) and John Van Seters (1934–2017 CE) both suggest that the text is a compilation and was not written by a single individual. Their conclusions are based on the evidence that certain sections and topics in the book address events from different ages, as well as the stylistic differences in certain narratives.


In conclusion, the authorship of the Book of Genesis remains enigmatic, and many scholars still debate who the original author or authors of the book were. The text has various divergent views on the origin of the universe, divinity and the purpose of the covenant. The sophisticated language, complex structure and allusions to ancient Near East texts suggest a period of editorial work and the involvement of multiple authors, each one adding their unique perspective.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

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