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Bible Study Helps: Genesis

Jan 6, 2018

As you know, every year around this time I strongly urge Christians to (perhaps for the very first time) read through the entire Bible. As I keep saying, if you read a bit over three chapters a day, you can get through the entire Bible in a year.

Thus some of you began reading Genesis on January 1. If so, you should be up to around Gen. 21 by now. As I mentioned in previous articles, if this is your first time ploughing through Genesis and the Old Testament, this can be a daunting task if you do so unaided.

There is plenty of stuff there which may be hard to understand or may be perplexing and confusing. Thus in an earlier piece I suggested a number of helpful and practical Bible study tools to help you along the way, such as Bible dictionaries and commentaries. See here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/01/02/basic-bible-study-tools/

In that piece I mentioned volumes which deal with Bible difficulties, alleged contradictions, problem passages and the like. These books cover the entire Bible and it is well worth having at least one such volume at your fingertips for when you get stuck on a particular passage. These are some good ones:

Archer, Gleason, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Zondervan, 1982.
De Haan, M.R., 508 Answers to Bible Questions. Zondervan, 1952.
Geisler, Norman and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask. Baker, 1992.
Haley, John, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible. Baker, 1874, 1977.
Kaiser, Walter, et. al., Hard Sayings of the Bible. IVP, 1996.
Rhodes, Ron, Commonly Misunderstood Bible Verses: Clear Explanations for the Difficult Passages. Harvest House, 2008.

Since many of you are now in Genesis, let me offer here some helpful commentaries. There are different types of commentaries out there. The ones I feature here first are what are known as critical commentaries. That is, they are more than devotional in nature, but deal with all sorts of the issues: the original languages, history, culture, linguistic issues, theological issues, hermeneutical issues, and so on.

So they tend to be larger, longer commentaries, and are especially designed for pastors and students. They are more academic and scholarly, but they do provide a wealth of information, learning and insight. Some of the better commentaries on Genesis (mainly from a conservative and/or evangelical point of view, include these:

Atkinson, David, The Message of Genesis 1-11 (BST). IVP, 1990.
Briscoe, Stuart, Genesis (MOTC). Word, 1987.
Brueggemann, Walter, Genesis (IBC). John Knox, 1982.
Collins, C. John, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary. Presbyterian and Reformed, 2006.
Kidner, Derek, Genesis (TOTC). IVP, 1967.
Hamilton, Victor, The Book of Genesis, 2 vols. (NICOT). Eerdmans, 1990, 1995.
Longman, Tremper, Genesis (SGBC). Zondervan, 2016.
Mathews, Kenneth, Genesis, 2 vols. (NAC). Broadman, 1996, 2005.
Ross, Allen, Creation and Blessing. Baker, 1988.
Sailhamer, John, Genesis (EBC, v. 2). Zondervan, 1990.
Sarna, Nahum, Understanding Genesis. Schocken Books, 1976, 1966.
Waltke, Bruce, Genesis. Zondervan, 2001.
Walton, John, Genesis (NIVAC). Zondervan, 2001.
Wenham, Gordon, Genesis, 2 vols. (WBC). Word, 1987, 1994.
Westermann, Claus, Genesis 1-11. SPCK, 1944, 1984.

For commentaries on Genesis especially emphasising early earth creationism, see:

Morris, Henry, The Genesis Record. Baker, 1981.
Sarfati, Jonathan, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, And Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11. Creation Book Publishers, 2015.

Of course there are all sorts of other specialty commentaries one can get. Gary North for example did a series of economic commentaries on the Bible, and has a volume on Genesis (Christian Liberty Press, 1987). There are various expository commentaries out on Genesis, including the three-volume set by James Montgomery Boice (Baker, 1982-1987) and R. Kent Hughes in the Preaching the Word series (Crossway, 2004).

And then we have plenty of devotional books on Genesis, too numerous to mention here. Other helpful works on Genesis from a more academic or theological angle include:

Arnold, Bill, Encountering the Book of Genesis. Baker, 1998.
Charles, J. Daryl, ed., Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. Hendrickson, 2013.
Custance, Arthur, Genesis and Early Man. The Doorway Papers, vol. 4. Zondervan, 1975.
Longman, Tremper, How to Read Genesis. IVP, 2005.
Sailhamer, John, Genesis Unbound. Multnomah, 1996.
Tinker, Melvon, Reclaiming Genesis. Monarch books, 2010.
Walton, John, The Lost World of Genesis One. IVP, 2009.
Young, E.J., Studies in Genesis One. Baker, 1964.

I do not expect readers to get all these volumes of course. But I would highly recommend that you all buy at least one good commentary on Genesis, and one good Bible difficulty book.

Happy reading and happy study!

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7 Responses to Bible Study Helps: Genesis

  • Whilst with a different perspective, but still with worthwhile information, there is also Genesis, by Gerhard von Rad, SCM Press originally published in the 1940s

  • I can only join you in encouraging people to do this Bill, I’ve been doing something similar ( ie 3+ chapters a day) for the last few years and it’s amazing how you can learn something entirely new from scripture even when re-reading for the umpteenth time. I do intermingle my OT with the NT though, and I confess to skip reading genealogies and temple measurements, all a bit daunting! And on days when my eyes are too tired to focus I listen to the excellent David Suchet reading the chapters for me (with the free YouVersion app which my daughter introduced me to). The thing that helps me tremendously is scribbling thoughts, comments, notes etc as I read, helps me to focus a lot more and retain it in the little grey cells. Happy reading to all those trying it for the first time, you really will be blessed.

  • Hi Bill,

    Happy New Year and thank you for your encouragement especially for sharing your apologetic articles on current social issues almost daily in your blog as well as on FB. May 2018 be more peaceful and life be kinder to those of us living out our Christian faith, working as though we’re working for the Lord and not for men, for we are God’s workmanship Ephesians 2:10.

    Prayer:
    Dear Lord Jesus, You are also my personal Alpha and Omega. Even though I am limited to time as a person; in You I can now live in eternity. Thank you for that. According to Hebrews 12: 2, you are at the beginning and the end of my faith; so with my eye on you, I want to look forward to a new year, ask that you lead me in the works that you have prepared. In Jesus name. Amen

    Blessings and love from Sandra
    http://www.derekprince.nl

  • Hi Bill. thank you for all the work you put in daily and specifically in encouraging us to read the Bible in it’s entirety. I have to confess that at the age of almost 79 I have only read though continuously the once though I have started to do it several times more. It really gets to be an effort if one or more days is missed so for the folk who are starting out for the first time, please try and do it every day. You will be blessed and it won’t be too much of a load. Unfortunately older eyes get very tired and sometimes I need to do the 3 plus chapters in 2 lots. Every Blessing

  • Hi Bill, you can’t please everyone all the time – but more neutral wording would help!
    Why describe a list of commentaries that are accurately described as from a conservative and/or evangelical point of view, especially emphasising early earth creation” as “especially emphasising early earth creationISM”?

    A small point, but significant when you consider that some of the commentaries you list as “(mainly from a conservative and/or evangelical point of view” have an evolutionist bent that strays from a plain reading of Genesis by using eisegesis rather than exegesis – hardly the sola Scriptura that they would claim.

    Martin Lings wrote: “more cases of loss of religious faith are to be traced to the theory of evolution … than to anything else”. Evolution attacks Genesis, the foundation of the Christian faith, so it would be good to rate Genesis commentaries on where they stand on this important issue: neutrally as Evolutionist or Creationist, neutral terms, rather than almost comparing them as conservative evangelical – v – creationism.

  • Hi Bill
    Thank you for inspiring articles to read God’s word. I, like many others, have joined the list to read through the entire bible. It’s tricky if one misses a day, but it’s easy enough to catch up even with young children waking up early. In fact, the other morning my four-year old twin asked me to read the entire chapter which was a little challenging as I have the old KJV.
    God bless.

  • Ummm…You forgot the best and most detailed theological exposition of the Genesis (and related Scriptures)…my book:

    Creation, Fall, Restoration: A Biblical Theology of Creation (Ross-Shire: Mentor, 2009).

    Available here:
    https://austore.creation.com/creation-fall-restoration
    https://www.bookdepository.com/Creation-Fall-Restoration-Andrew-Kulikovsky/9781845504465
    https://www.amazon.com/Creation-Fall-Restoration-Biblical-Theology/dp/1845504461

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