Why Begin With Abraham And Not Adam?

I have been asked why the first volume of A Twenty-First-Century Bible begins with the story of Abram/Abraham and not Adam. This is a short summary which might help explain.

1. To place Genesis 1-11 in context
The first five books of the bible are compilations of stories, documents, poems, songs and family history derived from a number of sources. They were most likely compiled sometime after Moses’s death. But whilst the stories in Genesis 1- 11 most likely pre-date Moses, the versions the compiler(s) used include material that would have been unknown to the patriarchs (e.g. the use of the name of God, YHWH). So the telling and retelling of these stories would most likely have taken place in Moses’s time, as the people wandered in the wilderness.

2. To emphasise Hebrew thinking:
In Hebrew circles, Abraham was considered to be the father of the Hebrew nation, not Adam. As a consequence, Matthew begins his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). And in the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen responds to the high priest by referring to the time when God called to Abraham in Mesopotamia, to leave his country and go to a place he would show him (Acts 7:2-3).

3. For literary reasons:
There is a challenge by Joshua at the end of his ministry, which refers back to Abraham’s father, Terah (Joshua 24:2-3a). As a consequence the final pages of chapter A9. Hoshea/Joshua, refer back to the very first chapter, A1. Terah – thus rounding off this part of the Israelites’ story.

© 2015, Brian A Curtis
www.21stcenturybible.com.au
brian@21stcenturybible.com.au

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