G. J Spurrell.

Notes on the text of the book of Genesis : with an appendix online

. (page 4 of 35)
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full and detailed. Other events of less importance are only
briefly described, partly in the form of genealogies (e. g.
chap. 5. II, 10 fl". 35, 22 ff.), and partly in the form of short
summaries (e.g. chap. 10. 25, 12 ff. chap. 36). A strongly-
marked characteristic of P is the careful and uniform attention
he pays to chronology. In the whole period covered by his
narrative the dates of the various events are stated in their
proper chronological order (cf. the geneological tables, chaps.
5, II, and 35), and even the month and day, in the case
of important events, are duly stated (Gen. chaps. 7 f. and the
History of Moses).

' The history advances along a well-defined line, marked
by a gradually-diminishing length of human life, by the
revelation of God under three distinct names, Elohivi, El
Shaddai, and Jehovah, by the blessing of Adam and its
characteristic conditions, and by the subsequent covenants
with Noah, Abraham, and Israel, each with its special " sign,"
the rainbow, the rite of circumcision, and the Sabbath (Gen.
9, 12 f. 17, II. Ex. 31, 13)^' In the legal portions of P

Driver, Introd., p. 119 ; cf. Di., N. D.J., p. 649.


a description is given of the development of the theocracy
which is evidently intended to serve as a model. God is
described as the Lord and Protector of Israel, whom they
must serve and obey. A full and detailed account is given
of the Tabernacle, and its services, of the Priests, and of the
duties and obligations of the people towards God. The
organisation of the people is minutely described, the division
into Tribes, and these again divided into Families, each with
the firstborn as Leader (Gen. 35, 23. 46, 8. 49, 28, etc.),
and the welding together of these separate units into one
organised community (my), which was the final court of
appeal in all matters relating to the people (Num. 35, 24 f.).
The representations of the Deity in P are not so anthropo-
morphic as those in J and E. Angels and visions in dreams
are nowhere mentioned. * Certainly he speaks of God as
"appearing" to men, and as "going up" from them (Gen.
17, I. 22 f. 35, 9. 13. 48, 3. Ex. 6, 3), at important moments
of history, but he gives no further description of His
appearance : usually the revelation of God to men takes with
him the form of simple speaking to them (Gen. i, 29. 6, 13.
7, I. 8, 15. 9, I. Ex. 6, 2. 13 «/.); only in the supreme
revelation on Sinai (Ex. 24, 16 f., cf. 34, 29 b), and when he
is in the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 40, 34 f.), does he describe
Him as manifesting Himself in a form of light and fire
(nUD glory), and as speaking there with Moses (Num. 7, 89.
Ex. 25, 22), as man to man, or in order that the people may
recognise Him (Ex. 16, 10. Lev. 9, 6. 23 f. Num. 14, 10.
16, 19. 42. 20, 6). Wrath also proceeds from Him (Num.
i6, 46), or destroying fire and death (Lev. 10, 2. Num. 14, 37.
16) 35- 45 f- 25, 8 f.). But anthropopathic expressions of
God he avoids scrupulously ; even anthropomorphic expres-
sions are rare (Gen. 2, 2 f., cf. Ex. 31, 17b), so that a purpose
is here unmistakable. It may be that as a priest he was
accustomed to think and speak of God more strictly and


circumspectly than other writers, even those who were
prophets. On the other hand, he nowhere touches on the
deeper problems of theology. On such subjects as the justice
of the Divine government of the world, the origin of sin and
evil, the insufficiency of human righteousness (see, on the
contrary, Gen. 5, 24. 6, 9), he does not pause to reflect;
the free Divine choice, though not unknown to him (Num.
3, 12 f. 8, 16. 17, 5 ff . 18, 6), is at least not so designedly
opposed to human claims as in J. His work contains no
Messianic outlook into the future : his ideal lies in the
theocracy as he conceives it realized by Moses and Joshua \

In his method of representation P is stereotyped, detailed,
and circumstantial He everywhere aims at strict accuracy,
especially in all legal matters, and exhibits a marked fondness
for recurrent formulae. His language is formal and precise ;
technical words and phrases, and certain turns of expression
not found elsewhere, frequently recur. The manner in which
the author handles his materials gives evidence of research
and reflection, and a capacity for justly weighing and estimat-
ing the sources of information at his disposal (e.g. chaps, i. 5.
10 f. 36. 46), while in describing the events of the past, and
in accounts of foreign peoples, remarkable accuracy is dis-
played (e. g. 25, 16. 365 15). Some of the peculiarities of the
language of P may be noted.

The Language of P.

Proper Names in P.

P uses D^"^i'^? not ni.T, excepting in 17, i. 21, i b, until
Ex. 6, 2. God reveals Himself to the patriarchs Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob as ntJ' ^N. He communicates the name
niiT* first to Moses, and through him to the people, Ex. 6, 2 ff.,

1 Di., N. D.J.^ p. 653, as translated by Driver, Introd., p. 121.



but in all the passages in P in Gen. when God appears
to the patriarchs or they address Him, the name used is
nC' i'N, Gen. 17, I. 28, 3. 35, II. 48, 3. P speaks of God,
before Ex. 6, 2 as DM^N, Gen. chap, i, and in the story of
the Flood, and uniformly throughout the book.

The people of Israel are always i?N"ib^^ '•33 ; Abraham, until

17, 5, is called Di3t

Online LibraryG. J SpurrellNotes on the text of the book of Genesis : with an appendix → online text (page 4 of 35)