Talk:Book of Genesis

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Text and textual witnesses[edit]

"in the Greek Septuagint it was called Genesis, from the phrase "the generations of heaven and earth," and translated as genesis in Latin and Greek." seems to me to need rephrasing. Maybe something like "The phrase ... was rendered using the Greek word γενεσις genesis in the Septuagint, which provides the Greek and then the Latin title "Genesis"? TomS TDotO (talk) 11:05, 8 September 2016 (UTC)

Something like that :). The word being translated is "toledot", which means something like histories or generations (it's a plural). The phrase is "These are the toledot of the heavens and the earth", meaning the world - the generations of the world. Maybe just forget the explanation and say that it was called (not translated) Genesis in Greek, meaning "origin". Better still, what does the source say? PiCo (talk) 08:37, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

In defence of the serpent[edit]

Reading this generally well-written Wikipedia article, I was surprised by the neologism "trickster" to describe the serpent. I have now deleted "trickster", for two reasons.

1. In everyday British usage at least, the word "trickster" is not used in formal speech and is therefore not appropriate for an encyclopaedia. Any other British or non-British readers out there who agree (or disagree) with me?

2. I have looked up trickster on Wikipedia, and apart from its informal use, it appears to have a specific literary definition: trickster is a character in a story which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour. This literary definition is clearly not applicable to the serpent in Genesis. The serpent itself does not play tricks or disobey rules. Rather, the serpent is a tempter who promises Eve that the forbidden fruit will impart knowledge. And that turns out to be the case, so the serpent is not even lying here.

Interested in your comments. (talk) 13:40, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

I don't want to get into this discussion, but I think that to be fair about what I did by making a link to Serpent (Bible), that article uses the term "trickster" about the serpent. TomS TDotO (talk) 01:12, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
You're correct about the literary meaning of the term "trickster", but it is in fact applied to the serpent in quite a number of academic works - see, for example, this.PiCo (talk) 08:13, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

Article fails to note the historical views of the book of Genesis[edit]

The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

The vast majority of people thought Genesis was factual before modern science. Is this really controversial? (talk) 18:48, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Possibly, yes. First, why do you want to see such an assertion put into this article? Second, I'm not sure ancient people, such as the Jewish culture from which Genesis emerged, necessarily viewed the world in terms of "facts". They certainly didn't practice modern science and didn't have notions of "science" like we have today. Furthermore, we can understand from the Bible (Galatians 4:21-24) that people from about the year 100 or 200 CE saw (at times) Genesis as allegorical. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 18:53, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

First, why do you want to see such an assertion put into this article

It is of direct historical interest that it was long considered to be history.

They certainly didn't practice modern science

Exactly, that's what I said in the edit.

people from about the year 100 or 200 CE saw (at times) Genesis as allegoric

Even if that was true what does it have to do with my edit? That still leaves over a thousand years Genesis was considered literal.

2600:1009:B168:81CB:542A:56DA:D9A1:E740 (talk) 19:10, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

We might be on the verge of going around in circles, but let me respond anyway. I don't know that Genesis was, actually, "long considered to be history" in the sense of "facts" and modern perceptions of "science". If it wasn't, then your suggested sentence doesn't seem especially relevant. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 19:25, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Are you seriously arguing that, back in an era of extreme religiosity, when Bible quotations were accepted in courts of law and there was no separation of Church and State, Genesis was not seen as the literal truth?

2600:1009:B168:81CB:542A:56DA:D9A1:E740 (talk) 19:37, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

2600:1009:B168:81CB:542A:56DA:D9A1:E740 (talk) 19:37, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

If you have reliable source saying such, then I'm fine with it, but, for now, I'm suggesting that people, back then, didn't worry about such things. The notion of "scientific fact" and "historical accuracy", is, I believe, a modern one (or a lot more recent than BCE). Isambard Kingdom (talk) 20:08, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
The keyword is "literal": Biblical literalism is a much later invention. In Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy a literal reading of the Bible is suspect of Protestant propaganda. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:11, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

There was a massive religious theocracy but "people, back then didn't worry about such things"?

Catholics generally interpreted Genesis literally too. [1] (talk) 20:24, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Yes, we are going in circles. Literal truth, scientific fact, historical accuracy --- these are relatively modern and probably western too (I believe) compared to the ancient middle-eastern notions of faith, allegory, myth, personal feeling, etc. Contradictions in the Bible used to not be a problem for most readers, not until we started to want it to be "historically accurate". Anyway, this subject is not just germane to this article, but much more general, and it not about Catholics either. Thanks. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 20:30, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Um, no, "literal truth" is not a modern concept. You do not have to conduct a scientific investigation to conclude something is true. Biblical contradictions were very carefully explained away before the modern era. (talk) 20:53, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Well, you brought up "science", not me. I'm going to remove the POV tag now. Thank you. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 21:01, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

What does that have to do with what I said? Seriously, I'm not trying to be mean, I genuinely don't understand the point you are trying to make. (talk) 21:11, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

The only sources you've brought up to support the claim that "everyone" believed it was a historical, literal, scientific fact (here and at Genesis flood narrative) were an outdated polemic with an agenda and an encyclopedia that discusses only Catholicism's views. You completely ignored Judaism, except for an attempt to cite the Catholic encyclopedia's statement regarding Catholicism as if that was Jewish doctrine. It has been demonstrated that one of the most influential Church fathers as well as the most prolific author of the New Testament viewed Genesis in a way that we would now call allegorical. This doesn't mean that they thought it was false, just that its truth was spiritual or philosophical, not scientific or historical.
The idea of Biblical literalism, as has been explained, is a Protestant notion. Seriously, William Tyndale is the oldest source for the idea. Before Protestantism, it was very rare that you'd see anyone literate look at the Bible and say "the first interpretation I have as a result of my specific cultural background, upbringing, and education must be the 'face-value' one, the face-value one must be the universally most obvious interpretation, and the universally most obvious one would somehow be the only way to interpret texts written millenia ago in a completely different culture by people with completely different upbringings and educations." The Rabbis said that there were at least seventy ways to read every verse in the Tanakh (or "Old" Testament).
The idea of science, as has been explained, is a relatively modern notion. I've read a fair amount of "proto-scientific" works, and before Paracelsus ("The dose makes the poison") a lot of it (even the ahead-of-its-time Muslim stuff) was more dependent on mysticism and symbolism than any sort of exact measurement.
Something like our idea of history is about 2500 years old, but it was clearly distinguished from mythos (which was not regarded as false but a different kind of truth) in that history explicitly focused on purely mundane and human affairs without any divine attribution to any sort of action. Therefore, if a modern literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation stories were a scientific fact, then it is not a historical one.
But, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, the only thing that matters is that you have not provided adequate sources to demonstrate that ancient peoples viewed Genesis as either literal, historical, or scientific (which are three different things). While it's not unreasonable to assume that they viewed it as "true," that does not establish in what sense they thought it true. St.s Paul and Augustine clearly thought the truth of Genesis was philosophical, symbolic, metaphorical, allegorical, or whatever you want to call it -- true but not in a literal, scientific, or historic sense. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:02, 7 October 2016 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but you simply are wrong. While its true St. Augustine thought the descriptions might be allegorical he did not doubt the literal truth of creation and Adam and Eve. There is absolutely no evidence that medieval churchman or scholastics understood the Old Testament accounts as legendary. You say Catholicism did not support literalism but that's demonstrably untrue, as shown by their long opposition to heliocentric theory.

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article on "history" explicitly shows how the Old Testament records were regarded as historical during the Middle Ages. [2] It is simply inconceivable that anyone before modern times, when there is a strong interest in pretending that religion and science are in harmony, would have had the "enlightened" view of the Bible which you express. Nobody before the 17th century doubted the Bible, along with witchcraft and miracles, was completely factual. If you want to understand the state of thought prior to the 17th century I suggest you read Lecky's History of the Rise of Rationalism in Europe. [3] (talk) 16:20, 7 October 2016 (UTC)

You really do like citing outdated sources, don't you? Also, their opposition to heliocentrism was a combination of politics (Galileo insulted the pope) and interpretation of books besides Genesis -- therefore it is irrelevant to their interpretation of Genesis. Plus, by that point Catholicism was certainly not the only church around, and it never was the only religion that read Genesis. You seem to be blinded into thinking that Catholicism is the only religion there is. Ian.thomson (talk) 00:01, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

There is no Wikipedia rule against using old sources. I don't see the relevance of your other points. The heliocentrism thing was in your response to your false statement that Protestants invented Biblical literalism.

Of course people are extremely uncomfortable acknowledging the reality of how ancestors thought--think about race, for example--but that doesn't mean we should hide it. (talk) 01:36, 8 October 2016 (UTC) (talk)

In fact, the conflict thesis is outdated in many ways, scholarship has moved beyond mere conflict between science and religion. And that is not because scholars would want to hide reality, on the contrary, scholars fully embrace it. History cannot be reduced to simplistic cliches. Tgeorgescu (talk) 02:32, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

I'm merely noting that, during the time period that the Church was dominant and modern science did not exist, Genesis was viewed as real history. Why is this such a big deal? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 04:00, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Because you have not provided adequate sourcing to demonstrate that this is indeed true or even relevant. You've provided outdated sources and easily contradicted original research. Why is that such a problem for you? Ian.thomson (talk) 09:07, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Really? What is the minimum year for you not to consider it "outdated" and where do you find this in Wikipedia policy? (talk) 13:14, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

The article Historicity of the Bible already contains the following The birth of geology was marked by the publication of James Hutton's Theory of the Earth in 1788. This marked the intellectual revolution that would dethrone Genesis as the ultimate authority on primeval earth and prehistory.

2600:1009:B116:E317:24E8:9586:1D79:C7E8 (talk) 15:11, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

One more point for the record: tradition ascribed Genesis to Moses, who received the information from God at Mt. Sinai (see Mosaic authorship). So they thought God was lying, or telling an allegory? Really?

Furthermore in the Gospels Jesus refers to events in Genesis as factual. (talk) 00:39, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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I set it to "failed" because the webpage works, but the PDF from it doesn't. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:28, 5 November 2016 (UTC)


Is it okay to put an image at the top?Setabepiw3547747 (talk) 03:49, 9 May 2017 (UTC)

Depends on the image. Ian.thomson (talk) 08:38, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
OkaySetabepiw3547747 (talk) 09:38, 9 May 2017 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Book of Genesis/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Seraphim System (talk · contribs) 14:44, 12 October 2017 (UTC)

GA review
(see here for what the criteria are, and here for what they are not)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose, spelling, and grammar):
    b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references):
    b (citations to reliable sources):
    c (OR):
    d (copyvio and plagiarism): [[File:|16px|alt=|link=]]
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects):
    b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales):
    b (appropriate use with suitable captions):


Symbol support vote.svg · Symbol oppose vote.svg · Symbol wait.svg · Symbol neutral vote.svg

Question - I know we include summaries for "fiction" books but I haven't seen the section of MOS that would permit a summary for a philosophy/religious text without citations, can you please point me towards the policy you relied on so I can review it? It also, after a preliminary read through, does seem that the summary is considerably too long relative to the length of the rest of the article. Thanks, Seraphim System (talk) 14:44, 12 October 2017 (UTC)