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The Book of Genesis contains the pre-history of the people of Israel. It starts the first part the Old Testament section of the Bible called the Pentateuch, Torah, or Books of Moses. Tradition has it that the Genesis was mostly written by the Prophet Moses 1,300 years before Christ.


It begins with the story of the creation of the world, the fall of Adam and Eve and the subsequent, quite sinful, history of the children of Adam. It tells of Noah and the great flood, the tower of Babel, Abram and Melchizedek.

It then tells of God's call and promise of salvation to Abraham, and the story of Isaac and Jacob, whom God named Israel, ending with the settlement of the twelve tribes of Israel (the families of the twelve sons of Jacob) in Egypt, during the time of Joseph's favor with the Egyptian Pharaoh. In traditional Church language, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called the patriarchs.


Genesis is not treated as mere history, but as a source of spiritual wisdom, a book inspired by God himself. Out of all historical information available to Moses, he selected only what was related to the religious life of people. It most likely has be edited for this goal over time.

Liturgical readings

Almost all of Genesis is read by a reader at services of the Orthodox Church during Great Lent and Holy Week.

At Vespers before the Nativity of the Theotokos, the reading is from Genesis 28:10-17. Jacob's Ladder which unites heaven and earth and the place which is named "the house of God" and the "gate of heaven" are taken, to indicate the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly, both spiritually and physically, in Mary the Theotokos, Bearer of God.

External links

Nine homilies delivered by St. Basil the Great on the cosmogony of the opening chapters of Genesis:

  1. In the Beginning God Made the Heaven and the Earth
  2. The Earth Was Invisible and Unfinished.
  3. On the Firmament.
  4. Upon the Gathering Together of the Waters.
  5. The Germination of the Earth.
  6. The Creation of Luminous Bodies.
  7. The Creation of Moving Creatures.
  8. The Creation of Fowl and Water Animals.
  9. The Creation of Terrestrial Animals.