Genesis is one of only a handful of rock music groups that has endured more than two decades in the ebb and flow of the show business spotlight, and this is more a tribute to the group’s versatility and flexibility than any phenomenal and enduring popularity. Genesis has never been in the same league as such all-time great English supergroups as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, or Led Zeppelin. They have never reached the absolute zenith of the pop world at any one moment, as each of the above groups have done—and yet they have been more consistent, quietly making music year in and year out without a lot of fanfare or dramatic personality clashes.
Which is not to say that Genesis has not undergone some major changes since its inception in the late 1960s. Indeed, the history of the band could be easily divided into two distinct phases. The first, stretching roughly from 1966 to 1975, could be called the “Art-Rock Years,” or, more simply, the “Peter Gabriel Years” after the singer who was the group’s driving creative force and chief vocalist before leaving for an outstanding
Genesis formed in 1966 at Charterhouse prep school, England; original members included Tony Banks (bom March 27, 1950, in England), keyboards; Michael Rutherford (born October 2, 1950, in England), guitar, bass, and vocals; Peter Gabriel (born May 13, 1950 in England), vocals (quit band, 1974); and Anthony Philips, guitar, (quit, 1970). Later additions include Phil Collins, (born January 31, 1951, in London, England), drums, vocals (joined band, 1970); and Steve Hackett (born February 12, 1950, in England), guitar (joined band, 1970; quit, 1977).
Band formed, 1966; recorded first LP, From Genesis to Revelation, 1968; signed with Charisma label, 1970; vocalist Peter Gabriel quit band, 1974; drummer Phil Collins became lead vocalist, 1976, with drummers Chester Thompson and Bill Bruford added for tours; guitarist Steve Hacket departs, 1977; all three remaining band members release solo LPs—Banks (1979), Rutherford (1980), and Collins (1981)—while continuing to produce records as Genesis; band releases highly successful LP Invisible Touch,1986, followed by $60 million world tour under sponsorship of Michelob beer, 1987.
Addresses: Record Company —Atlantic Record Co.,75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10019.
solo career. The second, current phase could well be called the “Phil Collins Years,” for the man who stepped out from behind the drum-set in the mid-1970s to replace Gabriel on lead vocals. Collins’s era saw the group move toward a simpler, more soulful sound that proved eminently more popular with recordbuyers. Like Gabriel, Collins also decided to launch a career on his own, but he has since remained committed to keeping Genesis alive and has switched back and forth several times between his enormously successful solo projects and the less popular, though to him equally satisfying, Genesis collaborations. “Frankly, the term ’art-rock’ has been a pain in the ass,” Collins told Rolling Stone in 1982, as if to sound the territory the “Collins Era” would roam.
Though Collins is now the most famous member of Genesis, ironically he was not even an original member of the group, which came together as a “songwriters’ collective” called Garden Wall in the exclusive London prep school Charterhouse in 1966. The group, consisting of Gabriel, bassist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks, and guitarist Tony Philips, came under the tutelage of producer Jonathan King, who suggested the new name Genesis. After their first LP, From Genesis to Revelation, caused little fanfare, the members of the band retreated to an English country cottage to rehearse.
They emerged with the music for the Trespass album and a highly theatric road show which they immediately took to the far corners of Britain. During this time Philips and drummer John Mayhew quit the band and Collins and guitarist Steve Hackett joined to form the core of the first Genesis era. The band followed with the LPs Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot, which featured more of the layered, extended suites that were signature early-70s progressive rock. By this time, Gabriel’s propensity for donning wild costumes and acting out the storylines of the music had begun to draw media attention and a growing cult following both in England and the United States. The crowning achievement of this period was 1974’s double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which was accompanied by an elaborate world tour featuring Gabriel as Rael, a sojourner in a surreal Manhattan landscape.
Later that same year Gabriel inexplicably left Genesis, citing conflicts within the group over how much time he was expected to devote to the band, as opposed to how much time his wife and newborn child needed him at home. Gabriel recalled in Rolling Stone that before the birth of his daughter, “My wife remembers it that…I was away with the band all the time. The band remembers it that I was away with my wife all the time.” Tony Banks added that “it was difficult for us to accommodate that, because at that stage in the group’s career, we still wanted to do as much touring as we could.”
After a long search to find a suitable replacement for Gabriel, Collins sort of took over the microphone by default, and the second Genesis era had begun. The musical output of Genesis in the following years stayed basically the same on such works as Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering. Meanwhile, the group remained committed to the road, playing extended world tours that culminated in the double live LP Seconds Out, recorded in Paris. Though they had dropped the costumery and theatrics, Genesis in concert still relied on plenty of the long, complex tunes from their early years, but the departure of Hackett signalled a change in musical direction for the group. The aptly titled. And Then There Were Three was released in 1977 after Hackett left the band to pursue a solo career, and Genesis soon began producing shorter, more accessible rock songs that caught the attentions of radio programming, particularly in the United States. “Follow You, Follow Me” from… And Then There Were Three hit the top ten in Great Britain, and “Misunderstanding” from Duke and “Abacab” from Abacab both made the charts in the U.S.
It was 1981 ’s Abacab that signalled the full arrival of the Collins era. The album featured extensive contributions from the horn section of the American group Earth, Wind & Fire, which had appeared on Collins’s highly successful solo debut Face Value and lent the Genesis sound a fresher, more direct “pop” quality. Collins’s second solo effort, Hello, I Must Be Going (1983), was a Top Twenty album that helped to bring even more attention to Genesis, which released Three Sides Live in 1982. Seemingly caught in the middle of his band loyalties and an expanding solo career, Collins simply capitalized on both. By 1987 Genesis had produced the Collins-esque Invisible Touch LP, which produced five top ten singles and was followed by a $60 million world tour.
In the meantime Collins released his third solo record, No Jacket Required, and Mike Rutherford had surprising success with the critically and financially successful album Mike and the Mechanics (1985). Almost out of nowhere, Genesis had become hot property—hot enough to become one of the first groups to fully capitalize on the lucrative, if not controversial, 1980s trend that saw several artists lend their names to ambitious product marketing campaigns. Suddenly Collins and Genesis were seen performing on television ads for Michelob beer, which had lent its name to the huge 1987 tour. Asked if he saw anything wrong with becoming a product spokesman, Collins told Rolling Stone: “Everyone has a beer—it’s no big deal. We’re not saying to go out and get legless every night. We’re just saying a beer’s a beer’s a beer.”
Despite the divergent solo interests of Collins, Rutherford, and even Tony Banks, who has developed a career in film soundtrack composition, Genesis has repeatedly stated its intention to stay together, a fact that should come as good news to its longtime following. “Genesis is more than a rock institution,” writes Mike Clifford in The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock. “Like an old family friend, they are always dependable, always faithful, and hopefully always there. With room for solo projects, that should be the case for some time to come.”
Trespass, ABC/Charisma, 1970; retitled In the Beginning, London/Decca, 1974.
Nursery Cryme, Charisma, 1971.
Foxtrot, Charisma, 1972.
Genesis Live, Charisma, 1973.
Selling England By the Pound, Charisma, 1973.
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, ATCO/Charisma, 1974.
A Trick of the Tail, ATCO/Charisma, 1976.
Wind and Wuthering, ATCO/Charisma, 1976.
Seconds Out, ATCO/Charisma, 1977
…And Then There Were Three, ATCO/Charisma, 1978.
Duke, ATCO/Charisma, 1980.
Abacab, ATCO/Charisma, 1981.
Three Sides Live, ATCO/Charisma, 1982.
Invisible Touch, Atlantic, 1986.
And The Word Was…, London, 1987.
Clifford, Mike, The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, Harmony Books, 1986.
Hardy, Phil, and Dave Laing, Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer, 1988.
Pareles, Jon, and Patricia Romanowski, The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Rolling Stone Press, 1983.
Rolling Stone, March 18, 1982; February 3, 1983; April 9, 1987; July 16, 1987.
Genesis, seminal British progressive-rock group of the late 1960s and 1970s. MEMBERSHIP: Peter Gabriel, lead voc. (b. London, England, Feb. 13, 1950); Tony Banks, kybd., voc. (b. East Heathly, Sussex, England, March 27, 1951); Steve Hackett, lead gtr., 12-string gtr.(b. London, England, Feb. 12, 1950); Mike Rutherford, bs., 12-string gtr., voc. (b. Guildford, England, Oct. 2, 1950); Anthony Phillips, gtr. (b. Putney, England, Dec. 1951); Chris Stewart, drm. Chris Stewart left almost immediately, to be replaced by John Silver in 1968, John Mayhew in 1969, and finally Phil Collins (b. London, England, Jan. 30, 1951) on drums and vocals in 1970; guitarist Steve Hackett replaced Anthony Phillips in the same year. Peter Gabriel left in June 1975; Hackett left in 1977.
Genesis favored a variety of keyboards and synthesizers in producing its sophisticated, richly textured music that set the style for other progressive- rock groups of the 1970s, such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes. Formed as a songwriters7 collective, the group emphasized the songs rather than virtuoso musician-ship. Building their reputation on the flamboyance and theatrics of lead vocalist Peter Gabriel, Genesis attempted to break through in America as a headline group rather than a supporting act in 1972. By 1975 the group had established itself with their early tour de force The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, an elaborate album combining a story line with surreal lyrics; some critics hailed it as the definitive concept album. The band employed progressively more ambitious stage presentations for subsequent tours.
With Peter Gabriel’s departure in 1975, Genesis began moving in a mainstream direction, with drummer Phil Collins taking over the lead vocal chores. Leaving behind their progressive pretensions with the 1977 departure of guitarist Steve Hackett, Genesis became an enormously popular touring and recording act in the 1980s, bolstered by the uncanny pop success of Phil Collins as a solo artist. Despite being criticized as boring, unimaginative, and repetitious, Genesis became one of the most popular and profitable rock groups in the world, and Collins likewise achieved huge success as a singles artist. Meanwhile Gabriel has continued to produce provocative, personal music, achieving his greatest success with 1986’s So and the hit song “Sledgehammer” and its innovative music video. Most recently he has become a champion of world music, founding the World Music Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival.
Genesis was formed in January 1967 as a songwriters7 collective by four students at England’s Charter-house School: Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Ruther-ford, and Anthony Phillips. After sending a tape to producer-songwriter Jonathon King (1965’s “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon”), the group recorded their debut album, In the Beginning (rereleased as From Genesis to Revelation), for Mercury Records with King as producer. The group was released from its recording contract after a year and was joined by drummer John Mayhew in 1969. This lineup of Genesis recorded Trespass for the ABC subsidiary Impulse (released on Charisma in Great Britain). Phillips and Mayhew left the group in 1970, and Phil Collins was recruited to play drums and sing backup vocals. He had been a child actor, appearing as the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver, and had taken up drums at age 10. He had begun playing sessions at 14, and played with Flaming Youth in 1969. Several months later guitarist Steve Hackett joined Genesis.
For Nursery Cryme, on Charisma Records, Genesis featured extensive use of the mellotron (an early synthesizer). The album contained two Genesis favorites, “Musical Box” and “Return of the Giant Hogweed,” and garnered rave reviews in Britain. The band then began experimenting with visuals and theatrics in performance that later became the group’s early trademark. Peter Gabriel became the visual focus of Genesis, utilizing mime, costuming, and lengthy song introductions on stage. Foxtrot included Genesis favorites “Watcher of the Skies” and the 23-minute “Supper’s Ready,” which featured spectacular lighting and elaborate costuming by Gabriel in performance. In an effort to generate a following beyond its cult status in America, the group debuted in the United States as a headlining act in December 1972.
Genesis’s first breakthrough into the American market came with 1973’s Selling England by the Pound. Featuring songwriting developments on the themes of myth, legend, and fantasy, plus Banks’s synthesizer work and several songs in odd time signatures, the album contained the group’s first British hit, “I Know What I Like.” With their reputation secure as a major British band by 1974, Genesis switched to Atlantic Records for the double-record concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Written in its entirety by Peter Gabriel, the album traced the surreal contemporary adventures of its hero, Rael, in the harsh N.Y.C. environment. The subsequent British and American tours virtually duplicated the album in performance, with Gabriel portraying Rael through a series of odd costume changes.
In June 1975 Peter Gabriel, sensing a loss of creative momentum and weary from years of touring and recording, left Genesis. Inasmuch as Gabriel had been (incorrectly) assumed to be the band’s musical leader and chief songwriter, critics began predicting its demise. Phil Collins took over on lead vocals for subsequent recordings. A Trick of the Tail proved surprisingly successful, as did Wind and Wuthering, which yielded their first (minor) American hit, “Your Own Special Way.” In order to free Collins from his drumming duties, Genesis recruited former King Crimson and Yes drummer Bill Bruford for their 1976 tours. For their 1977 worldwide tour they used all new sound and lighting equipment, enlisting American drummer Chester Thompson. The 1976 and 1977 tours were documented on Seconds Out.
Phil Collins began working outside Genesis in 1976, recording six albums with the jazz fusion group Brand X through 1980. Former member Anthony Phillips launched a solo career in 1976, and in 1977 Steve Hackett dropped out of Genesis to pursue a solo career. He recorded six albums through 1983 and formed GTR with vocalist Max Bacon and former Asia and Yes guitarist Steve Howe in 1986.
Reduced to a trio after Hackett’s departure, Genesis recorded the appropriately titled And Then There Were Three, with Rutherford playing all guitar and bass parts. Revealing a mainstream pop sound, the album yielded a major hit single with “Follow You, Follow Me.” Genesis next recorded Duke and the best-selling Abacab, which produced major hits with “Misunderstanding” and “Abacab,” respectively. Augmented by drummer Chester Thompson and new American guitarist Darryl Stuermer for tours, Genesis next released the double-record set Three Sides Live. All three members of the core band (Collins-Rutherford-Banks) have maintained their commitment to the group while pursuing various solo and other band projects from this period forward.
Phil Collins began recording as a solo artist in 1981, soon hitting with “I Missed Again” and “In the Air Tonight.” He scored a near-smash in 1982–83 with a remake of the Supremes’s “You Can’t Hurry Love.” His success seemed to bolster the career of Genesis, and 1983’s Genesis yielded four hits, including the smash “That’s All.” Genesis toured in 1984, and thereafter Collins and Genesis alternated producing smash hits. Through 1986 Collins had three smash hits with “Easy Lover” (in duet with Philip Bailey), “Don’t Lose My Number,” and “Take Me Home,” and top hits with “Against All Odds” (from the movie of the same name), “One More Night,” “Sussudio,” and “Separate Lives” (in duet with Marilyn Martin from the movie White Nights). Genesis scored five smash hits in 1986–87 with “Invisible Touch” (a top hit), “Throwing It All Away,” “Land of Confusion,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” and “In Too Deep” from Invisible Night. Collins starred in the 1988 movie Buster, which yielded top hits for Collins with a remake of the Mindbenders’ “Groovy Kind of Love” and “Two Hearts.”
During the 1990s Genesis scored major hits with “No Son of Mine,” “I Can’t Dance,” “Hold on My Heart,” “Jesus Knows Me,” and “Never a Time” from We Can’t Dance. The American stadium tour in support of the album yielded the two-part live set The Way We Walk (the first volume, “The Shorts,” celebrated their recent hits, while the second, “The Longs,” featured re- creations of their more ambitious 1970s progressive tunes). Phil Collins recorded the socially conscious album …But Seriously, which yielded pop and easy-listening hits with the top “Another Day in Paradise,” the smashes “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” “Do You Remember?,” and “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven,” and the major “Hang in Long Enough.” He scored a major hits in 1993–94 with “Both Sides of the Story” and “Everyday.”
Peter Gabriel returned to recording with three solo albums—released in 1977, 1978, and 1980—all, oddly, with the same name, Peter Gabriel. Exploring electronic instrumentation and Third World music on these al-bums, Gabriel was at the forefront of rock’s avant garde with his imaginative, complex arrangements and performance-artist persona in concert. He scored his first minor American hit in 1977 with “Solsbury Hill,” and the third Peter Gabriel album included the moderate hit “Games without Frontiers,” with backing vocals by Kate Bush, and “Biko,” his tribute to South African activist Steve Biko, who died in prison in 1977.
In 1982 Peter Gabriel founded the World Music Arts and Dance organization in England, to promote contemporary non-Western music, or “world music.” Over the years, the organization has presented more than 60 festivals in 12 countries, featuring acts from Jamaica, Africa, India, and Russia. That year the brooding, dense Security produced Gabriel’s first major hit, “Shock the Monkey.” He toured in 1983 and recorded five instrumental versions of previously released songs for the soundtrack to the movie Birdy. He finally made his commercial breakthrough in 1986 with the accessible So album, which yielded four hits: the top hit “Sledgehammer,” the major hit “In Your Eyes,” the near- smash hit “Big Time,” and the minor hit “Don’t Give Up,” recorded with Kate Bush.
In 1986 Gabriel performed on the Amnesty International tour, and he later conducted his own international tour of arenas, introducing Senegal’s most popular musician, Youssou N’Dour, to a new audience. He subsequently formed Real World Records for releases by Third World artists, and scored and recorded the music for the controversial 1989 Martin Scorsese movie The Last Temptation of Christ using musicians from Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. Gabriel managed moderate hits in 1992–93 with “Digging in the Dirt” and “Steam,” and introduced his impressive CDROM Peter Gabriel’s Secret World in late 1993.
In 1985 Mike Rutherford formed Mike and the Mechanics with vocalists Paul Young (b. Manchester, England, June 17, 1947) and Paul Carrack (b. Sheffield, England, April 22, 1951), keyboardist Adrian Lee (b. London, England, Sept. 9, 1947), and drummer Peter Van Hooke (b. London, England, June 4, 1950). Young had been lead vocalist with Sad Cafe, and Carrack had sung on Ace’s smash 1975 hit “How Long” and Squeeze’s moderate 1981 hit “Tempted.” Mike and the Mechanics scored smash hits with “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)” and “All I Need Is a Miracle,” and they toured the United States in 1986. They toured again in 1989, in support of Living Years and its top-hit title song.
GENESIS: In the Beginning (1968; reissued as From Genesis to Revelation, 1974); And Then There Was (1987); Trespass (1970); Nursery Cryme (1971); Foxtrot (1972); Best (reissue of above two; 1976); Nursery Cryme/Foxtrot (1979); Selling England by the Pound (1973); G. Live (1974); The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974); A Trick of the Tail (1976); Wind and Wuthering (1977); Seconds Out (1977);…And Then There Were Three (1978); Duke (1980); Abacab (1981); Three Sides Live (1982); G. (1983); Invisible Touch (1986); We Can’t Dance (1991); Live/The Way We Walk—Vol. One: The Shorts (1992); The Way We Walk—Vol. Two: The Longs (1993). THE LONDO N SYMPHON Y ORCH.: We Know What We Like: The Music of G. (1987). STEVE HACKETT: Voyage of the Acolyte (1976); Please Don’t Touch (1978); Spectral Mornings (1979); Defector (1980); Cured (1981); Highly Strung (1983); Time Lapse (1992); Momentum (1994); Till We Have Faces (1994); Bay of Kings (1994); Blues with a feeling (1995). GTR (WITH STEVE HACKETT) : GTR (1986). BRAND X (WITH PHIL COLLINS) : Unorthodox Behaviour (1976); Moroccan Roll (1977); Livestock (1977); Masques (1978); Prafarf (1979); Do They Hurt? (1980). ANTHONY PHILLIPS : The Geese and the Ghost (1977); Wise After the Event (1978); Sides (1980); Private Parts and Pieces, Part III—Antiques (1992); 1984 (1992); S/ow Dance (1991); Prawte Parts and Pieces, Vol. 8 (1993). PETER GABRIEL : Peter Gabriel (1977); Peter Gabriel (1978); Peter Gabrie/ (1980); Peter Gabriel (aka Security; 1982); P/ays Lira? (1983); Bm/y (soundtrack; 1985); So (1986); Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ (soundtrack; 1989); Shaking the Tree: 16 Golden Greats (1990); Revisited (1992); Us (1992); Secret World Live (1994); OVO: Millennium Show (2000). TONY BANKS : A Curious Feeling (1979); The Fugitive (1983); The Wicked Lady (soundtrack; 1984); Soundtracks (1986); Still (1992). PHIL COLLINS : Face Value (1981); Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982); No Jacket Required (1985); ITers (1988); …Bwf Seriously (1989); SCTWMS Hits…Live! (1990); Bof/z Swfes (1993). MIKE RUTHERFORD : Smallcreep’s Day (1980); Acting Very Strange (1982). MIKE AND THE MECHANICS : Mike + The Mechanics (1985); Living Years (1988); Word of Mouth (1991); Beggør on 0 Brac/z of Gold (1995).
Armando Gallo, G.: The Evolution of a Rock Band (London, 1978); Steve Clarke, G.: Turn It On Again (London, 1984); Ray Coleman, Phil Collins (London, 1997); Spencer Bright, Peter Gabriel: An Authorized Biography (London, 1988).
The importance of the Old Testament book of Genesis in the history of science stems largely from the fact that the narrative begins with an account of creation. A wide variety of theological cosmologies were based on differing interpretations of these few verses. Most of these views hinged on two major issues of interpretation: the nature of the "beginning" and the primordial materials described in Genesis 1:1–2; and the six "days" described in Genesis 1:4–2:3.
Interpretations of Genesis 1: 1–2 varied with the version of the Bible that was used. The Hebrew version begins with a relative clause: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void . . . ." (New Revised Standard Version), much like the parallel Hebrew construction in Genesis 2:4. So the Hebrew version of Genesis began with the primordial materials of formless earth, water, and darkness (Genesis 1:2). Various interpretations of this "beginning" were possible. Some rabbis accepted the inference that God began with a pre-existent chaos and then created an ordered cosmos (Genesis Rabbah 1:5). Others brought in texts like Proverbs 8:22–24 to demonstrate that God had created the water and the darkness and that the "beginning" of Genesis 1:1 was God's own wisdom as encoded in the Torah ( Jubilees 2:2–3; Genesis Rabbah 1:1, 9). Still others argued that God must have created worlds before this one (Genesis Rabbah 3:7; 9:2).
Most Diaspora Jews and early Christians, however, used the Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint. This text begins with the absolute statement: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," which implied an absolute beginning for this universe. It also implied that the unformed earth and water were included in the initial act of creation. This reading was followed by pioneering theologians like Basil of Caesarea (c. 329–379) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430) and became the standard interpretation for Christians.
The meaning of the six days of Genesis 1 was also debated. Some exegetes thought there was a temporal sequence of days without specifying their exact length ( Jubilees 2:2; Genesis Rabbah 1:3). For those who accepted the idea of an absolute beginning, this implied that God created the cosmos in two stages: God made the building materials (unformed earth, water, etc.) at the beginning of the first day; then God illuminated and formed those materials as described in the narrative (Wisdom of Solomon 11:17; 4 Ezra 6:38–40; Justin Martyr).
Others exegetes saw inconsistencies in the idea of a temporal sequence of days. For example, the first "day" that is described is assigned a cardinal number ("one day" rather than "first day," Genesis 1:5) in both the Hebrew and Greek versions (Genesis Rabbah 2:3; 3:9; Basil); the sun, moon, and stars appear in the narrative three days after the first evening and morning. Some Rabbis saw a nontemporal parallelism between the first three and the second three days (Genesis Rabbah 12:5). Others suggested that the ten utterances ("God said") of the narrative were patterned after the Ten Commandments or the construction of the Tabernacle (Pirqei Avot 5:1; Midrash Tanhuma). Other scholars argued that divine creation required no effort (Genesis Rabbah 12:10) and that it all might have taken place in a single instant (Philo; Midrash Tanhuma). This idea of a simultaneous creation of all things was followed by early Christian theologians like Origen (c. 185–254), Athanasius (c. 293–373), Basil, and Augustine.
See also Cosmology, Religious and Philosophical Aspects; Creatio Ex Nihilo; Life, Origins of
greene-mccreight, kathryn e. ad litteram: how augustine, calvin, and barth read the "plain sense" of genesis 1–3. new york: peter lang, 1999
levenson, jon d. creation and the persistence of evil. san francisco: harper, 1988.
neusner, jacob, trans. genesis rabbah: the judaic commentary to the book of genesis, vol. 1. atlanta, ga.: scholars press, 1985.
christopher b. kaiser
Genesis (jĕn´əsĬs), 1st book of the Bible, first of the five books of the Law (the Pentateuch or Torah) ascribed by tradition to Moses. Beginning with two accounts of the creation and of humankind, the narrative relates the initial disobedience of the man and the woman and their consequent expulsion from God's garden. Next is an account of the ongoing effects of human sin. The narrative then focuses on the fortunes of Abraham and his immediate descendants Isaac and Jacob. The author of Genesis perceives God's call of Abraham and God's commitment to Abraham's descendants as the divine response to the disasters that have befallen the world earlier in Genesis. It is clear that the reader is dealing with stories that were originally unconnected and have a lengthy oral history. The stories preserve memories of ancient clan migrations. In these, mythic elements from the ancient Middle East can still be felt despite ubiquitous devotion to Yahweh, the God of Israel. In the Jacob cycle, the 12 patriarchs are presented as ancestors of the tribes of the later Israeli establishment; it is likely that this represents an importation of the later notion that Israel was one people of God, with a common heritage and ancestry. During the period of the tribal confederacy (12th–11th cent. BC), these stories coalesced to tell the story of one people. Moreover, the patriarchal cycles are not biographies. These characters personify Israel's historical experience (e.g., the Jacob/Esau cycle) and its venture in faith (e.g., the Abraham cycle). For views regarding its composition see Old Testament and higher criticism.
See studies by C. Westermann (3 vol., tr. 1984–86, 1987, and 1992), N. M. Sarna (1989), R. Alter (1996), and R. Hendel (2012).
The name, recorded from late Old English, comes via Latin from Greek, ‘generation, creation, nativity, horoscope’, from the base of gignesthai ‘be born or produced’. The name was given to the first book of the Old Testament in the Greek translation (the Septuagint), hence in the Latin translation (the Vulgate).