Genesis: Reliability of Text, Outlines and Time Charts (Chonological).

Genesis: Reliability of Text , Outlines and Genealogies

Paul Bucknell

There are two basic ways of outlining the Book of Genesis. Before we describe these outlines, we should remember that the reason we divide up the book is to better understand and retain its content. We must, however, stay focused on the major themes through the book. Genesis helps us to rightly interpret what we see in the world.

1) Geographical Outline of Genesis

The three geographical scenes of Genesis help us see the three big stages of God's operations in the early world: Babylon, Palestine and Egypt.

Genesis Outline Map: Babylonia, Palestine and Egypt.


Genesis 1-11

Preservation of the Godly Line

Adam and Eve
Noah's sons


Genesis 12-36

Provision of God's Promise

Isaac and Ishmael
Jacob and Esau


Genesis 37-50

Protection of God's People

Joseph and Brothers

2) Genealogical Outline of Genesis

After the prologue where we find the true beginning of all things, we discover ten genealogies, each introduced by the same Hebrew word meaning generation, account or record (Hebrew - Toledot).#1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1).
The generations of Heaven and Earth
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. (Genesis 2:4).
The generations of Adam
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. (Genesis 5:1).
The generations of Noah
These are the records of the generations of Noah... (Genesis 6:9).
The generations of the sons of Noah
Now these are the records of the generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood. (Genesis 10:1).
The generations of Shem
These are the records of the generations of Shem....(Genesis 11:10).
The generations of Terah
Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. .... (Genesis 11:27).
The generations of Ishmael
Now these are the records of the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham; (Genesis 25:12).
The generations of Isaac
Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: ... (Genesis 25:19).
The generations of Esau
Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). (Genesis 36:1).
The generations of Jacob
These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, ... (Genesis 37:2).

Observations on the Book of Genesis

We are perhaps most surprised at including both Ishmael and Esau. They were sons of promised men, but were first born. They were not second born. From Ishmael the blessing went to Isaac. From Esau, the blessing went to Jacob. This pattern is repeated numerous times throughout Genesis. Why include both Ishmael and Esau then? We find that each of them had God's blessing, even though of a lesser kind. They would grow into different countries and people that Israel (Jacob) would later meet up with.

There is also a theological reason for including Esau and Ishmael We are to remember and see the difference between the world's way (natural - first born) and God's way (spiritual -born again - second born).

These series of genealogies most importantly show how God's promise and line of godly seed is passed down. More will be discussed later on when we examine an number of the unifying themes throughout Genesis. As we read different books of the Bible, we find the importance that these genealogies had. Most clear is the way both Luke and Matthew use the genealogical accounts to trace Jesus' descendants.

Matthew traces Jesus Christ's genealogy back to Abraham. Luke, however, goes right back to ... the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God!

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matthew 1:1).
"...the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." (Luke 3:38).

The book of Genesis ties together all the unseen ends of a very complex set of family descendants. Jesus was the family of Abraham and so the fulfillment could be fulfilled in Christ.

"And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:2,3).

In Luke's Gospel, though, we see Christ as a descendant of Adam and God where the lordship originated. As true man, Christ could obtain the original blessing of rulership or kingship from God. This was Christ's legal right and authority.

The genius behind Genesis goes far beyond slapping a bunch of genealogies together. Moses strategically connected these genealogies under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. They are redemptively laid out by tracing God's line of redemption. There is a godly line and an evil line.


Genesis is a critical book for the human race to understand. This ancient book has a wonderful organization not very unlike that which we find in the universe God has made. The genealogical divisions not only enable us to better grasp the unity of the book but interweave the rest of the scriptures into itself that we might know that the God who made the universe is the same who sent His Son into the world to die for His people.

Let's go on and see how the unity and historicity of Genesis by looking at two of its complete chronological charts. -> GO

The Genesis Index

Genesis Introduction:  Introduction to Genesis |  Outline and Genealogies  |  Genesis' Chronologies (5 & 11) |   Unified Themes of Genesis | Structure of Genesis
Genesis 1-2:3:   The Worship of the Creator |  The Meaning of Creation  |  Creation Lessons on God.  |  God and the World's Religions
Genesis 2:4-17:    Preparation for Man (Genesis 2:4-6) |  Creation of Man (Gen. 2:7, 1:26-27) |  Purpose for Man (Genesis 2:8-17)
Genesis 2:18-25: The Foundations of Marriage
Genesis 3:1-13: The Fall of Man | Temptation (Genesis 3:1-6) | The Fall (Genesis 3:7-13) | Questions 3:1-6 | Questions 3:7-13
Genesis 5-9: Genesis Flood | Genesis 05 Genealogical Chart
Genesis 10-11: Noah's Sons| Questions | History Genesis 10:6-11 | Tower of Babel Genesis 11:1-9 | Questions | Culture Genesis 11
Genesis 12-22:   The Call: Genesis 12.1The Promises: Genesis 12.2-3  |  The Means: Genesis 15The Testing: Genesis 22
Genesis 12-16: Introduction |   Place Detour: Genesis 12:10-20; 20 |  Person Detour: Genesis 12:13-14Procedure Detour: Genesis 16-17
Genesis 14:1-24: Three Steps to Spiritual Growth | #1 Observe | #2 Utlilitize | #3 Secure
Genesis 18-19: Cultural Woes of Sodom | Appearing to Abraham | Visit to Sodom | Debate of Homosexuality and Sodom
Genesis 21-26: Isaac's Model for Godly Marriages
Genesis 27-36: Genesis 27-36 Jacob's Life of Faith
Genesis 25-37: Influence of Sin | God and Man's Sin | Understanding Man's Sin Nature | Understanding Jacob's Sins
Genesis 37-50: Joseph’s Dillusonment | Genesis 42-47:12: The Big Picture | Conclusion | The Reason

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

(1) The phrase (... of the generations of ...) called colophons mark the different sections in Genesis. The majority of commentators take it ( toledot ) to act as an introductory formula. A minority see the phrase as summarizing the previous content. We assume with most that it introduces each section and the prologue serves as the support for all that follows.