Could Adam and Noah have personally written the first chapters of Genesis?
Lois Clymer – a fun project making a cuneiform clay tablet
Not long ago, most historians thought that writing did not begin until around 1000 BC. That would mean Genesis was passed down orally and would question the role Moses had in forming the first 5 books of the Bible. But when archeologists unearthed the ancient city of Nineveh and other ancient libraries full of thousands of tablets with cuneiform, they discovered that writing began much earlier. Historians now place the beginning of writing at 3300 BC or even earlier, placing writing well within the lifetime of Adam. Genesis 5:2 reads, “This is the book…”, so are we reading what Adam wrote?
When PJ Wiseman was working in Iraq in 1923, he had the opportunity to watch the excavation in Ur of the Chaldees and to examine cuneiform tablets. He and other researchers found that cuneiform tablets usually ended with the signature line of the author or owner of the tablet. The book of Genesis contains 11 of these signature lines. They are easy to find for they state “This is the book of the generations of Adam” or “These are the generations of Noah” etc. The word “generations” is more accurately defined as “origin” or “family history.”
Interestingly, the translators, not understanding the literary style of tablets, put the “These are the generations…” at the beginning of a section, instead of at the end of a section, where they would make more sense. Everything that comes before these signature lines happened in the lifetime of the stated “author” and does not include his death. See Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis by PJ Wiseman for more details. Wiseman also points out that there are still remnants in Genesis of titles and catch phrases typically found on tablets to link the tablets to each other.
The first 5 books of the Bible have traditionally been credited to Moses and in the New Testament we read “Moses said” when quoting from Exodus through Deuteronomy. It is likely that Moses compiled tablets that were passed down containing the family history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and put them in a book called Genesis. There are several places where names of towns changed from the time the tablets were written to when Moses would have put them together and we see statements such as “Bela (which is Zoar)” Genesis 14:2. Although Moses likely compiled Genesis, he would have written Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy from first hand knowledge.
I have always found ancient history to be fascinating. My book, Sacred Strands, the Story of a Redeemer Woven Through History contains glimpses into ancient history. You can purchase the book here.
I had an enjoyable time coming up with an illustration for this blog. I bought some Red Rock Red Terra Cotta Clay, made a wooden stylus, and used a Cuneiform English alphabet which I found on line here to make the clay cuneiform tablet pictured above.
Here is a translation for my tablet:
Line 1: Day Lord made Heaven/ earth.
Line 2: Story of Creation.
Line 3: Serpent tempts Eve, Seed promised.
Line 4: Eve gives birth Cain and Abel.
Line 5: Lord regards Abel. Cain kills Abel.
Line 6: Cain family – five generations.
Line 7: Jabal – father – tents, livestock.
Line 8: Jubal – father – lyre, harp.
Line 9: Tubal-cain forge bronze, iron.
Line 10: This book history Adam.