ImmerseBeginnings NLT - Page 14


who then has twelve sons of his own. These twelve sons will become
the ancestors of the tribes of Israel.
The book concludes by describing the life of Joseph, one of Jacob’s
sons. Joseph is betrayed and cast off by his jealous brothers, but he
ultimately has a surprising role in preserving the family so that it can
expand into a nation. Throughout Genesis, we see God relentlessly
pursuing his plans to renew humanity and the rest of creation, blessing the covenant community in their obedience and overcoming their
Genesis consists mostly of stories. But family trees, which connect the
stories of people in different generations, also play a big role. Ancient
Hebrew writers loved to tell stories using the literary form of chiasm,
in which the first and last episodes/elements are paired, then the second and n
­ ext-­to-­last episodes/elements are paired, and so forth. This
literary structure lays out a series of situations that are resolved in the
reverse order of their initial appearance. (The formatting of this edition
of Genesis will single out the separate elements of the chiasms as they
appear.) Here’s a brief example from the account of the Flood:
A Noah builds an ark.
B God tells Noah to enter the ark.
C The waters rise.
D The waters flood the earth.
C' The waters recede.
B' God tells Noah to leave the ark.
A' Noah builds an altar.
The overall story in Genesis has an artistic shape. Its eleven accounts,
together with its prologue about creation, give it twelve parts, mirroring the twelve tribes Abraham’s descendants would grow into.
The storytelling in Genesis is marvelous, and it’s best to read continuously through the whole book. The stories are set in an ancient world
very different from our own, so don’t be surprised at the strangeness
of some of what we encounter. But the characters in these stories are
human and very much like us in crucial ways. God is wrestling with
them to slowly bring his redemptive purposes into our world. The name
Genesis means “beginnings.” It is the perfect introduction to the entire Bible, giving us the framework for understanding everything that

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