John Calvin on the Genesis of Genesis

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"History," asserts Calvin, "is traced back through a long series of past ages….   Moses testifies….   He does not here put forward divinations of his own, but is the instrument of the Holy Spirit for the publication of those things which it was of importance for all men to know….   He does not transmit to memory things before unheard of, but…consigns to writing facts which the Fathers had delivered [principally in writing] from hand to hand to their children through a long succession of years….

"Can we conceive that man was so placed on the Earth as to be ignorant of his own origin, and of the origin of those things which he enjoyed?   No sane person doubts that Adam was very well-instructed respecting them all."   Thus Calvin.  

Genesis 5:1f mentions "the Book of the generations of Adam."  Carefully note once more: "the Book of the generations of Adam"!   Yes, "the Book" — "the Book" written either by God for Adam and his descendants, or written under in-Spir-ation from God by Adam for himself and his descendants.

Continues Calvin: "Did Noah, warned by a divine judgment so memorable, neglect to transmit it to posterity?"   No!   Genesis 7:11f and 10:1f.  

Indeed, it is almost inconceivable that the precise dates mentioned in the Flood Narrative could have been transmitted to posterity without a written  record!   Genesis 8:3-13.   And the same applies to the transmission of the lists of the precise ages attained by both the antediluvian and the postdiluvian patriarchs.   Genesis 5:1-32 & 11:10-32.

Calvin then goes on.   Apparently still presuming a series of inspired written records, he notes that also "Abraham is expressly honoured with this eulogy, that he was the teacher…of his family.   Genesis 18:19." 

Indeed, the entire inspired Book of Genesis is largely a compilation of a whole succession of shorter inspired books — viz. "[the Book of] the generations of Heaven and Earth” (Genesis 1:1 to 4:26, according to 2:4); “the Book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1 to 6:8); “[the Book of] the generations of Noah” (Genesis 6:9 to 9:29); “[the Book of] the generations of the sons of Noah” (Genesis 10:1 to 11:9); “[the Book of] the generations of Shem” the son of Noah (Genesis 11:10-26); “[the Book of] the generations of Terah” (Genesis 11:27 to 25:11); “[the Book of] the generations of Ishmael” (Genesis 25:12-18); “[the Book of] the generations of Isaac” (Genesis 25:19 to 35:29); “[the Book of] the generations of Esau” (Genesis 26:1-8); “[the Book of] the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir” (Genesis 36:9-43f); “[the Book of] the generations of Jacob” (Genesis 37:2 to 38:30); and also what might be called ‘[the Book of] the generations of Joseph’ (Genesis 39:1 to 41:52f).

Thus John Calvin very rightly indeed concludes: "Long before the time of Moses, an acquaintance with the Covenant which God had entered with their fathers [Hosea 6:7 and

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Genesis 6:18 & 17:1-7 etc.], was common to the whole people….   He does not propound it as something new, but only commemorates what all held — what the men of old themselves had received from their ancestors….  

"We ought not to doubt that ‘The Creation of the World’ as here described [in Genesis chapter one] was already known through the ancient and perpetual traditions [both written and oral] of the Fathers….   It pleased the Lord to commit the history to writing, for the purpose of preserving its purity….

"After the World had been created, man was placed in it as in a theatre….   He was endued with understanding and reason so that, being distinguished from brute animals, he might meditate on a better life and might even tend directly towards God Whose image he bore engraven on his own person."  

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