God peaked with his renowned Genesis. But is the hype worth it?
Ever since it was first published in 950 BC, Genesis has been a reader favorite, taking its place on a top shelf in every household and in the bedside drawers of hotel rooms. His highly acclaimed work meant God’s writing abilities went unquestioned by the public. Perhaps in fears to “ruin the mood” for Old Testament superfans, critics, too, have abstained from commenting on the authorship of God and sheepishly reviewed the translators’ work instead. Three millennia later, it is finally time to ask ourselves the long-evaded question: Is God really a good writer?
The short answer is no. The long answer reveals itself through samples of bad writing throughout Genesis. One instance of not-so-great writing appears in Chapter 3, after God declares the respective punishments he has for the serpent, Eve, and Adam because they ate a fruit. Following God’s dramatic line to Adam, “for dust you are/ and to dust you will return”, we are casually told: “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” before the text goes back to discussing the punishment (Genesis 3:19-20). Considering the awkwardness of the moment, it is unlikely, if not extremely interesting, for Adam to name his wife as God recites his impending doom to him. Rather, this line seems to be amateurly placed in an important point in the narrative.
A more pervasive aspect of God’s writing is his incomprehensibly sharp transitions. These are apparent especially in instances of God’s anger. While in Chapters 3-5 people seem to be enjoying a long lifespan – with men like Enosh and Jared living more than 900 years – in Chapter 6, God suddenly decides to decrease human lifetime to 120 years because “my spirit will not contend with humans forever” (Genesis 6:1). This unpleasant decision, left unexplained, is also evidently unsuccessful in soothing God’s anger: right after, God decides to wipe human race from the face of the earth because, apparently, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11). This sounds like an explanation until one notes that there has not been an account of human violence since Abel and Cain – which was some hundreds of years ago – at this point in the text. Moreover, it is unanswered why God reduces human lifespan if he will kill all humans anyway. Does he change his mind later? Or is the 120 years for Noah and his family only? Then why does Noah live 950 years? Frankly, it all just seems like God has anger issues.
Based on only the first six chapters of Genesis, God’s writing fails to meet the expectations brought about by his fame. Sometimes information is unrelated to the context and awkwardly placed while at other times crucial information is nowhere to be found. Interestingly, God often portrays himself as angry and tired with humans, as also seen in his later shenanigans with the Tower of Babel. Likely, the burden of creating humans and running the daily operations of heaven and hell has left God frustrated with his life choices – haven’t we all been there – and led him to find an outlet to his feelings through writing. The reader must not forget, then, that the renowned creator only writes as a side-hassle and take his books with a grain of salt. Meanwhile, God could prioritize helping those who need him (i.e. Snell-Hitchcock) and leave writing to professionals.