In the Platonic, Middle Platonic, Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity; the word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinized form of the Greek δημιουργός or dēmiourgos. It was a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but came to mean "producer", "creator"; the philosophical usage and the proper noun derive from Plato's Timaeus, written c. 360 BC, where the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. The demiurge is described as a creator in the Platonic and Middle Platonic philosophical traditions.
In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school, the demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world after the model of the Ideas, but is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material world is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is ignorant or misguided. Plato, as the speaker Timaeus, refers to the Demiurge in the Socratic dialogue Timaeus, c. 360 BC. The main character refers to the Demiurge as the entity who "fashioned and shaped" the material world. Timaeus describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, so it desires a world as good as possible; the world remains imperfect, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic, indeterminate non-being. Plato's work Timaeus is a philosophical reconciliation of Hesiod's cosmology in his Theogony, syncretically reconciling Hesiod to Homer.
In Numenius's Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonist cosmogony, the Demiurge is second God as the nous or thought of intelligibles and sensibles. Plotinus and the Platonists worked to clarify the Demiurge. To Plotinus, the second emanation represents an uncreated second cause. Plotinus sought to reconcile Aristotle's energeia with Plato's Demiurge, which, as Demiurge and mind, is a critical component in the ontological construct of human consciousness used to explain and clarify substance theory within Platonic realism. In order to reconcile Aristotelian with Platonian philosophy, Plotinus metaphorically identified the demiurge within the pantheon of the Greek Gods as Zeus; the first and highest aspect of God is described by Plato as the source, or the Monad. This is the God above the Demiurge, manifests through the actions of the Demiurge; the Monad emanated the demiurge or Nous from its "indeterminate" vitality due to the monad being so abundant that it overflowed back onto itself, causing self-reflection.
This self-reflection of the indeterminate vitality was referred to by Plotinus as the "Demiurge" or creator. The second principle is organization in its reflection of the nonsentient force or dynamis called the one or the Monad; the dyad is energeia emanated by the one, the work, process or activity called nous, mind, consciousness that organizes the indeterminate vitality into the experience called the material world, cosmos. Plotinus elucidates the equation of matter with nothing or non-being in The Enneads which more is to express the concept of idealism or that there is not anything or anywhere outside of the "mind" or nous. Plotinus' form of Platonic idealism is to treat the Demiurge, nous as the contemplative faculty within man which orders the force into conscious reality. In this, he claimed to reveal Plato's true meaning: a doctrine he learned from Platonic tradition that did not appear outside the academy or in Plato's text; this tradition of creator God as nous, can be validated in the works of pre-Plotinus philosophers such as Numenius, as well as a connection between Hebrew and Platonic cosmology.
The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous, is one of the three ordering principles: Arche – the source of all things, Logos – the underlying order, hidden beneath appearances, Harmonia – numerical ratios in mathematics. Before Numenius of Apamea and Plotinus' Enneads, no Platonic works ontologically clarified the Demiurge from the allegory in Plato's Timaeus; the idea of Demiurge was, addressed before Plotinus in the works of Christian writer Justin Martyr who built his understanding of the Demiurge on the works of Numenius. The Neoplatonist Iamblichus changed the role of the "One" altering the role of the Demiurge as second cause or dyad, one of the reasons that Iamblichus and his teacher Porphyry came into conflict; the figure of the Demiurge emerges in the theoretic of Iamblichus, which conjoins the transcendent, incommunicable “One,” or Source. Here, at the summit of this system, the Source and Demiurge coexist via the process of henosis. Iamblichus describes the One as a monad whose first principle or emanation is intellect, while among "the many" that follow it there is a second, super-existent "One", the
In biology, altruism refers to behaviour by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor. Altruism in this sense is different from the philosophical concept of altruism, in which an action would only be called "altruistic" if it was done with the conscious intention of helping another. In the behavioural sense, there is no such requirement; as such, it is not evaluated in moral terms—it is the consequences of an action for reproductive fitness that determine whether the action is considered altruistic, not the intentions, if any, with which the action is performed. The term altruism was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in French, as altruisme, for an antonym of egoism, he derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning "other people" or "somebody else". Altruistic behaviours appear most in kin relationships, such as in parenting, but may be evident among wider social groups, such as in social insects.
They allow an individual to increase the success of its genes by helping relatives that share those genes. Obligate altruism is the permanent loss of direct fitness. For example, honey bee workers may forage for the colony. Facultative altruism is temporary loss of direct fitness. In the science of ethology, more in the study of social evolution, on occasion, some animals do behave in ways that reduce their individual fitness but increase the fitness of other individuals in the population. Research in evolutionary theory has been applied including altruism. Cases of animals helping individuals to whom they are related can be explained by kin selection, are not considered true altruism. Beyond the physical exertions that in some species mothers and in some species fathers undertake to protect their young, extreme examples of sacrifice may occur. One example is matriphagy in the spider Stegodyphus. Hamilton's rule describes the benefit of such altruism in terms of Wright's coefficient of relationship to the beneficiary and the benefit granted to the beneficiary minus the cost to the sacrificer.
Should this sum be greater than zero a fitness gain will result from the sacrifice. When apparent altruism is not between kin, it may be based on reciprocity. A monkey will present its back to another monkey; such reciprocity will pay off, in evolutionary terms, as long as the costs of helping are less than the benefits of being helped and as long as animals will not gain in the long run by "cheating"—that is to say, by receiving favours without returning them. This is elaborated on in evolutionary game theory and the prisoner's dilemma as social theory; the existence of altruism in nature is at first sight puzzling, because altruistic behaviour reduces the likelihood that an individual will reproduce. The idea that group selection might explain the evolution of altruism was first broached by Darwin himself in The Descent of Man, Selection in Relation to Sex; the concept of group selection has had a chequered and controversial history in evolutionary biology but the uncritical'good of the species' tradition came to an abrupt halt in the 1960s, due to the work of George C.
Williams, John Maynard Smith as well as Richard Dawkins. These evolutionary theorists pointed out that natural selection acts on the individual, that it is the individual's fitness that drives evolution. A group advantage, disadvantageous to the individual cannot evolve, because the selfish individual will leave, on average, more offspring than those who join the pack and suffer injuries as a result. If the selfishness is hereditary, this will result in the population consisting of selfish individuals. However, in the 1960s and 1970s an alternative to the "group selection" theory emerged; this was the kin selection theory, due to W. D. Hamilton. Kin selection is an instance of inclusive fitness, based on the notion that an individual shares only half its genes with each offspring, but with each full sib. From an evolutionary genetic point of view it is therefore as advantageous to help with the upbringing of full sibs as it is to produce and raise one's own offspring; the two activities are evolutionarily equivalent.
Co-operative breeding could thus evolve without the need for group-level selection. This gained prominence among biologists interested in the evolution of social behaviour. In 1971 Robert Trivers introduced his reciprocal altruism theory to explain the evolution of helping at the nest of an unrelated breeding pair of birds, he argued that an individual might act as a helper if there was a high probabilistic expectation of being helped by the recipients at some date. If, the recipients did not reciprocate when it was possible to do so, the altruistic interaction with these recipients would be permanently terminated, but if the recipients did not cheat the reciprocal altruism would continue indefinitely to both parties' advantage. This m
Gnosticism is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century AD. These systems believed that the material world is created by an emanation or'works' of a lower god, trapping the divine spark within the human body; this divine spark could be liberated by gnosis, spiritual knowledge acquired through direct experience. Some of the core teachings include the following: All matter is evil, the non-material, spirit-realm is good. There is an unknowable God; the creator of the universe is not an inferior spirit. Gnosticism does not deal with "sin," only ignorance. To achieve salvation, one needs gnosis; the Gnostic ideas and systems flourished in the Mediterranean world in the second century AD, in conjunction with and influenced by the early Christian movements and Middle Platonism. After the second century, a decline set in. In the Persian Empire, Gnosticism in the form of Manicheism spread as far as China, while Mandaeism is still alive in Iraq.
A major question in scholarly research is the qualification of Gnosticism, based on the study of its texts, as either an interreligious phenomenon or as an independent religion. Gnosis refers to knowledge based on personal perception. In a religious context, gnosis is mystical or esoteric knowledge based on direct participation with the divine. In most Gnostic systems, the sufficient cause of salvation is this "knowledge of" the divine, it is an inward "knowing", comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus, differs from proto-orthodox Christian views. Gnostics are "those who are oriented toward knowledge and understanding – or perception and learning – as a particular modality for living"; the usual meaning of gnostikos in Classical Greek texts is "learned" or "intellectual", such as used by Plato in the comparison of "practical" and "intellectual". Plato's use of "learned" is typical of Classical texts. By the Hellenistic period, it began to be associated with Greco-Roman mysteries, becoming synonymous with the Greek term musterion.
The adjective is not used in the New Testament, but Clement of Alexandria speaks of the "learned" Christian in complimentary terms. The use of gnostikos in relation to heresy originates with interpreters of Irenaeus; some scholars consider that Irenaeus sometimes uses gnostikos to mean "intellectual", whereas his mention of "the intellectual sect" is a specific designation. The term "Gnosticism" does not appear in ancient sources, was first coined in the 17th century by Henry More in a commentary on the seven letters of the Book of Revelation, where More used the term "Gnosticisme" to describe the heresy in Thyatira; the term Gnosticism was derived from the use of the Greek adjective gnostikos by St. Irenaeus to describe the school of Valentinus as he legomene gnostike haeresis "the heresy called Learned." The earliest origins of Gnosticism are still disputed. The proto-orthodox Christian groups called Gnostics a heresy of Christianity, but according to the modern scholars the theology's origin is related to Jewish sectarian milieus and early Christian sects.
Scholars debate Gnosticism's origins as having roots in Neoplatonism and Buddhism, due to similarities in beliefs, but its origins are unknown. As Christianity developed and became more popular, so did Gnosticism, with both proto-orthodox Christian and Gnostic Christian groups existing in the same places; the Gnostic belief was widespread within Christianity until the proto-orthodox Christian communities expelled the group in the second and third centuries. Gnosticism became the first group to be declared heresy; some scholars prefer to speak of "gnosis" when referring to first-century ideas that developed into gnosticism, to reserve the term "gnosticism" for the synthesis of these ideas into a coherent movement in the second century. No gnostic texts have been discovered that pre-date Christianity, "pre-Christian Gnosticism as such is hardly attested in a way to settle the debate once and for all." Contemporary scholarship agrees that Gnosticism has Jewish or Judeo-Christian origins, originating in the late first century AD in nonrabbinical Jewish sects and early Christian sects.
Many heads of gnostic schools were identified as Jewish Christians by Church Fathers, Hebrew words and names of God were applied in some gnostic systems. The cosmogonic speculations among Christian Gnostics had partial origins in Ma`aseh Bereshit and Ma`aseh Merkabah; this thesis is most notably put forward by Gilles Quispel. Scholem detected Jewish gnosis in the imagery of the merkavah, which can be found in "Christian" Gnostic documents, for example the being "caught away" to the third heaven mentioned by Paul the Apostle. Quispel sees Gnosticism as an independent Jewish development, tracing its origins to Alexandrian Jews, to which group Valentinus was connected. Many of the Nag Hammadi texts make reference to Judaism, in some cases with a violent rejection of the Jewish God. Gershom Scholem once described Gnosticism as "the Greatest case of metaphysical anti-Semitism". Professor Steven Bayme said. Recent research into the origins of Gnosticism shows a strong Jewish influence from Hekhalot literature.
Within early Christianity, the teachings of Paul and John may have been a starting point for Gnostic idea
Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, subdivided according to similarities and differences; the compound word ontology combines onto- and -logia. See classical compounds for this type of word formation. While the etymology is Greek, the oldest extant record of the word itself, the New Latin form ontologia, appeared in 1606 in the work Ogdoas Scholastica by Jacob Lorhard and in 1613 in the Lexicon philosophicum by Rudolf Göckel; the first occurrence in English of ontology as recorded by the OED came in a work by Gideon Harvey: Archelogia philosophica nova. Containing Philosophy in general, Metaphysicks or Ontology, Dynamilogy or a Discourse of Power, Religio Philosophi or Natural Theology, Physicks or Natural philosophy, Thomson, 1663.
The word was first used in its Latin form by philosophers based on the Latin roots, which themselves are based on the Greek. Leibniz is the only one of the great philosophers of the 17th century to have used the term ontology; some philosophers, notably in the traditions of the Platonic school, contend that all nouns refer to existent entities. Other philosophers contend that nouns do not always name entities, but that some provide a kind of shorthand for reference to a collection either of objects or of events. In this latter view, instead of referring to an entity, refers to a collection of mental events experienced by a person. Between these poles of realism and nominalism stand a variety of other positions. Principal questions of ontology include: "What can be said to exist?" "What is a thing?" "Into what categories, if any, can we sort existing things?" "What are the meanings of being?" "What are the various modes of being of entities?"Various philosophers have provided different answers to these questions.
One common approach involves dividing the extant subjects and predicates into groups called categories. Such lists of categories differ from one another, it is through the co-ordination of different categorical schemes that ontology relates to such fields as library science and artificial intelligence; such an understanding of ontological categories, however, is taxonomic, classificatory. Aristotle's categories are the ways in which a being may be addressed as a being, such as: what it is how it is how much it is where it is Further examples of ontological questions include: What is existence, i.e. what does it mean for a being to be? Is existence a property? Is existence a genus or general class, divided up by specific differences? Which entities, if any, are fundamental? Are all entities objects? How do the properties of an object relate to the object itself? Do physical properties exist? What features are the essential, as opposed to accidental attributes of a given object? How many levels of existence or ontological levels are there?
And what constitutes a "level"? What is a physical object? Can one give an account of what it means to say that a physical object exists? Can one give an account of what it means to say that a non-physical entity exists? What constitutes the identity of an object? When does an object go out of existence, as opposed to changing? Do beings exist other than in the modes of objectivity and subjectivity, i.e. is the subject/object split of modern philosophy inevitable? Essential ontological dichotomies include: universals and particulars substance and accident abstract and concrete objects essence and existence determinism and indeterminism monism and dualism idealism and materialism Philosophers can classify ontologies in various ways, using criteria such as the degree of abstraction and field of application: Upper ontology: concepts supporting development of an ontology, meta-ontology Domain ontology: concepts relevant to a particular topic, domain of discourse, or area of interest, for example, to information technology or to computer languages, or to particular branches of science Interface ontology: concepts relevant to the juncture of two disciplines Process ontology: inputs, constraints, sequencing information, involved in business or engineering processes Ontology features in the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy from the first millennium BCE.
The concept of guṇa which describes the three properties present in differing proportions in all existing things, is a notable concept of this school. In the Greek philosophical tradition, Parmenides was among the first to propose an ontological characterization of the fundamental nature of existence. In the prologue or proem to his poem On Nature he describes two views of existence. Our opinions about truth must be false and deceitful. Most of western philosophy — including the fundamental concepts of falsifiability — has emerged from this view; this posits that
In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" includes atoms and anything made up of them, any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume; however it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states; these include classical everyday phases such as solid and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, quark–gluon plasma. Atoms can be imagined as a nucleus of protons and neutrons, a surrounding "cloud" of orbiting electrons which "take up space"; however this is only somewhat correct, because subatomic particles and their properties are governed by their quantum nature, which means they do not act as everyday objects appear to act – they can act like waves as well as particles and they do not have well-defined sizes or positions.
In the Standard Model of particle physics, matter is not a fundamental concept because the elementary constituents of atoms are quantum entities which do not have an inherent "size" or "volume" in any everyday sense of the word. Due to the exclusion principle and other fundamental interactions, some "point particles" known as fermions, many composites and atoms, are forced to keep a distance from other particles under everyday conditions. For much of the history of the natural sciences people have contemplated the exact nature of matter; the idea that matter was built of discrete building blocks, the so-called particulate theory of matter, was first put forward by the Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus. Matter should not be confused with mass. Matter is a general term describing any'physical substance'. By contrast, mass is not a substance but rather a quantitative property of matter and other substances or systems. While there are different views on what should be considered matter, the mass of a substance has exact scientific definitions.
Another difference is that matter has an "opposite" called antimatter, but mass has no opposite—there is no such thing as "anti-mass" or negative mass, so far as is known, although scientists do discuss the concept. Antimatter has the same mass property as its normal matter counterpart. Different fields of science use the term matter in different, sometimes incompatible, ways; some of these ways are based on loose historical meanings, from a time when there was no reason to distinguish mass from a quantity of matter. As such, there is no single universally agreed scientific meaning of the word "matter". Scientifically, the term "mass" is well-defined. Sometimes in the field of physics "matter" is equated with particles that exhibit rest mass, such as quarks and leptons. However, in both physics and chemistry, matter exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties, the so-called wave–particle duality. A definition of "matter" based on its physical and chemical structure is: matter is made up of atoms.
Such atomic matter is sometimes termed ordinary matter. As an example, deoxyribonucleic acid molecules are matter under this definition because they are made of atoms; this definition can be extended to include charged atoms and molecules, so as to include plasmas and electrolytes, which are not included in the atoms definition. Alternatively, one can adopt the protons and electrons definition. A definition of "matter" more fine-scale than the atoms and molecules definition is: matter is made up of what atoms and molecules are made of, meaning anything made of positively charged protons, neutral neutrons, negatively charged electrons; this definition goes beyond atoms and molecules, however, to include substances made from these building blocks that are not atoms or molecules, for example electron beams in an old cathode ray tube television, or white dwarf matter—typically and oxygen nuclei in a sea of degenerate electrons. At a microscopic level, the constituent "particles" of matter such as protons and electrons obey the laws of quantum mechanics and exhibit wave–particle duality.
At an deeper level and neutrons are made up of quarks and the force fields that bind them together, leading to the next definition. As seen in the above discussion, many early definitions of what can be called "ordinary matter" were based upon its structure or "building blocks". On the scale of elementary particles, a definition that follows this tradition can be stated as: "ordinary matter is everything, composed of quarks and leptons", or "ordinary matter is everything, composed of any elementary fermions except antiquarks and antileptons"; the connection between these formulations follows. Leptons, quarks combine to form atoms, which in turn form molecules; because atoms and molecules are said to be matter, it is natural to phrase the definition as: "ordinary matter is anything
Morality is the differentiation of intentions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may be synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness". Moral philosophy includes metaethics, which studies abstract issues such as moral ontology and moral epistemology, normative ethics, which studies more concrete systems of moral decision-making such as deontological ethics and consequentialism. An example of normative ethical philosophy is the Golden Rule, which states that: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself."Immorality is the active opposition to morality, while amorality is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any particular set of moral standards or principles. Ethics is the branch of philosophy.
The word "ethics" is "commonly used interchangeably with'morality,' and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual." Certain types of ethical theories deontological ethics, sometimes distinguish between ethics and morals: "Although the morality of people and their ethics amounts to the same thing, there is a usage that restricts morality to systems such as that of Immanuel Kant, based on notions such as duty and principles of conduct, reserving ethics for the more Aristotelian approach to practical reasoning, based on the notion of a virtue, avoiding the separation of'moral' considerations from other practical considerations." In its descriptive sense, "morality" refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or social mores from a society that provides these codes of conduct in which it applies and is accepted by an individual. It does not connote objective claims of right or wrong, but only refers to that, considered right or wrong.
Descriptive ethics is the branch of philosophy. In its normative sense, "morality" refers to whatever is right or wrong, which may be independent of the values or mores held by any particular peoples or cultures. Normative ethics is the branch of philosophy. Philosophical theories on the nature and origins of morality are broadly divided into two classes: Moral realism is the class of theories which hold that there are true moral statements that report objective moral facts. For example, while they might concede that forces of social conformity shape individuals' "moral" decisions, they deny that those cultural norms and customs define morally right behavior; this may be the philosophical view propounded by ethical naturalists, however not all moral realists accept that position. Moral anti-realism, on the other hand, holds that moral statements either fail or do not attempt to report objective moral facts. Instead, they hold that moral sentences are either categorically false claims of objective moral facts.
Some forms of non-cognitivism and ethical subjectivism, while considered anti-realist in the robust sense used here, are considered realist in the sense synonymous with moral universalism. For example, universal prescriptivism is a universalist form of non-cognitivism which claims that morality is derived from reasoning about implied imperatives, divine command theory and ideal observer theory are universalist forms of ethical subjectivism which claim that morality is derived from the edicts of a god or the hypothetical decrees of a rational being, respectively. Celia Green made a distinction between territorial morality, she characterizes the latter as predominantly negative and proscriptive: it defines a person's territory, including his or her property and dependents, not to be damaged or interfered with. Apart from these proscriptions, territorial morality is permissive, allowing the individual whatever behaviour does not interfere with the territory of another. By contrast, tribal morality is prescriptive, imposing the norms of the collective on the individual.
These norms will be arbitrary, culturally dependent and'flexible', whereas territorial morality aims at rules which are universal and absolute, such as Kant's'categorical imperative' and Geisler's graded absolutism. Green relates the development of territorial morality to the rise of the concept of private property, the ascendancy of contract over status; some observers hold that individuals apply distinct sets of moral rules to people depending on their membership of an "in-group" or an "out-group". Some biologists and evolutionary psychologists believe this in-group/out-group discrimination has evolved because it enhances group survival; this belief has been confirmed by simple computational models of evolution. In simulations this discrimination can result in both unexpected cooperation towards the in-group and irrational hostility towards the out-group. Gary R. Johnson and V. S. Falger have argued that nationalism an
Book of Genesis
The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. It is divisible into the Primeval history and the Ancestral history; the primeval history sets out the author's concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world, good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, saving only the righteous Noah to reestablish the relationship between man and God. The Ancestral History tells of God's chosen people. At God's command Noah's descendant Abraham journeys from his home into the God-given land of Canaan, where he dwells as a sojourner, as does his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Jacob's name is changed to Israel, through the agency of his son Joseph, the children of Israel descend into Egypt, 70 people in all with their households, God promises them a future of greatness. Genesis ends with Israel in Egypt, ready for the coming of the Exodus; the narrative is punctuated by a series of covenants with God, successively narrowing in scope from all mankind to a special relationship with one people alone.
In Judaism, the theological importance of Genesis centers on the covenants linking God to his chosen people and the people to the Promised Land. Christianity has interpreted Genesis as the prefiguration of certain cardinal Christian beliefs the need for salvation and the redemptive act of Christ on the Cross as the fulfillment of covenant promises as the Son of God. Tradition credits Moses as the author of Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Leviticus and most of Deuteronomy, but modern scholars see them as a product of the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Genesis appears to be structured around the recurring phrase elleh toledot, meaning "these are the generations," with the first use of the phrase referring to the "generations of heaven and earth" and the remainder marking individuals—Noah, the "sons of Noah", etc. down to Jacob. It is not clear, what this meant to the original authors, most modern commentators divide it into two parts based on subject matter, a "primeval history" and a "patriarchal history".
While the first is far shorter than the second, it sets out the basic themes and provides an interpretive key for understanding the entire book. The "primeval history" has a symmetrical structure hinging on chapters 6–9, the flood story, with the events before the flood mirrored by the events after. God consecrates the seventh as a day of rest. God creates the first humans Adam and Eve and all the animals in the Garden of Eden but instructs them not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A talking serpent portrayed as a deceptive creature or trickster, entices Eve into eating it anyway, she entices Adam, whereupon God throws them out and curses them—Adam to getting what he needs only by sweat and work, Eve to giving birth in pain; this is interpreted by Christians as the fall of humanity. Eve bears two sons and Abel. Cain kills Abel but not Cain's. God curses Cain. Eve bears Seth, to take Abel's place. After many generations of Adam have passed from the lines of Cain and Seth, the world becomes corrupted by human sin and Nephilim, God determines to wipe out humanity.
First, he instructs the righteous Noah and his family to build an ark and put examples of all the animals on it, seven pairs of every clean animal and one pair of every unclean. God sends a great flood to wipe out the rest of the world; when the waters recede, God promises he will never destroy the world with water again, using the rainbow as a symbol of his promise. God sees mankind cooperating to build a great tower city, the Tower of Babel, divides humanity with many languages and sets them apart with confusion. God instructs Abram to travel from his home in Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan. There, God makes a covenant with Abram, promising that his descendants shall be as numerous as the stars, but that people will suffer oppression in a foreign land for four hundred years, after which they will inherit the land "from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates". Abram's name is changed to Abraham and that of his wife Sarai to Sarah, circumcision of all males is instituted as the sign of the covenant.
Due to her old age, Sarah tells Abraham to take Hagar, as a second wife. Through Hagar, Abraham fathers Ishmael. God resolves to destroy the cities of Gomorrah for the sins of their people. Abraham gets God to agree not to destroy the cities for the sake of ten righteous men. Angels save Abraham's nephew Lot and his family, but his wife looks back on the destruction against their command and turns into a pillar of salt. Lot's daughters, concerned that they are fugitives who will never find husbands, get him drunk to become pregnant by him, give birth to the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites. Abraham and Sarah go to the Philistine town of Gerar, pretending to be sister; the King of Gerar takes Sarah for his wife, but God warns him to return her, a