Creation and Blessing: A guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis

By Allen P. Ross
Grand Rapids : Baker (1996). 744 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. William Barrick
11.2 (Fall 2000) : 269-270

Creation and Blessing was first published in 1988. This 1996 edition is the first time in paperback. Allen P. Ross is professor of biblical studies at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He served as a translator and editor of the New King James Version and wrote the commentaries on Genesis and Psalms in the Bible Knowledge Commentary (Chariot Victor Books, 1987). Before the publication of Creation and Blessing, Ross published two series of articles on Genesis in Bibliotheca Sacra (“Studies in the Book of Genesis” in 1980- 81 and “Studies in the Life of Jacob” in 1985).

At the very outset, Ross informs his readers that the volume is not a commentary (13). It is but a guide to the study and exposition of Genesis, as its title announces (14). Indeed, the author’s intent is that his readers pursue a detailed exegesis of the text of Genesis on their own.

The volume is divided into five parts: “The Study of Genesis” (21-97), “The Primeval Events” (99-252), “The Patriarchal Narratives About Abraham” (253- 427), “The Patriarchal Narratives About the Descendants of Abraham” (429-588), and “The Story of Joseph” (589-717). Four appendixes are provided, covering the interpretation of 1:1-3 (718-23), the Hebrew word for create (724-28), Abraham’s faith (729-35), and the Hebrew word for visit (736-40). Lastly, a brief bibliography of commentaries and monographs closes the volume (741-44). The brevity of the closing bibliography should not mislead the reader of this review, however. Each chapter of Parts 2-5 in the volume concludes with a bibliography tailored for that particular area of study. The entries include books, essays, and journal articles. Ross has provided a wealth of bibliographic data for further research. The volume also includes 34 carefully crafted and strategically placed charts that enhance the study of Genesis. The most lamentable aspect of the book is the absence of indexes.

Part 1 contains an examination of the various interpretive approaches to Genesis, an outline of Ross’s own method for studying Genesis, and detailed discussions of both the nature and the composition of Genesis. The author is a strong adherent to Mosaic authorship. He believes that the Book of Genesis was presented to Israel prior to their entry into Canaan, providing them with instruction under the Sinaitic covenant and a historical prologue to the Law (64). The foundation for the Ten Commandments appears in the historical events of the Book of Genesis (96-97). Ross states that the expositor must “ask why the new nation of Israel needed to have this material and to have it written as it is” (102).

Each chapter of Parts 2-5 deals with the exposition of the text of Genesis. Ross provides a brief introduction, a discussion of theological ideas stemming from the passage, an analysis of its structure, a summary of its message, an exegetical outline (employing complete sentences for each point), and the development of the exposition organized along the lines of the exegetical outline.

The author maintains a staunchly evangelical stance. He is irrevocably dedicated to the exegetical exposition of the text itself and uncompromisingly opposed to the creative embellishment of the text that is too often characteristic of modern preaching in Biblical narrative. His overall purpose is the wedding of sound exegesis with effective expository communication.

Creation and Blessing should be considered an indispensable guide for expositors and students alike. After reading the text of Genesis itself, turn to this volume and a good exegetical commentary to fill in the details. For the latter, this reviewer recommends Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, 2 vols., NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990, 1994).