Question: "Who wrote the book of Genesis? Who was the author of Genesis?"

Answer: The book of Genesis, as its name implies, is a narrative of beginnings. Its alternate name Bereshith—meaning “in the beginning”—derives from the opening line of the book. Genesis chronicles the origin of the universe, our first parents, and the rebellion that corrupted both creation and human nature. It also traces the lineage of the Israelites, starting from Abraham, through whom God initiated His redemptive work.

The book of Genesis has sparked many debates, including the subject of authorship. Early Jewish and Christian tradition attributed Genesis to Moses, in alignment with the other books of the Pentateuch. This choice was not arbitrary, as both the Old and New Testaments point to Moses as the author. For instance, Joshua 8:31 mentions Joshua building an altar as “written in the Book of the Law of Moses,” a reference to the Pentateuch. Joshua 1:7 also refers to the law commanded by Moses. Additional supporting verses include Numbers 33:2; Joshua 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; and Matthew 4:4.

In the New Testament, Jesus consistently referred to Moses while discussing the Pentateuch, further affirming his authorship (for example, Matthew 19:8; Mark 12:26; John 5:45–47). For Christians, the testimony of Jesus alone is sufficient to establish Moses as the author of Genesis. In Acts 3:22, Peter quotes Deuteronomy and attributes the passage to Moses. In Romans 10:5, Paul cites Moses as the author of Leviticus.

Moses’ authorship of the book of Genesis remained uncontested until the 19th century, when scholars began to challenge the traditional view. One objection arose from the events recorded in Genesis predating Moses’ existence. How did Moses have knowledge about these events?

First, we affirm the trustworthy inspiration of the Holy Spirit, asserting that “all Scripture is inspired,” including the book of Genesis (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB). God’s guidance in overseeing Scripture gives us confidence that Moses received accurate information about Adam, Noah, and others who predated him.

Furthermore, the ancient world had a robust oral tradition that Moses could have used as a source. Also, Genesis 5:1 implies the existence of written documents Moses might have relied on, especially the genealogies, originating from older patriarchs like Abraham and Joseph, who lived in the same Egypt Moses grew in.

As an alternative to Mosaic authorship of Genesis, modern scholars proposed the “documentary hypothesis” or “JEDP hypothesis,” suggesting that Genesis and other books of the Pentateuch were written by several anonymous authors and editors relying on oral tradition that spanned centuries. This idea, which divides Genesis into various segments based on the different names of God used in each, was first proposed by Jean Astruc and developed by Julius Wellhausen, who viewed Scripture using evolutionary lenses. The JEDP hypothesis casts suspicion on the authenticity of the book of Genesis, making it a legendary work at best, fitting for understanding the ancient world but by no means historical. However, there is no external evidence to support the JEDP hypothesis; no J, E, D, or P document has ever been discovered. No ancient Jewish or Christian scholar ever hinted that such documents existed.

Based on the internal testimony of Scripture, Moses’ background, and archeological evidence of early writing, the most plausible conclusion is that Moses wrote and edited the book of Genesis.