Acronym chapter summaries for Genesis

Q.  Hello, Dr. Smith. Wanting to summarize an entire book of the bible chapter by chapter, I developed a system using 9 words as acronyms. Using this system I now know what each chapter of Genesis is about. Please review, would love to get feedback.

I think your system, which I’ve copied below from your original submission, is simply brilliant.  One of the essential disciplines for engaging Scripture is memorization, and making up “mnemonics” or memory devices is a time-honored component of that discipline.  I think you’ve been exceptionally creative and shown a mastery of the material in Genesis as you’ve developed your own mnemonics.  Great work.

I’d even suggest that you don’t need to drop the “L” in “ISRAEL” in your last section.  You can use it this way:

EL – End of Jacob’s Life; even then the brothers are afraid of Joseph; EviL by the brothers used for good by God.

My only reservation about what you’ve done is that the chapters in Genesis, and for that matter the chapters throughout the Bible, often don’t correspond to the natural divisions of the material.  For example, the opening creation account in Genesis clearly extends through the seventh day.  But the break between chapters 1 and 2 cuts off the seventh day from the other six.

To give another example, only about a third of chapter 11 is about the “interruption at the Tower of Babel,” as you aptly put it.  The other two thirds consists of “ancestry from Shem to Terah” and “Terah’s family line.”

Simply stated, Genesis is not a book that consists of 50 chapters.  Rather, it consists of 12 sections, each of them (except the first) introduced by the formula, “These are the generations of X.”  That is, “This is what came from X.”  Some of these sections are quite short, such as the “Generations of Ishmael,” which makes up only about a quarter of chapter 25.  Others are much longer and extend over many of the customary chapters.

In The Books of the Bible, the chapter-and-verseless edition of the NIV for which I was a consulting editor, Genesis is divided into these 12 sections, and its longer sections are further divided (using white space of varying widths) into their natural smaller pieces.  I’d be very interested in seeing someone with your creativity and knack for words summarize the book of Genesis according to this outline!

Thanks very much for sharing your work with me.


Key words:
CREATION, RAINBOW, HAGAR, SARAH, JACOB, ESAU, JOSEPH, DREAM, ISRAEL

Chapters 1-8

C- creation in 6 days
R- responsibilities, rib, restrictions
E- eating the fruit, exit from Eden
A- Able killed by Cain, a mark on Cain
T- timeline from Adam to Noah
I- instructions to Noah
O- obliteration of the earth by water
N- never again God promises

Chapters 9-15

R- rainbow, reckless with alcohol, rebukes his son with a curse
A- ancestry from Noah to Abraham
I- interruption at the Tower of Babel
N- not my wife but my sister, nation out of Abram’s seed
B- bad relations between Abram and Lot’s men, Better land taken by Lot
O- offensive by Abram to save Lot & kings of Sodom, offering to Melchizedek
W- warning to Abram that his seed would be placed into bondage

Chapters 16-20

H- handmaid taken as a wife
A- Abram to Abraham and Sara to Sarah
G- guest from heaven, giggling Sarah, grace if 10 righteous in Sodom
A- annihilation of Sodom, Ammonites and Moabites created
R- returning Sarah to Abraham by Abimelech

Chapters 20-25

S- son of Abraham and Sarah Isaac is born, sending away of Hagar and Ishmael
A- altar made to sacrifice Isaac, angel of the Lord stops him
R- resting place for Sarah
A- asking for a sign to find a wife for Isaac, answer animals given water
H- Here lies Abraham, Hostility Ishmael’s & his brothers’ seeds, heel grabber, hungry hunter sells birthright

Chapters 26-30

J- just like his father Isaac tells Abimelech his wife is his sister
A- animal skin used by Jacob & Rachel to trick Isaac
C- Canaanite women do not marry Isaac warns Jacob, climbing Jacob’s ladder, commits to give 1/10 to God
O- offered Leah to Jacob who was looking for Rachel tricked by Laban
B- baby boom Lord blesses Leah with 4 sons Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah

Chapters 30-34

E- escape from Laban, exercise caution Laban is warned by God when pursuing Jacob
S- showdown with Esau, struggling all night with an angel until hip socket pulled out
A- amends made between Jacob and Esau
U- uncircumcised the Shechemites cannot marry Dinah who they rapped, unwelcome in the land after Simeon and Levi take revenge on the Shechemites

Chapters 35-40

J- journey to Bethel by Jacob and family, just call him Benjamin last son born by Rachel before she dies.
O- offspring of Esau
S- seventeen and hated by his brothers, Sold into slavery
E- Er’s widow Tamar poses as a prostitute to have a son by Judah her father-in-law
P- Potiphar’s house, prison
H- headless and hired the dreams of the baker and butler

Chapters 40-45

D- dreams by Pharaoh interpreted by Joseph, deputy under Pharaoh
R- reunited with his brothers, return with Benjamin while I hold Simeon
E- empty cupboards force return with Benjamin, extra food 5x’s given to Benjamin at Joseph’s dinner
A- any brother will go to prison for Benjamin who is accused of stealing from Joseph
M- masquerade over Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.

Chapters 45-50

I- instructions to Jacob to move to Egypt
S- settling in Egypt, selling grain for money, livestock, and land, Joseph’s plan
R- right hand of Jacob placed on Joseph’s youngest son and not the oldest to bless him
A- all Jacob’s sons are blessed by him, addresses their past and future
E- end of Jacob’s life, even then the brothers are afraid of Joseph, evil by the brothers used for good by God

(Had to drop the L.)

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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