Sources and Composition
Now the discussion moves from the finished text to its background. Given the initial indications that the Primary History, including Genesis, was written in a world overshadowed by the diverse achievements of the Persians and the Greeks, it is appropriate first to summarize some general aspects of the GrecoPersian world in Chapter 6. The newness of this Persian period provides part of the matrix for the newness of Genesis and the Primary History.
Chapter 7 moves the focus in on some specific aspects of the Greco-Persian world: the spirit of theological inquiry; the codification of law, particularly as promoted by the long-reigning Darius (522–486 BCE);and, especially, the development of historiography among the Greeks of western Asia. It is this latter development, Greek historiography, which provides an appropriate cultural background for understanding the emergence of a narrative like the Primary History.
The role of Greek historiography as a background to the Primary History opens the way for a reconsideration of Genesis's sources in Chapter 8. These sources are of four main kindshistoriography, epic, prophecy, and law—but allowance must also be made for sources of other kinds.
Awareness of background and sources clarifies the question of composition in Chapter 9. And then, having come through many preliminary issues, it is finally appropriate to summarize the questions of date, people, and place in Chapter 10.