What Is Primeval History?

by Jennifer Spirko

Primeval history is the history of the first age of humanity, and the term typically specifies Genesis books 1 through 11, explained biblical scholars Stephen Prickett and Robert Barnes. These chapters cover the stories of creation, the flood and the Tower of Babel.

In the Beginning of Everything

Campbell University religion professor Ken Vandergriff calls primeval history “the story of universal beginnings,” with two key themes: yearning toward a relationship with God and the awareness that something is wrong in the relationship. Vandergriff identifies multiple influences in the writing of primeval history, which helps explain such contradictions as two different creation accounts, in Genesis 1 and 2. Legal historian Douglas O. Linder, of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, dates the story of Genesis to the oral traditions of Jewish desert dwellers around 1,000 B.C., and the written version to a Jewish priest about 500 years later. How factual primal history is may be difficult to determine because of these multiple influences, and theologians and historians are divided about how to date it.

About the Author

Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at "The Knoxville Journal." She has written for "MetroPulse," "Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times" and "Some" monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.

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