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Genesis Chapters 1 - 3. Problem: God’s Empty Threat.

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Problem god s empty threat
Problem: God’s Empty Threat

  • Genesis Chapter 2 (KJV):16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

  • But this doesn’t happen > Adam lives to the age of 930. Eve lives a similarly long life.

  • NB: Bible is the word of God. It is also assumed by ancient interpreters to be perfectly coherent.

A day of god
A Day of God

Sometime before the 2nd century BCE, someone connected this problem with a verse in the book of Psalms. Psalms 90: 4 - “For a thousand years in Your sight are as yesterday, the way it passes, or like a watch in the night.”If one day (“yesterday”) in God’s sight actually equals a thousand years, then the fact that Adam died at the age of 930 would put his demise some time in the late afternoon of a single “day” of God’s.

  • Read Kugel, pp. 48/49

  • How did ancient interpreters account for the fact that Adam and Eve don’t die on the day they eat from the Tree of Good and Evil, as he had promised?

The sun created on the fourth day
The Sun Created on the Fourth Day..

  • This idea helps solve another problem. According to Chapter 1, God created the world in six days. But the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day. How could there be ‘days’ without a sun? They were ‘days of God’ – a thousand year unit of time known only to Him. World really created over a period of 6000 years.

But how were adam and eve punished
But how were Adam and Eve punished?

  • New problem > So Adam died on the ‘day’ he ate from the tree of knowledge but what kind of punishment is it to die at 930? What if God had originally intended Adam and Eve to be immortal? Then, it was the loss of immortality that would be their punishment. Perhaps their immortality was to be sustained by the Tree of Life and so banishing man and woman from the Garden was to take away their immortality.

  • Read Kugel, pp. 50/51

  • How and why did ancient interpreters read in to the story of Adam and Eve the idea of the “Fall of Man”?

Adam and eve as allegory
Adam and Eve as allegory

  • Interesting theory about the meaning of Adam and Eve – seems to reflect the moment humanity discovered the secret of agriculture.Figuring out that seeds can be collected and then deliberately planted in fields was a great step forward for humanity. But agriculture brought with it certain pains – working long hours under the sun, earning one’s bread “by the sweat of your face” (Gen 3:19)

Adam and eve as allegory1
Adam and Eve as allegory

  • At a similar stage of historical development, people began to wear more clothes.

  • At a similar time, human beings discovered that childbirth is the result of an “act of planting” nine months earlier. Before this discovery, a father may not understand he has any specific relationship to this or that child. Afterwards, the man “will cling to his wife and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2: 24).

Adam and eve as allegory2
Adam and Eve as allegory

  • Ancient Israelites were engaging in a speculative reconstruction of how these events – how humans came to be farmers, learned the secrets of childbirth and came to fashion clothes for themselves - occurred millennia earlier.

The snake
The Snake

Serpent of the story is clever and convinces Adam and Eve to become ‘clever’. May have connection with worship of snakes elsewhere in the Near East. Divine serpent an apt vehicle for transmission of the sacred knowledge of agriculture.

By eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, humans have acquires powers previously held exclusively by God: “the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (3:22)

  • Read Kugel, pp. 54 – 56

  • What aspects of the story of Adam & Eve suggest it may be an allegory for the transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary food-producing one?