Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Questions in Genesis...

I've been mulling on these questions recently. Any ideas would be appreciated....

  1. If the serpent was so crafty (Gen 3:1), why didn't he suggest to Adam and Eve that they eat of the tree of life first, then from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
  2. Why did Adam wait to name Eve until after the fall (Gen 3:20)? She was "the woman" before that.
  3. After the fall God cursed the serpent and the ground but not Adam or Eve. Was the fall not a curse for mankind?
  4. In Gen 2:17 God says "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." Since the word "day" used here (yowm) was the same as the seven days of creation a literal translation would suggest that God lied because Adam and the woman did not die in the 24 hour period after they ate of the fruit.


Jeff said...

Great questions. Some I've been wrestling with myself. Others are new to me. (Great... Just what I needed. More things to wrestle with God about. ;) )
Let me give these a try:
1) It seems a safe assumption that the serpent new about the tree and life and what would happen if it was eaten from. Could he have been worried about competetion from immortal humans? Could the idea that humans would physically die be more hurtful to God? (OR would the serpent at least have thought this would be more hurtful to God?) Does the serpent benefit by Hell being filled with the damned?
2) Eve's name: hmmm. Doesn't Adam's name mean something similarly generic like man? Maybe a related question is why Adam didn't get a name change... Perhaps I'm grasping at straws here, but it seems relevant that Adam was tasked with naming everything and he didn't name Eve until they left. Does this imply that Adam was somehow disinterested or neglectful of Eve in the garden?

#3) I'd interpet the cursing of the ground to be much wider. The idea that all creation groans (as discussed in the epistles, I forget which one) seems to support this: not only the ground but all of creation. Even if this doesn't impact Adam and Eve directly, it certainly impacts them. Life has gotten much more difficult.

#4) I'd use your final question as a good argument against the 6-literal day thesis... If he didn't mean the word yowm as a 24-hour period when referring to the tree, clearly genesis isn't referring to 24 hour periods when describing creation.

However, even if this argument didn't work for somebody, it could also be argued that in some sense, the moment you become mortal is the day you die... At this point, death is a foregone conclusion. Similarly, the day I join the work force I shall surely retire; the day my kids are born they shall surely leave my home; etc.
These statements are all a little cumbersome. But it would be fairly easy to understand that we're not claiming that we're retiring on our first work day... Rather, the point is that by beginning to work we've set into motion an inevitable series of events that will end in retirement.

Vance said...

Thanks for your comments Jeff. Regarding 1) my pastor -Mike- in California suggested the Satan desires death, my athiest friend John suggest that Satan just wanted company in hell. If your assumption is wrong (that the serpent knew what was going on with the tree) that opens up a new angle--ignorance. Mike has reminded us that Satan is not omniscient like God.

Regarding 2)Adam was naming things and now that I look at Gen 2 again Adam did name her generically as "woman". Somehow I doubt he gave individual names to all the animals. My current theory is that before the fall that personal identity didn't exist. Now that I look at it the usage of "I" by Adam doesn't occur until after the fall (at least in the English).

Point 3) Yes-good point-it does seem that all creation would include Adam & Eve

Point 4). Mostly this is a jab at those that insist that everything except for this statement in Gen 1-3 must be taken literally. Right now my sense is that God is referring to the loss of immortality as you suggest.

If you haven't seen them Micah Tillman has some interesting posts on Genesis starting with:

SadOatcakes said...

Some thoughts:

1) I think probably the serpent's whole plan rested on making Adam & Eve (and creation) not-good. It was a plan to ruin God's plan.

If they ate from the tree of life and didn't eat from the tree of knowledge, they would be eternal but remain in their "perfect" state. That's no good for the serpent.

If they ate from the tree of life and then from the tree of knowledge, they would be eternal and not-good. This could also be problematic for the serpent. Would they become rivals, as Jeff has suggested? Would God have redeemed them back to good, leaving them (again) eternal and good?

It seems like the safest bet (from that perspective) would be to have them eat from the tree of knowledge first, to have them become not-good and not become immortal. That puts pressure on God, too: humans can be redeemed but it must be done in each human's lifetime. That's a lot shorter than eternity.

Ignorance is also highly plausible. Perhaps the devil only knew of one tree.

3) Is not great pain in childbearing a curse? Is not having to toil by the sweat of one's brow? I find it interesting that you assume that mankind was not cursed at the fall. What else would you call the burden of sin?

4) Death could also be used semi-figuratively here: the death of the soul, rather than of the body. The death of intimacy with God (consider how pre-fall Adam walked with God in the garden, and post-fall Adam hid from Him in shame). The eventual death of the body, as Jeff suggested, through becoming mortal. There are several options -- possibly all correct in different ways.

Vance said...

Thanks, SadOatcakes for your thoughts. It is interesting to speculate on what Satan did know. He seemed pretty confident Eve wouldn't die on the spot (or maybe he was surprised when she didn't). I agree that Satan might not want immortal not-good beings around. I doubt he would share power willingly.

Regarding the curse. I certainly don't intend to minimize the pain of childbirth. I was with my wife when our kids were born. I just don't see where this Biblical text, or any that I can find directly says that mankind was cursed because of the fall, or that increased pain in childbirth was a curse. I don't feel like I have an understanding for what a curse is. I think that I tend to assume there is some sort of negative spiritual component associated with it--not just physical.

By the way I really like your blog--SadOakcakes

Vance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vance said...

Theology and Snack referred to Isaiah 7:14-16 today: 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. ESV

Good and Evil pop up again...