In yesterday’s post we laid some groundwork to help us see what we can discern from the Eden accounts of Genesis 2 and 3 about the origins of fear. Today we’ll begin to delve into the meat of it, before hopefully wrapping up tomorrow.
To reiterate and build on something I said yesterday, in my opinion these accounts in the early chapters of Gensis are not intended to provide us with a chronology of the fall. In other words, they are not meant to describe a historical event or events that resulted in sin coming into the world. If we read them that way, we’re likely to come away with quite a shallow understanding. If, on the other hand, we read them as texts that are meant to provide insight into the condition of sinful human beings, there are riches of understanding to be gained.
So, let’s repeat part of our text from yesterday:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 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 die.’ (Genesis 2:15-17)
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (Genesis 3:-7)
I believe there are plenty of clues to indicate that these accounts are to be read allegorically rather than literally. We have a man named Adam (meaning “human” in the Hebrew language), a woman named Eve (chavah in Hebrew, meaning “mother of all life”), a talking snake, and God walking in the garden. In fact, the entire genre of the early part of Genesis is Hebrew poetry, thick with symbolism and allegory. Continue reading