Observations: Genesis 3

The serpent/devil cajoles the woman into eating the fruit. He tells her that God lied to her and the man. Why did she believe that God would have lied? God must have permitted this to happen. Yes? He would have wanted to know that the man and woman He created would be loyal to Him, as Lucifer and his friends were not. God gave the man and woman one rule. That right there could have been the extent of His test. Would they, or would they not, obey? God, since He is all-knowing, had to know that the serpent would try to trick the woman. God had to know that outcome. Therefore, when God walks in the garden and is unable to find the man and woman, He is not really unable to find them. He needs to see how they will answer for their crime. How did they? By trying to shift the blame to someone else. The woman accuses the serpent. The man accuses the woman.

And what about the woman’s reason for giving in? The fruit was attractive to look at, the tree was good for food (because they had nothing else to eat? No.), and wisdom seemed like a good thing. Nothing changes. Humans are still falling for this stuff: becoming enamored with appearances, being too curious, and trying to accumulate knowledge (information?) simply for the sake of accumulating it. Why did the man and woman need wisdom? What would it have done for them there in paradise? They saw wisdom as an end, not as a means to an end. Isn’t that what we still do? How many of us stop to ask, “Why am I doing this? Why do I want that? What do I think it will do for me, really?”

Because of this original sin of disobedience, man is forced to toil and is subject to pain. Woman shall desire her husband, and bearing children will cause pain, but her husband shall rule over her. “This original sin of disobedience”—does that mean that disobedience is inherently wrong, or is it wrong because of the motivation behind it—in this case, pride? Man, there you go. If you want to get right down to the heart of the matter, to the real-deal cause of so much sin and sorrow, look no further than pride.

In Holiness for Housewives (and Other Working Women), a book I read in my early years of parenting and one that saved me a ton of heartache, Dom Hubert Van Zeller writes, “The only thing that really matters in life is doing the will of God. Once you are doing the will of God, then everything matters. But apart from the accepted will of God, nothing has any lasting reality.” What would cause any of us to turn our backs on the will of God? What else but pride, thinking we know better than God?

The names Adam and Eve are used for the first time in Genesis 3:20–21.

What happens after the sin of Adam and Eve? God clothed them in animal skins. No animals had been killed before that. God had said that man would have dominion over other creatures, but nothing was said about killing them for food or clothing. He did say, though, “I give all the green plants for food.”

God tells the man and woman that they are dust and to dust they shall return. There is no mention of man being created from dust in the first creation account. In that one, God called man into being out of nothing.*

Cherubim are set at the entrance to the garden, so no one can ever get back in.

God says (to the angels?) “man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” So evil already existed: coming into being when Lucifer turned against God and was cast into hell with his minions?

Then there’s the first prophecy about Jesus, when God says to the serpent in verse 15: “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” If God had simply been referring to all the offspring of Adam and Eve, He would have used the pronouns “they” and “their” rather than “he” and “him.”

 


*My copy of the New American Bible, Catholic Study Edition, contains an introduction written by Eugene H. Maly in which he explains how we are to understand the Bible, which is accepted as the inspired Word of God:

There are certain explanations of inspiration, however, that the Church has discarded as being unworthy either of God or of the human author. One of these is the so-called “divine dictation” theory. According to this idea, God alone is responsible for the content of the Bible. The human authors were merely recording machines, or robots, who wrote down what God, in some unknown way, dictated to them. Or, the human authors were caught up in some mystical trance and reproduced God’s Word without any consciousness of what they were writing.

The theory has been rejected by the Church for two good reason: because it implies the notion of a God who does not respect the freedom of his creatures, and because it cannot account for the very obvious differences of the biblical writing—differences that can be adequately explained by the different backgrounds, styles, and purposes of the human authors. …

The Bible was composed over a period of more than one thousand years. The human authors involved in its composition varied greatly in their background, education, social and cultural insights, and even, to an extent, in their religious perspective. Moreover, they were frequently unaware of what other inspired authors were saying or, especially, of what would be said later on. …

All of this means only that the Bible must be understood in the sense in which it was intended by God and by the biblical authors. And their purpose was not to write a history book in the modern Western sense of that term, but to set forth the history of God’s salvation.

The other day, I read another excellent post by Father Stephen Freeman. This one is on allegory, and in the post he writes, “There are many who speak about literalism and see it where it does not exist. The trees of modern theories and habits hide the forest of ancient understanding and use of texts. It is necessary to back away from details and look at a larger context to see what we are actually seeing. In cultural terms, it is possible to say that no one was a “literalist” until the modern period.”

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