Today's title is a commentary on commentaries. “What We Know” you see is very little. As the third chapter in the first book of the Bible, it's importance cannot be underestimated. And yet, what we know is surprisingly small. Taking a fresh look at the chapter let's try to do it some justice.
|Genesis 3:1-8 (KJV)||(NIV)||(RSV)|
|3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?|| The Fall|
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
|Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”|
|2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:||2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,||2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;|
|3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.||3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”||3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”|
|4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:||4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.||4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.|
|5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.||5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”||5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”|
|6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.||6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.||6 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, and he ate.|
|7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.||7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.||7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.|
|8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.||8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.||8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.|
The title of today's lesson could also have been “The Fall”; in deed this is the title of the chapter in the NIV, while the RSV titled it as “The First Sin and it's Punishment”. However, without focusing on any one aspect we can in deed acknowledge that essentially man has committed a “sin” here, so to speak: he had disobeyed a commandment of God. God had said, in Genesis 2:16-17:
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”“Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV)
Therefore, on one hand the man “sinned” by disobeying God's command. However there is much more to this event than meets the eye. Also consider:
Ths ZSB, as I call it, has theologically incorrect commentary. It states, “When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately became ashamed of their bodies and wanted to hide. Ever since, sinful human beings have been 'hiding' from each other and from God.” Further, it inserts words into God's mouth by stating that God asked '..(and are you ready to take responsibility for it?)”
As a result of this, and the general way in which the Zondervan NRSV student bible tends to color the passages and bring in an eisegesic understanding of the scriptures, we will drop commenting on the ZSB from now on. It should be evident by now that nothing we need to know will not be in the WSB or Artscrtoll. However, if the ZSB does make an interesting point as it is bound to from time to time, we may bring it up then.
The OACE as I call it, once again stuns and stings with it's “scholarly” commentary. It does correctly bring that the fall of man involved the damaging of the connections made by God in Genesis 2:4-25; however this point is made and then dropped as no specific such 'connections' are listed or discussed. And, the OACE does correctly point out that the 'snake' in the garden is not necessarily 'Satan' ala Christianity. Kudos to the OACE for making these points. It also stands largely in the light with it's comment that the primary means of deception used by the snake was the obfuscation of God's word; Eve's grasp of God's word was faulty – and thus separated from God's commandments by her own morality, she doubted God's commandments. Thus she was enabled to sin. There's a lot in this statement so perhaps looking at it from various angles can help explain what happened; here's one more. The snake realized that Even didn't know God's word very well. So he used this to cause doubt to arise in Eve; doubt in God's commandment because Eve believed she knew God's commandment although she did not. Therefore Eve's mistake was multiplied by her belief (v.6) that God had not given an accurate commandment. This is very different from a direct disobedience of God's commandment. So again credit where credit is due. However, where the OACE fails here is on a minor point. It emphasizes that this was a 'way' or a 'necessary step' for humans to become civilized. It counts their clothing as a mark of civilization. it remains to be seen whether the WSB and ASC agree with the OACE on these points; and while the OACE has largely made up for it's earlier idiocy we do now know that as valuable as the OACE can be one must keep a close eye on it and temper it with the widsom and knowledge gained from the source.
The WSB correctly characterizes this as the passage informing the Christian worldview, while at the same time noting that such a reading as “The Fall” is not directly supported by the text. We also see the notion of a connection, previously established, somehow being broken in the garden story. Interestingly Wesley also notes the very Jewish notion of man's reason and intelligence being as responsible for his fall as it could have been for his holiness: “Had he not been a free as well as an intelligent being, his understanding would have been of no service. For he would have been as incapable of holiness, or any kind of virtue, as a tree or a block of marble.” (Sermon 57, “On the Fall of Man”, P1). Wesley's notes read, “Having this power of freedom, mankind chooses evil over good, and sin enters into the world bringing with it pain of every kind.
The wording here seems to insinuate a dangerous idea; that free will itself is not “good”. However, a reading of Genesis 1:30-31 again should cure that heresy. It also may introduce the notion that the nature of free will is to choose evil over good; again, Genesis 1:26 and other will cure one of this heresy.
Finally we note that Wesley's comment ”…and sin enters into the world…“ has no scriptural support. The actual curse itself, we will read about later. But it does not say such a thing about sin!
Let's try the following format. A reading is given and then other readings it was checked against for comportment. In this case the KJV reading is given and the NASB and RSV were checked to make sure the stories all contained the same message. This is for saving space and only having to read one translation as a 'reference' translation for the passage in question. Maybe we can use this method to choose the best wording, should the KJV in those rare instances fail to word things as effectively as possible.
|Genesis 3:8-13 (KJV; NASB, RSV)|
|8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.|
|9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?|
|10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.|
|11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?|
|12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.|
|13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.|
Note on this method. I don't like how God says “thee” in v. 11, and prefer the RSV's use of 'you', leaving archaic pronouns as an honorific for God alone. I'll use the RSV in future such.
|Genesis 3:14-19 (RSV; KJV, NASB)|
|14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.|
|15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”|
|16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”|
|17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;|
|18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.|
|19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”|
|Genesis 3:20-24 (RSV; KJV, WEB)|
|20 The man called his wife’s name Eve,[a] because she was the mother of all living.|
|21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.|
|22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”—|
|23 therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.|
|24 He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.|
|a. Genesis 3:20 The name in Hebrew resembles the word for living.|
Notes on method; I do not like the RSV's use of “garments of skins” and prefer WEB's “coats of animal skins”. It seems that out of this the obviousness of the NSB's project becomes obvious. I'll continue to experiment with different quoting styles.
to be continued