Saturday, February 9, 2008
Genesis 3 (Romans 5 to a lesser extent)
So I'm super late with this week's blog. I've been reading tons of commentaries and books about the passages this week and I finally had to stop to actually write the blog and, more importantly, the sermon. I think it would be interesting to actually get people to post some comments here in response to the message tomorrow. I wonder if anyone will. What seems true is that almost everyone has some very strong ideas about what we've come to call the "Fall of Man" (forgive the paternalistic language). Most of what we think the bible says, though, is from people's interpretation of the Genesis 3 passage - not necessarily from what it does explicitly say. So here are some of my rambling thoughts below. I may mention some of this in the sermon, but I'll largely be going in a slightly different direction. Please post your thoughts and ideas too...
This serpent is strange. He's crafty, he talks. But the woman doesn't seem to think this odd. We don't know so many things here. How long Adam and Eve have been around? What do they do in the garden? Are there other talking creatures in this garden, and why does this serpent talk? We have a very small picture with which to make a big story.
What we do know is that people are intricately linked with the creation around them. Adam is made from the dirt, and his work (pre-fall) is to tend the dirt and farm it for food. Eve is made from Adam and so she's from the same “stuff” as Adam. There are some odd things that we may have been mis-taught in the past. Here are some realities from the passage as I see them:
* Adam is “master” (NLT) or "ruler" (NIV) of Eve as a result of the fall (3:16)– it wasn't evidently meant to be this way, which puts a real dent in paternalistic views of man's relationship to women. There's a better way than “lording” it over women.
* The serpent is not identified with Satan here at all. He may be Satan, but it isn't spelled out here (look to Revelation for that).
* Work, ie labor, is not part of the curse. The hardship of work is the result of God cursing the ground. Again we're more tied to the earth than we still seem to understand today (3:17-19). God says that man will scratch out a living from the ground til the day he dies, then he will return to the dust. We come from dirt, we tend the dirt, we go back to dirt. What does this tell us about how we should care for the earth? It is home.
* Eve doesn't even have a name until this whole episode is over. Why? No wonder she talked to the serpent, he was paying more attention to her than Adam, who hadn't even said "Hey baby, what's your name?"
* Here's one that I never saw before: People don't live forever (pre-Fall) and only die as a result of the sin and the curse. I always thought humans were made to live eternally except for the problem of sin. Which, in a way, is still true, but not in the way I thought. Instead, while humans are in the Garden, they have the freedom to eat of the Tree of Life. This tree, or the fruit, seems to give them eternal life. When they are booted out of the garden, they lose access to the Tree. And so they die. God doesn't want messed up, fallen, unregenerate people to go on living forever. That would let evil expand terribly. He slows down or puts a limit on the growth of evil by letting people die eventually. It doesn't seem to slow evil down much, though.
Enough for now. By the way, for a good laugh do a google search for "Adam and Eve" images. There's some pretty funny stuff out there, and bizarre stuff too.