The Downfall of Adam and Eve and their Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Michelangelo, from ceiling of Sistine Chapel

What Was The Sin Of Adam And Eve? Why Is It Relevant To Us Today?

Although everyone is familiar with the story of Adam and Eve, this narrative has been interpreted and re-interpreted countless times and numerous ways throughout Judea-Christian history. Precisely what mankind's first sin was and how it subsequently effected the human condition continues to be a source of debate.

What is the meaning of the Eden account? And what relevance does it have for today?

According to the biblical account, our first parents lived in an idyllic setting, the paradisaical Garden of Eden. God told them they could freely eat of all the fruit from all the trees in the garden. However, there was just one exception: the fruit from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was off-limits.
"If you eat of its fruit," God said, "you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17, NLT). Subsequently, a sly serpent questions God's motives and beguiles Eve to go ahead and eat.

"You won't die!" the serpent hissed (3:4, NLT). Eve just can't resist the luscious fruit. She takes a bite. Yummy! Then she persuades Adam to do likewise. Suddenly, out of the blue, something unusual happens; they discover their nakedness and they don't like what they see.

So before sin enters the world, they are naked, feeling no shame whatsoever (2:25). Then, moments later - voilĂ ! - their eyes are opened wide... though probably not in the way they had anticipated. Now they feel a profound sense of bodily shame. Their newly-acquired inhibitions prompt them to take fig leaves and manufacture aprons, thereby covering their nakedness (3:7).

Toward evening, they hear the Lord God walking about in the garden, so they hide themselves among the trees.

The Lord God calls to Adam,"Where are you?" He replies, "I heard you, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked." "Who told you that you were naked?" the Lord God asked. "Have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?" (3:9-11, NLT)First, Adam blames Eve (3:12). Then Eve blames the serpent (3:13). God pronounces judgement on all three of them, beginning with the serpent:

So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, you will be punished. You are singled out from all the domestic and wild animals of the whole earth to be cursed. You will grovel in the dust as long as you live, crawling along on your belly. From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (3:14-15, NLT).

Next, God pronounces judgement on the woman:

Then he said to the woman, "You will bear children with intense pain and suffering. And though your desire will be for your husband, he will be your master" (3:16, NLT).

Lastly, God pronounces judgement on the man:

And to Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from dust, and to the dust you will return" (3:17-19, NLT).

Next, Adam names his wife Eve.

And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living (3:20, KJV). Etymologically, "Eve," from the Hebrew word "hawwah," means "to live." The Septuagint rendering in this passage is "Zoe," which means "life," or "life-giver." In two other passages, Genesis 4:1, 25, her name is transliterated "Eua." Notice that it wasn't until after being booted from Eden that Adam named his wife "Eve," which means "The Mother of All Living." This begs several questions:

1. Would Eve have become "The Mother of All Living" if she had not sinned?

The word "woman" means "man with a womb." Mother goddesses were worshiped throughout history because of their ability to procreate. Some interpreters believe that Adam and Eve acquired the ability to procreate as a result of sinning with the serpent, an ancient symbol of fertility.

2. Is it just a coincidence that Asherah, a prominent fertility goddess among the neighboring Canaanite fertility cults, also held the title "The Mother of All Living?"

3. Is it just a coincidence that Asherah, like Eve, was often depicted nude with a serpent?

4. Is it just a coincidence that the serpent was, among other things, a prominent phallic symbol, worshipped as a god of fertility among these same neighboring fertility cults, not to mention many if not most primitive religions?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is Clothing A Result Of The Fall?

According to Genesis 3:21, God clothes Adam and Eve:

Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them (NKJV).

It wasn't until after the fall that the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. This begs the question, "Would mankind wear clothing today if Adam and Eve had not sinned yesterday?"

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JRH said...

"Some interpreters believe that Adam and Eve acquired the ability to procreate as a result of sinning with the serpent, an ancient symbol of fertility."

Ummm, wait a second...didn't God say be fruitful and multiply BEFORE the fall? Did he mean be fruitful and practice your multiplication tables?! lol ;p Nah I'm sure this is an old theory but it doesn't sound very biblical. But your right about the Talmud and other older sources (the babylonian jews I think) believing adam and eve's sin was sex with satan so most of your argument still stands for teh most part. I just hope your not getting into any seedliner theories because they're often racist in nature.

I really wish this was more in a forum format since that chat box doesnt work very well for me its hard to see whats been said. Btw, myself and some others discussed similar issues here: its a thread well worth a readover.

Tom Gruber said...

Thanks for your comments.
In response to when God said "Be fruitful and multiply," some scholars, like Joan Timmerman, believe that the command was given AFTER the fall and the placement in the text was changed by a later editor. Although God always wanted the earth to be populated with humans, there are numerous other ways that God could have accomplished that other than sexual reproduction.
Tom G