Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adam cont. cont. cont.

Paul himself had expanded on the Genesis text. The Genesis text itself does not use words like condemnation or disobedience. Paul adds this larger perspective to the story. As much as anything, Genesis explains why men have to work so hard tilling the soil, why women have such pain giving birth to children, as well as why humans and snakes do not get along (Gen. 3:15 in its original meaning). [1] Since Adam and Eve would have still had to eat from the tree of life to live forever (3:22), the Genesis story sees human death as a result of their actions but not really the cause of death itself. Death in the story is apparently the default existence of creatures.

A couple other aspects of the story come from later interpretations rather than Genesis itself. So it was not until the first century before Christ that we have any evidence of anyone thinking the serpent was Satan. Indeed, Jewish understanding of the Satan does not seem to appear until well after the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity in 538BC. [2] Further, the specific consequences to the soil and to pregnant women fall well short of Paul's more systemic subjugation of the creation to corruption. Here again, this dimension comes from Paul rather than from the Genesis text...

[1] Later Christians would hear overtones of Christ's defeat of Satan in Genesis 3:15, although certainly the original Israelite audience would not have understood the verse this way.

[2] Satan is not mentioned in any of the books from Genesis to 2 Kings, only in the very late book of 1 Chronicles and the post-exilic Zechariah. Job's subject matter may seem patriarchal, but the first two chapters likely come from well into the period after the exile.

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