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The beginning of the covenant; Faith vs. Faithlessness

Genesis, the apple, and nakedness

Postby Two to Tango » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:36 pm

HI all you good folks. I am an atheist looking for the truth.

Quick question about what is going on with the apple story. It seems to me, if I have read it correctly(not saying I have), that god saw Adam and Eve naked, and called it good.

But after they ate the apple(or whatever it was), god then saw it as evil?

Could someone explain to me how that works exactly? After I eat an apple, then I am naked and it is evil?

Does that even sound plausible?
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Re: Genesis, the apple, and nakedness

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:57 pm

We have to start at the beginning. Your readings are way off the mark.

The worldview and reigning paradigm of the ancient world was order, disorder, and non-order. In Genesis 1 the cosmos was a non-ordered chaos (Gn. 1.2). Genesis 1 is not a story about the material manufacture of the cosmos and the earth, but of God ordering the cosmos by assigning function and bringing order. In the ancient world, something was "created" by giving it a function and ordering it. (The wilderness was uncreated; so also the cosmic sea.) If you read Gen. 1 carefully, you'll see that on Day 1 God ordered light and darkness sequentially and gave them a function: time (the alternation of day and night). Day 2: the firmament was ordered to give the function of weather (the ancients believed weather came from the firmament). Day 3: the Earth functions to bring forth vegetation (agriculture). Day 4: the heavenly bodies function to give us seasons and times. Day 6: humans function to rule the earth and subdue it. Function. Certainly God created the universe, but that's not what Gn. 1 is about.

Gn. 2 is also about function, not the material creation of human beings. They were to function as God's priest and priestess (Gn. 2.15: "work it" and "care for it" are priestly terms, not agricultural ones). Adam and Eve were selected out (2.15) from among the others and placed in the garden to mediate a relationship with God. They were representatives of all humanity.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a literal tree, but it functioned as a focal point of the choice A&E (as "Joe and Jill Humans") and all humanity has to make: are we going to make ourselves the center of order and the source of wisdom (knowledge of good and evil), or will we recognize God as the center of order and the source of wisdom. (In the ancient world, God was perceived as the source of wisdom.) Adam & Eve chose as any human would have chosen: ME ME ME! They rebelled against God as the center of order and source of wisdom and set themselves up to that role that belonged to God. That was their sin. They were separating themselves from God with that action.

Now to your questions. So this is what's going on with the fruit (there's no mention of it being an apple). A&E were marking themselves as the center in God's place. It's not as if they had no knowledge of good and evil before this. It's not as if they were either ignorant or blind. When they evaluated their choice (3.6), they made a free will decision, knowing the consequences (2.17). God didn't trick them, force them, design them with a fatal flaw, or set them up. They made a willful choice to rebel against God.

When you say "god saw Adam and Eve naked, and called it good," you are misunderstanding. "Good," in Genesis 1, means that it was functioning properly. The expression has nothing to do with A&E's nakedness.

Therefore "But after they ate the apple(or whatever it was), god then saw it as evil?" is a misunderstanding as well. It wasn't their nakedness that was evil, but their rebellion against God that was an act of disobedience (the Bible doesn't label it as evil). It has nothing to do with their nakedness.

When A&E recognized their nakedness, covered themselves and hid (3.7, 10), they are obviously feeling guilt, shame, and fear for their attitude, decision, and action. This is what the Bible wants us to know.

We obviously need to talk more, so I'll watch for your reply.
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Re: Genesis, the apple, and nakedness

Postby Zorro » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:39 pm

I liked your response. I'm just responding to add more detail, not to disagree.

> "But after they ate the apple(or whatever it was)..."

Just a small note on this. while there have been many attempts to assert that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is this or that mundane fruit, this has always seemed silly to me. It's not a fruit in the traditional sense (we know this, because fruit in the traditional sense doesn't change any intellectual or moral understandings of the world). Within Judaism it's not even a consensus that it was a physical tree, fruit or garden!
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Re: Genesis, the apple, and nakedness

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:00 pm

Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I know that the kind of fruit is way on the periphery and not part of any substantive part of the text. We don't even find out it's fruit until Gn. 3.2, and even then "fruit" could be any produce the tree gives off. For all we know, it could have been a nut tree. I'm also aware that there is widespread disagreement about whether it was a literal, figurative, or metaphorical tree. The point, as you know, was in her actions rather than in the kind of food it was—what the tree represented, not what species it was. Thanks for the response.


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