Throughout this short series of posts I have been attempting to get across the enormity of the situation that the writer of Genesis so economically presents. Once grasped, the implications are simply gigantic. The myth of Adam and Eve is embedded in our culture, and as such it can be difficult to access its power. It has become a ‘fairy story’ for children and consequently the message is largely lost as it is turned into a revenue generation tool for the corporations. It seems to me that our culture likes to minimise the ‘old myths’ and those who are open minded enough to pay attention are forced to grapple to gain anything useful beyond variations of ‘God saw that it was good’ and a sense that somehow things went belly up.
In the previous post – “The Fall -What it wasn’t” we dismissed the idea that Adam and Eve were trying to become like God in a “divinity” grab or some form of status upgrade. We also saw that it is a good thing to desire the knowledge of good and evil. So what did they do wrong? On a superficial level their eating of the fruit was a simple act of disobedience. In this post we’ll take a closer look to see if we can shed some light on this topic.
When my offspring were little, they would sometimes defy us. This is natural and normal and I think we’d have worried if it hadn’t happened. We went through a time of putting them on the naughty step for their age in minutes. Once I was caught out and spent a glorious 40 something minutes of absolute peace with nothing to do. It was bliss. Punishment can backfire!
The “Standard Model” of the fall raises many questions. Most important, at least for me, concerns just what it was that they fell from? If your concept of looking after the garden is limited to dead-heading the roses and keeping the ‘large mammals’ off the grass while planting out seedlings and cuddling rabbits then maybe the fall is a welcome opportunity to expand your horizons! Coupled with this there is the issue of how God is portrayed. If you think he is capricious and easily angered then you have no issue with what happened. If, however, you think that the revelation of God through Christ as love is a ‘sure foundation’ then either you enter into wrestling-mode with the narrative or you just park the issues.
In the last post we looked at bringing to life of an idol and what this means to us. Now its time to begin looking into the foundational myth of the fall of Adam and Eve. Even people with no exposure to religion have a grasp on it. You can see this if you look at some of the ways business has taken the story up. It is highly parodied, and often paints Eve as a seductive temptress and Adam as a childish fool. All this is totally predictable of course, since the myths themselves have so much to teach us that it’s no wonder ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ have conspired to belittle them.
In this post I want to begin with a telling of the “Standard” version. I am grateful to a fellow student who wrote this in an essay entitled “What did Adam and Eve do wrong?” I have only slightly altered it.