Barry Newman's Blog

May 2, 2011

Science and Genesis 3: 1 – 24 (part IV)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 11:08 pm

Was the fruit of the tree always to be forbidden?

Walton (p. 205) argues that while partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at that time would lead to certain death, one should not assume that this would necessarily be true for all time. He appeals to the notion that everything was created, “good” and is persuaded that God did not put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to simply test the man.  He believes that in due course the time could have arrived when it was appropriate for the man and the woman to partake of that fruit.  It was simply that to begin with, the timing was inappropriate and for their own good they were forbidden to eat the fruit.  At a later date, upon the woman and the man reaching a certain maturity, then eating of the fruit of that tree could have been appropriate.  This idea has a certain appeal.  In fact it could be argued that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, being in close proximity to the tree of life might be an indication of its potential beneficial effects.  The desirability of the ability to discern is not inappropriate.  God has such “knowledge”.  And if one were to say, “Imagine if they had “matured” in a certain way, then …” then one could imagine that partaking of the tree may have been appropriate.  A difficulty however is that this is to describe a scenario that never happened.  We are told what did happen.  There is almost no point in arguing for “but what if …?”  None the less, Walton’s suggestion does take account of the fact that the tree wasn’t evil in itself, reinforces the notion that God had the blessing of the man and the woman in mind and negates the idea that God acted capriciously in deciding to give them a test.

Elohim rather than Yahweh Elohim

Throughout chapter 3, as was the case in chapter 2, when God acts and speaks, he is almost always referred to as “Yahweh Elohim”. However in the dialogue between the serpent and the woman he is spoken of as simply “Elohim”. Perhaps we should not make much of this.   Perhaps, in this part of the record, when God is spoken about, “Elohim” is his appropriate designation, but when a personal relationship with him is in mind then “Yahweh Elohim” is the more appropriate reference. Yet it cannot but strike us, that in the midst of so many references to the one who acts personally for his creatures and relates personally to them, we are given these four bland references to simply, “God”.  It is almost as though we are meant to realise that Yahweh Elohim is in some sense being excluded from the dialogue. Sometimes I have written this blog series in a carefree manner, often referring to “God” when the text refers to, “Yahweh Elohim”.  It would be a mistake however to assume that the writer of Genesis 3 wrote in such a manner.

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