Thursday, February 23, 2012
Scripture Reading: Genesis 3
In yesterday’s reading, we remembered that it’s all about God and today we look at the metanarrative of creation’s fall away from God. God creates the heavens and the earth (Ch. 1-2). After the humans are banished from the Garden of Eden, we have the story of Cain and Able. The story of Creation and Fall portray the beginning of all life, all brokenness, and the journey through history that would lead to the cross event (death and resurrection).
All people share in the consequence of Original Sin and the condition that bonds us to death and separation from God; this is what makes redemption necessary. How did this come to be our reality? In the second creation account (Gen. 2:5-25) we are told that eating from the tree of knowledge (both good and evil) cuts us off from the tree of life (2:17). Genesis 3 illustrates the tale of how we became sinners (3:1-7).
The cunning serpent stands in contrast to naked innocence (Robert Alter, Genesis). The snake deceives the woman and the man does not try to resist. They are lured into a lust for knowledge (both good and evil). Once the snake successfully deceives the humans, they hide from the LORD God (3:7-10). God’s response, “Who told you that you were naked” (3:11) reveals some intriguing possibilities for the Genesis metanarrative.
Looking at the story of Genesis 3:1-24, from the perspective of Yahwist writers and redactors, during the Babylonian Exile (587 BCE) it’s not hard to see the serpent as parallel to the sea dragon Tiamat of the Ancient Babylonian creation story the Enuma Elish (Simpson, IBC). What makes this parallel important? The Primeval and Primary History (Genesis-2 Chronicles) repeatedly displays the challenge of remaining devoted to Yahweh in a henotheistic culture. The deception of the snake conceives sin: which brings forth blame, hardship, subordination of women, deviation, and separation from God (3:12-24). This was not God’s desire for us.
Original Sin causes individual sins, making it a greater alienation between us and God. In our innocence, humanity was once free and had an equal share in everlasting life. Now that we have been infected by Original Sin, our will is bonded and we have equality in being sinners. Humanity was not meant to have the knowledge of good and evil, like God (3:22-23). Therefore, the deception of our sin condition is what separates us from God and only God can restore the connection to life that Original Sin has broken.
Lord, God, “for dust [we] are and to dust shall [we] return.” “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Lord, you are God and we are broken people because we were deceived to think otherwise. May we kneel at your cross and repent and may the work of Christ reconcile us through the grace of a loving God. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.