Wednesday, 5 March 2014

God didn't tell Eve not to eat the fruit!

Greg Carey writes on the Sojourner's website:
God does not prohibit Eve from eating the fruit. God fills the garden of Eden with trees that bear fruit. Yet God sets apart one tree as forbidden. “You may freely eat of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (2:16-17, NRSV). God provides this instruction to Adam but not to Eve. She hadn’t yet been created. Eve apparently hears this news from Adam (3:2-3).
How could I have missed that???????

Eve does *not* disobey anything God told her by eating that fruit, though it is clear from her response to the serpant (3:2-3) that Adam had passed on God's words to her.

Carey also observes that at least part of Eve's reason for eating the fruit was that she sought wisdom. And if the personalification of wisdom as feminine in other parts of the Bible (e.g. Proverbs 8) is any indication, that was an admirable outcome!

1 comment:

Matt said...

Something else about this passage was just pointed out to me (1). How is it possible that I have not seen these things before????? How can the culturally-imposed story obscure the text so thoroughly? I didn't realise I was such an idiot.

I have always thought that the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit and then - some time later - she took the fruit to Adam and convinced him to eat it. But that's not in the text. Adam was there with Eve according to Gen 3:6.

So it is more in tune with the text to picture Adam and Eve together in the garden, when the serpent approached them both. The serpent addressed the woman (as though she were the authority figure? the decision maker? the one most needing to be persuaded?) but the man was right next to her. She took a bite and handed it to him without a word. There is nothing that suggests she convinced him to eat.

1. Phyllis Trible, Feminist Hermeneutics and Biblical Studies, Christian Century 3-10 (Feb 1992) pp. 116-18