Category Archives: Genesis 1-11

05-08-12 Genesis 11 (21)

The first 11 chapters of Genesis may be stories that were finally written in order to describe the culture and how it got to be the way it was. The story of Babel may be interpreted in several ways. One is that God was upset that the people were trying to rival God by building the tower. In particular, verse 4 says that the people said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the earth.” (The Message Interpretation) This would suggest that God was upset about the pride of the people and their attempt to rival God with this fabulous tower and City. Here is a link to the model of the Tower of Babel in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Pergamon Museum – Tower of Babel Model

Another interpretation is of an angry God who was going to punish His people by separating them via language. This has created problems for all of us even to this day. There is an interesting counterpoint of reading this text about God making it more difficult to understand each other by confusing the languages and Pentecost where people seemingly are able to understand Paul no matter what language they spoke. Does this say something about the movement from the Old Testament Covenants God established with His people to the covenant that Jesus brought to all of us in the New Testament.

You can also see this chapter as a bridge chapter which provides a story to explain how there were so many different languages that divided the people from the time of Noah and then the genealogy which linked Noah through Shem to Abraham with the covenant that God was to make with Abram, or Abraham for the future. This would then allow us to follow the path of the people of God all the way to Jesus.

We also had a discussion about how this chapter can be seen as part of the inspired word of God. Is it a cultural story with a point that relies on our interpretation in order to find meaning for our lives? Bill asked, “Has God changed over time, or is our interpretation that has changed?” How is this explained by the concept of the inspired Word of God? Steve suggested that the Bible is a way for us to find a guide of how we as a people of God can interact and treat other people but then also as a way to personally connect with God through a devotional reading of the Word.

On to the book of Acts next week!!!

05-01-12 Genesis 11 (18)

Genesis 10 contains the genealogy of the sons of Ham. At first glance, it appears to be just another listing of names that are difficult to pronounce, but looking at it further, you see the populating of the whole middle eastern area from the sons of Noah, namely, Shem, Japheth, and Ham. The names of many of the children are city and country names some of which exist yet today.

Here is a link to an article about the dispersion of people who are the descendants of Noah. http://www.bible-truth.org/GEN10.HTM I don’t know about all of the rest of the information here, but the table at the beginning is interesting. The article seems to do a good job of laying out some ideas about where the generations after Noah settled. I found it interesting reading.

There is an article in Wikipedia that is also interesting in terms of establishing the races of people based on this chapter in Genesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_of_Noah

4-24-12 Genesis 9 (21)

There are a number of questions about the stories in this chapter and how they could be taken figuratively or literally. Steve suggested that we should look at Genesis in general and this chapter in particular as an amalgamation of stories gleaned from an spoken tradition to describe man’s relationship with God and with other men. The question that should be asked is what can we learn from a particular story or set of stories. Many of us grew up in a tradition of the stories being presented as a literal truth, but there are too many things that suggest that we should learn from them as teaching stories rather than literal truths.

We had a good discussion about the story of Noah getting drunk and being seen in his nakedness by Ham, supposedly his younger son despite the fact that when the sons are introduced earlier, Ham is the second in the list. A number of comments were made about individual comfort or discomfort with nakedness as they were growing up. Even a case of bullying in that situation. The earlier story of Adam and Eve suggested that they became aware of their nakedness and covered up, so this would suggest that this modesty existed in Noah’s time as well. It may also reflect on the fact that Noah was embarrassed by being drunk as well as naked. Some author’s have suggested that Ham may have joked about his father being drunk and naked and then told Shem and Japeth and they did something about it with seeing their father. There is even a suggestion that seeing his father may mean that Ham had sex with him as that is frequently the meaning of seeing someone’s nakedness or knowing someone in the Old Testament. One thing we can learn from this might be to respect other’s dignity.

Another aspect of this is the way that Canaan was really the victim of the story. It wasn’t Ham or his other children who were cursed, but rather Canaan. It was suggested by Mark that this might be the guilt of Ham, but the shame of his guilt being the burden of his family. Curt suggested that this opened up the concept of vulnerability of an individual. Ham approached Noah in a time when he was most vulnerable and thus violated him at that time. This is another lesson that we can learn from this story. In the image of God, can be interpreted by saying that even though we have sinned and fallen away from what God intended, because we are in his image, we are still the object of the care and providence of God. It also suggests the hope of immortality and that man may not take that away from another man and if he does then he must pay the consequences of that act.

Bill raised a question about other cultures having similar creation stories. Bill asked if at the conclusion of an native American telling the creation story, should we respond, “The word of God.?” Kurt suggested that the Bible is divine revelation and that the Bible represents God’s word and promise to us. In other words there is a difference and it demonstrates God’s authority in our lives. All of the creation myths seem to speak to deeply meaningful questions held by the society that shares these myths, revealing their central worldview and the framework for the self-identity of the culture and individual in a universal context. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_myth Here is a web site that describes Flood Legends from around the world. http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html Here is a quote of the introduction of this article: “Native global flood stories are documented as history or legend in almost every region on earth. Old world missionaries reported their amazement at finding remote tribes already possessing legends with tremendous similarities to the Bible’s accounts of the worldwide flood. H.S. Bellamy in Moons, Myths and Men estimates that altogether there are over 500 Flood legends worldwide. Ancient civilizations such as (China, Babylonia, Wales, Russia, India, America, Hawaii, Scandinavia, Sumatra, Peru, and Polynesia) all have their own versions of a giant flood.”

We could have a long discussion about the literalness of the Biblical account. One aspect of it is that it was written at a time when the Greeks were the major influence in philosophy and religion. They taught and believed that God was timeless, and therefore the acts of creation are done in that respect and even though the days and years are mentioned in Genesis, they might be attributed more to an attempt to explain the timelessness of God with man’s need for finiteness. It appears that people like the Alexandrian church father Origen (AD 185-254 and Augustine (AD 354-430 taught that creation days were to be understood allegorically, rather than literally. The 16th century reformers agreed that the Bible should be read as a literal interpretation of the history of man’s relationship with God. http://www.ldolphin.org/haseldays.html This certainly continued through the Pietist movement of the Scandanavian Lutheran church of the 19th and early 20th century.

Hebrew Calendar – Babylonian Analogs

Here is a link to an article that described the Hebrew calendar and has the table that Mark provided to us this morning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar It explains the leap months and how they were used. It is very interesting to see how people developed a calendar and made attempts to keep it balanced with the sun and the moon. I think it is a significant leap to introduce the concept of Leap years to keep things on target with their relationships with the sun and the moon.

4-17-12 Genesis 8 (17)

Our topic was Genesis 8 which is the story of life on the ark and leaving the ark and beginning a new life again. There is an interesting account of Noah from various traditions, including Jewish, Christian, and Islam among others. I thought you might enjoy some of these thoughts. I read some excerpts this morning.Here is the link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah’s_Ark

An ongoing theme this morning was what our first impression of this story was from our early Sunday School days. Some of us remember it and thought every word was true and others or us wondered how this could happen. Could we have such a flood again? How did they live in the confined area of an ark, no matter how massive? It must have been like the first cruise ship!! This material was written down in maybe the first century BC and clarified and commented about for several hundred years after that to produce the versions that we read today. Remember also that the people who wrote this down were supposedly talking about some;thing that had happened maybe thousands of years before and had been related verbally all those years. I find that to be very interesting and I wonder how much the story was refined over the years. And the questions that people raised at that time.

Again we are reminded that we don’t usually think of the Bible as a DVD version of what actually happened, but rather stories that are told to guide us in our faith. Pastor Lutz referred to “Doubt being the handmaiden of Faith”, and I found the following reference in http://einron.hubpages.com/hub/forwewalkbyfaithnotbysight-2 which said:

“To WALK BY SIGHT is the complete opposite of to WALK BY FAITH. It is walking like a blind man groping and waving his white stick before him to find his way. Why is walking by sight described as a blind man? You only see what is in front of you and you react by your body stimuli, not your spirit and not realizing the pitfalls of your actions. A body has has a mind and soul, and when you walk by sight, you use your mind, and not your spirit, which is given by God. When you follow God, your path will lead to salvation.” I am not so sure that I subscribe to the rest of this article, but it is an interesting perspective and I really don’t know the author or origin of this piece other than the web address.

The dimensions of the ark are 300 cubits (450 feet) long, 50 cubits (75 feet) in breadth, and 30 cubits (45 feet) high. In comparison, the Grand Princess cruise ship which holds 2,600 passengers is 951 feet long and 159 ft. wide. The Oasis of the Sea which accommodates up to 5,400 people is 1,181 feet long, 154 ft. wide, and 236 feet high. This gives some perspective of the dimensions of Noah’s ark in comparison with the huge modern cruise ships.

 

4-10-12 Rabbi Portman’s visit (John Grundstad)

The flood was on the agenda for today and Rabbi Portman was our guest. As a reform Jew, Portman does not regard the OT as a history book. (Or, as Mark is fond of saying, a videotape). For him, the flood story is allegorical for God’s unhappiness with the world because of people not taking care of each other. He reveres the Bible as “somehow” divine and as a source of wisdom, but not by itself, only in conjunction with Torah. He believes that the OT has to be constantly re-interpreted in the light of human experience and understanding. “Tradition has a vote, but not a veto.” That was refreshing to hear, because it means that to reform Jews, the scripture is not static.

Scripture as a guide: Jews’ approach to living the word is “mitzvah-driven.” This means that the ideal is to follow the law and the commandments. This is how a life fully and faithfully lived is justified.

“Grace” to Portman is to be alive and to be allowed to follow the mitzvahs. Prayer is good, he said, but insufficient in and of itself. One must also do the right things.

Heaven: Jews of Portman’s persuasion don’t claim to know anything about the hereafter, nor do they spend a lot of time worrying about it. These things will take care of themselves. He also doesn’t believe in a personal Messiah, preferring to think in terms of a “messianic period,” a time of harmony and peace.

Homosexuality: The liberal (reform) movement of Judaism has accepted homosexuality and reform rabbis may officiate at homosexual marriages. Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, would never do that.

Abortion: A fetus is not considered to be a viable human until birth, and abortion is OK in all forms of Judaism as long as it is for health reasons. This includes psychological health. The parameters for acceptability therefore seem quite subjective.

Those were the highlights. It was kind of funny that Gerry H. brought bagels, a food very much associated with the Jewish tradition. But Portman had to decline because of Passover. None of us ate them in front of him!

4-3-12 Genesis 6-7

Lost Boys Genesis 6-7 (I am away so am not able to attend today.)

This is the story of Noah and the great flood. The people on earth were very wicked. They were ruled by neophilia, thugs, bandits, murderers and sons of god. That is interesting because it suggests people who have used their god like capability for evil. God finds one righteous person, namely Noah and commissions him to build an ark and save all living life because God is going to obliterate all life on earth.

Pastor Pries’ “Guys Named in Genesis 5”

Guys Named in Genesis 5

Name Age OT Reference NT Reference Total
Adam 930/died 8 9 17
Seth 912/died 8 1 9
Enosh 905/died 7 0 7
Kenan 910/died 6 0 6
Mahalaleel 895/died 7 0 7
Jared 962/died 5 2 7
Enoch 365/taken 11 3 14
Methuselah 969/died 6 1 7
Lamech 777/died 11 1 12
Noah 950/died 45 8 53

I Chronicles 1:1-4

Adam, Seth, Enosh; Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared; Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; Noah, Shem,

Ham, and Japheth.

Luke 3:23-38

23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,

the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, the son of Melki,

the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,

25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos,

the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,

the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath,

the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,

the son of Josek, the son of Joda,

27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa,

the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,

the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melki,

the son of Addi, the son of Cosam,

the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,

29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer,

the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon,

the son of Judah, the son of Joseph,

the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna,

the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,

the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse,

the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,

the son of Salmon,[a] the son of Nahshon,

33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram,[b]

the son of Hezron, the son of Perez,

the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob,

the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham,

the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu,

the son of Peleg, the son of Eber,

the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan,

the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem,

the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,

the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel,

the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh,

the son of Seth, the son of Adam,

the son of God.

Genesis 5:29 “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands. ”

Genesis 9:28-29 After the flood Noah lived three hundred fifty years. All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years; and he died.

3-27-12 Genesis 5 (17)

This is the chapter of delineation of the old patriarchs. If you didn’t live at least 900 years, you were a piker. According to the records from the Jewish calendar, this is the year 5772 of the Jewish calendar. It is interesting that the current months of the Hebrew calendar were adopted during the time of Ezra, after the return from Babylonian captivity. The current Jewish calendar is thought to have been set down by the Sanhedrin president Hillel II in approximately C.E. 359. My information about these calendars comes from http://www.webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-jewish.html The Bible usually refers to months by number, not name.

 

It is interesting to see when various calendars were started. Romulus, the first ruler of Rome, is alleged to have introduced the Roman calendar in the 700s B.C.E. It was based on the Greek calendar which was a lunisolar and had 12 months with an occasional 13th added in to keep things happening in the correct order. Each city-state had its own calendar. It appears that the earliest calendar was attributed to Eratosthenes 407 years before the first Olympiad in about 1183 B.C.E. The Sumerians had a calendar 5,000 years ago that divided the year into 30-day months, divided the day into 12 periods each having 2 of our hours, and divided these periods into 30 parts (4 of our minutes). Calendars were adjusted by kings whenever their holidays were starting to take place in the wrong times of the year. The Babylonian calendar was quite confused until the 300’s B.C.E. The Egyptians devised a 365 day calendar that purportedly goes back to 4236 B.C.E. They based revisions in the calendar on the annual floods of the Nile and were the first to adopt a mostly solar calendar. Probably the oldest lunar calendar was identified on the walls of the prehistoric caves at Lascaux in France. There are patterns of dots and squares painted among the representations of bulls,antelope, and horses that can be associated with familiar stars an constellations and depict a 29 day cycle of the moon. These painting can be dated back 15,000 years. The Chinese calendar can be traced back to the 14th century B.C.E. and was supposedly invented by Emperor Huangdi in 2637 B.C.E. It is based on exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and phases of the moon.

Enough about calendars!! This whole early part of Genesis seems to be the early writers putting together a story of their early peoples and trying to distinguish them from other peoples of that time. Different people search for meaning in different ways and the people writing down Genesis were one of groups trying to find meaning to life. Different people at that time told the story and over time, favorite stories emerged and were the ones that got recorded for all time. Several of us talked about the different ways to track time, but the paragraph about early calendars above seems to indicate a pretty solid use of the lunar month as a basis for measurement of time. It is probably more difficult to determine the number of years as different groups of people have different ideas of how many months are in a year. Many of the groups in the middle east settled on 29-30 days in a month. However, the Mayans had 18 months of 20 days which really doesn’t fit a lunar month at all.

We discussed what happened to Enoch. It appears that he found favor with God. Some have speculated that things got pretty wild before the flood and through it all Enoch spoke against the prevalent wildness and kept his faith in God. It says All the days of Enoch were 365 years and Enoch walked with God and he was not for God took him. References to Enoch and his faith are reflected in the Pauline epistles Jude 1:14-15 and Romans 11:5-6.

We also discussed the flood story and noted that many early civilizations had a myth about early floods. This includes Chinese, early Americans, middle easterners, and others as well. There might have been early tsunamis that caused these problems. It is surely a mythical story that points up what can happen to a people that ignore God and go off doing their own wild and anti-god behaviors. It is probably some sort of appeal to a more God centered morality. It is interesting to muse about where our current morality appears and what are the ideas that under gird it.

 

Pastor Pries’ thesis extract relevant to Genesis

 

Many have asked, “Why did sin enter God’s good creation?” No answer satisfies but what is clear is that sin is here. The problem of sin receives early attention in the Bible. The Genesis 3:1-24 narrative provides the necessary description for the Christian tradition to explain the entry of sin into the created order and establishes the need for God’s continuing intervention and ultimately for God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.

Walter Brueggemann observes that labeling Genesis 3:1-24 as “The Fall” (the disobedience narrative) and then disconnecting it from the garden narrative (Genesis 2) diminishes their important and “dramatic coherence.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–> Brueggemann goes on to explain that though this disobedience narrative has a significant role in shaping the tradition surrounding sin, other texts are more dominant in scripture. He further explains that the abstract concern of the origin of evil is not a concern in the Old Testament but faithful living is. Brueggemann asserts that death is part of the created order and describes the connection between sin and death as“mechanistic.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[2]<!–[endif]–> In view of this, one might dismiss further consideration of Genesis 3 but for the reality that it has so significantly informed and shaped the Church’s doctrine of sin. This is in a large part due to Paul’s typologies drawn from Genesis 3 and Augustine’s exposition of original sin<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[3]<!–[endif]–>which is rooted in Paul. Therefore, consideration of the passage is necessary.

The setting is the bliss of the obedient (faithful) life in Eden (Genesis 2:8-9). Just as the creator had set boundaries for the waters (1:6, 9), so too God sets a boundary for the man: no eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:17). The consequence of breaking the “no eating” boundary is death. When the creator provides the woman to quell the man’s loneliness, the cast and the scene are set for eternal happiness within the limits of obedience. The scene changes and the antagonist enters as a talking serpent offering the choice of disobedience in Eden. The temptation dialogue (3:1-5) reviews the boundary for obedience set by God and suggests that God’s word is not to be trusted. The man and woman succumb to the temptation to be like God and they eat the fruit (3:6) so pleasing to the eye.

This positing of sin flows quickly to consequences: necessity to cover one’s self (3:7) and to hide from God (3:8-10), God’s confrontation (3:11), the man’s effort to pass blame (3:12), the woman’s denial of responsibility (3:13), God’s indignation (3:14-15) and God’s punishment of the woman and the man (3:16-19b). The ultimate consequence of sin (disobedience) is death as foreshadowed in 3:3c and then announced by God: “you are dust, and to dust you shall return”(3:19c). To effect the punishment of toil for the man (and presumably the woman), God evicts them from Eden (3:23-24) and sets an angel to guard the way back.

Note this delineation of sin’s genesis: boundary, choice, temptation, disobedience, awareness (nakedness), confrontation, denial, punishment (labor, death and eviction). There is no confession (acknowledgement); there is no absolution (rescue).

Within this legend are truths about life: childbirth is painful, growing food is hard work, people die and bodies decay. The Church’s doctrine surrounding the narrative describes these as the effects caused by human disobedience: sin causes life to be difficult.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[4]<!–[endif]–> The implication is that this life would not be difficult if the first man and first woman had been obedient. Sin is reported as the cause of the human predicament and there is nothing humans can do to change it.

Sin is named as the desire to be like God (3:4b). Being like God is then described as having the knowledge of good and evil but of course evil did not exist in God’s good creation prior to this first disobedience. Even the entrance of sin is distorted by human determination to be able to discern the difference between good and evil.

There is no hope in the narrative of The Fall. The mind of faith might, and the traditional teaching has, grabbed hold of the curse to the serpent<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[5]<!–[endif]–> as the first hint of one (a savior) who will crush evil. This image was used by St. Paul when he wrote to the Roman congregation, “The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 3:20a), so there is biblical evidence that Genesis 3:15 was recognized in the ancient Church as prophecy of the Messiah. Yet a literal perspective simply recognizes that fear of snakes is common among people, snakes bite feet and a snake’s head is vulnerable to a stepping foot.

Most significant to consideration of The Fall and its place in the development of rites of confession in the Church is Augustine’s exposition that within this narrative is the revelation of original sin.

“Adam brought sin and death to the world while Christ, the second Adam and man of spirit brought life (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Paul’s view that Adam’s fall introduced sin and death (Rom. 5:12) led Augustine (fifth century CE) to develop the doctrine of original sin: that Adam’s fall perverted all humanity and that its effects were passed by hereditary transmission from generation to generation.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[6]<!–[endif]–>

 

This doctrinal move prevailed in Christianity and established the view that the human lot includes a longing to be rescued from human suffering and death. Within the narrative is the “summons of this calling God for us to be (God’s) creatures, to live in (God’s) world on (God’s) terms.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[7]<!–[endif]–>

The previous discussion would suffice to establish sin as an aspect of creation but closer attention to the narrative lays important groundwork. Nahum Sarna has observed that “The word of the serpent prevails over the word of God. The allure of the forbidden becomes irresistible.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[8]<!–[endif]–> The senses recognize the value of the fruit and with this recognition enters the authority of the self for choosing what is perceived desirable rather than submitting obediently to the Creator. Once the fruit is eaten, the man and woman see with new sight but only to recognize their nakedness. Self-awareness and shame<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[9]<!–[endif]–> enter creation. Suddenly a wardrobe is necessary to cover one’s self and the slippery slope toward civilization and the grip of culture begins.

Self-awareness is presented as being all consuming in the narrative. The man and woman are aware of needing to hide from God (3:8) and in doing so are admitting their guilt. God’s calling is not necessary, for God knows all, but the call does show God’s interest and seeking these two who are the pinnacle of God’s work. Still the man and woman attempt to evade God’s scrutiny by trying to justify their act of hiding their nakedness. Their self-awareness is evidence of the change that has occurred in creation: sin has entered and the man and woman do not know what to do. There is nearly confession when the man is confronted by God, for he has already acknowledged his awareness of his nakedness, but he quickly shifts the blame to the woman; then the woman shifts the blame to the serpent.

The consequence of the sin is made evident as the punishments are announced. The snake will forever slither on its belly. Once the snake was a symbol of fertility in Canaan and of protection in Egypt but following the snake’s complicity in The Fall, it is assigned to being perceived as hostile and to be avoided.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[10]<!–[endif]–>

The woman is condemned to suffer when giving birth. Sarna observes that this is a unique phenomenon among the species and then points to human evolution of the enlarged neocortex of the brain that required an enlarged skull which results in childbirth being painful for the woman.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[11]<!–[endif]–> The text reports that the woman will also be punished by still wanting intimacy with her husband and that he will rule over you (3:16b). The latter is in contrast to the equality that was established between the man and woman evidenced in Genesis 2:18 and 2:23. This punishment of the woman being placed in subordination to the man continues to haunt and gives some credence to the wisdom that is provided in the revealed legend of The Fall.

The man’s sin is named as listening (giving authority) to one other than God. The man is condemned to a life of hard labor on a land that will not provide like his original garden home. The man once had plenty to eat in the garden but now he will only eat what he is able to get the disagreeable ground to produce.

There is a hint of rescue (3:21) in God’s clothing of the man and woman but even this is diminished with the eviction from the garden (3:23). The description is aggressive in that God“drove the man out of the garden” (3:24) and places an intimidating cherub wielding a flaming sword “to guard the way to the tree of life” (3:24b).

Traditional interpretation recognizes here God has established cause/effect in regard to sin. Disobeying God (sin) results in God punishing. Prior to their disobedience the man and woman could eat anything except the fruit of one tree; after the disobedience God provided no food and made acquisition of food difficult. Prior to the disobedience the man and woman could wander freely in the garden; after the disobedience they could not even enter the garden.

The Fall is given authority in the traditions surrounding Individual Confession and Forgiveness because it occurs so early in the biblical narrative: sin is the problem since the beginning. As will be seen, the Church would draw from this narrative its identification as Eden (where obedience reigns), mete out consequences for sin (assigning acts of penance) and develop a practice of eviction (the order of penitents). Naming Genesis 3:15 as the first prophecy of the Messiah is the means for the tradition to find hope in this otherwise hopeless legend but the grip of cause/effect will distract from the revelation and proclamation of God’s unconditional love and grace.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>


<!–[endif]–>

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>Walter Brueggemann,Genesis in Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982) 40.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[2]<!–[endif]–> Ibid., 42.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[3]<!–[endif]–> Gregory Shaw, “The Fall,” in The OxfordCompanion to the Bible, ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) 223.

 

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[4]<!–[endif]–>The references to the woman’s desire of the man and his authority over her are problematic and are not considered in this work.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[5]<!–[endif]–> “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[6]<!–[endif]–>Gregory Shaw, “The Fall,” OCB 223.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[7]<!–[endif]–>Brueggemann, Genesis, 44.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[8]<!–[endif]–>Nahum M. Sarna. The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 25.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[9]<!–[endif]–> Shame is here understood as embarrassment and not as a stain pressed upon a victim as described by Robert H. Albers, Shame: a Faith Perspective (New York: Haworth Pastoral Press, 1995).

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[10]<!–[endif]–> Sarna,The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis, 24.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[11]<!–[endif]–> Ibid., 29