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June 29, 2023


Brad Jersak

First, remember that the story is not written as history but as a parable of the human condition, describing what we all experience. This is the question of genre. We read poetry as poetry, parables as parables, letters as letters, legends as legends, history as history.

When we read inspired myth (which is an important way of conveying truth) as if it were history, then we miss the truth the myth was revealing. In this case, we have the story of a man called (literally) 'man' or 'human,' a woman called (literally) 'life', a tree called 'life' and another tree called 'knowledge of good and evil' and then a talking serpent with legs (at first, like the ones on the gates of Babylon that Daniel would have seen... and are now in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin).

Now to the tree. The tree itself was not evil. The tree was about knowledge or discernment of good and evil. That's actually good. And the early Christian teachers suggest that they would have partaken of the fruit at some point as they matured through their walk with God (they were moral toddlers at this point). The actual problem was that they wanted to eat the fruit (determine good and evil) for themselves without consulting God or submitting to God's standards. They disobeyed. And that was what poisoned them.

Now how is this story about all of us? We were all born innocent but immature, and yet at some point, we are confronted with choices about what is right. It's not only a question of whether we'll do the right thing or not, but first, will we seek God as to what is right or will we act out of our own self-will and decide to choose for ourselves what is right and what is wrong without God? We so often think we know what's best for ourselves and therefore act as if we are gods without God. And then what happens? Things don't go well and we stumble into shame and alienation.

The good news is that the story continues. Even leaving the Garden, God goes with us and has promised to make it right through the Seed of Eve (Jesus). In his death, he restores life and makes the Cross the Tree of Life so we can eat of it and experience the eternal kind of life that Jesus describes as knowing God and his Son.


Thank you for these discussions on evil and sin. I just finished Bradley Jersak's June 4, 2023 article: "The Devil...from the Arche." My wrestling with this is then how was the tree in Eden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if there was no sin yet? If sin originates evil in humankind, what was the serpent in the garden? Both the tree and the serpent were not "created" by humankind as the text seems to say.
I am just an un-scholared follower of Jesus, who loves how rentlessly our triune God loves all of his creation. He's been deepening my awareness of His loving character daily as I wrestle and am humbled daily by my hip being left out of joint.

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