Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Who's Responsible?

Years, decades ago, I formed a picture in my mind of Eve's encounter with the serpent in the garden. The serpent talked to her about the forbidden fruit, she ate some, and took it over to Adam, who may or may not have known what kind of fruit this was.

This picture was completely wrong, though, as a re-reading of the text proves:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Genesis 3.6 (emphasis added)
I first read about this in Crabb's book The Silence of Adam. He raises this question: Why didn't Adam say anything? Adam had no plausible deniability about this fruit; he knew what it was.

I guess that's why he was held responsible. Reading a little further down, when God passes judgment on the serpent, the woman, and the man, he says
to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all the livestock... (Genesis 3.14)
To the woman he said,
I will greatly increase your pains... (Genesis 3.16)
To Adam he said, "Because you listened... and ate
...Cursed is the ground because of you... (Genesis 3.17)
Did you notice anything missing from God's comments to Eve? Somehow, the word "Because" seems to be missing.

What exactly are we to make of this? To borrow a line from Fiddler on the Roof, "I'll tell you: I don't know."

But it means something; it doesn't mean nothing. Here's my current theory: it's related to those New Testament passages that compare the husband's role with his wife to Christ's role with his church. It's not a 1-for-1 match of course; Christ didn't sin, whereas every other man (hence every husband) does. He somehow ended up paying the penalty for all of our sins.

What this means to me, concretely, today, this year... I'm not sure. If you figure it out, I hope you let me know.

actually posted 1/3

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