Friday, December 11, 2009

Who speaks the truth?

Genesis 2v16-17
And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
Genesis 3v1-7
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
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. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3v22
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Hang on. Who speaks the truth in this story, God or the serpent?

The thing the serpent says, "You will not surely die" and "your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil", is the thing that comes true. God acknowledges this in verse 22.

The thing God says, "when you eat of it you will surely die", does not happen. It appears (in context) to simply be a ruse to prevent the man and the woman from eating the fruit in the first place.

What gives?

Obviously, I'm happy to believe that this story is a fable, but how to literalist Christians explain this one?

1 comment:

Mike Arthur said...

The way I've read this is that God tells us what is best for us rather than what's necessarily true. I don't find it blasphemous to think that God will lie.

I've heard other literalists say that both God and Satan speak the truth here because Adam and Eve do die, which presumably they wouldn't in Eden, just not instantly. You could argue that Satan lied by saying they wouldn't "surely" die, or at least deceived.

An interesting and thought-provoking post as usual though!