posted on Apr, 26 2010 @ 07:41 AM
How's this for a clear-eyed look at this story....
Adam, Eve, and the Emergence of the Authoritarian Narrative
This is one of the most widely recognized stories to ever emerge from the shadows of antiquity, and to have done so with a transcendent relevance that
still inspires millions of well educated people to think twice before dismissing it as folklore. It’s a fairly simple, straightforward tale, and it
features simple and straightforward characters who engage in a very simple drama based on what comes of disobeying the commands of an authority
figure. It shows up right away in the Book of Genesis, right after God pulls a rib off man and fashions him a mate to look after him and be his
assistant. In fact, it’s the first thing that God’s man does with his mate, as far as the bible is concerned, and in that sense, it’s the most
important thing that man needs to get straighten out on, again, as far as the bible is concerned.
The rule was simple. Don’t eat of the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of course, we can easily determine that this is metaphoric
terminology, and most likely refers to man’s discovery of a choice to be obedient or disobedient. “Eating the fruit” – taking in the
knowledge of, and “fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” – the fact that disobedience is not only possible, it’s also a choice that
exists for each person to consider from moment to moment. So, in this charming story, Adam and his sidekick, Eve, decide to disobey, and even though
nobody lost a limb over the two bites into that one piece of fruit, it wasn’t about the damage done, it was about the very notion of choosing to
disobey a direct order that had been issued by the one whose garden it was. The master of the property. The immediate result was predictable, and
even though God loved Adam and Eve, his authority was sacred, and they had to be punished.
Now, in this specific narrative, the writer adds a wrinkle that serves to provide further instruction to the reader, as it concerns extenuating
circumstances and other gray areas. He introduces the serpent as the real bad guy in this tale, and shows how the two humans were fairly innocent –
relatively speaking – as the whole of the situation unfolded. They’d been tempted – bamboozled into breaking the law – so it wasn’t as if
they’d conspired to disobey the rules. In fact, they’d done so without really spending any real amount of time thinking about it. It just sort
of happened; in their experience of it all, at least.
Of course, it wasn’t that way with the serpent. That serpent was evil through and through, and it had worked to deceive the woman into honestly
believing that it was okay if she went ahead and just took one little bite to see what all the fuss was about. And it wasn’t as if God (who, by the
way, is omnipresent and omniscient) reacted right away to her transgression. In fact, it appears as if He allowed her to tempt Adam into doing the
same thing, and without the snake’s help this time. It was then that God dropped by and pointed out that they now (apparently for the first time
ever) realized that they were naked (I still don’t understand what that has to do with knowledge of good and evil), convicting them on the spot as
having broken the rules, and then tossing them out into the rest of the cold, nasty planet that He’d originally created for them (oddly enough).
Great story, but what does it tell us about the people who fashioned it and stapled it up as humanity’s first real interaction with the Almighty?
It almost seems redundant to even continue, but for the sake of word count, let’s go ahead and translate this classic for the two or three that may
not be connecting the dots.
We’ve got an all-powerful character, who has given food, shelter and security to two lesser characters, and hasn’t asked anything from them in
return, except for adherence to a few simple and well defined rules. These rules are pretty easy to follow, and you kind of have to go out of your
way to violate them. It’s also clear that following these rules means a lot to the master of the place. In fact, everything seems like it’d be
pretty sweet as long as the rules are followed, even though no overt threats have ever been issued concerning the ramifications. No need to stink up
the place with that kind of negativity if it’s not necessary. But then, as we see things play out, maybe a small example of that negativity would
have been helpful at the beginning. Maybe even a bit more than a little, in fact. Better to take a touch of the negative up front if it’ll prevent
having to deal with a complete storm in the end, but then, that’s a subjective call.
What isn’t subjective is the fact that once the rules were broken, punishment was swift and certain, and it didn’t matter that the infraction
involved the two who sat at the center of the master’s whole world or not. It also didn’t matter whose idea it was to begin with. Even if the
perpetrator had been tempted, coerced, swindled, or prodded into breaking the rules, the bottom line was that the rules had been broken, and
punishment was required. Hard, rigid, authoritarian style legal certainty – one strike, and you’re out – clearly established as the absolute
definition of perfect justice by the God of heaven and earth, Himself. Now, that’s some heavy lifting for such a simple little story.
Do I really have to explain the reason for such a story, and who stood to directly benefit from its embrace as the true and accurate account of the
“fall of man”? With the privileged few, struggling so mightily with their fear of the disenfranchised many, and their wits as their only shield
against what they know to be the overwhelming force of sheer numbers that belongs to that terrifying many, what was needed was a god that punished the
rule breakers with a ruthlessly divine justice. No excuses, no pardons, no second chances, no defense whatsoever.