I have problems with the Garden of Eden story in the Bible. Did God really want us to be stupid animals forever? I believe it is an allegorical tale meant to hammer home the idea that man must submit to God – one of the major themes of the Old Testament. As Kevin Costner’s character says in the movie “Bull Durham” – “Don’t think, meat!”. It also reflects a belief, common until recently, that there was a Golden Age – when life was easy and death and disease were unknown. In this story, the basis for the loss of Eden is the sinful, evil nature of man.
I’m glad Adam ate the apple. I think he was brave to value knowledge against ignorance and comfort. Here is my allegorical version of what I hope Adam was thinking as he left the Garden.
The recording here is a first draft. I hope to post an updated version soon.
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As a footnote, here is a fragment of the Nag Hammadi version of the Garden of Eden story. It is from a Gnostic text called “The Testimony of Truth”. It was probably written in Egypt sometime between 100-400 ce. Some early Christians believed the Old Testament God to be a false God or Demon (see Bart Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities”).
It is written in the Law concerning this, when God gave a command to Adam, “From every tree you may eat, but from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise do not eat, for on the day that you eat from it, you will surely die.” But the serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise, and he persuaded Eve, saying, “On the day when you eat from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, the eyes of your mind will be opened.” And Eve obeyed, and she stretched forth her hand; she took from the tree and ate; she also gave to her husband with her. And immediately they knew that they were naked, and they took some fig-leaves (and) put them on as girdles.
But God came at the time of evening, walking in the midst of Paradise. When Adam saw him, he hid himself. And he said, “Adam, where are you?” He answered (and) said, “I have come under the fig tree.” And at that very moment, God knew that he had eaten from the tree of which he had commanded him, “Do not eat of it.” And he said to him, “Who is it who has instructed you?” And Adam answered, “The woman whom you have given me.” And the woman said, “It is the serpent who instructed me.” And he (God) cursed the serpent, and called him “devil.” And he said, “Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing evil and good.” Then he said, “Let us cast him out of paradise, lest he take from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”
But what sort is this God? First he maliciously refused Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge, and, secondly, he said “Adam, where are you?” God does not have foreknowledge? Would he not know from the beginning? And afterwards, he said, “Let us cast him out of this place, lest he eat of the tree of life and live forever.” Surely, he has shown himself to be a malicious grudger! And what kind of God is this? For great is the blindness of those who read, and they did not know him. And he said, “I am the jealous God; I will bring the sins of the fathers upon the children until three (and) four generations.” And he said, “I will make their heart thick, and I will cause their mind to become blind, that they might not know nor comprehend the things that are said.” But these things he has said to those who believe in him and serve him!