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Tim Dooley. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. This stands to reason because it is not only the first book in the Bible chronologically but it is also by definition the book of beginnings. The narratives delineated in the Book of Genesis are childhood favorites that have been taught to every young person who has ever attended a Sunday School Class.
Yet scholarship and social dialogue has continued to produce a plethora of material about these stories from a modern cultural perspective as we strive to answer questions revolving around the debates of creation versus evolution, the role of women in society and the church, environmentalism, and the social and religious brotherhoods of mankind.
However this is no new phenomenon the apostle Paul reference the creation story in 1 Tim —15 in response to the organizational leadership of the church and similar dialogue will continue to be produced in these circles for as long as mankind exists. While all these discussions seem to be profitable in their respective arenas there is a desperate need in the church for a deeper look into the symbolism and theological underpinnings of these narratives.
The Bible is nevertheless the story of God and if one is going to come to know God one must inevitably look to His revelation in order to do so. Genesis itself is a narrative produced in a particular period of time, encompassed by a specific set of circumstances, and for a distinct group of people in order to communicate a very explicit message.
Once one has come to clearly delineate the rudimentary ideas from the ancient text then he can begin to hypothesize about the theological relevance to his own contemporary circumstances. The account of the Garden of Eden is a perfect example of this process. There is so much more to this story than what is typically revealed in a Sunday School Class. And while many will never see beyond this veiled view those who do often approach the subject from beyond the contextual framework and from a modern bias.
The description of the Garden of Eden found in Gen —17 is surrounded by the immediate context of the Creation. The first account of creation begins in Gen and continues through the end of chapter three. However, scholars are quick to point out what appears to be two separate accounts divided by Gen Source criticism following the documentary hypothesis suggests the first account found in Gen — comes from a priestly P document while the second account comes from the Yahwist J.
Leander E. Keck; Nashville: Abingdon, , The narrative then takes on a parenthetical feel as the author tells of a very special place where man will abide and where God will come down from heaven to commune with His creation. What transpires following the description in the text is the conclusion of the main narrative, including the events that take place in this paradise of God.
Keck , Richard S. The produce of these temple gardens was used in offerings to the deity, just as the temple flocks and herds were used for sacrificial purposes. All of which were accessible only from the East the garden, as would be indicated by the placing of the cherubim at the east of the garden with a 7 John H. Walton, Genesis Grand Rapids: Zondervan, , — Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, , David Noel Freedman; 6 vols.
One would also recognize the relationship between the gold and precious jewels that are described in Gen —11 and the gold and jewels that adorned the tabernacle furnishings as well as the temple. Wenham points out that the same terminology of God walking in the garden is also used to describe the divine presence in the tabernacle in Lev ; Deut ; and 2 Sam —7. The broader sense of this phrase is that of religious service as worship including the priestly functions.
The sacrifice offered in the garden was one that pleased God, one that kept the garden in beautiful condition. Hess and Tsumura , Alexander and Baker , — Yet the sacrifices offered upon the alter would be a sweet aroma that would please the Lord Lev , 13, 17; ; ; Within the Most Holy place, in the tabernacle and in the temple, was the ark of the Testimony Ex Upon the ark of the Testimony sat the mercy seat and here again one sees the presence of cherubim.
It was here that God said He would come down and meet with His people, as He had done in the garden Ex — The place of the Garden of Eden is another unknown. While Gen —14 gives some insight into the location it seems obvious that the Deluge would not only have destroyed the garden but changed the topography to such an extent so to render any chance of specifically identifying its location impossible.
The important thing for this discussion is for one to notice that not only is the garden no longer accessible, but neither is the tabernacle or the temple. We will revisit this point later in the discussion. Water is essential to the sustenance of life, so it is no surprise to find it here.
It was previously mentioned that bodies of waters and pools were a common element of the kingly gardens of antiquity.
In the Mishnah Middoth one reads of a drainage canal built to allow for the flow of blood from the altar. The blood would run this drainage canal, mingle in the water-channel, and flow out into the brook Kidron. The Tree of Life Of all the imagery in Gen —17 the one that seems to get the most attention is the tree of life and may indeed be the most significant of all the sanctuary symbolism of the paradise of God.
At the beginning and the end of the Eden narrative one finds the mention of two trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.
Special interest is given to it in Scripture, which removes it from the category of functional furnishing. The menorah then, according to Meyers, was a motif symbolizing the tree of life, the presence of 15 Herbert Danby, The Mishnah Oxford: Clarendon Press, , Scott W. Hahn and David Scott; vol.
David Noel Freedman; 6 vol. The Fall and Expulsion One would be remiss to not also consider the symbolic nature of the divine threat issued in the last verse of Gen — He regarded their alienation from the divine presence as death.
So mankind, because of the divine threat issued to him and his subsequent failure to adhere to the commandment of God, was expelled from the garden and separated from the tree of life. This began the slow and painful process of physical death. But for the narrator and the reader it is not death that is so troubling but an irreversible separation from God.
The reader is also witness to a similar parallel to the execution of the divine threat in the garden when the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, fail to keep the commands of God with regard to their service in the tabernacle and are struck dead Lev —2. In this same vein Wenham states that the expulsion of man from the garden also symbolized the destruction of the temple. Without the temple there would be no presence of God, no sacrifices to appease His wrath, no water to wash away the blood of the sacrifices, no divine awareness and hence no hope or eternal life.
Theology and Application There is simply no way of knowing what happened to the original temple-garden that God planted in Eden. If God Himself did not pluck up every root, the Deluge that takes place just a few chapters later would have completed its demise. What is known is that the garden is gone.
Nathan MacDonald, Mark W. There is no altar, no ark of testimony upon which the mercy seat of God rests. But what is evident is that the One who made all these things John —3; 1 Cor ; Eph ; Col —17; Heb —3 established another temple-garden. Just as the symbolism of the icons of the Garden of Eden is seen in the temple they are seen in the church as well.
God also adds men to the church Acts ; Col The man whom God places in the church is expected to perform divine service to God by bearing fruit Rom as a royal priesthood 1 Pet , 9 and make himself a living sacrifice Rom —2. Herein God and man dwell in harmony with one another and enjoy an intimate relationship together 2 Cor The creation of the church is paralleled with the original creation and in particular with the creation of the temple-garden of Eden.
So too the church is a spiritual paradise where God and man dwell together. Wenham, Genesis vol. The tree of life in the garden is clearly seen in the tree upon which the Lord gave His life. The first tree offered immortality to the mortal man and his failure to keep the divine directive caused him a life of suffering and death. The last tree offers immortality to the mortal man and the obedience of the Son makes it possible Rom — There is also the divine directive that one remains faithful in his service to God less he be cut off Rom In the garden Adam had a clear choice between heeding the command from God or rebellion.
The people of Israel too had a clear choice Deut ; Josh Obedience to God is required for eternal life and disobedience will be rewarded with eternal separation 2 Thess ; Matt The symbols are again seen when one looks to the eternal, heavenly abode of God and the righteous. Just as the Lord created all things so also has He gone to prepare a place for mankind to live with Him for eternity John —6. When the Lord returns He will open the gates to His paradise and all those whom the Lord brings into His heavenly garden will enjoy an eternal existence 1 Thess On either side of the river is seen again the tree of life, there is no more curse, and the righteous shall serve him forever Rev —5.
Hahn and Scott , 68— When one begins to see the context and the symbolism within the story then can he truly beginning to understand who God is, what He intends the relationship of humanity with Him to be, and begin to develop a sound theological perspective of this relationship.
The covenant God of Israel is also the God of all creation. Alexander, T. Anderson, Bernhard W. Overtures to Biblical Theology.
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Barr, J., The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality (London: SCM Press, ), pp. xiii + Paper, £ ISBN X. Show all authors.
Old Testament scholars have long been aware that the traditional reading of the story of Adam and Eve as the 'Fall of Man', though hallowed by St Paul's use of it, cannot stand up to close examination of the text. However, they have not succeeded in formulating an alternative interpretation which rivals the force of this traditional reading or is relevant to such a wide range of biblical and theological issues. Professor Barr's new interpretation has such force, and with its challenges to many conventional views it is likely to cause a considerable stir among traditionalists and to excite those dissatisfied with aspects of traditional thought. Central to the book is its stress on the role and prevalence of the idea of immortality, commonly thought to be a later Greek and un-biblical import into Christian thinking.
The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian exile ,  but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies. The textual evidence indicates a multiplicity of perspectives on these issues including probable changes during the centuries in which the biblical corpus developed. The only Hebrew word traditionally translated "soul" nephesh in English language Bibles refers to a living, breathing conscious body, rather than to an immortal soul. In the Greek Septuagent psyche is used to translate each instance of nephesh.
Access options available:. Hebrew Sludies 35 Reviews sort must be proofed far more carefully if they are to be used by the scholarly public. William C.
The Rabbis view Eve , the first woman, as embodying the qualities of all women, and of femininity in general. The various midrashim reveal diverse male perceptions of women in the time of the Rabbis, some positive and flattering, and others negative. Nonetheless, the Rabbis encourage marital life, and depict the man who remains alone as depriving himself of many boons. Thus, some midrashim present the first mating of Adam and Eve as the renewed connection of a creature that was split in two, or as a man who found what he had lost.
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A new online article that I wrote on the topic of death in the Garden of Eden has now been posted to the website of the Carl F.
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In this book, Professor Barr presents a reading of the story of the Garden of Eden, not as a tale of the origins of sin and death, but as a tale of a chance of immortality, briefly accessible to humanityReply