November 20, 2014

Atheist Bible Study: Genesis Chapter 2, Part 1

We will be doing this in two parts again this week.

The first part will be looking at some general information on Chapter 2, and the second will be looking at the role of gender in Genesis 2. I consider this a seminal point for our future biblical studies, so it requires its own venue.

With that in mind, let's get started, shall we?

Who wrote Genesis 2?

Genesis 2 is a composite of two sources.

Verses 1 through 3 continue from the Priestly source we began with in Genesis 1 (you may recall that we covered those verses in Chapter 1, Part 1).

The next verse, however, is the first contribution of our Jahwist source. This source will provide the bulk of the material for the remainder of Genesis.

The traditional view, of course, holds that this chapter was written, along with the rest of the Pentateuch, by Moses, although there's some ideas that that it's "a history given directly by God to either Moses or Adam, recording the history of God's seven-day creation. This was something no human was present to witness." 2

When was Genesis 2 written?

Traditional views place the authorship of this chapter during the life of Moses.

Other scholarship, however, asserts that the Jahwist source could have been written no earlier than the 7th century BCE. It could even be as late as the 5th century BCE.

What's unique about the Jahwist?

The Jahwist arguably has a very specific purpose for Genesis. From Wikipedia:
The "supplementary" approach is exemplified in the work of John Van Seters, who sees J (which he, unlike the "fragementists", sees as a complete document) being composed in the 6th century BCE as an introduction of Deuteronomistic history, the history of Israel that takes up the series of books from Joshua to Kings. 6
Aside from purpose, it is in the Jahwist source that we see Yahweh as an anthropomorphic figure, one capable of forming beings with hands. This god does not speak beings into existence--he forms them with his fingers from clay.

This source has a unique perspective:
The Yahwist was a gifted storyteller who was especially interested in the human side of things. 5
We see this storytelling gift begin in Genesis 2, which focuses on a uniquely human telling of creation, but it will come more into play as Genesis progresses. One of the unique traits of J is that the teller creates beautifully flawed characters--characters whose flaws the J does not gloss over or attempt to justify

In the Jahwist source, we also see a unique emphasis on soil. Adamah in Hebrew translates as "ground", "earth", or "soil", showing that Adam literally derives from the soil itself.

Several times throughout the Pentateuch, the Jahwist discusses the boundary between the divine and human realms. This is very clear in Genesis 2, which involves a garden literally set at the boundary of the physical and spiritual realms.

It is here that J begins to detail the ideas of progressive human corruption. The core of J's ideas on mankind was the promise made to Abraham, but this requires a substantial amount of build-up. This build-up begins right here, in Genesis 2.

The Jahwist has a variety of unique expressions: "to bless" when Yahweh deals with someone kindly; "to know" when someone has sex; and "to find favor" when someone is pleased, just to name a few.

There are other deviations from other sources, but we will talk about those in more detail as they become relevant.

Was Eden a physical place?

The idea that Eden is physical is taken for granted in some traditions, while being contested in others.

Genesis 2 and 3 are the only places in the bible that refer to it as a physical location. Elsewhere, such as in Ezekiel 28, it is mythical.

There are those that argue that it is a type, perhaps representative of Jerusalem or the Temple or the Promised Land. It amy also represent God's garden on Zion.

While the description of Eden has led many to attempt to pinpoint a physical location, even Christians are hesitant to do so, arguing that the flood so changed the landscape that such a task is impossible anyway.

Genesis 2:1-2:3
The Seventh Day and the Sanctification of the Sabbath

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
2: 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

At this point, the kingdom of nature is settled.

The word choice of "host" has an interesting connotation, "which speaks them numerous, but marshaled, disciplined, and under command. God [uses] them as his hosts for the defence of his people, and the destruction of his enemies." 1

Thus we see that every creature is intended to serve God's purposes.

Here, the work is perfect. For further scriptural basis, Christians often cite Ecclesiastes:
3:14 I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.
God did not rest because he needed to, but because he was showing that his creating was done. This evident in verse 2--"God ended His work". He wasn't tired, then; he was done. This too is an indispensable doctrine: "That the solemn observance of one day in seven as a day of holy rest, and holy work, is the indispensable duty of all those to whom God has revealed his holy sabbaths." 2

According to Matthew Henry:
God did not rest as one weary, but as one well-pleased. 4
God's work does not stop on the Sabbath, something that is reiterated in John:
5:17 But Jesus answered them, My father has been working until now, and I have been working.
It is the sincere belief among some Christians that the seven-day week is ingrained in humans. It's a divine will, and they will often point to the failure of ten day weeks during the French Revolution as an example, a masterful oversimplification.

The Sabbath is not an act unto itself, however; it's actually a shadow of a larger doctrine, one that deals with the rest in Christ.

From Colossians 2:
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance of Christ.
And again in Galatians 4:
9 But know after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
And again in Hebrews 4:
9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter the rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
This is a distinct deviation from the Old Testament view, as expressed in Exodus 20:
8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

Essentially, as Jesus Plus Nothing explains:
The New Testament however does not concern himself with the outward law of the Sabbath and it is not repeated as something that is binding upon believers. It is concerned however with the spiritual reality and fulfillment of Genesis 2:2-3. And that reality is experienced not in physically resting one day a week but in spiritual resting "Today". That is, in the book of Hebrews, it tells us that there is a rest available to all that would hear God's voice and apply faith to that which they hear. It is available everyday and, paradoxically, every effort should be made to enter into that rest! It is the rest of faith where we "cease striving and know that He is God." 3
As Matthew Henry commented:
The Christian Sabbath, which we observe, is a seventh day, and in it we celebrate the rest of God the Son, and the finishing work of our redemption. 4

Genesis 2:4-2:7
Setting the Scene and Forming Man

2:4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
2:5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;
2:6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

This passage is unique in that it's the first time we see the use of the word Jehovah, which is connoted in English by the designation LORD. This name has a unique connotation for God's character, as noted by Bible Study Tools, a connotation of "He that was, and that is, and that is to come" 1. According to Bible Gateway, this is the name that "denotes that he alone has his being of himself, and that he gives being to all creatures and things." 4

This is the traditional type of opening for Babylonian myths, which begin with a set introduction that gives you time and place. While it's not a creation myth, consider this, the opening of Tablet I of the Epic of Gilgamesh:

He who has seen everything, I will make known (?) to the lands.
I will teach (?) about him who experienced all things,
... alike,
Anu granted him the totality of knowledge of all.
He saw the Secret, discovered the Hidden,
he brought information of (the time) before the Flood.
He went on a distant journey, pushing himself to exhaustion,
but then was brought to peace.
He carved on a stone stela all of his toils,
and built the wall of Uruk-Haven,
the wall of the sacred Eanna Temple, the holy sanctuary.
Look at its wall which gleams like copper(?),inspect its inner wall, the likes of which no one can equal 
Take hold of the threshold stone--it dates from ancient times 
Go close to the Eanna Temple, the residence of Ishtar,
such as no later king or man ever equaled!Go up on the wall of Uruk and walk around,
examine its foundation, inspect its brickwork thoroughly.
Is not (even the core of) the brick structure made of kiln-fired brick,
and did not the Seven Sages themselves lay out its plans?
One league city, one league palm gardens, one league lowlands, the open area(?) of 
the Ishtar Temple,
three leagues and the open area(?) of Uruk it (the wall) encloses.
Find the copper tablet box,
open the ... of its lock of bronze,
undo the fastening of its secret opening.
Take and read out from the lapis lazuli tablet
how Gilgamesh went through every hardship

This is not to say the two are directly linked at all, but you can definitely see a similar narrative technique here, of situating the story very specifically in time and place.

In our case, that man was created is not necessarily the most important part of the story, and that makes sense. J focuses on the interactions of God and man, on the human element in that relationship, and so it's important to get to the point where there are actually humans.

Before we move on to the bulk of what's important in this passage--that last verse, actually--I have to mention "mist". Mist here was translated based on centuries of Jewish tradition. However, in the 20th century, the thought shifted, and there is some discussion that it actually means an underground spring. This is an important distinction, because one of the arguments you often see is the idea that the firmament in Genesis 1 is actually just a thick band of water vapor, which creates this mist mentioned in verse 6 of this chapter. However, if it actually means "underground spring", this is a valid critique of the creation account that there are waters below and above the earth (a common motif in creation myths).

The plants in this passage are reconciled in several ways. One, there's the simple reconciliatory assumption that they are merely mentioned again here because they are important--this is what God has given man to eat, this tactic says, so of course they are noticed again in the chapter on man's formation.

Another is the idea that the seeds of the plants were created in chapter 1, but they did not blossom because there was no rain and no man to work it. Of course, there won't be rain until the flood, so I'm unsure of what role that really played. Apparently the presence of man was more important.

Nevertheless, it's a theory, as Blue Letter Bible says:

When God first created vegetation (on the third day of creation, Genesis 1:11-13), man was not yet been created [sic] to care for the vegetation of the earth, and there was no rain. The thick blanket of water vapor in the outer atmosphere created on the second day of creation (Genesis 1:6-8) made for no rain cycle (as we know it) but for a rich system of evaporation and condensation, resulting in heavy dew or ground-fog. 2

As mentioned above, this may not be a totally accurate reading of the actual Hebrew, but it is what the English translation says.

Of course, the idea of seeds lying dormant in the ground has particular spiritual connotations for Christians, as Jesus Plus Nothing explains:

Now, you may see where I'm going with this. For the spiritual life mimics the natural in this regard. Jesus told us that the seed is the word of God that gets sown in the hearts of men. (Matt 13: 1-23) The seeds that we sow normally won't show immediate results. But don't let that discourage you! From this chapter before us in Genesis you can see that the seed can still sprout and grow when watering and cultivation occurs at a later date. I have known people that have had the seed planted in their heart as a youngster and not make a commitment to the Lord Jesus until later in their life. But that initial seed was always there, waiting for the right time. 3

Matthew Henry says:

Further notice is taken of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself: this was done by Almighty power. Thus grace in the soul grows not of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God. 4

One common them in the Jahwist source is the idea of spiritual verses physical, and we most certainly see that here in Genesis 2. Man himself is a literal rendering of earth and heaven, with a body of dust and the breath of God.

Dust is one of the most basic elements, humble and lowly, as the Blue Letter Bible explains:
When the Bible speaks of dust, it means something of little worth, associated with lowliness and humility (Genesis 18:27; 1 Samuel 2:8; 1 Kings 16:2). In the Bible, dust isn't evil and it isn't nothing, but it is next to nothing. 2
So man is literally of the earth, of the physical. However, the spirit is specially derived from God. For this, we turn to Ecclesiastes 12.
7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
This dual natures idea is a prominent doctrine in Christianity. It's a reason that you'll hear that we, as nonbelievers, have a "god-shaped hole" that can only be filled by leaving our nonbelief and coming to a relationship with God.

Ruach, the Hebrew word that here means "breath", also means "spirit".

For Christians, this dichotomy has important spiritual implications, as Matthew Henry reminds us:
Man was made of the small dust, such as is on the surface of the earth. The soul was not made of the earth, as the body: pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. 4
One last note: Sometimes there are discussions of the nature of human beings.

In this New King James Version translation that I've used for this series, the Hebrew is rendered as "a living being". However, the original KJV rendered it as "a living soul". This is a unique idea, that man IS a soul, not that man HAS a soul.

However, the discussion is all but resolved with the newer editions, which tend to use some version of being, creature, human or person to explain the verse.

Genesis 2:8-2:14
Eden Planted

2:8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
2:10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.
2:11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
2:12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there.
2:13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush.
2:14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

There are those who believe this account has a very unique author:

The whole feel of this account gives the sense that it was written by an actual eyewitness of the rivers and surroundings. Adam probably wrote this himself. 2
When I read that line, I have to be honest--I wondered to myself if this author had ever read a fictional book (oh hush, you--you know what I mean!) in his entire life. But, onward and upward as they say...

The important connotation here is that man's physical and spiritual natures are addressed here. He is placed into a physical paradise with the spiritual connection to God.

We also see a shift from bara to the idea of yatsar, which means fashioned--like a potter fashions clay. Though all animals are nephesh, or living, only man holds this distinction.

Perhaps the most important part of this passage is the two unique trees in the center of the garden. These trees are fraught with a variety of interpretations.

The Tree of Life is sometimes seen as a physical reality and sometimes as metaphorical.

Bible Study Tools says this about the metaphorical view:
There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden--Which was not so much a natural means to preserve or prolong life; but was chiefly intended to be a sign to Adam, assuring him of the continuance of the life and happiness upon the condition of his perseverance in innocency and obedience. 1
It's the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that gives the most room for interpretation, however. Bible Study Tools says this:
There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--So called, not because it had any virtue to beg useful knowledge, but because there was an express revelation of the will of God concerning this tree, so that by it he might know good and evil. What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree: what is evil? To eat of this tree. The distinction between all moral good and evil was written in the ehart of man; but this, which resulted from a positive law, was written upon this tree. And in the event it proved to give Adam an experimental knowledge of good by the loss of it, and of evil by the sense of it. 1
This is one idea: that the tree would give Adam experiential knowledge of the difference between good and evil by experiencing the loss of good.

But there is an alternative explanation too, as Blue Letter Bible explains:
Or, it is possible that it is called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil not so man would know good and evil, but so that God could test good and evil in man. 2
According to Jesus Plus Nothing, there's an important dichotomy between these two trees: the tree of life represents dependence on God; the tree of knowledge represents independence from God. 3

Jesus Plus Nothing explains the importance of this distinction:
As mentioned, we will take up this thought more in chapter 3, but for now it is worth noting that everyone, tot his day, is still faced with the choice between these two trees. Are we going to live independently from God reliant upon our own will and strength, or did God create us to be dependent upon Him and His life? I'm sure you know the answer, but it's good to be reminded...As Major Ian Thomas used to say--It takes God to be a man as God created man to be. 3
There is some scriptural basis for the idea that the tree literally sustains or grants eternal life, which you an find in Genesis 3:22, Revelation 2:7, and Revelation 22:2.

The description of the rivers also contains important truths for the Christian. It's a further exploration of the dichotomy between the physical and spiritual that we've been talking about. Bible Study Tools explains it like this:
Hiddekel and Euphrates are rivers of Babylon. Havilah had gold and spices and precious stone; but Eden had that which was infinitely better, the tree of life, and communion with God. 1
There is another spiritual implication to this passage that Matthew Henry explores:
The place fixed upon for Adam to dwell in, was not a palace, but a garden. The better we take up with plain things, and the less we seek things to gratify pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to innocency. Nature is content with a little, and that which is most natural; grace with less, but lust craves everything, and is content with nothing. No delights can be satisfying to the soul, but those which God himself has provided and appoint for it. 4
This very idea is the basis for doctrines that promote asceticism--and it has its root, right here, in the second chapter of the bible.

Genesis 2:15-2:17
The Importance of a Day's Work and God's First Command

2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
2:17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die."

Matthew Henry points the importance of the phrasing in the idea of God creating the garden and putting man there:
After God had formed Adam, he put him in the garden. All boasting was thereby shut out. Only he that made us can make us happy; he that is the Former of our bodies, and the Father of our spirits, and none but he, can fully provide for the happiness of both. 4
Here we also see the beginning of the idea of a hard day's work. God himself ordains that man should work in the garden. Even in paradise, there is toil to be done. Henry touches on this point:
Also, there is true pleasure in the business God calls us to, and employs us in. Adam could not have been happy if he had been idle: it is still God's law, He that will not work has no right to eat, 2Th 3:10. 4
Blue Letter Bible says:
God put Adam into the most spectacular paradise the world has seen, but God put Adam there to do work (to tend and keep it). Work is something good for man and was part of Adam's perfect existence before the fall. 2
The command here is absolutely crucial, as Blue Letter Bible explains:
The presence of this tree--the presence of a choice for Adam--was good because for Adam to be a creature of free will, there had to be a choice, some opportunity to rebel against God. If there is never a command or never something forbidden then there can never be a choice. God wants our love and obedience to him to be the love and obedience of choice. 2
This concept of a choice that isn't really a choice is a great example of one of the key differences between Christian and atheistic worldviews.

Blue Letter Bible informs us that Adam lived a lucky existence--he had only one source temptation, while we have many.

Matthew Henry addressed the implications of this passage here:
Let us never set up our own will against the holy will of God. There was not only liberty allowed to man, in taking the fruits of paradise, but everlasting life made sure to him upon his obedience. There was a trial appointed of his obedience. By transgression he would forfeit his Maker's favour, and deserve his displeasure, with all of its awful effects; so that he would become liable to pain, disease, and death. Worse than that, he would lose the holy image of God, and the comfort of his favour, and feel the torment of sinful passions, and the terror of his Maker's vengeance, which must endure for ever with his never dying soul. 4
However, Wikipedia points out:
"Good and evil" is a merism, in this case meaning simply "everything", but it may also have a moral connotation. WHen God forbids the man to eat from the knowledge, he says that if he does so he is "doomed to die": the Hebrew behind this is in the form used in the Bible for issuing death sentences. 6
A merism is a rhetorical device by which two contrasting words--complete opposites--are used to represent a range of objects.

We also see that this is the first literal death sentence in the bible. Of course, Adam does not immediately die. He has a spiritual death and begins the process of physical death--not an uncommon motif in origin stories.

Genesis 2:18-2:20
Man is Alone

2:18 And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
2:19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
2:20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

Here we see God deciding that Adam should not be alone. This piece is another passage that is pointed to as evidence that the two creation accounts don't sync up perfectly: while Genesis 1 implies that the animals were created before mankind, here, we have man created and then the animals created to be his companions.

The naming of the animals in particular is of great import in this passage. For one, many see it as proof of Adam's brilliance, as the Blue Letter Bible explains:
If Adam had the capability to intelligently name all the animals, it shows he was a brilliant man. Since at this time Adam's intellect had not yet suffered from the fall, he was probably the most brilliant man who ever lived. Adam was the first and greatest of all biologists and botanists. 2
It's commonly accepted that Adam was able to name the animals because he understood their innermost natures.

I'm going to be quite frank with you here, and say that I found it difficult to be detached for this portion of the ABS. I try very hard not to snark during these, because they are about exploration and understanding and compiling the information, not about critiquing it. I'm focused on putting the information out there, and letting others come to a deeper understanding that they can use to critique if they so choose. In fact, there's a few quotes from this section that I'll be deconstructing over the next few years.

So bear with me as I try very hard to contain my snark.

Adam's ability to understand the animals also points to an ability to understand his own nature. Blue Letter Bible asserts:
Adam did not name any other animal after himself, calling any other animal "man" or "human." By this, we see that he understood that he was essentially different from all the animals. They were not made in the image of God. 2
Of course, he also didn't name a gorilla after an ostrich or a dog after a cat, or a turtle after an elephant, so there's that.

Whoops, was that some snark? I'm sorry.

Anyway, this passage has more significance than just understanding characteristics of Adam. The most significant is that it reinforces the doctrine that man has dominion over the planet--a doctrine that can be used for good or ill. We talked about that in part one of Genesis 1.

As Matthew Henry put it:
Power over the creatures was given to man, and as a proof of this he named them all. 4
Wikipedia cites this interpretation:
God's naming of the elements of the cosmos in Genesis 1 illustrates his authority over creation; now the man's naming of the animals (and of Woman) illustrates Adam's authority within creation. 6

Genesis 2:21-2:22
Creation of Woman

2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
2:22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

In Genesis 1, we saw the implication that man and woman were created together, on the sixth day. This is just considered more detail for Genesis 1:27.

It is our assumption, it's argued, that this was an equal creation--that they were created at the same time. However, Christian doctrine upholds that this is not a contradiction because we assume in chapter 1 and are given the details here in chapter 2 to clarify the assumption.

Scriptural basis for this idea is derived from Matthew 19:
4 And He answered them and said to them, "Have you not read that HE who made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh'?"
Here, Jesus is quoted as connecting the two creation accounts, with first the line from Genesis 1 and then the follow up that is derived from Genesis 2 (albeit a bit further along in the chapter).

There are physical implications here that prior to the fall, God tried to spare man any pain. From Bible Study Tools:
...God caused the sleep to fall on Adam, and made it a deep sleep, that so the opening of his side might be no grievance to him: while he knows no sin, God will take care that he shall feel no pain. 1
This is seen as historically significant too. As the Blue Letter Bible Explains:
This is the first "surgery" recorded in history. God even used a proper anesthetic on Adam. 2
The earliest known surgeries, trepanations, actually date back to 12,000 BCE, so I don't know that the assertion that this is the first recorded surgery in history is accurate. Various Mesopotamian and Egyptian surgeries were recorded earlier than the scholarly date for Genesis. In fact, a Mesopotamian tablet from 4,000 BCE actually names the first surgeon recorded in that history Urlugaledin. 7

Anesthesia is also an ancient practice. While general anesthesia is relatively modern, attempts to dull pain during surgery are ancient. One of the oldest known sedatives used for this purpose is--what else!--alcohol. Opium was used by Sumerians as early as 3400 BCE. 8

So again, I'm not entirely certain the author of that bible study is particularly familiar with the facts of surgical history, but there are many people that believe the same, so I've included the idea.

For Christians, Adam and Eve (who is not yet named) have a special significance. They are seen as a type for Christ and the Bride of Christ. Blue Letter Bible explains how that is significant in this particular passage:
We also know that the Bride of Christ comes from a wound made in the side of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. 2
While I personally see this as kind of a stretch--I'd argue that the idea of the "Bride of Christ" actually comes from the resurrection, where Christ fulfilled the claim that he is the son of god by overcoming death, myself--the imagery is nonetheless compelling for many Christians.

Genesis 2:23-2:25
Man and Woman Together

2:23 And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The verses dealing with man, woman and the dynamics of marriage we will deal with in more detail in our next installment, when we look at the interpretations of gender in Genesis 2.

Bearing that in mind, I'm just going to do a cursory review of it here.

Here, we see Adam names woman like he did the rest of the animals. Woman is delivered to him.

We see the roots of the doctrine of traditional marriage in verse 24.

Of the idea of nakedness, Bible Study Tools says:
They were both naked, they needed no cloaths for defence against cold or heat, for neither could be injurious to them: they needed none for ornament. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Nay, they needed none for decency, they were naked, and had no reason to be ashamed. They knew not what shame was, so the Chaldee reads it. Blushing is now the colour of virtue, but it was not the colour of innocency. 1
Verse 25 always intrigued me. If being naked was not a sin before the fall, why was it afterwards? Why was their shame even a thing?

If you'll recall, one interpretation of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is that it wasn't really the tree that changed anything. The tree just allowed them to either experience evil, and thus know it, or for God to simply test mankind and see the evil within the creature he'd created.

In my opinion, this last verse, this simple concept, flies in the face of both of those interpretations. If the tree changed nothing, why did they suddenly feel shame over a condition that they'd existed in?

We will explore it in more depth when we get to the fall, but I wanted to mention it here, and also to provide some context for how Christians approach that issue. According to the Blue Letter Bible:
Adam and Eve knew they were physically naked--nude--before the fall. What they did not know was a sinful, fallen condition, because they were not in that condition before their rebellion. 2
So there's the set up, and we'll explore the full concept more fully when we discuss original sin and the fall.

Wrapping It Up

This concludes our Atheist Bible Study: Genesis Chapter 2, Part 1. The next installment will talk about how Genesis 2 can form the basis for so many aspects of Christian doctrine regarding gender and relationships.

I don't know when I will be able to get it up. My notes in total for chapter 2 amounted to a 22 page word document, and I've only made it through about half of them in this segment--meaning that there's still half of them that deal almost exclusively with gender, marriage, and relationships. That's a lot to get through.

But...I think it will make for an interesting read.

Have a great day, and be excellent to each other. ;)


1  “The Book of Genesis: Chapter 2”

2  David Guzik. “Study Guide for Genesis 2: Creation Completed; Adam in the Garden of Eden”

3  I Gordon. “Genesis Chapter 2: Trees, Seeds and Wives”

4  Henry, Matthew. “Commentaries for Genesis Chapter 2”. Bible Gateway.

5  “Yahwist Narrative”

6  "Genesis creation narrative"

7 "History of surgery"

8 "History of general anesthesia"

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