Monday Musing

I’m working my way through Michael Horton’s new systematic theology, The Christian Faith.

In chapter thirteen, Horton examines the Fall.  He makes an interesting argument that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before.

Horton suggests that Adam’s first sin was not eating the fruit, but instead, his first sin was allowing the serpent (‘the false witness’) to reside in the garden in the first place.

The commission given to Adam and Eve above all else was to ‘work’ and keep’ the sanctuary (Gen 2:15; the same verbs used in the commission given to the priests in the Jerusalem temple).  Instead of cleansing God’s temple-garden as God’s faithful servant and son, Adam entertained Satan himself and failed to protect Eve from his influence.  This story will be repeated in many variations, as God’s people show themselves unwilling to uproot idolatry and violence entirely from the land and then fall under the spell of foreign beliefs and practices themselves. (pg. 410)

I’m trying to work through the implications of this interpretation.

First, in a positive way, it removes the argument that the woman is the downfall of Adam, especially since the NT (Paul) places the blame squarely on Adam’s shoulders.

On the other hand, by suggesting that the woman needed protecting from Satan’s influence might be reading a complementarian theology into the text, that is not immediately evident.  Where does the text suggest that the woman is weak-minded and in need of protection?

Second, is the instruction to ‘work’ and ‘keep’ the garden actually a command?  The English text reads:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  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 2:15-17)

Is the ‘work’ and ‘keep’ more of a commissioning than a command?

Third, how do we know, prior to the serpent starting to talk, that he is actually unwelcome in the garden?  Genesis 2:19 suggests that God presents all the animals to Adam to name.  Is there any indication that some creatures don’t belong in the garden?

Any thoughts?  Any reactions?  Come and join the conversation!



0 thoughts on “Monday Musing

      1. Tusk

        “Doesnt have to be satan or the devil.”

        You’re absolutely right. I also picked up on this, back when I was a believer (around 2007, for this realization), and I realized that the serpent was not necessarily associated with satan until centuries later in the bible. Seems like something that was interpreted or read back into Genesis way, way after it was written.

        Still, though. Snakes don’t talk, in reality. So do we take this story from Genesis allegorically? Mythically? As legend? Like the other Near East religions of old do?

  1. Robert Hagedorn

    Pet stores don’t sell live snakes that speak human language and grocery stores don’t sell knowledge of good and evil fruit. Do a search: First Scandal.

  2. Rod of Alexandria


    Nope, none at all, but for the most part, Genesis is a theological reflection of actual events in history.

    I would say that since no human being was at creation, whether it be a Big Bang or creationism, was there with God (the bible even says that in Job), it makes more sense to read Genesis 1-3 atleast allegorically.

  3. Pingback: Monday Musing: Horton, Pinnock and the Influence of Theology | Political Jesus

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