God’s Good Earth – Chapter 2: Scripture on the Fall

Here is a link to chapter 2 of my book.

The discussion of the passages speaks for itself, but I feel I ought to add something here specifically because a publisher criticised my lack of interaction with Gordon Wenham’s take on the “curse on the ground”, and because KJ mentioned the curse in his supportive comment on the previous chapter. My original judgement had been to avoid such detailed discussion in what is, actually, quite a short book.

I have a great deal of respect for Gordon Wenham as an OT scholar, and indeed used his Genesis commentary in preparation of the chapter, and it’s not just because he was at my college and his brother Mike was a contemporary of mine there! Dealing with Genesis 8.21, Wenham disagrees with others who follow the great German OT scholar Rolf Rendtorff, who in 1961 interpreted the verse as abrogating the curse on the ground, the position I have recently come to.

Wenham’s main argument is grammatical: he says that the positioning of the words means something like “I will not again add to the curse on the ground” rather than “I will not curse the ground any more.” The supporting arguments for this include a different (weaker) word for “curse” in this verse, and the suggestion that the birth-prophecy for Noah in 5.29, to which I draw attention in the chapter, is fulfilled in his planting vines and inventing wine.

Now I don’t read Hebrew (as of course both Wenham, Rendtorff and their academic supporters do – though I learned my rudimentary NT Greek from the textbook by Wenham’s father!), but I have seen over the years how grammatical arguments, though important, are always subject to disagreement, simply because language is a flexible human tool, not a strictly algorithmic, law-based, process. And I note that if one compares the translations there is little support for the distinction Wenham makes either in the translation of the word for “curse” or his nuance of the meaning. It therefore seems far from conclusive, and there is clearly still room for debate in the scholarly community, even though I would normally side with the conservative Evangelical!

If, then, the grammatical argument is placed in the “outcome still pending” category, the reasons I believe the text intends to describe the lifting of the specific curese of Gen 3 are as follows:

  1. The curse in ch3 is superadded to the central sentence of death of which God had warned Adam in advance, and which is delivered in the exclusion from the tree of life. Death is the problem that is linked to sin throughout the whole of the rest of the Bible, and especially in Paul’s expositions in Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15. Why, then, does God give additional punishment? The parallel judgements seem to give the clue: the serpent is punished for its deception of Eve; Eve for her listening to the creature; and Adam, I suggest, because he listened to his wife’s contradiction of God, over and above his actual taking of the forbidden fruit.
  2. The prophecy made over Noah by his father says he will provide relief from the curse (this is the same word as in ch3). The suggestion that this is fulfilled in his discovery of wine seems unlikely when that story majors on the drunkenness and shame of Noah – his corruption by the fruit of the earth – and the curse on Canaan, rather than any idea one may have of “wine to gladden the heart of man”. The story doesn’t even say Noah invented winemaking – merely that he planed a vineyard and got drunk. On the other hand, if (as I suggest) Noah’s intercession results in the lifting of the Gen 3 curse, the prophecy is appropriately true (and the wine incident a reminder that sin, and its consequences, still attach to Noah after the Flood, even when the ground produces grapes rather than thistles).
  3. The Flood story is not at any stage presented in terms of cursing, but in terms of cleansing or purification of the world by a kind of de-creation, back to water. As I say in the chapter, one has to deduce any effect on crops, for it is the destruction of living creatures, and especially man, that is described, rather than their food. Furthermore, again as I point out, 8.21 presents the latter in the second part of the verse, separately from the promise never again to curse the land. Wenham sees these as poetic parallels, but I have to say they don’t read that way to me – and of course, Hebrew poetic parallelism is flexible enough to include contrasts, qualifications and similarities as well as repeated expressions of the same thought.
  4. The curse on the land (unlike the curse of death) is not mentioned, or dealt with, in the rest of Scripture, suggesting the writers no longer considered it a problem to be solved. Instead, there are passages such as Paul’s addresses to pagans in which the plenty God provides through his blessing is emphasised (rather than telling them farming life is hard because of a curse which only Jesus can lift).
  5. I mention in the chapter the interesting (and seldom remarked) passages in the ANE parallels with the Flood story about the bgods sending famine as a precursor to the Flood.
  6. The curse of Genesis 3 is strictly limited in its scope: it decrees only hardship in obtaining food, because of the prevalence of thorns and thistles. This is true even if Wenham is right, and Rendtorff wrong, and the curse on the soil still prevails. It is actually a curse of man through the soil, in that thorns and thistles get to prosper, and only man’s preferred crops get choked with them. To generalise it to everything we find troublesome in nature – to animal death, disease, natural disasters, cosmic catastrophes and all the other things included in the concept of “natural evils” is to go so far beyond the text as to be irresponsible.

I suggest that one could only even think of the Flood as being some kind of special case of Gen 3.17-19, and therefore what is intended by the lifting of the curse in Gen 8, if one has already made a general corruption of nature part of ones worldview – in other words, if you read it into the Genesis text, rather than out of it.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in Creation, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to God’s Good Earth – Chapter 2: Scripture on the Fall

  1. Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

    I like this chapter, Jon. It provides a close reading of a number of textual details which the YEC crowd (whether Protestant or Catholic) doesn’t deal with, and it provides some healthy common sense from the biological point of view as well, in your various remarks about animals and their habitats and diets.

    I have not read Wenham (I didn’t realize there were two Wenhams — I thought the father and son were the same person), and while I have read some of Rentdorff, years ago, I haven’t read what he says about the curse specifically. However, I did at one time study the “curse” question with a view to the Hebrew vocabulary involved in the relevant passages. I need to review that question, however, before I can say anything helpful to your discussion above. If I come up with something useful, you will hear from me again.

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Eddie- John was a New Testament scholar and as well as his Greek textbook wrote on the synoptic problem, championing an early date and Matthian priority. Son Gordon is OT scholar, and son David another New Testament scholar interested in NT origins.

      Son Mike was very welcoming to me at the first Christian Union meeting I went to in Pembroke College (hosted by Steve Motyer, now also an NT scholar and son of a great OT scholar). Mike became an Anglican vicar – he’s sadly now suffering from Motor Neurone disease but continuing not only in ministry but in campaigning for the sanctity of life via his blog – it would be nice to be in touch again.

  2. Cath Olic says:

    Edward,

    I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves – jumping to Chapter 2 before dealing with Chapter 1.

    I’d be interested in hearing your take on how my Chapter 1 critiques were wrong *on substance* (not on style).

    I figured you read them, and I’m a bit surprised you didn’t say anything about them. (Jon, too, for that matter.)

    I’ll try to take a look at Ch.2 tonight.

  3. Cath Olic says:

    “The implication must be that mankind has no innate immortality, but only that granted by God – and in fact, assuming the tree of life to be at least partly metaphorical, eternal life is gained only in communion with God, the very thing broken by Adam’s disobedience. Man, then, was created mortal, but may overcome death through relationship with God.”

    So, you’re saying that even if Adam had *not* sinned, Adam would have died, because he was created mortal.

    *Question: Where would the body and soul of a sinless Adam go after he dies?*

    Certainly not to heaven, because he had already been in
    heaven. I mean, soul *and* body in the Paradise of Eden, with all the goodies, topped off by walking with God, and talking with God face-to-face.

    And certainly not to hell, because the sinless but mortal Adam hasn’t done anything wrong.

    Where does he go?
    …………………..
    Question for the sake of Edward Robinson:
    ‘Jon, why do you claim “Man, then, was created mortal…”
    but not provide any original source Church Father quotes backing you up.
    And why am I even reading this?’
    …….
    “If this were the case, then either Adam would have been alone in needing to eat from the tree of life to avoid death (a strange situation for the one made in God’s image and likeness)…”

    Yes, very strange indeed. And not at all necessitated from the text.
    God tells Adam “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die”,
    however, GOD DOES NOT tell Adam ‘of the tree of life you MUST eat, for if you do not, you shall die.’

    And of course, God doesn’t say anything about animals needing to eat or not eat from any particular tree in order to continue living.
    As you say, that would have made “no sense whatsoever”.

    [Just a thought: Perhaps the tree of life, post-Fall, is a type or a prefigurement of the Cross and of the Eucharist. Adam has been punished and banished and, absent repentance, will not be allowed access to what he’ll need for eternal life. Hence Gen 3:22, 24.]
    …..

    “One other feature from the text itself also *demolishes* such an already bizarre interpretation … the creation ordinance allocating food to man and animals…allowed the eating of fruit from trees for man, but not animals. They would have been *forbidden* access to the fruit of tree of life anyway.”

    “Demolishes”? “Forbidden”? Strong words for such specious reasoning.

    By the way, what do people of today, and even of yesteryear, say are the top-level categories of life?
    Aren’t they animal and *plant*?
    Like animal, including marmots and man,
    and plant, including algae and apple trees?

    Are you trying to make Genesis a science text book?
    ………….
    “There are no grounds whatsoever, then, in Genesis 2-3, for suggesting that any creature other than Adam and Eve ever had exemption from natural death…”

    Oy vey.
    That’s as far as I could bear to read tonight.

  4. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    Cath Olic

    the reasons I’m not replying to your many posts are (1) that sadly, you’re tiring yourself so much by scrabbling to find as many things to contradict as possible that you’ve no energy left for the more basic task of understanding what’s being said. (2) Your remarks show all too much a lack of deep familiarity with and immersion in the Scriptures, and also of unfamiliarity with both the Church Fathers and their heirs, and the current discussions of theological scholarship. (3) Consequently, you generate a mass of words that can’t be replied to adequately because they ignore what’s already been said (by me, by Scripture, and by the theologians).

    Just one example as a reply to your first point above: the conclusion that the Bible does not teach the human soul to be intrinsically immortal is the mainstream view today, and for good reasons. When you start suggesting I’m saying Adam would have died even if he had not sinned, you’re forgetting that you can’t sin without breaking a relationship you had with God to begin with.

  5. Cath Olic says:

    Jon,

    “Just one example as a reply to your first point above: the conclusion that the Bible does not teach the human soul to be intrinsically immortal is the mainstream view today, and for good reasons. When you start suggesting I’m saying Adam would have died even if he had not sinned, you’re forgetting that you can’t sin without breaking a relationship you had with God to begin with.”

    Clarification, please.
    What do you mean when you say “Man, then, was created mortal”?
    What does “mortal” mean?

    [I think “mortal” means subject to inevitable death. So again, by my way of thinking, if Adam was created “mortal”, Adam would have died even if Adam had *not* sinned.]

    Edward, what do *you* think Jon means?

    …………
    “…sadly, you’re tiring yourself so much by scrabbling to find as many things to contradict as possible that you’ve no energy left for the more basic task of understanding what’s being said.”

    It *is* a bit tiring.
    I made it through only ½ of Chapter 1 and had a lot of issues, which you didn’t respond to.
    And I’ve read less than the first ¼ of Chapter 2 and I came up with the above.
    Just imagine what I’d write if I read 100% of the chapters!

    But with just this little reading, I think I understand quite well “what’s being said.” And I think it’s flawed, both in the big picture and in the detail. (See my above for examples of the detail.)

    • Cath Olic says:

      P.S.

      “… the Bible does not teach the human soul to be intrinsically immortal is the mainstream view today, and for good reasons.”

      I’m not sure I get this.
      I thought mainstream Christianity taught that *every soul* is *immortal*, and will live eternity in one of two places.

  6. Cath Olic says:

    I’ve found some energy to resume Chapter 2 where I left off yesterday.

    “If there was an existing curse on the ground (to warrant the words “never again”), it was that spoken to Adam, and in the light of Noah’s sacrifice that curse has ever since been rescinded.”

    I suppose I viewed the “curse of the ground” in Genesis 3:17 and Genesis 8:21 as different things.
    I thought of the “curse of the ground” of Genesis 3:17 as a new harshness to nature (e.g. droughts, diseases, earthquakes),
    but the “curse of the ground” lifted in Genesis 8:21 as a promise not to cover the ground again with a world-wide flood.

    But if I’m wrong, and the curses were the same, then, the “ground” of the earth (i.e. the conditions of nature) must be markedly better in our postdiluvian times.

    *What do the theologians and scientists say about improvement in our planet’s natural conditions after the Flood, or at least after the B.C. time of Noah?*

    Whew!
    Time for another break.

  7. Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

    Cath Olic wrote:

    “[I think “mortal” means subject to inevitable death. So again, by my way of thinking, if Adam was created “mortal”, Adam would have died even if Adam had *not* sinned.]”

    This does not follow. Or rather, part of it follows, but not all of it.

    First, let’s get one reading error out of the way. The text does not say that Adam “sinned” when he ate the fruit. So to be more careful, the above statement should read:

    “… if Adam was created mortal, Adam would have died even if Adam had not disobeyed.”

    Now, let’s see what is true and what is false in the revised statement.

    It is true that if Adam was created mortal, then, *under normal conditions* (e.g., those conditions described in Genesis 1, in Job, and elsewhere in the Bible), he would have eventually died, whether he obeyed God or not.

    But in the story found in Genesis 2-3, Adam was not living under normal conditions. He was living in a Garden which housed a “tree of life” found nowhere else on earth. The “tree of life” would enable him to overcome his mortal condition and live forever (as we learn from God’s speech in 3:22).

    The point is that immortality is not “natural” to man, not part of his created nature. Immortality requires the support of something which is not part of man’s nature — a special “tree of life.”

    So Adam would *not* have died in the Garden, if he had stayed obedient. But the reason for his not-dying was not that he was naturally immortal, i.e., created immortal by God. The reason for his not-dying was his access to the fruit of the tree of life.

    Thus, Jon’s interpretation is very much in line with the fine details of the story, as well as with mainstream historical interpretation, and of course with modern biological knowledge and common sense. Animal bodies don’t live forever. Beings powered by breath and blood die. Only by a special supernatural assistance can they overcome their mortality. And that offer was made only to human beings, not the other animals.

    Of course, God can bring about a new order of things in which man is transformed into a being who is *naturally* immortal; but such an order is not described in either of the Genesis origin stories. That order is an order of the future, not of the past. We learn about that future order primarily in books other than Genesis.

  8. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 02/04/2016 at 09:15 am,

    “First, let’s get one reading error out of the way…
    statement should read:
    “… if Adam was created mortal, Adam would have died even if Adam had not disobeyed.” It is true that if Adam was created mortal, then, *under normal conditions*… he would have eventually died, whether he obeyed God or not.
    But in the story found in Genesis 2-3, Adam was not living under normal conditions. He was living in a Garden which housed a “tree of life” found nowhere else on earth. The “tree of life” would enable him to overcome his mortal condition and live forever (as we learn from God’s speech in 3:22).”

    First, let’s get one reading error out of the way.
    The text does not say Adam must eat of the tree of life. The text does not say Adam would be disobeying by not eating of the tree of life.
    It says only “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You *may* freely eat of every tree of the garden;
    but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

    “It is true that if Adam was created mortal, then, *under normal conditions*… The point is that immortality is not “natural” to man, not part of his created nature.”

    But the conditions of Adam and the Garden before the Fall *were* normal conditions to him, normal conditions to Man.

    In substance, you are saying *man was created to disobey.* Your point is that mortality *is* ““natural” to man.”

    P.S.
    Perhaps you’ll feign umbrage at the lack of primary source quotes of the Fathers here, but you’ve already shown that you *will* read and consider points of view which lack them (e.g. Jon’s book).
    So, here’s something to consider:

    “The Fathers unanimously taught as a matter of faith that man in his primeval condition was gifted with immortality of body and soul.”

    http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/God/God_013.htm

    • Cath Olic says:

      P.P.S.

      Edward, for a hypothetically *ever-obedient* Adam, where would his body and soul go after he dies?

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      1. Not only do you regularly argue without any knowledge of the primary sources (except for snippets of them that you’ve come across in secondary sources), you don’t even correctly understand your secondary sources. You should read *all* of the article you quote against me. You missed the part where the writer said:

      “Bodily immortality is the converse of mortality, i.e., the possibility of separation of soul from body. Adam was therefore capable of not dying. Yet the gift was conditional, provided he did not sin; it was gratuitous, since Adam’s nature by itself did not postulate this prerogative but came from the divine bounty; and it was participated, since only God enjoys essential immortality.”

      Try reading it slowly, Cath Olic, with a willingness to *learn* before you *argue*.

      He says that bodily immortality is a “gift,” and “gratuitous.”

      He says that it is “conditional” — i.e., is not granted under all circumstances.

      And he says that “Adam’s nature by itself did not postulate this prerogative.” Gee, doesn’t that last sentence remind you of my ” immortality is not “natural” to man, not part of his created nature”?

      The fact is that you simply went quickly to an internet source and quarried a statement out of context to “refute” me. You didn’t *study* the source first. But that is not surprising, since 90% of the theological statements you make do not appear to arise out of theological study, but out of quick *ad hoc* reasoning.

      2. You wrongly imputed a position to me. You wrote:

      “First, let’s get one reading error out of the way. The text does not say Adam must eat of the tree of life.”

      But I never claimed that the text used the word “must.” You are refuting a straw man of your own creation. Which is just another example of bad scholarship on your part. You don’t read the primary sources crucial to the subject under discussion, you cite Catholic secondary sources but get them wrong [see point 1 above], and you misrepresent the views of your interlocutor.

      All of these are amateur theological and academic errors. University or Catholic seminary training would correct them. But you for some reason fear to undertake university or Catholic seminary training. I can imagine a number of reasons why, but there is no point in conjecturing aloud. The point is that until you obtain such training, or equivalent training, you will continue to be a poor scholar, a poor debater, a poor Biblical interpreter, and a poor Catholic theologian — and a non-constructive conversation partner on the internet.

  9. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 02/04/2016 at 11:47 pm,

    “Try reading it slowly, Cath Olic, with a willingness to *learn* before you *argue*.
    He says that bodily immortality is a “gift,” and “gratuitous.” He says that it is “conditional” — i.e., is not granted under all circumstances.”

    Try taking this slowly, Edward:

    *EVERYTHING* brought into existence is *GRATUITOUS*, is a *GIFT* from God. (Everything, as in all material and spiritual entities.) And

    *EVERYTHING* that continues in existence is *CONDITIONAL* on God’s maintaining its existence.

    [In a sense, to say something is ‘God’s conditional gift’ is probably meaningless, adding nothing to the subject at hand.]

    The *question* is:
    Was the material and spiritual entity known as Adam *brought by God into existence* as immortal?
    That is, was the initial status quo (i.e. the initial living and obeying) characterized by immortality?

    Yes and Yes.
    …….
    “And he says that “Adam’s nature by itself did not postulate this prerogative.”
    Gee, doesn’t that last sentence remind you of my ” immortality is not “natural” to man, not part of his created nature”?”

    Gee, not really.

    *NOTHING* is “NATURAL” to man.
    The created “natural” world didn’t make man, and man didn’t make Man.

    The *question* is:
    Whatever the first Man was, was he *made immortal*?

    Yes.
    ………

    “2. You wrongly imputed a position to me. You wrote:
    “First, let’s get one reading error out of the way. The text does not say Adam must eat of the tree of life.” But I never claimed that the text used the word “must.” You are refuting a straw man…”

    Fine, you never used the word “must”. And you “corrected” me for using a word (“sinned”) which you admit is *synonymous* in this context with “disobeyed”.

    No, you never used the word “must”. But you *did* say
    “The “tree of life” would enable him to overcome his mortal condition and live forever… Immortality requires the support of something which is not part of man’s nature — a special “tree of life.””

    Gee, seems like you’re saying Adam *must* eat from the tree of life to be immortal!

    Good bye, strawman scarecrow.

    P.S.
    Surprisingly, you sure seem to spend a lot of time and energy on the internet with me, with a “poor scholar, a poor debater, a poor Biblical interpreter, and a poor Catholic theologian — and a non-constructive conversation partner.”

    Shocking, really.

    • Cath Olic says:

      P.P.S. redux

      Edward, for a hypothetically *ever-obedient* Adam, where would his body and soul go after he dies?

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      1. You are badly confusing two senses of “must” — the absolute and the relative. “You must not kill” is an example of the absolute sense; “If you want to enrol in the course, you must pay your fees by September 1st” is an example of the relative sense. Yes, man must eat from the tree of life *if he wishes to be immortal*; but there is no necessity for him to be immortal. He is therefore not *obliged* to eat from the tree; there is no “must” about his eating. He is free to refuse immortality. That’s why the word “must” is an illegitimate imposition upon my argument. I never said that man *had* to eat from the tree; I said merely that if he didn’t eat from it, he would die, like all other organic beings. And that is correct, from both a Protestant and a Catholic viewpoint.

      2. Your author says with absolute clarity that it is not part of human nature to be immortal. Immortality belongs to man not by nature, but by grace.

      In case you do not understand this distinction, let me teach you a little bit of basic Scholastic theology with an example: man possesses five fingers, lungs, a heart, and the faculties of will and reason by nature, not by grace. By the very fact of being man, man has all of those things. But he does not, by the very fact of being man, have immortality. That is the point your author is making — a point which you entirely missed when you hurriedly scrambled through his article, not in order to understanding what he was trying to teach you, but in hope of finding a retort to dash in my face.

      Of course, nature itself is the product of God’s free choice, and hence could be thought of as a “gift,” which is the point you are trying to urge against me. But neither I nor your author contests that. Your author, like myself, accepts that all things come ultimately from God, but, being like myself trained in theology, he knows that of the things which come ultimately from God, some come to us mediately, through nature, including our created human nature. Thus, some things, such as the lungs, heart, reason, will, etc. come to us through nature, and other things, such as forgiveness of sins and immortality, only through grace. This is standard theological language.

      Someone who presumes to daily correct the bishops and theologians of his own Catholic church, and to daily condescend on the internet to people from non-Catholic Christian traditions, ought to understand theology well enough to be able to make careful distinctions such as the ones I’ve made above. But you can’t make these distinctions. It follows that you should stop playing teacher — to Catholics or any other Christians — until you learn how to do so. And since it is clear that the past 10 or 20 years of trying to teach yourself theology have not succeeded in endowing you with this ability, I would say it’s high time you swallowed your pride and sought instruction from certified Catholic teachers in a formal educational program. As it stands, you are a theological quack, and you peddle theological quackery.

  10. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 03/04/2016 at 04:36 am,

    “Yes, man must eat from the tree of life *if he wishes to be immortal*; but there is no necessity for him to be immortal. He is therefore not *obliged* to eat from the tree; there is no “must” about his eating. He is free to refuse immortality… I said merely that if he didn’t eat from it, he would die…”

    Now, for I think the THIRD TIME, Edward…
    For a hypothetically *ever-obedient/never disobedient* Adam, where would his body and soul go after he dies?

    Why do you continue to refuse to answer?
    …………..

    “I said merely that if he didn’t eat from it, he would die, like all other organic beings. And that is correct, from both a Protestant and a Catholic viewpoint.”

    Edward, *where* in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in similar authoritative Catholic writing does it say Adam would have died if he didn’t eat from the tree of life?

    *Please supply the citation, professor.*
    ………
    As to the rest of your post…

    Edward, I’m going to ask you a question.
    A simple Yes or No answer is all I ask or want.

    The question is:

    Do you believe that Catholic tradition as well as virtually all Protestant tradition includes the teaching of man having a “fallen nature”?

    *Fallen nature*. Yes or No?

  11. Cath Olic says:

    A Scripture a day keeps the… well, it can’t hurt.
    So, to one and all, especially the brainiacs…
    the April 2nd Mass readings included a passage from Acts 4. In Acts 4 we read

    “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sad’ducees came upon them,
    annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
    And they arrested them and put them in custody until the morrow, for it was already evening.
    But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand…
    Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      It’s a funny thing that that verse is so often used by Fundamentalists of the American stripe to justify their bad theology, on the grounds that those college types don’t know nothin’.

      So here’s an exposition for you: the Sadducees were struck by the self-evident power and effectiveness of the apostles’ acts and teaching, despite their lack of rabbinic training. They had, however, spent three years or so learning at the feet of Jesus, which must therefore have explained their wisdom.

      A few points arise – first, Judas had spent the same time with Jesus, but failed to benefit in the same way. Those Fundamentalists may have spent a lot of time bashing their Bibles, but their time spent with Jesus is less evident to onlookers.

      Second, the emphasis is not on the virtue of ignorance, but the teaching of Jesus. It was the quality of their ministry that revealed their provenance as fully-trained disciples, not their lack of education.

      Thirdly, if the verse justified anti-intellectualism at all, it would be of the Protestant Fundamentalist kind, in which every man is equally entitled to interpret Scripture and doctrine. The Catholic who claims that kind of internal lodestone is sitting somewhat loose to the Catholic Church’s insistence that only “the Church” has the authority to interpret Scripture aright, and that lay people must be obedient to (and therefore study) the Church’s teaching.

      I’ll tell you frankly, Cath Olic, why I haven’t shut down your comments: by leaving them here, they tend to highlight by their lack of insight the strength of the arguments I’m presenting, which gives me an easy ride.

      The dangers of that are that (a) they distract people to lose sight of what I’m presenting by the sheer mass of verbiage and (b) that because your own arguments are so poor (arguing for a purely Pelagian concept of grace above, from Arenaeus, is a recent example) more discerning readers may fail to pick up on weaknesses that need addressing in my arguments, which might help move things forward.

      Eddie finds it hard to resist answering dodgy reasoning, but I would encourage him to try! I’m not far from banning you, not because you disagree with me, but because you’re bogging down the blog with non-arguments.

      • Cath Olic says:

        You’re funny, Jon.

        Hey, when will your book be on Amazon?
        I was thinking I might be able to post a review there. I think they allow readers to do so.

  12. Cath Olic says:

    One other thing, Edward.
    This pleading of yours for me to ‘git some catlick edgication’ is really pathetic.
    If you told me once you must have told me over a dozen times.

    But it ain’t gonna happen.
    I’m retired and probably old enough to be your father.
    And although I’m aware there’s always more to learn about the one, true, apostolic Catholic faith, I’m pretty confident that I already know more about it than the great majority of Catholics (and Protestants).

    So, I’ll borrow some words of yours and suggest the following:

    Edward, I would say it’s high time you swallow your pride, convert to Catholicism, and seek instruction from certified Catholic teachers in a formal educational program. All of these are amateur theological and academic errors. University or Catholic seminary training would correct them. And you might then cease being a poor scholar, a poor debater, a poor Biblical interpreter, and a poor Catholic theologian — and a non-constructive conversation partner on the internet.

    God bless and good night, Edward.

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      If you’re old enough to be Eddie’s father, we’re going to lose you to Alzheimer’s pretty soon anyway. 🙂

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      Since Jon has indicated a desire that I not add fuel to the fire by responding in my usual detailed way to your arguments, I will give only very brief answers to your questions, with no further argumentation:

      1. Yes, human beings are “fallen.” It does not follow that *all of creation* is “fallen.” And in fact the narrative of Genesis 3 counts strongly against that affirmation. Jon has explained why, and so have I.

      2. That the tree of life would have enabled Adam to live forever is stated in Genesis 3.22. The fact that God is concerned to keep Adam away from the tree of life, so that he will not live forever, indicates that in the writer’s mind it is the tree of life which would confer immortality on Adam. By implication, Adam would not have immortality without the tree of life. That is the narrative logic of the story. So by barring man from the tree of life, God ensures that man will die — in accord with his created nature, as I explained earlier.

      3. Your question of where Adam’s body and soul go after he dies is not a question raised in Genesis 1-3. It is therefore unanswerable on the basis of Genesis exegesis, and that is why I haven’t replied to it. I have been trying to get you focused on the text of Genesis, to break you of the habit of reading all kinds of things into it that aren’t there.

      4. Actually, I did have instruction from Catholic teachers (along with Jewish and Protestant teachers) at both undergraduate and graduate level. I was even a teaching assistant in a course taught by a Catholic theologian and historian. We read many passages from Aquinas, among other things.

      5. If you’re retired, then you have more time than you ever had for adult education. I hope you will take advantage of your admirable opportunity.

      I will now exit. You can have the last word.

  13. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 03/04/2016 at 08:58 pm,

    “Yes, human beings are “fallen.” It does not follow that *all of creation* is “fallen.””

    One thing at a time, Edward.
    You and I haven’t lately been talking much at all about *all of creation*.
    We’ve been talking about created man’s mortality.
    And my question didn’t ask about man being “fallen”.
    My question was about man having a “fallen NATURE”.

    You appear to agree that Catholic tradition as well as virtually all Protestant tradition includes the teaching of man having a “fallen NATURE”.

    Now, it follows from this that the NATURE of man *before* the Fall was better or more elevated than man’s nature after the Fall.

    What also follows from this is that the un-fallen/better/elevated NATURE of man *pre-fall* was characterized by *more than just* sinlessness/obedience.

    What follows from this is that the un-fallen/better/elevated nature of man pre-fall was characterized *also by* immortality. Why?

    Because, as I’ve pointed out about THREE TIMES PREVIOUSLY (and got no response), where would *sinless/ever-obedient/never disobedient* Adam’s body and soul go if he were to die?
    Not to heaven, because he’s already essentially there.
    Not to hell, because he hasn’t done anything wrong.

    Solution: The sinless/ever-obedient/never disobedient Adam can NOT die.

    *So, man’s NATURE before the Fall was characterized by immortality.*
    ……………
    “*By implication*, Adam would not have immortality without the tree of life. That is the narrative logic of the story. So by barring man from the tree of life, God ensures that man will die — in accord with his created nature, as I explained earlier.”

    Firstly, since you’ve revealed you’re OK with reliance on *implication* from Scripture texts, you would then agree, at a minimum,
    that IF there was animal death before the Fall, none of those animals died from being killed and eaten by other animals. For such is certainly implied in Genesis 1:29-30.

    That’s progress!

    Secondly, *even if we run with your implication*, who’s to say the pre-Fall Adam wouldn’t eat from the tree of life *at some point*?
    How much time would he have to eat from it? 50 years? 500 years? 5,000 years? Seems in all that no doubt substantial amount of time he’d get around to eating some (Even though the text does *not* indicate God ever commanded Adam to eat of it.).

    And how much would he have to eat of it, and how often?
    The implication could be just a nibble in an immortal lifetime.

    So, *even if we run with your implication*,
    the implication is also that the pre-Fall Adam eating from the tree of life is a virtual certainty.
    ……………..
    “I will now exit. You can have the last word.”

    I think I’ve heard that before.
    We’ll see.

  14. KJ says:

    I’m late to reading this chapter, but enjoyed it. It’s interesting that ch. 1 countered TEs more, but here the YECs receive more forceful critique. I agree with Eddie that you bring out exegetical (and logical) nuance rarely seen from YECs. I’m unsettled on Rom 8:21 vis-a-vis 3:17-19 but agree wholeheartedly with your #6 above that the end result doesn’t matter; one cannot easily read a curse to the natural order into thorns and thistles. (Even calling the whole list “curses” goes too far since the word is never explicitly applied to humans in ch.3. It’s amazing what a close reading actually reveals.) I’ll catch up shortly with the next few chapters.

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      KJ

      My shame (and the original impetus for the project, as I’ve said before) was that after reading Scripture closely for half a century I still took the baggage of a fallen creation with me when I read “the curse on the ground”, even as a theistic evolutionist and old earth proponent.

      Therefore the aspect of how we know what we know is also an important question – and that applies to the science as much as the theology.

Comments are closed.