Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Adam Group

When Jonathan was quite young, perhaps about five, he complained in the back seat of the car one day, apropos of nothing "Oh, if only Adam hadn't eaten that apple!"

I always shoot over kids' heads on stuff like this, and I explained - probably at length - that any of us would have eventually done the same, and there is nothing especially bad about Adam. He and Eve might have gone years before the sinned, coming close but avoiding many times; or, they might have sinned first chance out of the box. Either way, that's what all of us are like, and you or I wouldn't have done any better.

This is the great weakness of literal interpretations of Genesis: emotional distance from all the stories, but especially the story of Adam. These are not stories about our ancestors, they are stories about us. Literalism allows us to hide from that.

I have heard teachers make much of how Eve committed this type of sin and Adam committed that type of sin, drawing general conclusions about women and men from that. Any of those interpretations might be so, but again, they allow us a kind of distance from them that seems evasive. Eve's sin is mine, and I need to see myself in that part of the story. I allowed myself to be persuaded. I ate the apple. I convinced someone else to eat the apple. If I had been the human assigned to Eden, we would be in exactly the same mess today. Or worse. For as in David all die. Even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

6 comments:

TomG said...

Indeed, I have often wondered whether if I'd been in Peter's shoes - I too would've denied knowing Jesus 3 times to save my own hide (what's amazing is that he'd yet still do that after having been with him all those years and witnessing his miracles and loving the man). And for the prophecy of God's sacrificial Lamb to fulfill itself, there had to be perpetrators - and if they hadn't been the ones accused as Christ-killers, they'd have had to be others then, and why not us? So maybe that's the key lesson - that the characters and specifics are only there to drive home a point, and the story would still unfold in the same vein if thrown into a different time and space, and that we're in that sense all Adams and Eves eating of the Tree of Life continually.

lelia said...

Yes.

Chris said...

Hence Mel Gibson's hand driving the nail into the Savior. We are constantly tempted to view others' sins as greater (or lesser) than ours, when to God, sin is sin. All are equal in His eyes.

TomG said...

Oops - realized I meant "Tree of Knowledge" at my ending. Cheers.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

tomg - putting myself in Peter's shoes, I imagine he felt he was the bravest and most loyal of the lot, braving the hostile crowd, rather in disguise, in order to be the necessary witness to Jesus's trial. Only when the cock crows does he realize that his bravery has been cowardice all along.

TomG said...

AVI, thanks for that insight - it makes much more sense to me now. Tom