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Eve's knowledge is Solomon's wisdom


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#1    eight bits

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 10:06 AM

What is the "knowledge of good and evil?" What was the "wisdom of Solomon?"

Whatever they are, they are described by the same idiom in Hebrew.

Here is an entry from the blog of Steven L. Cook, The McBurney Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Misconceptions swirl around the nature of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" in the midst of the Garden of Eden that bore the fruit associated with the fall of humanity. You may be surprised to learn that this tree has nothing to do with the development of conscience or knowing right from wrong. Adam and Eve already knew right from wrong, aware that it would be wrong to disobey God and eat from that tree.

Actually, eating of the tree made one "like God" (Genesis 3:5), gave one powers of intellectual and spiritual penetration and discrimination. This is known from the use of the same Hebrew idiom in texts such as 1 Kings 3:9 and 2 Samuel 14:17.

The gifts of the tree are two-edged. Powers of penetration can help you get to the bottom of a matter, but they can also allow you to subdue and vanquish other human beings for your own selfish purposes. Powers of discrimination can help you sort out every kind of thing, but they can also allow you to treat certain groups unfairly simply on the basis of arbitrary differences. They can also lead to an extreme self-consciousness (cf. Gen 2:25), where you constantly evaluate yourself over against others.


http://biblische.blo...d-and-evil.html

My interest in the subject is two-fold. First, I think that Genesis 3 is one of the best short stories in world literature. It is rich, layered, and dense, the way that our most important dreams are. It is also a radically humanist work, so outrageously impious that to suppress it, it was canonized.

And second, I am repeatedly annoyed at atheists who bash Christians about the manifest injustice of God persecuting the mentally retarded, that is, our First Parents. That is my mother you are talking about. Back off.

Whether this topic will attract discussion or not, I don't know, but if it does, then let it be here on the debate side of the godly boards. And if it doesn't, then at least this post will be a reference target when the subject comes up next time, dispatching the inevitable folk etymology, that the knowledge of good and evil is knowledge. About good and evil.

Nope. Really not. Not even close.

For everyone's convenience, here are the passages (New American Bible) cited in the quoted matter:

1 Kings 3: 7-9

O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?"

2 Samuel 14: 17

And the woman [of Tekoa] concluded: "Let the word of my lord the king [David] provide a resting place; indeed, my lord the king is like an angel of God, evaluating good and bad. The Lord your God be with you."

Genesis 2: 25

The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.

Genesis 3: 5

No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.


Thank you for reading. May the Mother of All smile on our undertaking in her name :).

Edited by eight bits, 22 August 2009 - 10:10 AM.

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#2    Aemeth

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 12:24 AM

hmm, thank you :)

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View PostIamsSon, on 20 August 2009 - 02:33 PM, said:

Are you truly interested in a spiritual discussion?  I'll discuss it, but as I'm sure you've seen any spiritual discussion brings in a great deal of derision, anger, and stupidity, and I'm not really in the mood to have something that personal to me used for someone else's stress relief today.

#3    Lt_Ripley

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 02:13 AM

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And second, I am repeatedly annoyed at atheists who bash Christians about the manifest injustice of God persecuting the mentally retarded, that is, our First Parents. That is my mother you are talking about. Back off.

you mean the myth of Adam and Eve ?


#4    Godsnmbr1

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 03:22 AM

Well I didn't see any smoking gun in your post and the story still seems to make more sense in the traditional interpretation.

Remember, we are all just acting out a grand old game here, where we agree to forget who we really are, that in the remembering, that we may find each other again, and know that we are One. That All of Life, is One.

#5    MysticOnion

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:33 AM

Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge made man like God and yet also caused man to fall?

It does seem like a metaphorical description of what happens before we are born into this world - for everyone, and that Adam and Eve are archetypes used to describe it.

I am imagining the body of the human child created and ready in the womb like a vessel, all its functions and parts in place, just ready to be animated.  A clothing of "skin" for what will inhabit it.  As soon as the "spirit" partakes of the fruit of the tree - metaphorically speaking, it gets a clothing of skin.  So.. it would seem that part of the God... which is already changed so that it feels separate... enters the body of a human being and becomes fully separate from the whole.  As it is a human being it is whole again which is Like God, only a lot smaller... like a small version of God.  Or indeed a child of God or the son of God... all descriptions of something like God but smaller.

If we were to realise that we are Gods, we could live our lives without guilt.  I don't mean broadcast it like... "I'm God, worship me etc etc" and expect people to follow, just the realisation that you are a God, of your own existence.. you make your own decisions... without guilt.

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#6    eight bits

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 11:19 AM

Thank you all for writing. Howdy, Aemeth :).

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you mean the myth of Adam and Eve ?
I meant this particular telling of the myth, Lieutenant.

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the story still seems to make more sense in the traditional interpretation.
I am unsure how a later telling could be called traditional when it revamps an earlier written version still in print. Perhaps you meant familiar or favorite, Number One.

What Seven does in her post is what I think of as interpretation. She speaks as a reader of the story, rather than as an editor or "story doctor." I think this story has lots of tenable interpretations, as great myths ought to when they are told well.

But there is another activity, which others have called "interpretation," that seeks to substitute a new telling of the story and replace the version being "interpreted." For this kind of "interpretation," it doesn't matter so much what the text says, nor how the author understood the words he or she wrote.

For example, there is no textual support in Genesis for the Christian Satan to appear in the pre-Christian Garden. The familiar-to-us story with latter-day Satan instead of the timeless Serpent is a version of the myth, but it isn't the story as written in Genesis. There's a real humdinger retelling in somethng called the Book of Urantia (searchable). That, too, is a version of the myth, but it isn't the story as written in Genesis.

Obviously speaking personally, I think the Genesis story makes perfect sense as written. So, for me, other versions could at best make different sense, not more sense.

Both the Christian and Urantian retellings manifestly make different sense. Maybe, for you, one of those retellings makes more sense as well. Fair enough. There's no arguing tastes, as the saying goes.

But, so what? The Genesis story says what it says, supposed warts and all, not what some new improved version says instead.

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#7    Greatest I am

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 04:33 PM

View Posteight bits, on 22 August 2009 - 10:06 AM, said:

What is the "knowledge of good and evil?" What was the "wisdom of Solomon?"

Whatever they are, they are described by the same idiom in Hebrew.

Here is an entry from the blog of Steven L. Cook, The McBurney Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Misconceptions swirl around the nature of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" in the midst of the Garden of Eden that bore the fruit associated with the fall of humanity. You may be surprised to learn that this tree has nothing to do with the development of conscience or knowing right from wrong. Adam and Eve already knew right from wrong, aware that it would be wrong to disobey God and eat from that tree.

Actually, eating of the tree made one "like God" (Genesis 3:5), gave one powers of intellectual and spiritual penetration and discrimination. This is known from the use of the same Hebrew idiom in texts such as 1 Kings 3:9 and 2 Samuel 14:17.

The gifts of the tree are two-edged. Powers of penetration can help you get to the bottom of a matter, but they can also allow you to subdue and vanquish other human beings for your own selfish purposes. Powers of discrimination can help you sort out every kind of thing, but they can also allow you to treat certain groups unfairly simply on the basis of arbitrary differences. They can also lead to an extreme self-consciousness (cf. Gen 2:25), where you constantly evaluate yourself over against others.


http://biblische.blo...d-and-evil.html

My interest in the subject is two-fold. First, I think that Genesis 3 is one of the best short stories in world literature. It is rich, layered, and dense, the way that our most important dreams are. It is also a radically humanist work, so outrageously impious that to suppress it, it was canonized.

And second, I am repeatedly annoyed at atheists who bash Christians about the manifest injustice of God persecuting the mentally retarded, that is, our First Parents. That is my mother you are talking about. Back off.

Whether this topic will attract discussion or not, I don't know, but if it does, then let it be here on the debate side of the godly boards. And if it doesn't, then at least this post will be a reference target when the subject comes up next time, dispatching the inevitable folk etymology, that the knowledge of good and evil is knowledge. About good and evil.

Nope. Really not. Not even close.

For everyone's convenience, here are the passages (New American Bible) cited in the quoted matter:

1 Kings 3: 7-9

O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?"

2 Samuel 14: 17

And the woman [of Tekoa] concluded: "Let the word of my lord the king [David] provide a resting place; indeed, my lord the king is like an angel of God, evaluating good and bad. The Lord your God be with you."

Genesis 2: 25

The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.

Genesis 3: 5

No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.


Thank you for reading. May the Mother of All smile on our undertaking in her name :).


"gave one powers of intellectual and spiritual penetration and discrimination."

I call this, a power of moral sense. Knowledge of good and evil.

All laws are permission and indeed compulsion to discriminate negatively against a certain sub section of society.

If Eve had not eaten then the curse of the book, The Time Machine, would have been our future.
We, like the men of that day, could and would let a person drown without knowing that it is good to not let another person drown.

Is this what you would give up. Your own sense of discernment of right and wrong. Good and evil.

If you have any faith in a God at all then to think that He blew His first attempt at creating the reality He wanted is rather funny.
The God I know gets it done right the first time.


The Christian way of seeing God is to see Him screwing up heaven with evil.
Strike one.
They then see God screwing up man's beginning in Eden.
Strike two.
They then see God cleaning house in Noah's day with Genocide and starting over.
Strike three.
They now wait for His return at end time to clean house yet again.
Strike four.

Strike four?

God plays by His own rules I guess.

You and I both know that this view must be false.

God gets things right the first time and every time.
This is why He has not and will not return. His perfect systems are here today the same way that they were here in the beginning. It is just to us to see it. I do. Even with sin and evil and woes, all is perfect and humming along exactly as God wants it to.  I call it perfection in evolution.

Regards
DL


#8    eight bits

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:53 PM

Thank you so much for joining me here. I do hope that we get to discuss your answers to the questions which I asked over on the light side. But first, your post here.

The idiom knowledge of good and evil refers to preternatural or otherwise extraordinary abilities of "intellectual and spiritual penetration and discrimination," not the bare essentials of intellectual and moral deliberation. As the OP-quoted author points out, the idiom is not "knowing right from wrong," which the Woman plainly does while she decides whether to eat or not.

And, as the author may have thought was unnecessary to point out, it is not something without which we would be the intellectual equal of cattle, which is your repeated claim elsewhere.

It is obvious that Solomon already had a respectable intelligence and moral sense when he asked God for this boon, and God praises his wisdom in asking. So, Solomon hasn't got the boon yet, but he's quite far ahead of any cattle, and pretty much at the head of the human class, too.

Thus, this extra boost must be something special - and something not inherited by Solomon from the First Parents, nor by Solomon's children from him. And none of Solomon's contemporaries has it, despite common descent from Adam and Eve.

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All laws are permission and indeed compulsion to discriminate negatively against a certain sub section of society.
I do not see how a typical statute against littering the roadway from a motor vehicle discriminates neagtively against a certain subsection of society. Could you help me to see what you see in this?

Quote

If you have any faith in a God at all then to think that He blew His first attempt at creating the reality He wanted is rather funny.
I don't think that that is a typical Jewish nor a typical Christian view of Genesis 2 and 3. Both groups speak very highly of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

When you talk about God coming back, do you mean the Christ? If so, then the usual Christian view is that Adam and the Woman screwed up, not God. The human screw-up is what required divine intervention to repair, not a "do over" of some misstep by God.

Is there a text you are working from that gives some foundation to your interpretations? Something or someone I could read?

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#9    eight bits

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 06:04 PM

From the non-debate side:

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I do not need textual anything to know that a man without a moral sense is not quite a man.
Neither are those that read a bible literally.

That is idol worship.

You begin your logic with man giving birth to a woman. Not to shake you up but I can tell you that birth is woman's work. Not man's.

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Logic begins by putting away miracles.


Regards
DL
You do not need textual support for your view that "A man without a moral sense is not quite a man." What you need textual support for is that your wise observation has anything to do with Genesis 2 and 3.

There is no man in that story who lacks moral sense. Similarly, your observations about the division of reproductive function between the sexes are spot on. But there is nothing in the story about a man giving birth to a woman. God fashioned the Woman from Adam's rib, which he took while Adam slept (at 2: 21-22).

It is not a question of reading the Bible literally. Personally, I think that this is a figurative story. So do many others, some of whom worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

However, in order to understand what any story means, you need to consider what the story says.

There is some irony here, in that you and I apparently agree that the story describes an ascent at least as much as a fall. But I arrive at that view by respecting what the story says, and not by rewriting it to suit my wishes about what it might have said instead of what it actually says.

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#10    Greatest I am

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 07:19 PM

View Posteight bits, on 10 September 2009 - 06:04 PM, said:

From the non-debate side:


You do not need textual support for your view that "A man without a moral sense is not quite a man." What you need textual support for is that your wise observation has anything to do with Genesis 2 and 3.

There is no man in that story who lacks moral sense. Similarly, your observations about the division of reproductive function between the sexes are spot on. But there is nothing in the story about a man giving birth to a woman. God fashioned the Woman from Adam's rib, which he took while Adam slept (at 2: 21-22).

It is not a question of reading the Bible literally. Personally, I think that this is a figurative story. So do many others, some of whom worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

However, in order to understand what any story means, you need to consider what the story says.

There is some irony here, in that you and I apparently agree that the story describes an ascent at least as much as a fall. But I arrive at that view by respecting what the story says, and not by rewriting it to suit my wishes about what it might have said instead of what it actually says.

If fall UP or fall DOWN is to be chosen, then we must judge if the knowledge of good and evil is what gives us our moral sense, or not.
If it does then it is a fall UP. If not, and blind obedience is what God wants, then it is a fall DOWN.

The talking snake is the key. Who is it and was it the first to sin?
  

Regards
DL


#11    eight bits

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:57 PM

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If fall UP or fall DOWN is to be chosen...
I don't fully understand your phrase "fall UP," and how that differs from "ascend."

It seems clear that a person can ascend from an ordinary humanity, including an ordinary moral sense, to attain something extraordinary. Solomon explains this as his goal when he asks for knowledge of good and evil. He doesn't aspire just to be a good citizen, he wants to be a good king.

Quote

The talking snake is the key. Who is it and was it the first to sin?
In my opinion, from his behavior, the Genesis Serpent is readily identified as a wisdom teacher. That would be a comfortable role for the archetypal Serpent to play. "Sin" wouldn't apply to his actions, in this interpretation.

Many Christians offer New Testament material, and even later writings, to identify him as their Satan, or as an animal possesed by their Satan. In which case, then yes, their Satan is the first to sin, having already done so before his appearance in the Garden.

Gnostics do the same favor for God that Christians do for Serpent. On the telling of some Gnostics, the character God is a secondary god, and Serpent is a representative or servant of the Top God. So, no, Serpent does not sin in this interpretation.

What identification do you like?

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#12    Greatest I am

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:13 PM

View Posteight bits, on 10 September 2009 - 08:57 PM, said:

I don't fully understand your phrase "fall UP," and how that differs from "ascend."

It seems clear that a person can ascend from an ordinary humanity, including an ordinary moral sense, to attain something extraordinary. Solomon explains this as his goal when he asks for knowledge of good and evil. He doesn't aspire just to be a good citizen, he wants to be a good king.


In my opinion, from his behavior, the Genesis Serpent is readily identified as a wisdom teacher. That would be a comfortable role for the archetypal Serpent to play. "Sin" wouldn't apply to his actions, in this interpretation.

Many Christians offer New Testament material, and even later writings, to identify him as their Satan, or as an animal possesed by their Satan. In which case, then yes, their Satan is the first to sin, having already done so before his appearance in the Garden.

Gnostics do the same favor for God that Christians do for Serpent. On the telling of some Gnostics, the character God is a secondary god, and Serpent is a representative or servant of the Top God. So, no, Serpent does not sin in this interpretation.

What identification do you like?

I read Genesis as a story of the right of passage that all children go through.
They loose innocence for the greater goal of a moral sense.
The snake is society drawing him/her out of the home/garden.

To believe that there is a real talking snake or garden of Eden would be to not understand Genesis at all.

It is a story for all people. Not just  A @ E.


Regards
DL


#13    eight bits

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 07:14 PM

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I read Genesis as a story of the right of passage that all children go through.
Yes, I agree. That is a fine reading of the story. There is also an in-as-many words statement of this theme almost at the very end of chapter 2 (at verse 24), which is otherwise an odd intrusion of the author's world into the story being told:

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

And what do you know? That's what happens in chapter 3.

There are other readings, too. This is a symbolic narrative, after all, a myth, not a fable. But that's a good reading. Let's stay with it for a bit.

Quote

They loose innocence for the greater goal of a moral sense. The snake is society drawing him/her out of the home/garden.
We lose a lot of things when we grow up, and gain a lot of other things.

The story isn't just about the human characters' problem in bridging the gap between themselves and God (that is, acquiring this "knowledge of good and evil"), but God's problem with that, too.

God's problem, like many a human Daddy's problem, is that those who were once dependent and inferior have now become peers. The new situation will take some adjustment, and God is not psychologically supple.

I am not sure Serpent maps back one-to-one to anybody or anything in particular. If God is Daddy, then there is ample room for Serpent to be Mommy. Serpent can do supple.

Quote

To believe that there is a real talking snake or garden of Eden would be to not understand Genesis at all. It is a story for all people. Not just A @ E.
Quite so. But not everyone will do as well as Adam and Eve did.

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#14    Greatest I am

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:32 PM

View Posteight bits, on 11 September 2009 - 07:14 PM, said:

Yes, I agree. That is a fine reading of the story. There is also an in-as-many words statement of this theme almost at the very end of chapter 2 (at verse 24), which is otherwise an odd intrusion of the author's world into the story being told:

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

And what do you know? That's what happens in chapter 3.

There are other readings, too. This is a symbolic narrative, after all, a myth, not a fable. But that's a good reading. Let's stay with it for a bit.


We lose a lot of things when we grow up, and gain a lot of other things.

The story isn't just about the human characters' problem in bridging the gap between themselves and God (that is, acquiring this "knowledge of good and evil"), but God's problem with that, too.

God's problem, like many a human Daddy's problem, is that those who were once dependent and inferior have now become peers. The new situation will take some adjustment, and God is not psychologically supple.

I am not sure Serpent maps back one-to-one to anybody or anything in particular. If God is Daddy, then there is ample room for Serpent to be Mommy. Serpent can do supple.


Quite so. But not everyone will do as well as Adam and Eve did.

I do not agree.
All end in heaven if God's will is supreme.

2 Peter 3:9 KJ
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

None perish. No hell required.

Regards
DL


#15    eight bits

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 08:58 AM

Quote

I do not agree. All end in heaven if God's will is supreme.
Well, we neither agree nor disagree. I wasn't saying anything about Adam and Eve's final destination. I don't know anything about that. It's not in Genesis.

For whatever it is worth, however, the Eastern Orthodox version of the myth ends with Adam and Eve becoming saints of the Church.

I suppose it might be nice if all did end up in heaven. But if I were you, and believed what you do about the Garden story, then I would be concerned that entering Heaven would be like returning to the Garden... with that "bright as a cow" stuff you write about, all over again.

Heaven does sound like a step backwards. Hey, that's just me. Being an everlasting full-time ego masseur for God doesn't appeal very much. For that matter, I wonder that it would appeal to God. But it takes all kinds.

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