FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Our lessen is taken from what may be the most widely read, most talked about, most loved story in the world, the story of the creation by “J.” This unidentified writer flourished about 850 BCE. He was given the name “J” by German scholars because he regularly spoke of God by his name, “Yahweh,” but that name in German is spelled with a “j” (in the King James Bible, the name is rendered “Jehovah”). The opening creation story is from another source. J’s story begins at Chapter 2, verse 5.
J gives us much more than the disobedience of Adam and Eve. He gives us the expulsion from Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, the tower of Babel, Abraham and Isaac, and a great deal more. He is surely one ofthe greatest writers of all time. Later editors cut up his story and scattered the pieces through the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua. Recently Harold Bloom put these pieces together again in The Book of J. I do not recommend Bloom’s commentary, but the translation by David Rosenberg is wonderful.
I am not going to comment upon the meaning of our lesson. There is nothing that needs explaining, except that the identification of the snake as Satan or the devil came about hundreds of years later. I will just ask a question. Would you have enjoyed the company of Eve and Adam before they knew good from evil?
This passage is the source of the Christian doctrine of original sin. The story of Adam’s disobedience in Genesis which we just heard, says nothing about Adam’s sin being passed to all succeeding generations. Paul is the one who said it, and then the idea got attached to Genesis. Paul went on to say that death made an entrance at this juncture. He probably did not mean the death of the physical body, but of the soul, that is, only when humans became sinful could they be blamed or condemned. Paul then tells us Christ came to set to rights all the damage Adam had done.
© Arthur H. Cash