Some Thoughts On The Fall Of Adam And Eve

Today, humorously enough, it fell upon me to discuss the fall of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden [1] today for the kiddos of the fourth through sixth grades in my local congregation. As is often the case, how to frame such a discussion is always a worthwhile question, especially since there is a great deal that springs from the Garden of Eden that one can use as a thread to connect it to later parts of the Bible as well as well as the relevant experience even of the young people one is dealing with. So, rather than give my usual sort of essay in scripture, what I would like to do is go through my thinking process of what I offered my students in the choose your adventure way that I like doing with them to allow them to understand that their interest and enthusiasm is far more a driver of what goes on in class than any kind of preconceived ideas in my part.  One of the thrilling aspects I like of my classes is that the topics are typically broad enough for me to approach the subjects in a complex way rather than having a narrow story I want to tell.  I don’t know if the kiddos appreciate it though.

The fall in the garden is set up and dealt with in terms of conversations, and so the first area I would like to explore is the nature of that conversation.  We begin Genesis 3 with a conversation between Satan and Eve (why is Adam silent?).  Then we have the awkward attempts of Adam and Eve to avoid a conversation with God, which ends with some intriguing and worthwhile prophecies that have long-term consequences, and then there is a conversation between the Father and Jesus Christ about the repercussions of mankind seeking to become like God.  All of these conversations have serious implications that are worthwhile to explore.  We see how God values conversation, what it means to be “like God” in different ways, and also we see how the Bible alludes to much that it does not necessarily talk about directly, encouraging the reader to take the material as fuel for questions and reflection.

Having looked at communication, there is the matter of the characters to introduce, as their behavior is certainly worthy of investigation as well.  God shows up as a judge, but rather than condemning, he asks a lot of questions of Adam, questions that He already knows the answers to but wants Adam to talk about with a tone of repentance.  God also sets up the whole fall in the garden by deliberately letting Adam choose for himself rather than watching over him in an obvious way that would have affected his behavior.  Likewise, the character of Adam and Eve is shown in an interesting way.  Adam abandons his responsibility to take charge and defend Eve from Satan’s temptation and then tries to throw Eve under the bus when it comes time to deal with the repercussions of sin.  He is viewed later on in scripture (see, for example:  Romans 5:12-14) as being the standard bearer for sin and death, opposed to the second Adam of Jesus Christ who brings eternal life.  Likewise, Paul views Eve as being symbolic of the potential of mankind to be deceived, a matter of considerable importance in both 1 Timothy 2 and 2 Corinthians 11.  This introduces the class to questions about gender and the extent to which Adam and Eve are both seen as emblematic of humanity as a whole rather than simply being placeholders for men and women separately.  That is not even to begin the picture of Satan that we see here, which has a lot of interesting repercussions that the students may wish to explore as well.

On top of that, there are several elements to the story of the Garden of Eden that reverberate through the rest of scripture.  There is the question of the tree of life and the return to Eden that is pictured in Psalms 1 and Revelation 21-22, and even with the Millennium before that.  There is the role of sin and corruption in shaping the lives and experiences of humanity ever since the fall, a reality that try as we might to deny it, continually influences our lives much to our chagrin and regret.  There is also the question of the separation and alienation between God and mankind and mankind and each other that results from sin and the refusal to repent, and the difficulty of reconciliation in seeking to undo this alienation.  One can look in greater detail at the role of Jesus Christ in the fall, whether we are talking about his conversation with God mentioned earlier or whether one looks at the prophecy in Genesis 3:16 that hints at the crucifixion and the ultimate defeat of Satan, and the way that the temptation of mankind is resolved for the better in Luke 4:1-13.  All of these elements make the discussion of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden a rich and complicated picture that I hope is one that the kiddos can relate to and that may prompt some serious thinking in their eyes.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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