In the short time since I posted my most recent post, I've had one essential reaction: Who the heck cares?
My post says nothing original, offers no meaningful insights, and really doesn't reflect any great amount of reflection on my part. For the most part, it's stuff I've heard or said previously, repackaged. Like I said in the post, the creation passages in Genesis are among those passages that have been read, studied and talked about so many times, it's hard to find anything new to say.
But let me ask this about Genesis 1, since I've never heard a satisfactory explanation. Why does God refer to himself in the plural?
I know Christians see this as Trinitarian thinking, since a being who is at once three distinct people and yet cohesively one distinct being, could conceivably refer to himself in the plural. But that's a latecomer to the passage, applied hundreds of years after the text was written, and it's not something the rabbis ever entertained, and the Jewish people owned this story long before Jesus ever the focus of Augustine's meditations.
Elohim is a noun both singular and plural in Hebrew, and so elohim can be translated as Capital God, or as lowercase gods. Without knowing the Hebrew text at hand, it looks like the translators are trying to have it both ways, saying singular God when the text grammatically says plural gods. And as I understand, this story appears to have literary roots in Babylonian creation myths, where there were plenty of lowercase gods running around and helping to create the heavens and the earth.
So what's up with that?
Secondly, what's up with the snake in the garden, in Chapter 3? Yeah, I know that Christians traditionally believe that the snake is Satan, and we've developed a whole extrabiblical mythology found in the works of John Milton, about a war in heaven where Lucifer rebelled and became Satan, the Adversary, and in Genesis 3 is working to mar God's creation.
The difficulty is that the war in heaven and Satan's rebellion is just that, mythology found in the works of John Milton. It's not in Scripture, and if sola Scriptura is our standard, I want this passage to make sense on its own merits.
I'll accept that the world was marred by Adam's disobedience, given that we have the testimony of YHWH to that effect in the Genesis 3 poetry, about women suffering in childbirth and men now facing toil and drudgery instead of pleasure in their work, and about the two sexes fighting for dominion over one another, but what's up with the snake?
Clearly from this passage, Adam did not bring evil into the world, because the snake already was there and working to undermine Adam's obedience to the command he had been given about what fruit to eat, so where did the snake's evil come from? And if Adam had no evil within him, what caused his evil choice?
I read once that in the Hebrew scheme of things, choice never entered into the argument of why there is evil in the world and why we suffer. I think the story is suggesting that our capacity for evil is something innate to us, part of our very design, and not just something that happened. I'm curious to hear the thoughts of others who have given this thought beyond "Adam sinned and paradise was lost." What is the nature of evil in this story, and from whence does it come?