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Lesson #3 Sin Enters the World (3: 1-6: 6)

1. The Bible is rooted in geography 2. The Bible emerges from history 3. The Biblein its final, finished formis a unified literary work 4. The Bible is the Word of God

1. 2. 3. 4.

Patriarchal Monarchial Polytheistic Slaveholding

1. The first creation story viewed creation from a Gods-eye perspective, looking down from the cosmos (Genesis 1: 1 2: 3)
1. Balanced and symmetrical: A-B-C Prologue/7days/ C-B-A Epilogue 2. Gods name is Elohim: majestic, mighty

2. The second creation story viewed creation from mans perspective, from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 4 25)
1. Linear, with dialogue 2. Gods name is YHWH Elohim: intimate, covenantal

God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. (Genesis 1: 31)

Titian. Adam and Eve (oil on canvas), c. 1550 Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Sin is not an act we commit, but a condition we are in, and that condition has four characteristics:
1. 2. 3. 4. Sin is subtle Sin distorts our judgment Sin escalates Sin cascades down through generations

Both humans and animals have a natural fear and loathing of snakes (Well, most do! Egyptian snake charmer with his cobras.)

Hebrew = Nachash (imagery of shining) In ancient literature a frequent symbol of chaos and death from the underworld
A serpent steals immortality from Gilgamesh in The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2100 B.C.)

In Christianity the snake is identified as Satan

He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the devil or Satan . . . (Revelation 20: 2) Even Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11: 14)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Revelation 20:2 Revelation 12: 7-9 (flashback) Isaiah 14: 12-15 Ezekiel 28: 1119 Luke 10: 17-18

1. Adam & Eve disobey God and they are ashamed (Genesis 3: 1-24) 2. Cain murders his brother Able and he is impudent (Genesis 4: 9) 3. Lamech takes two wives, murders a stranger for insulting him, and is arrogant (Genesis 4: 23-24)

Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Ghent Altarpiece, detail (c. 1432). Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.

1. When the Lord saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, the Lord regretted making human beings on the earth and his heart was grieved (Genesis 6: 5-6). 2. More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17: 9). 3. There is no distinction: all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23).


The Jewish canon of Scripture consists of 39 books written in Hebrew, organized as: Law, Prophets and Writings (the TANAKH or Old Testament); the Christian canon of Scripture consists of 73 books (the Old Testament, 46 books; the New Testament, 27 books). Both Jewish and Christian Scriptures are expressions of our living faith communities: past, present and future. Deliberate ambiguity abounds in Scripture, opening the text to an infinite variety of readings.



1. God is called Elohim in Genesis 1 and YHWH Elohim in Genesis 2. Why are both names used in Genesis 3? 2. Why is the Snake called cunning in 3: 1? Give three concrete examples to illustrate. 3. The Snake tempted Eve, but who tempted Adam? 4. The temptation is 3-fold in Genesis 3. Is there another similar 3-fold temptation later in the Bible? (Hint: see Luke 4). 5. How do Jewish and Christian readings of Genesis 3 differ? Why?

Copyright 2013 by William C. Creasy

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