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ORIGIN 1.4.2

Q&A Garden of Eden

Who wrote Genesis?

Until the last three hundred years, Jews and Christians were almost unanimous in their belief that Moses was the author and/or compiler of the book of Genesis.

Moses was the ideal person for God to use for the writing. He was born an Israelite (slave family in Egypt) but was adopted as a son into Pharaoh's household. He was well-educated and understood the world around him. Then God called him to lead the Israelites out of slavery and form a new nation to proclaim to the world that there is only ONE GOD, who must be worshiped and obeyed.

More recently, most Bible scholars have come to believe that Genesis is a compilation of materials written at different times by four or more authors, one of whom was Moses.

The authorship issue cannot be settled by Bible study because the Bible does not name or identify the author.

Other portions of scripture – including statements from Jesus – refer to Moses writing 'the law' (usually referring to the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentatuch) but this alone does not establish Moses' role in writing Genesis.

It really doesn't matter who wrote and/or compiled the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden as long as we have confidence that the message is from God (see next section).

Who recorded the events?

Long oral tradition

The Bible genealogical records show that Adam was put in the Garden of Eden approximately 4000 BC (see 1.3.3) and Moses was born approximately 1500 BC.

If Moses was author of all or part of Genesis, that means that the story of Adam and Eve was transmitted by oral tradition for about 2,500 years before it was put in writing!

It is not reasonable to believe that exact words and sequence of words could be preserved by word of mouth from generation to generation over that long a time without critical distortions and conflicting versions.

There is only one rational conclusion: God gave the words to the writer, though we don't know how.

Reasons for trust

In the Garden of Eden story, we cannot prove the actual words spoken because no reporter was there to record events as they happened. Furthermore, the words ascribed to God and others occurred before there were languages capable of conveying nuanced meanings.

So how do we know that these ancient events and conversations recorded in Genesis are trustworthy? WE BACK INTO THEM LOGICALLY, like this:

  • Genesis says that the earth had a beginning, contrary to what was 'settled science' until less than 60 years ago.
  • Genesis says that the earth began as swirling gas in total darkness, contrary to all theories of ancient times.
  • Genesis says that there was vegetation before sunshine, contrary to common-sense observation.
  • Genesis says that fish came before birds ... birds before animals ... and animals before humans, an order that was out of sequence in ancient thinking.
  • Genesis says Eve's offspring (Jesus, 4000 years later) will crush Satan.

HOW COULD THE WRITER KNOW THESE THINGS UNLESS GOD TOLD HIM?

The principle is that if we have enough evidence to trust the transmitter and the receiver, then we can trust the transmissions, even though we don't know how it works.

The probability is nil that the writer could get it right on all these points just by guessing.

So, if the writer got it 100% right about matters that were counter-cultural and counter-intuitive, but now verifiable, we can have confidence in the God-to-writer relationship regarding other matters in the story, too.

Christians believe that God superintended and preserved the Garden of Eden story in a way that is sufficient for all people at all times and all places to grasp its essential meanings.

Where did Eve come from?

'So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man' (Genesis 2:21-24).

Eve not first woman

Time gap. Apparently there was a big time gap – thousands of years –between Genesis 1:27 (when God created humans, male and female) and Genesis 2:15 (when Good placed Adam in the Garden of Eden). Entire cities were built in that interval (see 1.3), and Adam's firstborn son married a wife in one of those cities.

Translation of 'made.' In Genesis 1:27 male and female humans were 'created' (Hebrew word bara), but in Genesis 2:22 Eve was 'made' (Hebrew word wayyiben). There is a big difference. Bara means created as a whole new kind of entity. Wayyiben means formed, fashioned or built from an entity already existing.

Eve a real person

Many people believe Eve was a mythical person, but the Bible does not treat her that way. The Bible genealogy of Jesus runs clearly from Eve directly to Mary (see 1.3.3). God would not deceive us by starting with a fictitious person. See 1.3 for reasons why Adam and Eve were real people.

Adam's rib (side)

Translation of 'rib.' In the original Hebrew, the word is 'tsela,' translated as 'rib' in the King James Bible and most English Bibles ever since. That Hebrew word is used 41 times in the Old Testament, but Genesis 2:21 is the only time the word is translated as 'rib.' All other times it is translated as 'side,' a clarification many English translations now acknowledge in a footnote.

Translation of 'the place.' In the original Hebrew, that phrase is 'tachtenah' and is usually translated as 'underneath it.'

Usual image. From these misleading translations in most English Bibles, we get this mental image: God makes a big incision in Adam ... cuts off and pulls out a rib bone ... bloody operation ... closes up the opening and leaves Adam with one less rib bone.

Alternate image. By using the better translations above – side and underneath it – we get a different mental image: God takes a piece of tissue from Adam's side – as is done in cloning – and immediately heals the flesh underneath it.

Cloning. Cloning of humans is possible but illegal. The first mammal cloned was Dolly, the sheep, in 1996, from a cell taken from the mammary gland of a donor sheep. It proved that a cell from the side of a body can create a whole new individual without sperm or egg. Cloning of animals is now common and big business (especially cloning of race horses). Ancient people would have no understanding of this, but it appears now that God may have formed Eve through some kind of cloning.

First miracle (Eve)

Regardless of how God did it – by bone or by tissue – this was apparently the first miracle; i.e., the first time God suspended natural laws to do something unusual and special.

God could have just 'placed' (from the outside) a woman in the Garden – like he did Adam – but instead chose to bypass the normal birth and maturation process. God fashioned an instant wife for Adam.

(About 4000 years later, God performed another birth miracle  – known as the Virgin Birth – to bring Jesus into the world.)

First institution (marriage)

WHY did God form Eve in a miraculous way?

'THAT IS WHY a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh' (Genesis 2:24).

God created humans to fill the earth and rule the earth (Genesis 1:28). To do this in an orderly way, God has given humans a conscience (see 1.6) and three institutions (marriage, government and church).

This is God's formal inauguration of marriage.

Apparently God wanted to do something very unusual and special to signify that something different was happening on earth, moving beyond the raw sex of animals to the tender sex of people in love and with lifetime commitment, for raising families of godly people.

Mother of all living

'Adam named his wife Eve [means living] because she would become the mother of all the living' (Genesis 3:20). This verse does not say mother of all mankind (death), but mother of all the living (eternal life). She was the first woman to bear children (descendants) who could have eternal life. The recorded Bible genealogy traces her family tree through the Old Testament patriarchs directly to Jesus.

Who sinned first?

In a cursory read of this story, it seems that Eve sinned first. '... she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it' (Genesis 3:6).

And Satan sinned before Eve, by telling lies about God. Furthermore, millions of people had lived and died on earth before Eve sinned; certainly they weren't all perfect.

So why does Romans 5:12 – the key verse supporting the doctrine of original sin – say that '... sin entered the world through one man [Adam] ...?' Why do Christians say that Adam was the first sinner?

The biblical answer is found interwoven in the entire Romans 5:12-19 passage, which is the only portion of scripture that deals with this subject. That passage requires much more than a quick read. See 1.4.3 for study in detail.

From that study in Romans 5 we learn that God's justice and judgment takes into account the kind of spiritual revelation a person has received. People will be judged according to the light given to them, which varies from time to time, place to place, person to person.

'And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression' (1 Timothy 2:13–14). Adam knew full well what he was doing. Eve was confused.

Adam was the first person who had a personal encounter with God ... received an unmistakably clear rule (law) directly from God ... and deliberately chose to defy God by trying to become his own god. That crossed the line, beyond ordinary misdeeds and misunderstandings.

Adam's sin – called the 'trespass' in Romans 5 – was much more than eating forbidden fruit. It was the first human rebellion against God's law – a deliberate attempt to take God's place – and the sin happened in his mind before his overt action.

Was Adam doomed to hell?

Did he really have a choice?

Predestination question.

Was he ever forgiven?

Bible doesn't say, but some clues. No other act of disobedience is mentioned.

Adam's children made offerings to God. Probably a family matter, learned from God, passed on to children.

God understands, forgives. Live and learn.