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Beguiled, bothered, and bewildered: The first couple confess their crime

 
Australian fires. African locusts. Worldwide plague. Do we live in Biblical times or what? If the world really is ending, we thought it was time to prepare properly for Armageddon. By, you know, reading the damn thing. The Bible, that is. (Go back to the beginning here.)

 
Having donned their fig-leaf attire, the first couple awaits their fate…

Genesis 3 King James Version (KJV)

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8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Genesis 3 New International Version (NIV)

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

 
Here we go with the Just-So Stories again. If the serpent only crawled on its belly as punishment for beguiling Eve, what was it doing before that? No, don’t bother pondering that one, it’s not a serious question. Clearly, we’re in fable territory here, and taking it seriously is obviously a trap.

But here is the serious question. Wouldn’t the original audience for this work of fiction have assumed it was a fable that unseriously explains the nature of snakes, the fear that people have of snakes, and that childbirth for human females is an ordeal? And would that early audience, which had every bit as much brain power as we do, have assumed this was a pretty myth? And wouldn’t the authors have known it would be taken as such?

The joke is on modern audiences for not giving our ancient ancestors more credit, right? Read that passage again, this time assuming a clever, knowing narrator and an equally clever audience that would have appreciated the artifice of this work, and not have taken it literally, which it was never intended to be, surely.

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on April 3, 2020 at 12:00

 

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