Is the Adam and Eve story true?

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Labyrinth
 
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 04:38 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;82853 wrote:
Augustine was largely responsible for the way the doctrine of original sin subsequently developed. Do you know the Eastern Orthodox churches accept neither the doctrine of Original Sin (in the way the West does) NOR the Doctrine of Atonement? It is amazing, really, in that these are such prominent aspects of Western Christianity.


Not entirely surprising. Theologian R.L. Pfeiffer writes the first who even suggested original sin was ben Sira of the 2nd century B.C. Its a relatively late interpretation of the story, and until then it was an alien doctrine nowhere in the mind of the author. Paul borrows from him in that he writes that "sin entered the world through one man" (ben Sira blames Eve instead).

Most of the division between interpretations stems from the two sides from which this so-called sin is examined. Does one interpret it as a purely subjectively felt guilt (I personally take this side of it) following an act that may neither be in itself necessarily good nor evil? Or is the act in itself objectively wrong?
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 12:10 am
@Justin,
If you do not get hung up in taking the story literally it is a nice allegory regarding
The separation or alienation of man from God and or
The allienation of man from nature in transition from a hunter gatherer (eden) to a agricultural society.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 02:12 am
@Justin,
Wow, this thread's gotten a lot of responses.

I think that the Eden story is real in a deeply metaphorical manner. It's not literally true at all, and anybody who claims whether it is or is not is why they believe or don't believe in it is missing the point. To me, Adam and Eve in the Eden story are not so much a state we were in as a state we aspire to: enlightened: naked before God. (See Thomas 37.) Contemplation on what was lost in the Fall (if anything was lost at all) isn't quite so important as contemplation on our state before the Fall...and it's the mental state Adam and Eve were in in the Eden story, and the fact that their physical state is a metaphor for their mental state, that we should really be focusing in on.

I also happen to think that the root of all human sin is embedded in the story (again in a non-literal way) but that's something to save for another discussion.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:08 am
@prothero,
prothero;82905 wrote:
If you do not get hung up in taking the story literally it is a nice allegory regarding
The separation or alienation of man from God and or
The allienation of man from nature in transition from a hunter gatherer (eden) to a agricultural society.
Or the self awareness of the first human, a women in africa.
 
Lily
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:45 am
@Justin,
We could say that genesis tells us about evolution, and how man started farming instead of hunting, but I don't like that. It wasn't what they meant when they wrote it, so why should it mean that now?
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 09:08 am
@Lily,
My guess is that the snake originally symbolized the Ouroboros, the symbol for cyclicality of life, and also a symbol of primordial unity. In a sense, the snake is a yearning within oneself, and that yearning moved itself into becoming two and to bring consciousness and creativity (from the one into the two), into the universe.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/71/Serpiente_alquimica.jpg/250px-Serpiente_alquimica.jpg
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 01:01 pm
@Justin,
The meaning of stories in the bible is not rooted in their literal truth or in their historical accuracy. They are timeless stories about the human condition about human passions weaknesses and failings and about conceptions or relationship with god and nature. Bible stories attempt to explain why things are the way they are?
Why do men toil to bring food from the ground and women have pain in childbirth?
Literalists and fundamentalist readings have always missed the deeper meanings and messages.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 02:22 pm
@Justin,
Fundamentalist / literal readings are not mutually exclusive with multi-layered interpretation. Why would you think so?

For 2000 years Christianity's mainstream view of Jesus' life is both literal AND symbolic. Why shouldn't the same be possible for stories from Genesis?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 05:26 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;83047 wrote:
Fundamentalist / literal readings are not mutually exclusive with multi-layered interpretation. Why would you think so?


Sort of - a literal reading and multi-layered interpretation are not mutually exclusive, but Fundamentalist reading and multi-layered interpretation, as I understand it, are mutually exclusive because Fundamentalists accept Biblical inerrancy in an historical fashion. They believe the Bible to be perfectly accurate historical record.

Aedes;83047 wrote:
For 2000 years Christianity's mainstream view of Jesus' life is both literal AND symbolic. Why shouldn't the same be possible for stories from Genesis?


This is tricky, because literal as I think we mean it and literal as the Catholic Church means, when talking about the Bible, are a bit different, though there is some shared territory.

Literal would be as the author intended. Catholics do not, for example, take Genesis to be necessarily historically true, although they might.

People often take it for granted that, historically speaking, Catholics have taken books like Genesis to be historically true. They think of Galileo and his heliocentric universe - but Galileo's primary support came from Churchmen, and his primary opposition from scientists who were threatened by the theory of Copernicus.

Augustine wrote about this topic, but I do not recall where. If I find it, I'll give a link or source that can be referenced.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 06:53 pm
@prothero,
prothero;83036 wrote:
The meaning of stories in the bible is not rooted in their literal truth or in their historical accuracy. They are timeless stories about the human condition about human passions weaknesses and failings and about conceptions or relationship with god and nature. Bible stories attempt to explain why things are the way they are?
Why do men toil to bring food from the ground and women have pain in childbirth?
Literalists and fundamentalist readings have always missed the deeper meanings and messages.


I don't think this says there is a contradiction between the literal and symbolic readings but that the literal meaning misses the deeper message. As I pointed out, Origen said as much in the first century. Augustine, whatever his flaws, also said the same. It is an unfortunate fact that the literalist readings have carried so much sway in the modern discourse. It has undoubtedly bought religion into disrepute and given considerable ammunition to the anti-theists. If you interpret these texts symbolically, none of the conflict between science and religion would be necessary. It is a great tragedy of the Western world.
 
Johnny Fresh
 
Reply Wed 21 Oct, 2009 05:43 pm
@Justin,
yes i believe so
 
Dominion
 
Reply Wed 21 Oct, 2009 08:48 pm
@Justin,
I think it is just a metaphor for choosing if you're going to commit a crime or not. If you choose the "fruit" you commit something you or society things as wrong, and if you dont then you did the right thing.

If the adam and eve story was real there would be so much insest that we would all be pretty messed up.
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 21 Oct, 2009 10:42 pm
@Justin,
There is truth in the Adams and Eve story.
But it is not about
Adams and Eve as the frist humans,
An apple tree, the location of the garden of eden or a talking snake.
Maybe the story was meant to speak to each of us of us as we can comprehend it.
 
 

 
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