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Scholarly Approaches to Genesis 3


This week the Adult Bible Study Guide turns attention to the fall story in Genesis 3.

It may be the most old and told narrative from the Bible. Eve, tree, serpent, fruit, Adam, God. We all know it. If one wants to interpret this to explain sin, that’s fine. There’s more to the story, of course, something profound about consciousness and humans awakening to reason, right and wrong, a long-lost awareness of the thin line between human and divine.

For those teaching, studying, or merely curious this week, I recommend these five pages of translation and Genesis 3 commentary from Robert Alter, professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. If you are teaching a Sabbath school on this Scripture, it is the perfect resource to print off and distribute to everyone. Consider inviting class members to go around reading a verse or two. Feel the ancientness of the story. Enjoy Alter’s fresher-than-most take on the story.

For those looking for even more, check out this lecture on Genesis 1–4 by Christine Hayes, professor of religious studies in Classical Judaica at Yale University. If you’d like to skip ahead to the part about chapter 3 and the question of evil, it starts about 38 minutes in, but it’s all illuminating.


Alexander Carpenter is executive editor of Spectrum

Title Image: Albert W. Wein, In the Beginning God Created the Heaven and the Earth, 1951, bronze, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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