Friday, April 26, 2013

Gen. 3, More thoughts

Gen. 3, More thoughts

To quote the passage more exactly: "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." Here the Lord explicitly says in what way he is like Him, namely, in knowing good and evil. The oddity noticed before was that man could be more like God after having sinned. Yet this is not what makes them alike, it is knowledge, and primarily knowledge of evil which is new. Man in his original state surely was more completely ordered, and therefore would have been more capable of grasping the good. It is clear that Adam can see the goodness in God's creatures such that he is able to name them. He even has a certain notion of evil, which is seen when does not find a fit helper from the animals. Evil is the lack of a good, and he is aware of this lack of a companion. So what does he gain of knowledge after taking the fruit?

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew they were naked." Is this the new knowledge they received? It says in the last chapter, "And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed." It seems unlikely that they were naked but had simply failed to look at each other, and even less likely that they had never seen before. Perhaps the difference is the attention to the nakedness. The word "naked" does not signify a real thing, but a privation or a non-thing. Before sin, the man would look at his wife and see "bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she who was taken out of Man." He saw what was real about her and how she related to him. Now he fails to see this and only sees her nakedness. He sees what she lacks rather than a beautiful companion.

So why does it say their eyes were opened? I wonder what Hebrew word for open is. If it is something like "loosed", then the meaning could be that the eyes were at work apart from the governance of reason. Whereas he could look at her according to reason before, now his eyes move according to an animal passion, freed in the sense that a traitor is free from his country. A wicked freedom. Yet it seems "opened" is really meant, since the consequence is knowledge and the eye only knows when it is open. So the eye is opened in the sense that it now sees what it did not before: lack, privation, nakedness. (Perhaps even sin. Just as St. Paul says our risen bodies will shine forth with the glory of beatitude, so the original justice of our parents probably was visible through their bodies in some manifest way, and then this "glow" would have been lost with the loss of justice.)

So they know nakedness. Is this the knowledge which makes them more like God? Surely God knows evil if anyone does. The Psalmist speaks about sinners who act with the assurance that God sees nothing of their works, yet God is aware of their sins. He sees all. Whereas God must know this for the sake of giving justice (for evil is certainly not worth knowing of itself), man is not made happy through knowledge of sin or evil, but only through knowledge of God, and this through his good works. So man is made wretched in taking on this knowledge. He has also committed injustice, so the Lord must now punish him as he promised and not let him eat of the tree of life which would let him live forever. Perhaps there is mercy here, for who wants to live forever with the knowledge of sin? They are spared this and sent out. They have now a curse and a promise.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel."

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