from How Good Do We Have To Be?
What Really Happened In the Garden of Eden?
by Harold S. Kushner
What are the key elements of the story as told by
What are the problems Kushner has with the story as
What is Kushner's interpretation of the story?
Key elements of the story as told by most Christians:
- Woman was made out of man's rib.
- God told man not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good
- The serpent tempts the woman to eat the fruit.
- The woman tempts the man to eat the fruit.
- Then the man and woman are embarrassed and hide from God.
- God punishes everyone.
The problems Kushner has with the story as usually told:
- The punishment is really harsh for one small mistake.
- "Why did God creaete a tree that He didn't want anyone to eat from?"
- Was the woman ever told not to eat the forbidden fruit?
- Why is the story told in such a way that it seems it is primarily the
- If the tree was of "the Knowledge of Good and Evil" then was it possible
that Adam and Eve didn't know any better?
- Paul created, in trying to explain this story, the doctrine of Original Sin.
- If the doctrine of original sin is true, then God created flawed people.
Kushner's interpretation of the story:
- It is a story of liberation, not condemnation.
- It is the story of humans becoming conscious of the moral dimensions of
the choices we make.
- Life is hard, not because of our sin, but because of the problem of
choosing among many possibilities and making ethical decisions.
- God's telling Adam not to eat the fruit was a WARNING. He didn't want Adam
to have to face the pain of knowing the difference between good and evil. He
may have even WANTED Adam to eat the fruit.
- Eve was, in fact, very brave for eating the fruit. She was the leader.
- God did not punish them, but gave them the very things that make us human:
work, sexual intimacy, parenthood, a sense of mortality.
- The woman is the heroine of the story.