Genesis, the Fall, and a Patriarchal God

Have you ever really stopped to ponder “the fall” as narrated in Genesis? I have. And it seems to me that the story is highly problematic, and actually shares a good bit in common with the beliefs and practices of Christian Patriarchy. Let me explain.

It goes like this:

Genesis 2:8-9 – The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So God plants a garden, with beautiful fruit bearing trees. In addition, he causes two other trees to grow, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There is no hint as to why, but since he’s all powerful it has to be completely intentional.

Genesis 2:15-17 - Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

So God tells Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because it will kill him the very day he eats it. Question: Why did God cause an apparently poisoned tree to grow in the garden he planted? He’s all powerful, so couldn’t he just cut it down, or simply obliviate it? I mean, I put plugs in the electrical outlets so that Sally doesn’t stick things in them and electrocute herself, and doing this kind of thing really isn’t that hard.

Genesis 3: 1-5 - Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So the serpent comes along, and Eve tells it that God has told them not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, or they will die. Which is exactly what he said. The serpent, however, says that God lied to them, and that actually eating from that tree will give them the knowledge of good and evil. Which, huh, kind of makes sense given the tree’s name.

Genesis 3:6-7 - When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

Eve thinks this through. God said not to eat of the tree, but what the serpent says actually makes a lot of sense to her. Eve therefore questions what God said about the tree and eats from it, and Adam as well. And you know what? They don’t die. Instead, it appears that they gain a new sense of self awareness. Strange, since God told them they would die that very day if they ate the fruit.

Genesis 3:8-13 – They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Adam and Eve hide because they know God will be angry with them. They sound like little kids who just took cookies off the tray on the counter that their mom had told them was for dessert. They’re scared. They shift blame just like the cookie-stealing children would. God’s response?

Genesis 3:16-19 – To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I have to ask, whatever happened to “in the day you eat of it, you will die?” That was apparently an idle threat. Instead, because Adam and Eve dared to disobey his command, God essentially curses them, and not just them but also their descendants. Every woman will give birth in pain and risk death to do so, every woman will be under her husband and essentially his property, every man will have to battle thorns to grow enough to eat. I’m sorry, is it just me or does this seem like the most unjust punishment ever meted out? You ate the fruit from that tree that I put right in front of you, so now I’m going to make your lives hell, and those of your descendants too. I mean, seriously, wtf? And then there is this:

Genesis 3:22-24 – Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

So apparently the Serpent was telling the truth when he told Adam and Eve that eating from the tree they would become like God, and God was lying when he told Adam and Eve that if they ate from it they would die that very day. Seriously, what the heck? And now God is afraid that Adam and Eve might eat from the tree of life and live forever (the horrors!), so he drives them from the garden he planted for them. Again, what the heck?

If God is Adam and Eve’s parent, having created them, it strikes me that he is a very very bad parent.

  1. God offers false threats of future consequences in an attempt to get Adam and Eve to obey him. If they disobey him, he says, they will die. It turns out that this is not true. Why would God do this? To scare them into obeying him?
  2. God teaches his children absolute obedience by intentionally tempting them. He places a tree in the middle of the garden, with delicious looking fruit, and then tells Adam and Eve not to eat from it. This sounds just like Michael Pearl’s suggestion that parents place a tempting item within a baby’s reach, tell him not to touch it, and then wait around to punish him when he does. Seriously, what is the point God is trying to make here? To prove that he’s the boss and Adam and Eve must obey his slightest commands just because he says so?
  3. God reacts with vengeance when Adam and Eve disobey him. He punishes simple disobedience with pain in childbirth, sexism, weeds, and starvation. I must say, God sounds very petty.
  4. God doesn’t seem to want Adam and Eve to grow up. He would prefer immediate obedience to questions or critical thinking. He doesn’t want Adam and Eve to “know good from evil,” whatever that is. Is he trying to keep them permanently childlike? What is it he wants to hide from them?

The God of Genesis 2 and 3 appears to be narcissistic, legalistic, manipulative, and even sadistic. There is nothing here about love, nothing here about compassion, nothing about understanding or mutual respect. To tempt his children intentionally by placing something within their reach and commanding them not to touch it, to utter false threats regarding the consequences of disobedience, to try to hide information from his children, to react with such vengeance when they dare to think for themselves and disobey him – is this love? Actually…come to think of it, this sounds really familiar.

I have to say, I think that Genesis 2 and 3 is actually my least favorite part of the whole Bible.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Final Anonymous

    VERY good points. I've certainly never found anything very redeeming about the creation story, especially the part where I have to suffer every month and during childbirth for someone else's sins; all that invokes in me is an attitude of "Screw you."Is it any wonder I get myself in trouble at church? ; )

  • Incongruous Circumspection

    Libby Anne. You rock!

  • Darcy

    Did you know that the first few chapters of Gen. used to be called "The Poem of Creation"? I don't think it was meant to be literal at all. And, yeah, your questions are great. Exactly what I've been asking myself for a while. :)

  • Brea

    I recently read a theory that Genesis depicts the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural one. In this view, the Fall is the transition from a sustainable way of living to an unsustainable one. The idea there is that the hunter-gatherers were animists, who saw God in everything and perceived death as part of a cycle of life. The cognitive shift required to switch to extractive agriculture also included the concept of individual selves, which entails the end of those selves; ie, death. Death in a much broader sense is also the end result of an extractive, unsustainable system. In this view, God isn't cursing humanity so much as explaining what they can expect from their new worldview: toil, malnutrition, hierarchy, etc.I wish I could give you a link, but I can't find it again. It was an interesting perspective. Of course, it requires a much less literal reading, but that is not a problem in my view.

  • Chantal

    AS a Catholic I wonder why the Creation story needs to be taken literally but not the words of Jesus regarding eating his body and his blood.4

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Interesting idea, Brea. I'd never thought of it that way before. If you ever do find that link, I'd like to check it out.But here's another possibility: The Fall doesn't need to be viewed as an unequivocally bad thing. I remember having a discussion about this with a bunch of other Jewish students at my college and our rabbi. The tendency to rebel against authority, to seek knowledge, to follow our curiosity is an integral feature of both individual humans and humanity in general. The rebellion is simply the end result of these qualities. So the Fall can be viewed more ambiguously–Humanity, as represented by Adam and Eve, achieves a new level of sentience and self-awareness that it could never have reached if it had been satisfied with its confines and retained its innocence. But the price of wisdom and knowledge is also pain–in the form of physical pain, social injustice and inequality, etc. Viewed this way, the story of the Fall can be seen as a metaphor of the good and bad outcomes of human innovation and progress. I can't think of a source to direct you to that embodies this point of view, but it's an interpretation that floats around liberal Jewish circles. It's actually not that dissimilar to a lot of interpretations of the Pandora's Box story from Greek myth, which, in many ways, is the same story.Philip Pullman, the British Anglican-turned-atheist author, also had an interesting interpretation of the story that is somewhat thematically similar. He wrote the "His Dark Materials" series, which was basically a sci fi fantasy epic based on "Paradise Lost" which critiqued religion from a secular humanist point-of-view. In his books, The Fall is a metaphor of puberty and sexual coming of age. The characters who represent Adam and Eve (who are young, adolescent children) realize, one day, that although they have swum naked with children of the opposite sex before, now they are embarassed to be naked in front of each other because they are newly sexually aware of their own and each other's bodies. This revelation precedes their realization that they have fallen in love. So the Fall is not bad–it is a rite of passage from the innocence of childhood into the more complicated reality of adulthood. I think we can all relate.

  • Anonymous

    I think such a picture of God really depends on how a person views those verses. Certainly when taken literally, it does seem reminiscent of patriarchial teachings, and perhaps many of the ideas of such movements are influenced by their literal reading of Genesis 2 and 3. I take a different view myself, and see the story as part of a greater spiritual picture. I believe that the death referred to was not physical death, but spiritual death. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the Law. Certainly God's Law is perfect, but it gives opportunity for sin to come into our lives (Romans 7). The tree of life on the other hand, is grace which leads to eternal life, and it is interesting to note that the tree of life is mentioned in the description of New Jerusalem in Revelations, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not. Now whether Adam and Eve were literal people or symbols, I have no idea.

  • Sheena

    It's a challenging story, that's for sure. I definitely see it more as a "mythology" type of story than a "these were real people who started humanity and they sinned so ALL OF HUMANITY is sinful".As such, I think this story is more symbolism than literal fact. Like, the Garden could represent all of the different choices humanity has; the tree of knowledge is just that, following the impulses of curiosity and wanting to understand the world beyond "this is what's out there, now stay here". And, really, if someone's going to be punished for breaking the rules…Adam should have had more than "life is going to be hard now". Dude just STOOD there. I'm not a biblical scholar, just a nerdy literary/writing nerd. :)

  • Libby Anne

    I find it very interesting that several of you argue that the fall was not a bad thing, but rather a natural coming of age, and that having to work and childbirth and all were the natural consequences of that, kind of like how you have to pay your bills when you're an adult. There's something beautiful about saying it like that. Except that that's not how the Bible ever portrays it. It's all about how death came through the fall, men's sin nature through the fall, sin through the fall, hell through the fall, and Jesus needs to redeem mankind to save them from Adam's fall. It is NEVER seen as a good thing, or even a neutral thing. And I really don't think you have to read Genesis 2 and 3 literally to get that, because even figuratively it seems to me that it sends the same messages I discuss in my post.

  • Young Mom

    Awesome. Totally true. I can't think of anything else to say. :)

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "It's all about how death came through the fall, men's sin nature through the fall, sin through the fall, hell through the fall, and Jesus needs to redeem mankind to save them from Adam's fall."But this is a Christian interpretation (and a particular type of Christian interpretation) of a story that is older than Christianity. As you might guess, I never heard the story in the context of the need for redemption by the coming of Jesus. All these concepts–original sin, Hell, Jesus as savior, a savior at all–are not part of the religion that the story originally came from, even in its most conservative form. I'm not saying that this makes Jewish interpretations of the story superior or more valid than Christian ones. I'm just pointing out that though the interpretation I brought up is undoubtedly "modern", from my point of view, the only difference between it and the one you brought up is that it's just a little more modern–by a couple thousand years, which is still a few thousand years newer than the story itself. This is true of the entire New Testament! The conservative Christian reading of the story is just as much a retroactive reading of an older story as the contemporary, liberal Jewish one(s), or Brea's environmentalist one, or Philip Pullman's human sexuality-informed one, or any other. It's just that the conservative Christian interpretation is the one that's become culturally dominant in the West. It's not more valid, just more popular and a little older. So I say, free-for-all! Bring on the liberal Jewish interpretations, the liberal Christian interpretations, the secular humanist interpretations, etc. We're not doing anything with the story that the conservative Christians aren't doing.It would be silly and anachronistic to claim that the story was always meant to be read in terms of my own modern, liberal leanings. But I do have my doubts about it being originally intended to be interpreted as negatively as it has been for the past couple thousand years. And the wonderful thing about fables and parables is that it's okay for them to change with time, depending on who is hearing them.

  • Wendy

    I think this is the most interesting comment thread I have ever read.I made a conscious decision NOT to teach the creation story to my young daughters. We were a secular family at the time, but I specifically excluded that one from their bible-story cultural education. I sensed that the metaphors were in conflict with my ideas about learning and growing up, but I couldn't really put my finger on it.I love to think that the fall is a "modern" retelling of the myth!

  • Libby Anne

    PP – You are absolutely right that I only know the story's Christian interpretation, and not the Jewish interpretation. You're also right about myths changing over time and acquiring different meanings. I guess I just don't think I can get past the straightforward "you did bad, now God's gonna punish you" message, because I'm not sure how to take that out without completely rewriting the entire thing. Another note: I love the Pullman series, and reading it was actually part of my journey out of religion, because of how it portrays the fall as a finding of knowledge, and it made me rethink the whole story in light of my experiences and suddenly see God in a very negative light. :-/ Finally: One thing I found fascinating when I left my parents' beliefs was that the fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity was by no means the only interpretation, or even the oldest or most informed interpretation. It's so simplified and sunday schooled in many ways, and it emphasizes totally different aspects than do other traditions within Christianity. Also, when I learned how very DIFFERENT Judaism was from what I had thought it was (all I knew about it came from the New Testament), I was floored. I find religion fascinating.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    LOL, I had a feeling the Pullman series was probably something you either already loved or would love. I actually didn't discover them until I was an adult either but I was completely engrossed. I can't wait to give them to my future kids!As for the Jewish interpretation, well, there's a lot more than one. There's an expression "10 Jews, 11 opinions", and if you googled this question, that's probably about what you'd find (times a million.) Mine is just one that I talked over with my college rabbi and congregation a while ago. We're on the liberal end of the Jewish spectrum. But I would say that, from what I know about more conservative, literalist interpretations (not nearly as much because I don't really hang out with those people lol), the story is generally seen as more positive or at least ambiguous. For one thing, the eating of the apple is generally not considered "sin," but "rebellion", or "disobedience" which has different implications (and isn't necessarily all bad.) Also, it's generally accepted that God created Adam and Eve already mortal and with the capacity to rebel, even that their rebellion was part of his plan all along, so their act did not introduce some kind of "sin nature" to humanity, or anything at all that wasn't already part of their design. Again, no original sin in Judaism. (I've actually read that it wasn't even a concept in early Christianity either but I'm sure you know more about that than I do.) Even among very conservative Jews (like the Orthodox), it does seem that the rebellion is often connected to the idea of humanity learning to exercise free will–for better or worse. And that there is a more fatalistic attitude towards it–it was "meant" to happen. As for "punishment" part–well, the way I tend to view it (which is metaphorically), like I said, is that it's more of a "you have to take the good with the bad" kind of thing. But even among Jews who are inclined to believe in a more literal, personal God–well, I think, in general, Jews relate to God kind of differently–it's often more of a wary, sometimes adversarial, even love/hate relationship, like "we're stuck with each other and that's probably good but we don't have to like everything the other does." It's funny because, based just on scripture, there are a lot of very authoritarian elements to Jewish religion. But culturally, there is a big anti-authoritarian streak in Judaism–probably because we've been under unjust authority for so much of our history. So in practice, Jewish views on authority, even Godly authority, tend to be complex. My grandmother, who was one of the 3 members of her huge family to survive the Holocaust, used to say "When I meet my maker, I'll give him a piece of my mind!" In other words, even if we do choose to believe in a more traditional God, we don't have to like everything he does. And that changes the way one sees a LOT of things in the Bible. :-PYes, Judaism is very, very different. It's one thing we're always trying to explain in a country where, regardless of their actual beliefs, people's frame of reference for religion is Christianity.Btw, sorry I keep on filling your comments with walls of text. lol. I'm taking summer school classes and writing finals, so, when I take a break, I end up on blogs and since I've already been writing up a storm…

  • shadowspring

    The Creation Story (or myth) is about timeless themes of immortality, freedom, responsibility, regret, innocence, wisdom, death, relationship, etc.Only a committed fundamentalist would dare to maintain a literal reading. Reality just won't allow that.Who were the other people Cain met? How on earth did whoever wrote Genesis, hundreds of years later by the fundamentalist reckoning, know what was said or what happened? In reality, it is plain that this story of creation was handed down by oral tradition to the people who became the Jewish nation. I still believe it to be inspired, and full of insight to the human condition and the way of God and humanity. I just don't think it is a play-by-play transcript of the beginnings of the human race.

  • shadowspring

    After reading PPs comments, I feel inclined to share that one interpretation of the myth that I heard, is that God banished the first couple from the garden so that they would not YET eat of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was not formerly off limits. Mankind in innocence was free to eat of it; mankind with his new knowledge of not only good but also evil, was to be kept from it. The idea I picked up was that eternal life would be a bad thing for an evil person, and since that was a possibility for everyone having knowledge of both good and evil, eternal life was taken away as an option.It's a way of answering the question, "why does death exist?". Anyway, that's how I heard it.

  • shadowspring

    ETA: In Christianity, specifically the visions of John the Apostle, the Tree of Life is again available to mankind(those not given over to evil) in the afterlife. There are exceptions in John's vision: murderers, con men, sex traffickers. Different translations generally muck up the list, but in its rawest form, it appears to exclude the sort of person most of humanity would consider vile. No mention of being the wrong religion or sexual orientation (though some translations try to make it out that way) or of just not being perfect as being a point of exclusion.But then John the Apostle was born and raised Jewish. I don't think he would recognize the Christian religion as it exists today as being even remotely close to what he was hoping to promote. *sigh*

  • boomSLANG

    "The Creation Story (or myth) is about timeless themes of immortality, freedom, responsibility, regret, innocence, wisdom, death, relationship, etc.Only a committed fundamentalist would dare to maintain a literal reading."Personally, I think said "story" falls flat, even with a metaphorical or symbolic reading.First, there is the glaring chronology error..i.e.."Adam" & Co. had no frame of reference for "right" and "wrong", because they had not yet eaten from the very "Tree" that presumably gave them that "Knowledge". Yet, they were expected to know that going against "God" was "wrong". Second, I can't think of a worse place to learn what it means to take "responsibility". If I am born "guilty" and in debt for what one other person(and a possibly accomplice) did, and further, if I can get off the hook for that "trespass" by having someone else pay off that debt, I'm at a complete loss for how that teaches "responsibility", whether literal story, or "poetic truth".

  • shadowspring

    The born guilty stuff is not in the Creation story. That is the stuff of post-Constantine Christianity. Like PP pointed out, the Creation Myth doesn't even belong to Christianity except by appropriation. :)

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Yep. I seem to remember reading that Christianity has Augustine to thank for the born guilty stuff–and he lived about 100 years after Constantine, and several hundred years after the beginnings of Christianity.

  • Kristen

    I think it works well as a symbolic story. For instance, "in the day you eat it" probably was never intended to be read, "the same 24-hour period that you eat it." "Day" probably had a variety of symbolic meanings to the ancient Hebrews. The two trees and the serpent are certainly symbolic. What I find interesting is that God is clearly intended to be the "good guy" and the serpent the "bad guy" by the way the story is set up– and yet it is God who appears on the surface of things to not be telling the truth. What I get from this is that looking only at the surface of things, the literal fact of things, may be part of what the problem is with the serpent. Eve was deceived into seeing only that "truth," but there were deeper truths that were escaping her.

  • boomSLANG

    "The born guilty stuff is not in the Creation story."I brought up the "born guilty stuff" to make a rhetorical point in relation to the claim that the Creation story contains a theme about "responsibility".

  • shadowspring

    Ah, that made me smile. I am not sure what you think I meant by the word, but you could have asked. n_nResponsibility of the character Adam to keep the garden and love the character Eve. Responsibility of the loving God character to keep humanity from living forever in a state other than innocence. Responsibility of man to grow and learn and leave the garden. It's myth, not fact.The cursing the ground stuff? An answer to the question "why is work so hard, when weeds grow so easy?" That's the purpose of myth. To answer questions indirectly, through story form.I have no belief in the guilt of all mankind, certainly not the whole world being cursed because of one person's actions. It's not in keeping with what I see and read in the life of Christ.I have very different ideas and opinions,and I happen to believe they are just as valid as any other theologians. Just ask; I'm usually all too happy to extrapolate. =)

  • boomSLANG

    "Ah, that made me smile. I am not sure what you think I meant by the word, but you could have asked. n_n"It's usually my dry-as-dust sense of humor that makes people smile, but I'll take it.Anyway, when blogging, I usually take language at its face-value, especially when/if my interlocutor lumps one concept in with many other concepts..e.g.."immortality, freedom, responsibility, regret, innocence, wisdom, death, relationship, etc."If were to ask what you mean by each and every one of those concepts listed, progress would be slow, to say the least."Responsibility of the loving God character to keep humanity from living forever in a state other than innocence. Responsibility of man to grow and learn and leave the garden. It's myth, not fact."And see, this is where we simply disagree.Whether "myth", poetic truth, or literal, if an "all-loving" god was being "responsible" – at least, in the colloquial sense of the word – then he/she would not put humanity in a situation where their "innocence"(the goal, according to you) would put them in harm's way."I have no belief in the guilt of all mankind, certainly not the whole world being cursed because of one person's actions. It's not in keeping with what I see and read in the life of Christ."Yes, of course. You are obviously free to read and interpret the face-value language in a way that appeals to you the most. I would never deny anyone's right to do that. Heck, I did it for 2/3rds of my life. All the best,

  • denelian

    [i didn't even KNOW you had a blog - but i'm obviously here via the link you left at PF's :) and months later. but i thought it would be okay to add all this, for later use if nothing else]wow. it seems growing up outside the Judeo-Christian framework is always, always going to be weird.point the first: the word that is, today, commonly translated as "day" in the 7-days scenario is actually the ambiguious word that translates best as "the period of time". so day could equal EON, or "million years" or's that SAME WORD FOR "PERIOD OF TIME" that is used when God says "on that day you shall surely die". as in, it SHOULD say "if you eat it, you enter the period that ends with you dying" or something like it.Jewish vs Christian interpretation of the myth: THERE IS NO HELL IN JUDAISM. hell, there wasn't a Hell in the original version of Christianity. double-Hell, Christianity was never meant to be a seperate religion. Jesus was coming to bring REFORM to Judaism. much as John the Baptist, Jesus wouldn't recognize what Christianity is [and, i think, would be rather annoyed at his Deification - i've read several versions of the Gospels - while Jesus called himself "Son of God" he called everyone "brother" or "sister". he never once claimed ANY form of GODHOOD for himself - just that he had recieved new knowledge, a new way for Jews to live and worship. jumping back to Genesis 1-3 [or even just 2-3, if one wants to ignore the first version] A) there is a Sumerian myth that is almost exactly the same B)JHVD or God or Jehovia or Yaweh or Adonai was ORIGINALLY a Sumerian/Babylonian God, who eventually became the only God worshiped by the people who became the Israelites, so C) i think that any reading of Genesis without ALSO reading the concurrant other versions are going to be lacking. there is ALSO evidence that Genesis 1 was written by one group, and Genesis 2-3 was written by another group [i don't remember the scholarly name given to either, but it was essentially "storytellers for 1, priests for 2-3". and there are HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS, of places in the Bible where the evidence suggests that the first version was written down by storytellers, and then some centuries later, the priest class went thru and added to the original. it's why there appears to be so much repition - you have the "layman's" view, then the "master's" view - like if one were to read my account of what happened when i had MRSA vs the account of the doctor who was in charge of case while i was in the hospital and etc]