God showed up in person and talked to man, establishing a personal relationship. The almighty designer-creator God of the universe! Almost inconceivable!
The Garden of Eden was a paradise, but not perfect. It needed someone to work it, probably because of some death and dying in the course of nature. And Satan was there.
This is introduction to major themes in the Bible.
This first story introduces some of the major themes of the Bible: Chosen people ... marriage ... God's law ... desire for other gods ... disobedience ... excuses ... judgment ... punishment ... coming of Jesus ... and missed opportunity for eternal life.
This is just first introduction. Spiritual life. These themes expanded in other parts of the Bible.
In the Eden story, God came to earth in person, for the first time ever, and talked to man, establishing a personal relationship and setting rules. The almighty designer-creator God of the universe coming to man! Almost inconceivable!
The Garden of Eden was a paradise, but not perfect. God said this garden (special place) needed people to work it, presumably because of the normal aging, death and re-birth that was occurring throughout the earth. God placed Adam (already created) into this garden. Satan was already there.
In ancient times – before writing and books – information was transmitted as stories that could be remembered and passed on from generation to generation. Each part of the story was packed with meaning and was explained over and over again by elders to youth, with stern rebuke and correction for even the most trivial deviation. To the ancients, the meaning was the most important part of the story.
See 1.4.1 for major elements of the Garden of Eden story.
A quick reading of the story indicates that Adam's sin was that he ate forbidden fruit, but a careful study shows that eating the fruit was just the outward manifestation of the real sin. God looks through the action, into the heart, to see the motives.
'You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked [God saw their motive] ...' (Genesis 3:4-7)
Adam's sin was that he wanted to be his own god and follow his own rules, no longer subject to God's rules.
The consequences of Adam's sin are discussed at length in the Bible study of Romans 5 (see 1.4.3).
Many Christians believe that the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden is a parable rather than actual fact.
Jesus used parables often in his teaching, and people are not troubled by whether or not the event actually happened. Was the Good Samaritan an actual person? The injured man a real person? The words spoken to the innkeeper an exact quotation?
Effective teaching can be accomplished by telling an illustrative story (an allegory) as well by reporting an actual event.
Whether actual event or allegory, the teaching in this story is clear either way. undefined
THE VIEWPOINT ON THIS SITE is that the Garden of Eden was a real place at a real time with real people, for these reasons:
The Eden story is written in the simple way of ancients, not the way we report events today with sophisticated language. Back then, ethereal concepts were often represented symbolically, a type of shorthand:
These symbols have visual impact that aid comprehension and memory retention.
Whether or not the story contains symbolic elements or figurative people, the essential meaning is clear. Satan's temptation resulted in the first deliberate act of defiance to God – 'the trespass' of Romans 5, trying take God's place – and punishment was denial of access to eternal life. (See 1.4.3)
There are many questions about what happened in the Garden of Eden that require discussion too long to include on this page, including:
See 1.4.2 for discussion of these questions and more.