A Theology Of The Fall In Genesis 3 And The Ancient Near East -- By: James C. Gee

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 26:3 (Summer 2013)
Article: A Theology Of The Fall In Genesis 3 And The Ancient Near East
Author: James C. Gee

A Theology Of The Fall In Genesis 3 And The Ancient Near East

James C. Gee


Genesis is a book of beginnings. It is the record of the beginning of all creation: the universe, the earth, mankind, and the people of Israel. It also contains a record of the beginning of sin and the circumstances of that beginning. This is normally referred to as “the Fall.” As time progressed and sin increased, man eventually digressed so far that he started believing in and worshipping other so-called gods. As a part of this apostasy the account of the beginning of man slowly morphed to fit with the lifestyle of sin, as well as with these new gods and beliefs. Other things crept in to sometimes completely distort the account. But, some similarities remain.

Many of these accounts were written down in different countries, cultures, and languages for various reasons. We have found accounts of Creation and the Flood. What has not been found is a specific account of the Fall (Fretheim 2005: 71). While we do not have a specific account of the Fall from these cultures, many authors believe that several stories contain elements that refer to the Fall, e.g. the Epic of Gilgamesh. This article seeks to compare some of these accounts of the Ancient Near East (ANE) with the account found in Ge 3 to see what can be learned of their theology of the Fall. This will be accomplished by looking at the accounts under one heading or by asking one question. That question is: “What was the nature of the Fall?” Under this question there are several subheadings or questions that we will ask to guide our study. The questions were determined from a reading of the literature on this subject and the things that were highlighted by the various authors. The questions will be asked and, by so doing, the accounts will be compared as the article progresses.

What Was The Nature Of The Fall?

There is a great deal of discussion as to the nature of the Fall. Two basic approaches have been put forth (Fretheim 1994: 145– 49). The first is that it was a fall downward. The second is that it was a fall upward. The fall downward obviously refers to the idea that man was in a perfect state, living in what some have described as a “golden age” or “paradise” (Ries 2005: 2959) and, because of sin, this perfection came to an end. This has been seen as a negative view of the Fall, i.e. “human beings transgress the limits of creatureliness and assume godlike powers for themselves” (Fretheim 2005: 71). But, it is this last part that is seen by some as the basis of a fall upward. Under this idea man was in the dark concerning certain things. He was in a primal state, ignorant, immature, and childlike. When he crossed the bound...

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