Nakedness & Coverings In Genesis 3: What They Are And Why It Matters -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 22:0 (NA 2017)
Article: Nakedness & Coverings In Genesis 3: What They Are And Why It Matters
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger


Nakedness & Coverings In Genesis 3:
What They Are And Why It Matters

Mark A. Snoeberger1

Nakedness plays an important rhetorical role in the Fall/Curse narrative of Genesis 3. It is also an idea that, perhaps on account of the awkwardness it evokes, has been less than thoroughly explored. The term naked appears four times in the pericope (2:25; 3:7, 10, 11) and the fact and remedy for nakedness supply bookends for the story (2:25; 3:21), further underscoring its significance for interpretation. Why God employed such an uncomfortable theme in the chapter is, as we shall discover, a matter of some debate, but most would agree that God’s intent is to lay stress on some feature of Adam and Eve’s sin and/or its remedy, the greater focus of the chapter. A very popular interpretive suggestion in Reformed and evangelical biblical theology has been that the nakedness motif points to Adam and Eve’s guilt and that the coverings motif is typological of sacrificial atonement. More recently, several biblical theologians have adopted Paul’s clothing/baptism motif as a more promising point of typological emphasis. Several factors, however, stand against these understandings. It is the purpose of this article to demonstrate firstly that the text itself points explicitly to the systematic theological ideas of shame and mortification, and secondly that the common errors of identification are symptomatic of the excessively typological and Christocentric hermeneutics that dominate current expressions of evangelical biblical theology.

The Fact Of Nakedness In Genesis 3

Our study begins with the last verse of Genesis 2, which serves as a transition between the blissful state of chapter 2 and the disaster in chapter 3. Adam and Eve begin their primitive existence both naked (עָרוֹם) and without shame (יִתְבֹּשָׁשׁוּ לֹא).2 The idea of nakedness without

shame is a rare one in the OT, as nakedness after this initial mention is uniformly associated with negative ideas such as poverty (...

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