Illumination And Investiture: The Royal Significance Of The Tree Of Wisdom in Genesis 3 -- By: William N. Wilder

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 68:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Illumination And Investiture: The Royal Significance Of The Tree Of Wisdom in Genesis 3
Author: William N. Wilder


Illumination And Investiture:
The Royal Significance Of The Tree Of Wisdom in Genesis 3

William N. Wilder

William N. Wilder is Director of Educational Ministries at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Va.

According to Gen 1–2 Adam and Eve were created to be rulers—under God, over the world, and with each other. It also seems best to understand their obligations before God within a covenantal framework, one that anticipates the coming covenant with Israel in both its structure and its sad outcome.1 As we shall see, the covenant with Adam and Eve is concerned with much more than retaining whatever rulership they already enjoyed; it offers in addition the prospect of a full accession to the viceregal throne of which God has made

Adam and Eve (and their descendants) the heirs apparent.2 It is not uncommon to suggest that the sabbath-rest of God and his good gift of the tree of life point to the possibility of a greater blessing, still outstanding, that Adam and Eve were to receive after a predetermined period of obedience.3 In addition to these pointers to further blessing, there are two others that are generally neglected.

The first is that other tree in the middle of the garden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Every reader of Gen 1–3 knows that this tree is closely connected with a transformation of Adam and Eve, tragic transformation though it is. It is a change from innocence to sin, from life to death, from blessing to curse. However, there is reason to believe that this tree might have played a role in a very different sort of transformation, had Adam and Eve only obeyed their sovereign lord. In this case the opening of their eyes and acquisition of wisdom—their illumination—would have led to a very different outcome. Rather than serving as the means of their downfall, it would have served as the means of their exaltation—to the righteousness, power, and glory God intended them to enjoy on their viceregal thrones.4

The second is the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Within the ancient Near Eastern (and particularly the biblical) context, nakedness was an undesirable condition for human beings. As we shall see, the nakedness of Adam and Eve at the end of Gen 2 poses a strong, if implied, question for the...

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