Anne Lastman A Reflection “Peter,” The Holy Father, Pope Francis, without breaking the line of…
God gave the command “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you must not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:16-17)
Throughout study of Biblical exegesis much has been written about the above quotation. Many thoughts and ideas posited as to the meaning of the fruits of the garden and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the “midst” of the garden.
Perhaps the understanding can be taken literally. It is a tree which stands in the middle of creation. This tree bears a different type of fruit a fruit which when eaten urges deeper knowledge. However, I would suggest that the meaning of this tree and its fruit is many many levels deeper than first level meaning.
This of course is an opinion but an opinion born of deep thought. Of light bulb moments.
If it is possible to take that “man” (humans) have been in existence for an indeterminate eons then it begins to make more sense.
That human beings slowly evolved from crass, primitive creatures to modern highly evolved ones is generally accepted. That human beings were not always the morally, ethically, technically, spiritually informed creatures is also accepted, so stepping from this understanding we might have a look at the tree and the fruits found in the “midst” of the garden.
Traditional thinking has the “fruit” of the tree in the midst of the garden to be an apple. Of course this is an allegory. The origins of this thought stems from the word “malum” meaning “evil” and “mela meaning “apple” put together and hence the “apple” usually portrayed as the “fruit” which brought evil into the world.
Perhaps we may just leave this understanding at least for the time being and maybe lets look at other possibilities.
Perhaps a good place to start investigation might be Gen 9 and God’s covenant with Noah. At the beginning of Genesis 9 we find God blessing Noah and his family and bidding them to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the face of the earth “(9:1) At this place too we see God appointing the “human” governor over all the created order including the animal kingdom and all types of flora. All created matter is to be under the dominion of “man” and for the use of man including the use of it for food.
However, there is a specification and that specification gives us a first clue what “fruit” in the midst of the garden might be and the possibility of what the “garden” might allude to.
“Everything that moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the life blood of man, By man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God has God made man” (Gn 9. 1-6).
The evolution of human beings from very primitive type hominid is generally accepted by all communities except perhaps the very fundamentalist believers whose view of creation is that it is very very infantile in age. However, if together with science and church belief we can accept that creation of the human being is at least several hundred thousand years old, then it might be possible to envisage a very primitive human species quite unlike the human person who has been ‘spiritualised” with its encounter and connection with Yahweh God.
The human being as we refer to man/woman in the fullest sense of our understanding is an enigma. At some point in time a change occurred which raised the previous hominid to a much more ascetic level than the previous form. This new ascetic level being the encounter with God and God breathing His breath of life and thus changing forever that species’ constitution from one of the perishable into the imperishable. It introduced a divine element renewing a previous rudimentary creature into a creature of magnificence in the image and likeness of God. It is this new “man” which is capable of entering into the domain of God which up until this stage has been habited by God in His triune family and the angels who had not revolted against God. Added to this with the new “man” it would be possible to see new creation enter into the realms of heaven.