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Justice and Helplessness

I have been trying to understand the justice in God’s speeches in Genesis 3:14-19. For this is the context in which to make sense of the great puzzle I find in his words to the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (3:16). It is, strikingly, the first time . . . . Continue Reading »

The Mother of All Living

I have been trying to understand why Genesis speaks of the woman’s desire for her husband only after the first disobedience. This requires an understanding of the justice of God in the sequence of three speeches addressed to the serpent, the woman and the man (in that order) in Gen. 3:14-19. I’m . . . . Continue Reading »

The Painful Good

In the story of Genesis, why do we hear of the woman’s desire for her husband only after the first disobedience? The answer must lie in the interlocking meaning of all three speeches in Genesis 3:14-19,  where God speaks in sequence to the serpent, the woman and the man.The common thread of . . . . Continue Reading »

The Woman’s Desire

I want to return to the deeply puzzling question: why does Genesis treat the woman’s desire for her man (Gen. 3:16) so differently from the man’s joy in the woman (Gen. 2:23)? Why does the one come after the first disobedience, and the other before—as if a woman’s sexual desire is a . . . . Continue Reading »

Glory in the Highest

In many churches, Christmas Eve is the first time we hear the Gloria since Advent began. We have been awaiting the coming of glory, and now here it is, the angels singing Gloria in excelsis: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace (Luke 2:14). Both the song and the occasion speak of a new . . . . Continue Reading »

The Serpent Bites the Dust

The sequence of three speeches of God in Genesis 3:14-19 (to the serpent, the woman, and the man) illustrates biblical justice, which is to say a justice that does more than punish ; it sets things right and corrects what is wrong. The sequence begins with the only curse God directs at a living . . . . Continue Reading »

Sexual Desire and Justice

One of the deepest puzzles I find in the book of Genesis is its treatment of sexual desire and procreation. Whereas the man’s joy in his wife is an expression of the goodness of creation  that takes place before sin and death enter the story, the woman’s desire for her husband is mentioned . . . . Continue Reading »

Excuses, Excuses

The first time human beings have a conversation with God in Genesis they are making excuses, trying to shift the blame for what they have done. Taken with the proper skepticism, the excuses are very revealing: they tell us a great deal about what went wrong in humanity’s primal disobedience. They . . . . Continue Reading »

The Serpent’s Lie

When the serpent first speaks in Genesis, the woman is eager to correct him. His opening speech is probably best construed, according to many modern scholars, as an incomplete subordinate clause: in Robert Alter’s translation “Though God said, you shall not eat from any tree of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Evil and the Absence of Truth

The book of Genesis does not give an ultimate explanation of the origin of evil, for evil is at its heart not explicable or intelligible, just as darkness is by its nature not visible. It stems not from a positive presence but from an absence, not a reason but a form of unreason: a failure, a lack, . . . . Continue Reading »

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