Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 7 of 16)

0037 In chapter three, Mark Smith asks, “What do contemporary scholars say?”

0038 Clearly, without Saint Paul, original sin does not swim below the surface of consciousness, like a fish waiting to catch the eye of Saint Augustine.

0039 Contemporary scholars suggest that Adam and Eve know not what they do.  Where have I heard that before?  They cannot be culpable for disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,because they do not know good and evil.

The logic is circular.  But, it is hard to refute.

0040 Interpretation1b, the potential underlying the reader’s acquisition of meaning, presence and message from the author2a, retrieves an intersection of insight2V and conditions2H.  That is what the author2a is!  The author2b is an intersection, arising from the fusion two actualities. 

0041 So, who is the author?

During the centuries after the exile, when the Scriptures are compiled, the authors are the ones gathering material for redaction.  They have a lot to work with, because the bards of Israel actively draw on sources from throughout the region, weaving them together in cogent and coherent narratives.  The bards of Israel bring the stories of Adam and Eve out of their domestic tradition.  The bards of Israel dramatically render Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Oh, and you know about Joseph!  The bards of Israel remind me of Joseph. The bards of Israel outperform the priestly class.  They are not dull and ritual oriented.  They wear cloaks of many colors.  Their garments are seamless.  And, their reputations are colorful and seamy.

0042 Centuries later, Jesus steps into their sandals.

One of the remarkable features of the gospels is how they do not recite the stories in the Scriptures, even though such recitations may have been the bulk of Jesus’ orations.  Audiences hear the same stories from Jesus as from any other bard (or “wandering preacher”).  Plus, with Jesus, there is more.  The kingdom of God is at hand, in the Word made flesh, not the script made permanent.  The parables, the analogies and the lessons of Jesus, offered to his admirers, come like fireworks at the end of an event.  The event is the telling of the stories of Israel.  The stories raise the questions that Jesus addresses.  What is the kingdom of God?

0043 The bards do not write.  They recite.  They are held to strict account by their audiences.  That includes women who tell their children the traditional fairy tales.  These women are the condition2H that preserves the early Genesis stories through millennia, starting with the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  Not the start of the Ubaid, when the world still seems like paradise.  Rather, later, when labor and social specializations generate inequalities so great that nothing seems quite right.

Adam and Eve are fairy-tale figures who, like so many fairy-tale figures, capture an archetypal image of an event that cannot be properly pieced together.  Why?  Changes occur over generations.  No one knows what exactly is going on.  But, the fairy-tale figures indicate that ‘something’ is going on and this ‘something’ has to do with their drama.