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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

The narrative of "the Fall" is the one of the best known Bible stories. Over the centuries, it has provided a religious and cultural understanding of humanity and how we relate to each other and to divinity. This essay asks if the notion of sin and punishment frequently associated with the story is the only interpretation available for Genesis Chapter 3. Riggle argues that understanding this story as a temptation narrative instead of the pinnacle moment in humanity's "fall" offers a new example of the relationship that exists between humanity and divinity. Viewing the story through the lens of temptation does away with the unquestioned notion of sinfulness that frequently accompanies the story. Instead, eating from the tree becomes symbolic of the difficulties and complications that define humanity's effort to find communion with God despite the gift of freedom. God's actions, therefore, become less punishment and more consequence"God is not taking out anger upon the figures of Adam and Eve, but rather following through on the inevitable consequences of the action. This freedom that is evident in the temptation narrative is what provides the possibility of an authentic relationship with God, but it also is what is responsible for possible distance from God. Riggle claims that this story works to warn humanity that a careful balance must be achieved in order to establish a relationship with God"there must be enough personal freedom that the relationship established is authentic and vital, but not so much as to break from faithfulness.

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