OTGD Lesson 4 Notes: The Fall

Texts:
Genesis 2–3; 1 Corinthians 15:20–22; 2 Nephi 2:5–30;
2 Nephi 9:3–10; Helaman 14:15–18; Doctrine and Covenants 19:15–19;
29:34–44; Articles of Faith 1:2; “Fall of Adam,” Bible Dictionary, page 670.

Try Ardis Pashall’s DH approach here (see here, scroll down to “Here’s a point about Biblical studies”):
These chapter and verse divisions are foreign and largely arbitray; the story of Genesis 1 appears to wrap up in Gen. 2:4. Then a new story appears to begin. So we “wall off” story 1 and study story 2. The only thing we really bring to story 2 from story 1 in our reading tends to be the commandment to multiply (also the bit about dominion over the earth, but it doesn’t figure much into our fall narrative). This approach also highlights some of the other differences between story 1 and story 2, whcih I won’t get into, but which are worth exploring on your own.

Also “these are the generations of ___” framing. Generations of earth and heaven, Adam, Noah, etc.
1:1-2:3 Prologue
2:4-4:46 History of heaven and earth
5:1-6:8 Family history of Adam
6:9-9:29 Family history of Noah
10:1-11:9 Family history of Noah’s sons
11:10-26 Family history of Shem
11:27-25:11 Family history of Terah
25:12-18 Family history of Ishmael
25:19-35:29 Family history of Isaac
36:1-37:1 Family history of Esau
37:2-50:26 Family history of Jacob
Gordon Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis, 1:xxii, found here.

The above is a framing device generally attributed to one of the DH sources, while the details get filled in by one of the other sources, if I recall correctly.

Splitting the stories up in this way is interesting because it highlights something about the “conflicting commandments” approach we often take with the Fall. That is, the conflicting commandments story is only possible when you squish story 1 and story 2 together and read them as one story. It is also worth pointing out that the conflicting commandments argument about the Fall comes from John Widstoe’s writings in the 1940s–even for Mormonism, this is a pretty late doctrinal development.

LDS approaches to the Fall:
1) Fortunate Fall
2) Conflicting Commandments

Results of the Fall (a-j in the manual; k – are my additions)
a. Adam and Eve were able to have children, which allowed us to come to
earth and receive mortal bodies (Moses 5:11; 6:48; 2 Nephi 2:23, 25).
b. We experience physical death, or separation of the physical body from the
spirit (Moses 4:25; 6:48; 2 Nephi 9:6).
c. We experience spiritual death, or separation from God’s presence (Moses
4:29; 6:49; 2 Nephi 9:6).
d.We are partakers of misery and woe (Moses 6:48; Genesis 3:16–17).
e. We are capable of sinning (Moses 6:49, 55; 2 Nephi 2:22–23).
f. The ground is cursed, causing us to need to work (Moses 4:23–25; Genesis
3:17–19).
g. We can learn to recognize good and evil (Moses 4:28; 6:55–56; 2 Nephi 2:23;
Genesis 3:22).
h.We can have joy in mortality (Moses 5:10; 2 Nephi 2:23, 25).
i. We can know the joy of our redemption (Moses 5:11).
j. We can obtain eternal life (Moses 5:11).
k. Eve cursed with painful childbirth, desire toward her husband.
l. Adam to “rule over” Eve.
m. We are afforded some protection from disembodied spirits (Joseph Smith, find ref)

Are these descriptive–that is, statements of how things will be or prescriptive–that is, statements of how things should be?

The sin-transgression discussion could be interesting.
1. A sin and a “transgression of the law” are different things. Elder Oaks compares this to the difference between something wrong because its wrongness is inherent, while other things are wrong because they are prohibited. (Why isn’t breaking the Word of Wisdom coded as a transgression, but not as a sin? To me, it’s the pinnacle of a commandment based on malum prohibitum). Were Adam and Eve “punished” or were the changes in their state a natural result (or simply the consequences) of their actions? This seems to feed into the descriptive vs. prescriptive question about the results of the fall.

Adam and Eve:
1. Talk about Adam and Eve as a model of Aristophanes’ double-people who are split in two as a result of an attempt to scale Olympus. The half-people have a yearning for their other halves. Eve is formed from a part of Adam–does he miss it? How does he feel to be reunited with his missing part? Eve is literally a part of him.

2. Eve as “help meet”: help is divinely given; meet is something like “equal to” or “sufficient for”. What does this suggest about gender relations?

3. Moving on from their creation and their status before “the Fall”–what are the differences between life before and after the eating the fruit? What can we learn from these differences? Are the changes descriptive or prescriptive?

The Bible rarely seems to comment or follow up on Adam and Eve and the Fall. None of the passages refer to this series of events as “a fall”–although the Book of Moses does. What do you make of this? How does the Bible “solve” the problems of the Fall? How does modern revelation and modern scripture solve the problem? (There’s got to be a less awkward, more “Mormon” way of saying this. I guess it is interesting that there really isn’t any sort of intervention by God to “solve” the problem of “fallen” man and women, but that God’s later interventions have different motivations. Indeed, it does seem like Christianity is more interested in this question than Judaism is, as it provides Christianity with some grounds for requiring redemption from sin.)

Satan is the “father of lies”: What lies does he tell Eve?

Is there something to be said about the likelihood that Eve’s desire is sexual and connected with her pain in childbirth? I’m not really sure what I’d say or how I’d say it or what sort of discussion would be worth having on the point.

I feel like I’m leaving out Jesus. This isn’t a class on the text of the OT, but on how we as Mormons read the OT. And the manual is right that the Fall is important because it tells us why we need something. It doesn’t necessarily tell us what we need–it could be a law, although perhaps it suggests that law is not what we need. There is lots of interesting stuff here about Jesus, about how the gospel solves the problem of the fall.

Things I read to prepare for this lesson:

The BYU Studies lesson resources page is fantastic. I found the first two articles there.

  • “Mormonism’s Satan and the Tree of Life,” by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Ronan J. Head, Element: A Journal of Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Volume 4, no. 2. The authors lay out a three-fold puzzle regarding Satan’s role in the Fall, according to Mormon scripture: First, it’s not clear what Satan means when he says he’ll redeem all mankind; second, it’s not clear how Satan can destroy human agency; third, it’s unclear why it’s necessary for spirits to get embodied. They propose a solution to these problems by arguing that Satan acted in the garden in an unauthorized manner. In this sense, he said and did nothing that was incorrect, except that it wasn’t his job. Additionally, God intervenes to prevent Adam and Eve from eating the fruit from the Tree of Life, which Alma explains would have eliminated their opportunity to use their agency in a probationary state. Satan “redeems” mankind by preventing them from leaving an immortal, innocent state, “removes” agency by preventing mankind from having a probationary state, and prevents them from having bodies, which Joseph Smith and Lehi taught protect them from Satan and others who wish them ill.
  • “The Cherubim, the Flaming Sword, the Path, and the Tree of Life,” by Donald W. Parry, The Tree of Life: from Eden to Eternity. The article makes some interesting points about the garden of Eden and its geography, although I’m pretty skeptical about the author’s conclusions about the path. The Garden of Eden is on the East of Eden, the Garden appears to be walled off or hedged such that only one gaurdian-cherub was necessary (although cherubim is plural, but still, it/they are only placed East of the Garden). (Also discusses Ezekiel 28)
  • Lehi’s Theology of the Fall in Its Preexilic/Exilic Context,” by Bruce Pritchett, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3(2): 49–83. This article was especially interesting in terms of the possible references to the Fall and Adam that may be included in the Bible. I think he may be overplaying his point somewhat, but it’s still really interesting to see the possibilities here.
  • Ben Spackman’s Blog at Patheos.com. This will probably be a major source for every lesson I teach.
  • The Mormon Theology Seminar on Genesis 2-3 Collaborate Blog (start here)
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