“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” - Genesis 2:15
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” - Genesis 3:4
Eve eats the fruit and likes what she’s eaten. She persuades Adam to eat from it. The fruit awakens them to the knowledge that they are naked. God is angry at the Serpent and Adam and Even and banishes them from the Garden.
Many, many of us read this story as children, but some of us must have thought it a bit odd. Questions that leapt into my mind were: ‘what sort of crazy god is that? What kind of a God would put two people in a garden and say ‘eat whatever you like but don’t eat from that tree ‘cos it’ll kill you,’ when, in fact, all it did was make one embarrassed about nudity? What’s more, why on earth would a supposedly compassionate god banish two people because they ate a fruit that made them not want to be starkers? To be honest, the Biblical Garden of Eden story is plain weird. It feels like a messed-up, third-hand story that suffers from a serious bout of Chinese Whispers.
It’s therefore very interesting that there exists an ancient text that gives a different and much more logically consistent version of the Garden of Eden story. The text is known as the Secret Testament of John or the Apocryphon of John. It is an ancient text, probably from the century after Christ's death. It is at least as old as the gospels of the New Testament, most of which were written at least a century after Christ's death, but unlike them, it was not chosen by Bishop Iraneus to form the New Testament. Instead, the early Roman Catholic Church tried to destroy it. Fortunately, a few copies survived.
Here’s the Apocryphon of John’s version of the Garden of Eden story: Read More...
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