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Composition: Genesis 3

Margaret McKerron, working with composer Anselm McDonnell, explains:

Reflecting on Genesis 3, commentator George Knight asks, “have any 24 verses in all literature had quite such an impact on human thought everywhere as has this chapter?”

Some parts of the story are better known than others. Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and become “like God, knowing good and evil.” In sharing the fruit with Adam, their eyes are opened and they take to the woods, ashamed of their nakedness and fearful of God’s response. God hears their accounts of what has transpired—accounts peppered with blame and self-justification—and bars them from the Garden of Eden.

On a popular level, the interwoven grace in this passage is less well-known: how God calls them out of hiding and listens, how God provides for their well-being before sending them into the world, and how God’s judgment is entwined with promising that one will come who will bruise the serpent—a promise traditionally interpreted as Messianic. Given how it addresses relational issues of harmony and discord between God, man and woman, and the larger ecological world, Genesis 3 has shaped philosophies about proper relationships between the three; theories about the nature of sin, evil, and death; and beliefs about divine grace and judgment.

Keywords: good vs. evil, knowledge, women’s religious experience, grace and judgement