« FöregåendeFortsätt »
for civilization. Among rude pastoral nations, on the contrary, and in the south, woman is scarcely detained from her usual work at childbirth', as even Werner acknowledges?. In Palestine especially, childbirth is unaccompanied by pain', and it takes place wherever the woman happens to be4. In addition to these circumstances, we may remark the Central-Asiatic colouring of the whole account, with the miraculous trees, the large-leaved fig-trees, and the Cherubim, as well as the mention of Cush in the more general sense-of the Tigris and its course with reference to the extensive Assyrian empire, and of the wellknown Euphrates, which the Hebrews did not reach until a late period :—then again the indisputably correct explanation of the serpent as Ahriman, while no trace of Satan is found previous to the Babylonish Exile, although the image of a serpent was worshiped among the Hebrews up to the time of Hezekiah”. Indeed the theocratic writer cannot here lose all trace of the original which he copied; for enmity is decreed to exist between man and the serpent, just as the Persian is always in hostility with Ahriman.
In the last place, it is particularly observable, that the first reference to the tree of life is in the Proverbs, but that the first to the narrative of this part of Genesis occurs in the Apocryphab; no reference being found to it even in the book of Ecclesiastes, which contains so many philosophical observations on life and death. No decisive argu
1 [The women of the North American Indians are remarkable for the little inconvenience which they suffer in childbirth.]
2 On the first chapters of Genesis, p. 41. Compare Marsden, Sumatra, p. 314 ; Ludolf, Hist. Æth. i. 14; Thevenot, Voyage, i. 1, 25.
3 [See Lady Mary Wortley Montague on the ladies of Constantinople.]
6 See Bretschneider, p. 26.
ment can be derived from the fact that here, as
the Persians, marriage with one wife lies at the foundation of the whole narrative, whilst polygamy only disappeared gradually among the Hebrews, and under their last kingsl ; for it may also be observed that every Hindoo god has only one wife, and that a myth of creation is usually monogamic.
From the preceding remarks it will follow, that whoever desires practically to instruct his fellow-countrymen, must discard the dreams of the dark ages respecting the introduction of hereditary sin as the consequence of man's tasting the tree of knowledge,-a doctrine which is alike dishonouring to God and man,—and he must direct his attention to the refined features of the narrative, such as marriage with one wife, conjugal love, the natural inclination of man to social intercourse, and his earnest desire to obtain knowledge.
[Professor Tuch, in his “Commentary on Genesis?,” gives
the following remarks on the account of Paradise.
“ The description of the life of Adam in Paradise first attracts our attention in this portion of the narrative. The myth represents the body of man as formed of the earth, and the spirit as breathed into it by God; thus distinguishing the divine and spiritual elements in man from the material covering of the body, and generally separating the human being from the animal. Again, while this two-fold character of human nature is recognised, the myth shows that the spiritual and material elements were not originally separated; that man lived at first in the same intimate and direct union with God as with nature; and that this was the very condition which constituted the idea of the life and bliss of Paradise. Such a state of happiness is beautifully described in the mythical narrative, when Adam lives in God's garden receiving from nature all that he requires, without toil or labour, and enjoying a tranquil state of innocence, in harmony with all around him. He is unacquainted with the feeling of fear, because no power has yet been exerted to call it forth; and the myth adds, that there is an absence of the feeling of shame, in order thus to portray the childlike unconsciousness of the man in his natural condition.
i See Gen. iv. 19. ? Kommentar über die Genesis, von Dr. Tuch, (IIalle, 1838) p. 44.
“We must reject the idea that the Deity originally created man holy and perfect, and that whatever of great and noble the human race has produced in the course of its development through thousands of years, is merely a shadow of that primitive perfection. The myth certainly represents man on his entrance into the world as innocent, happy and good; yet the expression (chap. iii. ver. 22) "Behold Adam is become as one of us,' takes away all idea of a primitive state of holiness and perfection.
Upon a closer examination, we find that the early innocence of man in Paradise is simply the moral unconsciousness of his nature, which he shared with animals, and which rendered him incapable of responsibility; for guilt only becomes possible when it is accompanied with consciousness and liberty. Man's original state of union both with God and nature, which constitutes the foundation of all his happiness in Paradise, was in fact a state of indifference with respect to either good or evil; for we may remark that the absence of inclination to evil involves at the same time the absence of inclination to good. But if man had remained in this state, he would not have risen above the grade of animals. God would have implanted the seeds of all that is noble and good in human nature, only to let them perish there; and man, the lord of creation and the image of God, would have been lowered to the unconscious state of a mere animal existence. It is clear that this is not the sphere in which man was designed to move; for he is essentially spiritual, and is destined to enjoy freedom, as well as the power and liberty of choosing good and rejecting evil. This it is which first raises him above the level of the animal creation; and he must originally, whilst in Paradise, have possessed the germs of a power to rise from a mere animal existence into an active and spiritual life. This spiritual development is recognized in the myth, by its placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the centre of Paradise, near to the tree of life, which was supposed in the popular belief to possess the virtue of extending the natural life to eternity. The prohibition too in chap. ii. ver. 17, [against the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], first derives both its purpose and meaning from the power of spiritual development conferred by that tree.
“The nature with which man has been divinely endowed enables him by his own act to attain to a state of spiritual consciousness; he withdraws from the mere animal condition, which now opposes his free spirit as an inflexible necessity; and at the same time the state of his moral indifference to good and evil ceases, by the attainment of consciousness and freedom. Man becomes capable of responsibility, and thereby responsible; he has from that moment to bear the consequences of his actions; guilt becomes possible, and is realized by the separation from God. Thus the cessation of the direct union between God and man appears really to have constituted the fall of man. But there is a further purpose set before man, in the scheme of Providence, to attain which he enters on a struggle during life. He has to overcome the opposition of nature, and to bring necessity into subjection to liberty; he is destined to be the lord over nature, and by his own exertions to accomplish a union with it through freedom. He has to strive to attain again unto God, and to return to innocence,—not indeed to the state of mere childish innocence, but to that true innocence which, by the removal of the [previous] contradiction, has now become the result of freedom and consciousness. Thus the regard of man is turned towards that Paradise which at the close of his labours is to reward his struggle for virtue and truth; and the belief of a later age is not groundless, that the pious assemble in Paradise (see the description of Enoch, chap. v. ver. 24), and that the return of the life in Paradise forms an essential feature in the circle of the Messianic expectations. Compare Isaiah xi. 6-91
“The narrative contained in the third chapter of Genesis exemplifies that eternal aspiration of the human mind which is a necessary condition of its existence, and this portion of the book is unquestionably the most profound and the most satisfactory of all the myths of antiquity. The first human being comes to the tree of knowledge without at that time possessing the power of distinguishing
1 Prof. Tuch's Kommentar über die Genesis, p. 47.