“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.”

Genesis 2:15-17

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

“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 2:15-17)

It strikes me that the best way to get some folk to do something is to tell them not to do it. Human curiosity leads us to ask why we should not do something; if like me, you have a somewhat suspicious streak, telling me not to do something invites the question: what am I missing if I don’t?

The problem is compounded by the suggestion made by many biblical commentators that the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a metaphor for wisdom. Wisdom, in the Bible and in life, is generally considered a good thing. But is it?

Yes and No. Yes, wisdom is a good thing, in that it helps us attain a deeper insight into life, the universe and everything, and not least ourselves. No, wisdom is a bad thing, in that it helps us attain a deeper insight into, well, all the good things mentioned above. Once we gain wisdom into the world in all its complexity, we are at our childhood’s end. We must grow up.

And we learn that everything, including ourselves, is mortal.

The God of Genesis knows this. The God of Genesis also knows that humanity must ultimately ‘eat from the tree’ in order to grow up… and that growing up is difficult, even painful.

Loving God,

Strengthen us as we grow from simplicity to complexity, From Innocence to Wisdom, from the sense of invincibility to the realisation of mortality; may we know your presence every step of our journey.

Amen.

 
Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

a.egan@jesuitinstitute.org.za
See more from Anthony Egan SJ
No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Click to subscribe to:

In terms of the recently gazetted Government Notice 417, section 5.4.1:

Subscribe!