Death Warning in the Garden of Eden 978-3-16-158858-7 - Mohr Siebeck

Chris W. Lee

Death Warning in the Garden of Eden

The Early Reception History of Genesis 2:17

[Die Androhung des Todes im Garten Eden. Die frühe Rezeptionsgeschichte von Genesis 2:17.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-158858-7
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In this book, Chris W. Lee provides a text-critical analysis of the divine death warning in Genesis 2:16–17 in its original context and traces the history of its reception and interpretation within biblical and non-biblical Second Temple Jewish Literature.
In this book, Chris W. Lee examines the early Jewish reception of the divine death warning (Gen 2:16–17) in relation to its interpretative association with the introduction of physical death to humanity. The long-time rationale has been that the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought sin and death 'for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die' (Gen 2:17). In this study, the author begins by examining the meaning of Gen 2:17 in its original context, then tracing its interpretation in subsequent Second Temple Jewish Literature. He examines the Greek translation of Gen 2:16–17 and its translational elements that expand the possible range of understanding of the death warning that would not have originated from the Hebrew text of Genesis. Chris W. Lee then continues with an exegetical analysis of allusions and references to the death warning in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Ben Sira, 1 Corinthians and Romans. He argues, firstly, that there are no explicit narrative clues in the HB as to the physical status of Adam and Eve either as immortal or mortal before their disobedience to God's command in Gen 2:17, and that the death warning itself does not provide textual support for the understanding of the death warning in the sense of becoming mortal. He also argues that Paul's explicit attribution of death to the disobedience of Adam and Eve (1 Cor 15:21–22; Rom 5:12) finds its earlier traces in the course of interpretation of the aforementioned literature: 1) clarification of the meaning of the death warning, i.e. death in the sense of becoming 'mortal' and death due to the violation of the command as applicable not only to Adam, but also to Eve and other human beings; 2) reinforcement of the presumptive association between the death warning and the introduction of death to humanity.

Chris W. Lee Born 1981; 2019 PhD in Old Testament and Hebrew from the University of Edinburgh; currently serving as an associate pastor at Puren-Chojang Presbyterian Church.


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