I’ve been gradually reading through Genesis and each Wednesday I’ve been posting some reflections. I recently appreciated getting a question from my friend Nat:
‘What’s your take on the significance (i hope I’m remembering this properly) of there being no death in the garden? …ie, if it’s not literal truth’
When Nat asked me this I also wasn’t sure if I was remembering properly. I had a sense that I’d heard people say that there was no death before the humans ate the forbidden fruit. I wasn’t sure whether I’d read that in scripture or whether it was part of the folklore that’s attached to the story. So I thought I’d go back to the text and see if I could find anything suggesting that there was or wasn’t death in the garden.
In the first section of Genesis I couldn’t find anything saying that their was no death in the garden. What I did find was YHWH Elohim becoming concerned about what would happen if the humans ate from the tree of life (and became immortal) after having already eaten from the tree of knowledge.
I’m wondering if other people presumed, like me and Nat, that the story said people were immortal in the garden? If human beings are descibed as already having a limited lifespan in the garden, does that change our attitudes about death?
I’m also wondering if there may be something I’m missing? If you can see something in the text suggesting that humanity was immortal, we’d be keen to hear.