Taking a Look at the Fall (Part 1)
By David R. Torres
This series sets out to examine the narrative of the Fall of mankind into sin in Genesis 3. This text is chosen because it is essential in understanding not only the rest of Genesis, but the entire Old Testament as well. To bring out the fuller meaning of the narrative several questions will be addressed. These questions are first, what is the order that God had established for his creation? Second, what does this order inform us about the Fall and it’s implications? And last, what is the effect of this on our theology?
By close examination, we’ll see that more is going on than merely Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God’s injunction regarding the forbidden fruit. We’ll shed light on the Fall narrative found in Gen. 3 against the backdrop of chapters 1 and 2. When viewed in its proper context, Gen. 3 depicts the Fall as a reversal of the created order and a rejection of humanity’s vice regency.
THE CREATION NARRATIVE AS PROPER BACKDROP
In the first two chapters of Genesis, humanity is created in the imago Dei, the image of God. But, we must carefully note that the term “in” is ambiguous. It can lead to the assumption that the image is something that is found in man. In fact, the Hebrew phrase tselem (“in the image”) could be translated “created as the image [of God].” Adam is created as a finite reflection of his Maker. As God is the creator and rules over all things, so man is created as His image and given dominion over the entire earth. Both Gen. 1:26 and 2:19 illustrate the divinely mandated pre-eminence of man over creation. Regarding the image of God as reflected in Man’s ascendancy over the rest of creation, Charles Lee Feinberg states:
Many have seen the meaning of the image in man’s dominion over nature with the corollary concepts of endowment with reason and upright stature. They point out that Genesis 1:26 unmistakably affirms man’s dominion in the immediate context where image is found. Thus it is reasoned, the image consists in man’s lordship over lower creation about him, which is meant by God to be subject to man. It is more correct to declare that the image is the basis or foundation for the dominion. (“The Image of God,” Bibliotheca Sacra 129. 1972. Pg 239)
The call to rule the over the world in subjection to God’s authority is what I have referred to as humanity’s vice regency. We see that both man and women shared this duty:
Gen 2:18: And the LORD God said It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.
Gen 2:24: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
In Gen. 1:26-27, God decrees both the creation and function of man before he brings him into being. Similarly, the creation of women is preceded by a decree that includes the reason and purpose of her creation. The creation of women as a helper for man contextually seems to indicate a functional subordination in her relationship with man. There is an order or hierarchy of responsibility established in the first two chapters. God is Lord over all that he has created; the male has a primacy of responsibility over the female, the women having been created after and from the male; human beings (both male and female) have authority over all other living things that inhabit the earth.
As we’ll soon see, the first six verses in the third chapter of Genesis depict the fall of man as the inversion of this order…