Friday, November 28, 2008

Is knowledge bad?

By their disobedience, the first humans attained wisdom but lost the chance for immortality. By obedience, they would have won both: immortality and wisdom. This observation shows me that the Eden Narrative is not a divine assessment of wisdom (knowledge) in negative terms but a divine lesson on the ultimate priorities that should prevail: first, obedience to the commandment, then all the rest following as a free gift (compare with Matt 6:33). In my first chapter, I quoted James Barr, who asked what was wrong with the knowledge of good and evil that God did not want the first humans to have it. My answer is: nothing! The narrator presents God as giving them the possibility of achieving both—by obedience to the divine commandment.—Mettinger in The Eden Narrative, page 130

<idle musing>
That is still true today. Knowledge without obedience is empty and puffs up; knowledge with obedience is freeing and life-giving. What does I Corinthians 13 say? “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” RSV
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Bill Heroman said...

Obviously, and practically speaking, I like knowing stuff and I want to know more. But knowledge is like anything else - it can become the enemy of God in my heart, soul and life. Although some knowledge may have a special potential for disrupting our spiritual sensitivity, I don't believe God forbids us from seeking knowledge at all.

That said, in Genesis God says something like "Eat that one and die." So I can't imagine how Mettinger gets past that to say eating it later on would have been okay.