The Compassionate God
The drama of Creation in the Book of Genesis is the incipient moment of compassion conceived as a response to human suffering, first in Jewish tradition and then in Christian tradition. Adam, the scion of Creation, breaches the supremely simple and fundamental contract with God, when he fails to overcome his urges and takes a bite from the forbidden fruit: he and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden and condemned to a life of suffering. Adam’s weakness as the underlying reason for this fate of suffering exemplifies the psychological depth of the Bible. Man is easily tempted, enticed precisely by what is forbidden and governed by his curiosity, and, a more complex interpretation would suggest, quickly succumbs to his awakening sexual urges. God is the omnipotent Creator: He created man and bestowed him with a carefree life, with only one, solitary prohibition. When this one rule of the game is broken, God, the judge, sentences Adam and Eve to exile from Paradise and a mortal life of existential distress and pain. Yet the passing of this divine judgment is not a perfunctory process of formality, for the punishment for eating the forbidden fruit ‘of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ was originally set as ‘thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die’ (Genesis 2:17).1
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