15 April 2010

Adam, Eve, and the New and Everlasting Covenant

While the importance of the account of the Creation and the Fall in Moses 1-4 cannot be overstated, a careful reading of Moses 5-8 is required to see the prior material in its overall context. Reeves observes:
"Most modern students of the Bible fail to discern the pivotal significance which [the tale of Cain and Abel] plays in the present narrative structure of Genesis because of the enormous religious significance with which ancient, medieval, and modern Christian interpreters have invested the immediately preceding story of Adam and Eve in the Garden...I would like to suggest that while admittedly the episode of disobedience in the Garden was not a good thing, the story of Cain and Abel introduces something far worse into the created order...It represents a critical turning point in antediluvian history, and is...the key crime which leads ineluctably to the Flood."
Foreseeing the similar rise of alluring wickedness in our own time, the Savior warned that "as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man."

The illustration above is taken from Stephen Vincent Benét’s 1936 story The Devil and Daniel Webster, made into a popular film in 1941. Piazza characterizes the latter as “a fascinating allegory, filmed on the eve of World War II, of a society gone mad with materialism, a premonition of the opportunities and dangers awaiting the United States as it recovered from the Great Depression.” Old Scratch is portrayed as polite, refined, and soft-spoken—and as usual, he “gets the best lines” as he preaches his gospel of cold cash to a down-on-his-luck New Hampshire farmer. Warned Benét: “[I]f a smooth-spoken and businesslike stranger should appear at your door and offer you all that money can buy in exchange for your freedom of soul, it might be well to look him over rather carefully. I seem to have heard that there are such people abroad in the world, even today.” ...

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