[b-hebrew] Mortality: the return to dust

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Wed Nov 28 03:54:11 EST 2012


I don't think your suggestion about the infinitive absolute + finite cognate gives you the result you want. I think your reading can still be valid, but not because that syntactical construction points to it. Rather, it's just about interpreting the narrative.

Some other suggested interpretations:

  1.  The narrative never implies that Yahweh God makes the human pair immortal. Rather, the implication is that they are very much mortal, but that access to the tree of life staves off death. Thus, death begins when that access is denied. This is quite similar to your suggestion.
  2.  The narrative portrays Yahweh God as gracious by not executing the human pair immediately, but rather allowing them to live for hundreds more years.
  3.  The phrase 'on the day you eat' is idiomatic for 'when you eat', and is not meant to be taken in a strictly literal manner.

There is more than one way to read this text. And the other suggestions you allude to (that Yahweh God lies) are just some among the array of possibilities.

Dean of Research,
Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
Sydney, Australia

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