Saturday, September 26, 2009

John Chrysostom: Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil describes Event not Nature

In just the same way Adam knew that obedience is good and disobedience wrong, but he later learned it more clearly when he was expelled from the garden for tasting fruit from the tree, and forfeited that blessed state. Since he fell foul of punishment for tasting fruit from the tree despite God's veto, then, the punishment taught him more clearly how wrong it is to disobey God and how good to obey - hence the tree's being called knowledge of good and evil. Why is it that, if the very nature of the tree did not contain the knowledge of good and evil, and instead the human being learned it more clearly from punishment for disobedience in regard to the tree, the tree is called knowledge of good and evil? Because this is a custom with Scripture, when an event happens in places or at times, to call the places and times after the events.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Sermon 7 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, p. 118 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.