Does Genesis 2:17 support or deny BioLogos position on death?

Genesis 2:17 surely die.

  • To “die” has the basic idea of separation.
  • It can mean spiritual separation, physical separation, and/or eternal separation.
  • At the moment of their sin, Adam and Eve died spiritually, but because God was merciful they did not die physically until later (Genesis 5:5).
  • There is no reason given for this prohibition, other than it was a test.
  • There was nothing magical about that tree, but eating from it after it had been forbidden by God would indeed give man the knowledge of evil—since evil can be defined as disobeying God.
  • Man already had the knowledge of good.

Discussion question: How did Adam and Eve understand God’s warning (Genesis 2:17) “surely die”

  1. They witnessed the death of animals before they disobeyed God. This enabled them to understand God’s warning [This supports Biologos view, only if you hold a literal view of genesis]
  2. They never witnessed the death of anything. Therefore God explained death to Adam and Eve. [An argument from silence]
  3. Neither - this part of Genesis is poetic [Neither supports nor denies Biologos position of death before Adam and Eve]

Interesting post @Paul_Allen1. Can you remind me what the BioLogos position on death is? We know things die and have died for hundreds of millions of years.

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Biologos article on sin and death here and here

How do you come to this conclusion? Doesn’t that make God both devious and manipulative? It was a “no win” situation. It was putting an irresistible temptation in full view. If God really wanted it not to be touched He should have protected it. IOW the story does not ring true for what we know of God. There is no way to reconcile God with that scenario.


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You mean their position is that things died long before humanity came on the scene? That’s definitely true. Can you be a little more explicit though in what you think their position on death is?

I would go with your third option as most likely. It was written for the benefit of an audience that was well acquainted with death, that knew what sacrificial death meant, and this passage gives a prologue or back story to their understanding of how and why things were as they were. Why is there death? Why must there be blood sacrifice? And of course, some understanding of Who is God? What does God expect of us?

The provision of skin is definitely blood sacrifice? Why? Are we not in the realm of over spiritualisation? Scripture does not specify any sort of significance to this clothing other than the fact that God improved on Adam’s feeble attempts. Perhaps on this occasion the Devil really is in the details and people are making more than they should about this one. God made garments of Skin… there is nothing to indicate where that skin came from or that it carries any significance other than effective covering of nakedness.


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You can also look at genesis as a ahistorical story. Not the same as a historical story. So when I read it, I believe that a combination of literal interpretation and fictional tales are combined.

The New Testament talks a lot about how the law can bring death because when there is a law it can be broken which is sin and sin brings spiritual death. So I think Adam and Eve existed, and there was many other men and women, and they all understood death. God reached out to at least one couple and perhaps placed them in a literal garden that was a protected paradise. That’s why Cain was afraid to leave it. For me that fits with science and scripture.

3 makes the most sense.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are figurative, not literal history. The fact that there are two creation stories with different orders and methods of creation is excellent evidence that this is not literal history.

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