Thorns and Thistles: An Object Lesson

(Mazrocon) #1

Hello Folks.

I just recently started posting on this site again, and it’s nice to see some familiar faces, as well as some new ones. I wanted to write a post about the Genesis curse, and include some verses that I don’t see a lot of discussion on.

It was always my impression, growing up, that the curse described in Genesis, was merely as a means of punishment for man’s wicked deeds, and because of this it’s caused a view of creation that is not “very good”, but a creation that is tainted and untrustworthy. But reading the mentions of the curse, described in Genesis 3-9, taken holistically, I got a very different impression of what it was about … and it points as a teaching lesson, as well as our need for a savior.

Here are the verses that describe the curse of the ground.

Genesis 3:17-18

“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake [because of you] … thorns and thistles shall it grow for you …”

Here the curse is first initiated, due to Adam’s sin.

Genesis 4:10-12

“And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength …”

Here, we see the curse of the ground becoming even worse for Cain, due to his sin.

Genesis 5:28-29

“And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.

But as soon as we get to chapter 5, there’s a change of direction. There’s a glimmer of hope that this curse won’t always be, and that this man named Noah, might be the answer (alluding to Noah as a messianic archetype) …

Then, as we all know, the flood takes place, and were back to square one … but there’s one last mention of the curse in this story, AFTER the flood takes place.

Genesis 9:21

“And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth …”

And here is the conclusion! The curse began (Adam), it got worse and worse (Cain and his progeny)… then there was hope of redemption (Lamech’s words) … and a resolution (God’s words to Noah) …

There’s a couple things I would like to draw your attention too. God is saying to Noah I will NOT AGAIN curse the ground because of man. If it’s true that thorns and thistles were first brought into this world because of Adam’s sin, then shouldn’t equal attention be brought to God’s words to Noah, implying that the curse of the ground is lifted (and because the flood itself, is the cause of it)?

But herein lies the problem … we still have thorns and thistles. They are still here.

So what are we to make of this conundrum? The answer lies in the the last part of the verse … “BECAUSE man is wicked from his youth.” If we read closely to the implication, the thorns and thistles were for a very specific purpose in mind: to deter man from his wicked deeds. But in the end, this is not sufficient to change man’s ways … for what are thorns and thistles but external hardships? They do not aim at the INTERNAL. They do not aim at the HEART.

So my question is: “What is the story telling us? Is it teaching us about the origin of thorns? OR is teaching about the human condition and our propensity to sin and sin again?” … my view is the latter.

So although Noah is portrayed as both another Adam as well as a messianic archetype (I won’t go into all the details as to why this is at this moment, but they are there), it ALSO portrays Noah as insufficient, and a fallible human being like the rest of this … it’s only till we get to Jesus do we find a real savior.

It’s also interesting to note that right after God says he won’t send curses anymore, that just a few verses later, it’s NOAH who is giving out curses to his grandson Kenan.

Man truly is wicked from his youth …

What are your thoughts on my observations? I’m curious to hear them :slight_smile:

(Christy Hemphill) #2

Here is my first random thought, not based on any actual scholarship or careful study. (It would be interesting to find out what Hebrew and ANE scholars say about “cursing the ground.”)

In Romans 1 God’s judgment is portrayed as a giving over of humanity to their own wickedness and the inevitable consequences of their self-rule. I think that is interesting. It’s not that God proactively does bad things to them, it’s more that he allows them to live outside the order of his grace and provision, which turns out to be a curse.

I tend to think of the curse of Genesis similarly. God had provided Adam and Eve with this sacred space of care, provision, and protection in his presence in Eden. The caveat for enjoying God’s care and protection, living in his order and shalom, was submitting to his rule. When Adam and Eve chose self-rule, they removed themselves from this grace and life got harder and more disordered. But I don’t see it so much as God proactively punishing them (inventing thorns and thistles just to spite them) as it is God letting in some of the chaos and disorder he was holding at bay in the sacred space he wanted humans to live in with him. Since they chose to be their own gods so to speak, he gave them the hard work of bringing order and flourishing to the world. Maybe to teach them that they don’t do as good a job of it as God does.

(Mazrocon) #3

Hey Christy.

This to me is a great explanation. It sorta brings to mind the situation that happened in 1st Samuel 8, where the people rebelled against God, “wishing to have a king like other nations” … And God allowed this to take place, and they ended up with a very shifty king, Saul. Or like the parable of the prodigal son, where he ends up leaving his father’s rule, and ends up in the pig slop … we’re free to chose our path but not free from the consequences of our choices (not to sound cheesy)

The thrust of my argument was aimed at the assertion that we lived in a cursed, thorn-ridden, creation, because of one man’s sin … but I’m not exactly sure how that squares with Genesis 9:21, that implies that the “curse of the ground” is over, and is a nice conclusion to the “curse of the ground” section?

This, of course, isn’t a problem if you look at the narrative under a symbolic / spiritual lens, but it DOES seem to be a problem when looked at under a literal lens.

Noah’s flood, as well as the crossing of the Red Sea, are both portrayed in the NT as a form of “baptism” (1st Corinthians 10:2 and 1st Peter 3:21) … a turning away from sin, so to speak, and to walk in newness of life. The death of 600 Egyptian chariots, as well as the deaths in Noah’s flood, are referring to renewal and a new era beginning. The thorns beginning with Adam and ending with Noah (the symbolic Second Adam), fits very well, theologically, with the “creation / un-creation” paradigm of the story.

P.S. The 600 chariots could very well be ANOTHER hidden thematic connection to the 600th year of Noah’s life connection I was referring too earlier …

(Mazrocon) #4

I would also be curious hearing what Hebrew scholars have to say about “the curse of the ground”, and even how it was understood before the New Testament came into being.

I read the Epic of Gilgamesh awhile back, and I found a curious parallel between it and the Old Testament. In one section Gilgamesh comes towards a groups of godlike figures called “the scorpion people” … and the only reason Gilgamesh is able to look at them is because he’s “more God than human” … which ties in with the conception of the Hebrew belief that if “one were to see God they would die” …

(George Brooks) #5

Scorpion people are guardians of the entrance into the underworld…

The Greeks had a very long list of mythological creatures … perhaps collected from all the peoples with whom they came into contact:

Mythological creatures

Anax, a giant and a son of Uranus
Asterius or Aster, a giant.
Athos, a giant.
Alcyoneus, a giant.
Almops, a giant, son of the god Poseidon and the half-nymph Helle.
Aloadae, they were strong and aggressive giants.
Otus (or Otos)
Amphisbaena, a serpent with a head at each end.
Antaeus, half-giant son of Poseidon and Gaia. Killed by Heracles.
Arachne, a half-spider half-female, she is the mother of all spiders. She was made into that by Athena, after losing to a weaving contest after she boastfully said she was the best.
Arae, female daemons of curses. Particularly of the curses placed by the dead upon those guilty of their death, called forth from the underworld.
Argus, a 100-eyed giant.
Azeus, a giant.
Catoblepas, it had the body of a buffalo and the head of a wild boar.
Centaur and Centauride, a head and torso of a human with the body of a horse.
Typical Centaurs
Agrius, one of the Centaurs who Heracles fought with.
Amycus, one the Centaurs who fought at the Centauromachy.
Asbolus, in Greek mythology, was a centaur. He was a seer, or an auger. He was a diviner who read omens in the flight of birds.
Bienor, one the Centaurs who fought at the Centauromachy.
Centaurus, father of centaurs.
Chiron, the eldest and wisest of the centaurs. The ancient trainer of heroes.
Chthonius, a Centaur who was killed by Nestor at the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia.
Cyllarus, one the Centaurs who fought at the Centauromachy.
Dictys, one the Centaurs who fought at the Centauromachy.
Eurytus, a Centaur present at the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia, and the one that caused the conflict between the Lapiths and the Centaurs by trying to carry the bride off.
Eurynomos, one the Centaurs who fought against the Lapiths at the wedding of Hippodamia.
Elatus, a Centaur killed by Heracles.
Eurytion, two different Centaurs had the same name.
Hylaeus, a centaur who tried to rape Atalanta. He was killed by Meleager.
Hylonome, a Centauride, wife of Cyllarus.
Nessus, famous centaur, known for being killed by Heracles.
Perimedes, one the Centaurs who fought at the Centauromachy.
Phólos, a centaur.
Pholus, a wise centaur and friend of Heracles.
Thaumas, a centaur.
Rhaecus, a centaur who tried to rape Atalanta. He was killed by Meleager.
Cyprian Centaurs, bull-horned centaurs native to the island of Cyprus.
Lamian Centaurs or Lamian Pheres, twelve rustic spirits of the Lamos river. They were set by Zeus to guard the infant Dionysos, protecting him from the machinations of Hera but the enraged goddess transformed them into ox-horned Centaurs. They accompanied Dionysos in his campaign against the Indians.
Winged Centaurs
Cerastes, spineless serpents which have a set of ram-like horns on their heads.
Cetus or Ceto, sea monsters.
Ceuthonymus, daemon of the underworld. Father of Menoetius.
Charon, the ferryman of Hades.
Charybdis, a sea monster whose inhalations formed a deadly whirlpool or a huge water mouth.
Chimera, a fire breathing three-headed monster with one head of lion, one of a snake, and another of a goat, lion claws in front and goat legs behind, and a long snake tail.
Chthonius, a giant.
Crocotta or Cynolycus, creature with the body of a stag, a lion’s neck, cloven hooves, and a wide mouth with a sharp, bony ridge in place of teeth. It imitates the human voice, calls men by name at night, and devours those who approach it. It is as brave as a lion, as swift as a horse, and as strong as a bull. It cannot be overcome by any weapon of steel.
Cyclops or Cyclopes, they were one-eyed giant creatures.
Arges, one of the children of Gaia and Uranus. Uranus locked him in Tartarus.
Brontes, one of the children of Gaia and Uranus. Uranus locked him in Tartarus.
Steropes, one of the children of Gaia and Uranus. Uranus locked him in Tartarus.
Polyphemus, son of Poseidon.
Assistants of the god Hephaestus, Hephaestus had some Cyclopes as his assistants at his workshops.
Diomedes of Thrace, was a giant, the son of Ares and Cyrene
Dryad, tree spirits that look similar to women.
Echion, a giant.
Eurynomos, the netherworld daemon of rotting corpses dwelling in the Underworld.
Enceladus or Enkelados, a giant who battled Athena at the war against the gods.
Erinyes (Furies), the goddesses of vengeance, who were the offspring of Gaia born from the blood shed when Cronus castrated his father Uranus. Their number is usually left indeterminate, Virgil mentions that they were three:
Eurytus, a giant.
Ghosts, Shades, Spirits.
Gegenees, six-armed giants which were slain by the Argonauts.
Geryon, was a giant according to Hesiod Geryon had one body and three heads, whereas the tradition followed by Aeschylus gave him three bodies. A lost description by Stesichorus said that he has six hands and six feet and is winged; there are some mid-sixth-century Chalcidian vases portraying Geryon as winged. Some accounts state that he had six legs as well while others state that the three bodies were joined to one pair of legs.
Gigantes, were a race of great strength and aggression. Archaic and Classical representations show Gigantes as human in form. Later representations show Gigantes with snakes for legs.
Gorgons, monstrous women depicted as having snakes on their head instead of hair, tusks and whiskers.
Medusa, whose gaze could turn anyone to stone.
Stheno, most murderous of the sisters.
Euryale, whose scream could kill.
Graeae, three old women with one tooth and one eye among them.
Persis or Perso or Persos
Griffin or Gryphon or Gryps or Grypes, a creature that combines the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.
Hecatonchires, three giants of incredible strength and ferocity.
Briareos or Aegaeon
Harpies, creature with torso, head and arms of women, talons, tail and wings (mixed with the arms) of bird.
Hippalectryon, a creature with the fore-parts of a rooster and the body of a horse.
Hippocampus, a creature with the upper body of a horse and the lower body of a fish.
Hippogriff, a creature with the front part of an eagle and hind legs and tail of a horse, symbols of Apollo.
Lernaean Hydra, also known as King Hydra, a many-headed, serpent-like creature that guarded an Underworld entrance beneath Lake Lerna. It was destroyed by Heracles, in his second Labour. Son of Typhon and Echidna.
Ichthyocentaurs, a pair of marine centaurs with the upper bodies of men, the lower fronts of horses, and the tails of fish
Ipotane, a race of half-horse, half-humans. The Ipotanes are considered the original version of the Centaurs.
Keres, spirit of violent or cruel death.
Achlys, she may have been numbered amongst the Keres. She was represented on the shield of Heracles.
Kobaloi, was a sprite from Greek mythology, a mischievous creature fond of tricking and frightening mortals.
Laestrygonians or Laestrygones, a tribe of giant cannibals.
Antiphates, King of the Laestrygonians.
Lion-Headed Giants
Leon or Lion, killed by Herakles in the war against the gods.
Manticore or Androphagos, it has the body of a red lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth.
Merpeople, human with fish tail after torso (Mermaid as female, Merman as male), they lure adventurers to drown them.
Minotaur, a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man; slain by Theseus.
Mimas, a giant.
Multi-headed Dogs
Cerberus (Hellhound), the three-headed giant hound, that guarded the gates of the Underworld.
Orthrus, a two-headed dog, brother of Cerberus, slain by Heracles.
Onocentaur, part human, part donkey. Head and torso of a human with the body of a donkey.
Ophiotaurus (Bull-Serpent), a creature part bull and part serpent.
Orion, giant huntsman whom Zeus placed among the stars as the constellation of Orion.
Pallas, a giant.
Panes, a tribe of nature-spirits which had the heads and torsos of men, the legs and tails of goats, goatish faces and goat-horns.
Periboea, a Giantess. Daughter of the king of the giants
Philinnion, unwed maiden who died prematurely and returned from the tomb as the living dead to consort with a handsome youth named Makhates. When her mother discovered the girl she collapsed back into death and was burned by the terrified townsfolk beyond the town boundaries.
Phoenix, a golden-red fire bird of which only one could live at a time, but would burst into flames to rebirth from ashes as a new phoenix.
Polybotes, a giant.
Porphyrion, a giant.
Satyrs and Satyresses, companions of Pan and Dionysus which had human upper bodies, and the horns and hindquarters of a goat.
Silenus or Papposilenus, was a companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus.
Scylla, lover of Poseidon, transformed by Circe into a many-headed, tentacled monster who fed on passing sailors in the straits between herself and Charybdis.
Scythian Dracanae, upper body of a woman, lower body composed of two snake tails.
Sirens, bird-like women whose irresistible song lured sailors to their deaths
Skolopendra, giant sea monster said to be the size of a Greek trireme. It has a crayfish-like tail, numerous legs along its body which it uses like oars to move and extremely long hairs that protrude from its nostrils. Child of Phorcys and Keto.[1]
Spartae, a malevolent spirit born from violence. Argo crew member Jason fought alongside these creatures after discovering the dragon teeth could create these violent spirits. Spartae are normally depicted as a skeletal being with some form of a weapon and amry fatigue.
Sphinx has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and the face of a woman.
Stymphalian Birds, man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims.
Taraxippi, ghosts that frightened horses
Thoon, a giant.
Tityos, was a giant.
Typhon or Typhoeus, extremely savage and terrifying monster with man’s upper body, snake coils instead of legs and serpentine fingers.
Unicorns or Monocerata, creatures as large as horses, or even larger with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from their forehead.
Vampire Daemons
Corinthian Lamia, a vampiric demo who seduced the handsome youth Menippos in the guise of a beautiful woman to consume his flesh and blood.
Empousa, seductive female vampire demons with fiery hair, a leg of bronze and a donkey’s foot. They are especially good at ensnaring men with their beauty before devouring them.
Lamia, a vampiric demon who by voluptuous artifices attracted young men, in order to enjoy their fresh, youthful, and pure flesh and blood.
Mormo or Mormolyceae or Mormolyce, a vampiric creature which preyed on children.
Mormolykeia, female underworld Daemons, attendants of the goddess Hecate.
Werewolf or Lycanthrope.
Winged Horses or Pterippi, winged pure white horses.
Pegasus, a divine winged stallion that is pure white, son of Medusa and Poseidon, brother of Chrysaor and father of winged horses.
Animals from Greek mythology[edit]
Alectryon (Rooster), Alectryon was a youth, charged by Ares to stand guard outside his door while the god indulged in illicit love with Aphrodite. He fell asleep, and Helios, the sun god, walked in on the couple. Ares turned Alectryon into a rooster, which never forgets to announce the arrival of the sun in the morning.
Birds of Ares or Ornithes Areioi, were a flock of feather-dart-dropping birds that guarded the Amazons’ shrine of the god on a coastal island in the Black Sea.
Calydonian Boar, a gigantic boar sent by Artemis to ravage Calydon.Was slain in the Calydonian Boar Hunt.
Clazomenae Boar, gigantic winged sow which terrorized the Greek town of Klazomenai in Ionia, Asia Minor.
Crommyonian Sow, the Crommyonian Sow was a wild pig that ravaged the region around the village of Crommyon between Megara and Corinth, and was eventually slain by Theseus in his early adventures.
Erymanthian Boar, a gigantic boar which Heracles was sent to retrieve as one of his labors.
The Cattle of Geryon, magnificent cattle guarded by Orthrus.
The Cattle of Helios, immortal cattle of oxen and sheeps owned by the sun god Helios.
The black-skinned cattle of Hades, the cattle owned by Hades and guarded by Menoetes.
Cercopes, monkeys.
Cretan Bull, was the bull Pasiphaë fell in love with, giving birth to the Minotaur.
Dionysus Leopard, Dionysus often shown riding a leopard.
Dionysus Panthers, the panthers drawn the chariot of Dionysus.
Actaeon dogs
Argos, Odysseus faithful dog, known for his speed, strength and his superior tracking skills.
Golden Dog, a dog which guarded the infant god Zeus.
Guard Dogs of Hephaestus Temple, the temple of Hephaestus at Mount Etna was guarded by a pack of sacred dogs.
Laelaps, a female dog destined always to catch its prey.
Maera, the hound of Erigone, daughter of Icarius of Athens.
Donkey of Hephaestus, Hephaestus often shown riding a donkey.
Donkey of Silenus, Silenus was riding a donkey.
Ceryneian Hind, an enormous deer which was sacred to Artemis; Heracles was sent to retrieve it as one of his labours
Elaphoi Khrysokeroi, four immortal golden-horned deer sacred to the goddess Artemis. They drew the goddess’ chariot.
Aetos Dios, giant golden eagle of Zeus.
Aethon or Caucasian Eagle, a giant eagle, offspring of Typhon and Echidna. Zeus condemned Prometheus to having his liver eaten by the Caucasian Eagle for giving the Flames of Olympus to the mortals.
Giant turtle, Sciron robbed travelers passing the Sceironian Rocks and forced them to wash his feet. When they knelt before him, he kicked them over the cliff into the sea, where they were eaten by the giant sea turtle. Theseus killed him in the same way.
Golden-haired ram, from which the Golden Fleece, which was held in Colchis, have been made.
Anemoi, the gods of the four directional winds in horse-shape drawn the chariot of Zeus.
Zephyrus or Zephyr
Arion, the immortal horse of Adrastus who could run at fantastic speeds.
Horses of Achilles, the immortal of Achilles.
Horses of Ares, immortal fire breathing horses of God Ares.
Horses of Eos, a pair of immortal horses owned by the dawn-goddess, Eos.
Horses of Erechtheus, a pair of immortal horses owned by the king of Athens, Erechtheus.
Horses of Dioskouroi, the immortal horses of the Dioskouroi.
Horses of the Hector
Horses of the Helios, immortal horses of the sun-god Helios.
Horses of the Poseidon, immortal horses of the god Poseidon.
Mares of Diomedes, four man-eating horses belonging to the giant Diomedes.
Ocyrhoe, daughter of Chiron and Chariclo. She was transformed into a horse.
Trojan Horses or Trojan Hippoi, twelve immortal horses owned by the Trojan Kings Laomedon.
Karkinos, a giant crab which fought Heracles alongside the Lernaean Hydra.
Nemean Lion, a gigantic lion whose skin was impervious to weapons; it was strangled by Heracles.
Rhea’s Lions, the lions drawn the chariot of Rhea.
Little Owl, bird of god Athena
Screech Owl (Ascalaphus), bird of god Hades
Snakes of Hera, Hera sent two big snakes to kill Herakles when he was an infant.
Swans of Apollo, the swans drawn the chariot of Apollo.
Teumessian fox, a gigantic fox destined never to be hunted down.
The dragons of Greek mythology were serpentine monsters. They include the serpent-like Drakons, the marine-dwelling Cetea and the she-monster Dracaenae. Homer describes the dragons with wings and legs.
The Colchian Dragon, an unsleeping dragon which guarded the Golden Fleece
Cychreides, a dragon which terrorised Salamis before being slain by Cychreus
Demeter’s dragons, a pair of winged dragons that drew Demeter’s chariot and, after having been given as a gift, Triptolemus’s
Delphyne, female dragon.
Giantomachian dragon, a dragon that was thrown at Athena during the Giant war. She threw it into the sky where it became the constellation Draco
Lernaean Hydra, also known as King Hydra, a many-headed, serpent-like creature that guarded an Underworld entrance beneath Lake Lerna. It was destroyed by Heracles, in his second Labour. Son of Typhon and Echidna.
The Ismenian Dragon, a dragon which guarded the sacred spring of Ares near Thebes; it was slain by Cadmus
Ladon, a serpent-like dragon which guarded the Golden apples of immortality of the Hesperides
Maeonian Drakon, a dragon that lived in the kingdom of Lydia and that was killed by Damasen
Medea’s dragons, a pair of flying dragons that pulled Medea’s chariot. Born from the blood of the Titans
Nemean dragon, a dragon that guarded Zeus’ sacred grove in Nemea
Ophiogenean dragon, a dragon that guarded Artemis’ sacred grove in Mysia
Pitanian dragon, a dragon in Pitane, Aeolis, that was turned to stone by the gods
Python, a dragon which guarded the oracle of Delphi; it was slain by Apollo.
Rhodian dragons, serpents that inhabited the island of Rhodes; they were killed by Phorbus
Thespian dragon, a dragon that terrorized the city of Thespiae in Boeotia
Trojan dragons, a pair of dragons or giant serpents from Tenedos sent by Poseidon or Apollo to kill Laocoön and his sons in order to stop him from telling his people that the Wooden Horse was a trap.
Solar Dragons
Drakons (“δράκους” in Greek, “dracones” in Latin) were giant serpents, sometimes possessing multiple heads or able to breathe fire (or even both), but most just spit deadly venom.
The Laconian Drakon was one of the most fearsome of all the drakons. Drakons don’t have wings like dragons either
Cetea were sea monsters. They were usually featured in myths of a hero rescuing a sacrificial princess.
The Ethiopian Cetus was a sea monster sent by Poseidon to ravage Ethiopia and devour Andromeda, which was slain by Perseus
The Trojan Cetus was a sea monster that plagued Troy before being slain by Heracles.
The Dracaenae were monsters that had the upper body of a beautiful woman and the lower body of any sort of dragon. Echidna, the mother of monsters, and Keto, the mother of sea-monsters are two famous dracaenae. Some Dracaenae were even known to have had in place of two legs, one (or two) serpent tail.
Campe, a dracaena that was charged by Cronus with the job of guarding the gates of Tartarus; she was slain by Zeus when he rescued the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires from their prison
Ceto, a marine goddess who was the mother of all sea monsters as well as Echidna and other dragons and monsters.
Echidna, wife of Typhon and mother of monsters.
Poena, a dracaena sent by Apollo to ravage the kingdom of Argos as punishment for the death of his infant son Linos; killed by Coraebus.
Scythian Dracaena, the Dracaena queen of Scythia; she stole Geryon’s cattle that Heracles was herding through the region and agreed to return them on condition he mate with her.
Scylla, a dracaena that was the lover of Poseidon, transformed by Circe into a multi headed monster that fed on passing sailors in the way between her and Charybdis
Sybaris, a draceana that lived on a mountain near Delphi, eating shepherds and passing travellers; she was pushed off the cliff by Eurybarus.
Automatons, or Colossi, were men/women, animals and monsters crafted out of metal and made animate in order to perform various tasks. They were created by the divine smith, Hephaestus. The Athenian inventor Daedalus also manufactured automatons.
The Hippoi Kabeirikoi, four bronze horse-shaped automatons crafted by Hephaestus to draw the chariot of the Cabeiri
The Keledones, singing maidens sculpted out of gold by Hephaestus
The Khalkotauroi, fire-breathing bulls created by Hephaestus as a gift for Aeëtes.
The Kourai Khryseai, golden maidens sculpted by Hephaestus to attend him in his household.
Talos, a giant man made out of bronze to protect Europa Esther
Acephali (Greek akephalos, plural akephaloi, from a-, “without”, and kephalé, “head”) are human without head, with their mouths and eyes being in their breasts.
Amazons, a nation of all-female warriors.
Aegea, a queen of the Amazons
Aella (Ἄελλα), an Amazon who was killed by Heracles
Alcibie (Ἀλκιβίη), an Amazonian warrior, killed by Diomedes at Troy
Alke (Ἁλκή)
Antandre (Ἀντάνδρη), an Amazonian warrior, killed by Achilles at Troy
Antiope (Ἀντιόπη), a daughter of Ares and sister of Hippolyta
Areto (Ἀρετώ), an Amazon
Asteria (Ἀστερία), an Amazon who was killed by Heracles
Bremusa (Βρέμουσα), an Amazonian warrior, killed by Idomeneus at Troy
Celaeno (Κελαινώ), an Amazonian warrior, killed by Heracles
Eurypyle (Εὐρυπύλη), an Amazon leader who invaded Ninus and Babylonia
Hippolyta (Ἱππολύτη), a queen of Amazons and daughter of Ares
Hippothoe (Ἱπποθόη), an Amazonian warrior, killed by Achilles at Troy
Iphito (Ἰφιτώ), an Amazon who served under Hippolyta
Lampedo (Λαμπεδώ), an Amazon queen who ruled with her sister Marpesia
Marpesia (Μαρπεσία), an Amazon queen who ruled with her sister Lampedo
Melanippe (Μελανίππη), a daughter of Ares and sister of Hippolyta and Antiope
Molpadia (Μολπαδία), an Amazon who killed Antiope
Myrina (Μύρινα), a queen of the Amazons
Orithyia (Ὠρείθυια), an Amazon queen
Otrera (Ὀτρήρα), an Amazon queen, consort of Ares and mother of Hippolyta
Pantariste (Πανταρίστη), an Amazon who fought with Hippolyta against Heracles
Penthesilea (Πενθεσίλεια), an Amazon queen who fought in the Trojan War on the side of Troy
Arimaspi, a tribe of one-eyed men.
Atlantians, people of Atlantis.
Chalybes, were a Georgian tribe of Pontus and Cappadocia in northern Anatolia.
Cynocephaly, dog-headed people.
Curetes, legendary people who took part in the quarrel over the Calydonian Boar.
Dactyls, mythical race of small phallic male beings.
Hyperboreans, mythical people who lived “beyond the North Wind”.
Korybantes, were armed and crested dancers.
Lotus-eaters, people living on an island dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.
Machlyes, hermaphrodites whose bodies were male on one side and female on the other.
Monopodes or Skiapodes, a tribe of one-legged Libyan men who used their gigantic foot as shade against the midday sun.
Myrmidons, legendary warriors commanded by Achilles.
Panotii, a tribe of northern men with gigantic, body-length ears.
Pygmies, a tribe of one and a half foot tall African men who rode goats into battle against migrating cranes
Spartoi, mythical warriors who sprang up from the dragon’s teeth.

(Jon) #6

I like your reasoning. The view that God only invented thorns after the fall is fraught with Scriptural difficulties and flies in the face of clear evidence from creation itself.


(Mazrocon) #7


Wow! That’s an extremely long list of mythical Greek creatures. Are you interested in Greek mythology?


Thanks Jon!

I don’t believe the idea of thorns arising SOLELY from Adam’s sin as very biblically or scientifically sound either.

Continuing with your train of thought, I was also confused with the idea that carnivores are a result of human sin as well, (and why it is that only happened after the flood rather than right after Adam’a sin) …

It’s a shame to me that the Christian community is so divided on this issue of Genesis. It seems to me that most people only study it under the context of how it can work with science, or avoid the subject entirely so as to not cause unnecessary conflict with different views …

For me Genesis provides a lot of spiritual depth, and am continually surprised by what I see in its pages.

(Christy Hemphill) #8

Yeah. If it’s not being used as a weapon for origins battles, it’s being used as a weapon for gender theology battles. It’s hard to find anyone talking about it for what its (more likely) intended theological points are.

(George Brooks) #9

The whole notion that Adam’s sin CHANGED THE COSMOS seems contrived… word magic of the Roman era.

I don’t believe the Jewish readers came to this conclusion.

(Jon Garvey) #10


I’m on record as agreeing with Mazrocon on the significance of this curse and the role of Noah in alleviating it, so this is a small quibble only on your graphic, which I think contains dodgy reasoning.

For those who take the curse as the literal creation of thorns as a penalty for sins, they affirm only “There will be thorns and thistles”. So the answer any of them would give to the question in the graphic is, “Because he didn’t want to make everything thorny, Dummy.”

I doubt that “Why would God…?” is ever a good line of argument, whether in this case, theodical arguments or anything else, because it assumes God thinks our way, when he quite clearly doesn’t.

(Jon Garvey) #11

Hi Mazrocon, and welcome back!

For what it’s worth the case for the lifting of the curse by Noah’s sacrifice has been made in the academic literature, but has been opposed by some respectable scholars including Gordon Wenham in his Genesis commentary.

His case is based on a single point of grammar which, in his view, means that God’s word’s to Noah must have the effect of “I will not extend the curse…” rather than “I will rescind the curse…”

I have to say that in my view that’s the kind of argument that I’ve seen disputed (and rejected) many times in other contexts: Hebrew grammar is no more precise in that respect than English is, in making meaning (and doctrine) turn upon a single word-ending, and one usually finds such arguments used to maintain a particular doctrinal stance (I could give a couple of other examples if I racked my brains, but it’s not important here). In this case, so much has hinged on that curse historically - as the sole explanation for the entire range of “natural evil” - that one can appreciate why there should be opposition to modifying its significance.

The weightier arguments, to me, are:
(a) The curse on the ground is a specific additional punishment to the male line for Adam’s listening to the serpent, rather than the fulfiment of God’s warning of death for disobedience to his own command, which is fulfilled in the whole race. Adam and Eve receive death for their disobedience - the individual punishments for Adam, Eve and the serpent are not part of the same sentence, but specific penalties for specific acts.
(b) This specific curse is left hanging in the air, never to be mentioned again in the Bible except for the prophecy given at Noah’s birth that he would bring relief from the curse, and the pronouncement of God over Noah’s offering that confirms it. If the curse still exists now, then it’s the denouement prophesied by Noah’s father Lamech that is left hanging.
© There is a parallel in the other ANE flood accounts of the gods’ attempts to deal with the “human problem” by first sending famine, before the flood, which is maybe reflecting a particular, limited and local, curse for the generations from Adam to Noah.

If those issues are relevant, the curse would be a particular punishment on Adam and his line, and God’s rescinding of it part of the general “amnesty” of grace on the human race that is taught in the Noahic covenant. The main thrust of that covenant is to suggest that God will not deal with sin in the same final way in future, but keep accounts against a final day of judgement - mankind will be able to get on with living in prosperity, even in their sin, with God playing a long game. (That’s why Paul, for example, can evangelize the Lystrans by appealing to the agricultural blessings that have always been God’s witness to them, rather than appealing to the hardship of life as evidence that they are cursed and need salvation).

Remember that the emphasis of God’s sentence on Adam was his “working by the sweat of his brow”, which is graphically represented as “thorns and thistles amongst the crops” - it’s not about creating thorns and thistles for the first time (any more than the covenant curses of Leviticus 26 are about the creation of wild beast etc, but their judicial distribution). God controls nature, and uses it judicially throughout Scripture - it needs no remake in response to sin, and neither does the Bible describe one…

And so the curse is by no stretch of the imagination about the wholesale reworking of creation to include thorns, poisons, diseases, carnivores, tsunamis or anything else we happen to dislike in the world. Indeed, that view has only been popular since the Reformation, as I argue here.

So my one disagreement with your interpretation is that I disagree that that thorns and thistles have any current relevance to sin, except insofar as the whole of nature was created from the first with the capacity to be used by God either to bless (hawthorn hedges have always been the traditional stock controller in this part of the world) or curse (“the garden’s overrun with thistles this year!”).

(Jim Lock) #12

@Christy @Mazrocon So I dug out my wife’s handy dandy C. John Collins’ Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary. He concludes that any curse can only have been for the ground and not the entirety of creation. He notes that the same verb ‘arar’ isn’t used again until Deuteronomy 28:17-18 where specific curses are leveled against various, and very specific, endeavors. He goes on to point out that a similar variation ‘me’era’ (its looks similar in Hebrew but I don’t have that keyboard) is used elsewhere in Deuteronomy to describe the emotional states “…confusion and frustration in all that you undertake to do…”

My cursory reading this morning seems to support the OP’s position that the curse is more about

than the creation of thorns and thistles. Some additional reading on the immediate consequences of the Fall also seem to support this. When Adam and Eve realized they were naked they could see themselves through the other person’s eyes and immediately saw their own faults and weakness from which they drew their shame. In other words, it wasn’t so much that God punished Adam and Eve as much as he told them the consequences of the knowledge they had just gained. Working the ground isn’t to bad if don’t know that pain isn’t good.


(Mazrocon) #13

Nice to see you again, too, Jon. I know I seemed to have “disappeared” rather suddenly … lol.

The idea of the creation getting “re-worked” too include that which we find unpleasant, seems to be also contradicted in the first chapter itself. The first creation story, I take to be telling about the way things ARE … not the way things WERE. Hence, I must conclude that God believed what he made to be “very good”, and that He still thinks that way now.

I’ve expressed earlier how I found your article to be quite enlightening, but I just want to say once more, I like your concluding remarks especially: “What Does it Mean for My Father to Call this Creation Good” is a much better and deeper question for us to ponder, then to conclude that God made the whole cosmos, and through one man’s fault, the entire cosmos fell into order and chaos … it can change one’s outlook for sure.

Just recently, I watched a debate between Ken Ham (president of AiG) and Hugh Ross (president of an old earth creationist organization). And at one point Ken Ham brought up natural disasters. He said (paraphrased) …

“Now people think of when a big tsunami happens, and causes destruction, people cry out, “Oh how could God do this?” … but I have to take a step back and realize that I live in a fallen world. It’s not God’s fault this happens … it’s because we live in fallen creation. That God sounds more like an ogre … doesn’t sound like the God I worship.”

This statement, too me, sounds quite revealing about how Ken Ham views the world, and demonstrates how a mountain was made from a mole hill. Thorns and thistles for Adam (mole hill), too tsunamis, earthquakes, diseases, etc., for the entire world (mountain) …

I wonder what one would make of these passages? 1st Samuel 2:6-8, Isaiah 45:7, etc.,

I don’t believe that thorns and thistles are currently significant to sin either, as the story from Adam to Noah, from the “cursing of the ground” to the what I understand to be the “rescinding of the curse” with the symbolic “Second Adam”, seems to me to be a coherent package in teaching us a moral, and almost parabolic.

“I shall not curse the ground anymore for man’s sake, because man is wicked from his youth”

It goes full circle, demonstrating the human condition. Something must cut deeper than outside forces … something must aim at the heart. That’s the way that it seems to me, in any case. The thorns and thistles were more of a “vehicle” to carry a message … rather than the message itself.

(Mazrocon) #14


I’d be curious to read that book, Jim. It sounds fascinating.

I hope you don’t mind me sharing a fragment of your article, Jon. I thought the quotes from Augustine, thorns, and “the big picture” to be quite insightful, and relevant to this discussion :slight_smile:

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) is one of the most influential theologians in the Church’s history. Since
John Hick wrote Evil and the God of Love his theodicy has frequently been cited, and almost equally
frequently deemed inadequate to account for natural evil. This is not surprising as Augustine did not
intend it to deal with the natural world, but “for the spiritually damaged subject”20. Since Augustine
is such an important figure, and his teaching on nature is scattered widely and extensively in his
work, I will give a number of quotes. First, let’s address how he deals with Genesis 3 itself:

The very fact, after all, that everyone born in this life finds the search for truth impeded by
the perishable body is what is meant by the toil and grief which the man gets from the earth;
and the thorns and thistles are the pricks and scratches of tortuous, intractable problems, or
else the anxious thoughts about providing for this life, which frequently choke the word and
stop it bearing any fruit in man…21

Note that his treatment is allegorical and spiritual: the thorns and thistles of life are “really” that
which stops the word bearing fruit in our perishable lives, as in the parable of the sower. Nature he
handles from other angles. In his autobiographical Confessions he prays his theology as it affects him
practically from day to day:

To you nothing at all is evil, not only to you but to your creation at large, because there is
nothing outside to break in and upset the order you have imposed on it. But in parts of it
some things do not harmonise with other parts, and are considered evil for that reason. But
with other parts they do harmonise and are good, good in themselves… Let it be far from me
to say: “These things should not be”, for if these were the only things I could see, I should still
long for the better, and should be bound to praise you for these alone. [But when I understood from Scripture the praise arising from all things both in earth and heaven] I did not now long for better things because I considered everything.22

Here we see the core of his thinking – that we see evil in creation only because we lack the big
picture both of God’s purposes, and of creation’s functioning. He goes into more detail in The City of

This cause, however, of a good creation, namely, the goodness of God—this cause, I say, so
just and fit, which, when piously and carefully weighed, terminates all the controversies of
those who inquire into the origin of the world, has not been recognized by some heretics,
because there are, forsooth, many things, such as fire, frost, wild beasts, and so forth, which
do not suit but injure this thin blooded and frail mortality of our flesh, which is at present
under just punishment. They do not consider how admirable these things are in their own
places, how excellent in their own natures, how beautifully adjusted to the rest of creation,
and how much grace they contribute to the universe by their own contributions as to a
commonwealth; and how serviceable they are even to ourselves, if we use them with a
knowledge of their fit adaptations,— so that even poisons, which are destructive when used
injudiciously, become wholesome and medicinal when used in conformity with their qualities
and design; just as, on the other hand, those things which give us pleasure, such as food,
drink, and the light of the sun, are found to be hurtful when immoderately or unseasonably
used… But we do not greatly wonder that persons, who suppose that some evil nature has
been generated and propagated by a kind of opposing principle proper to it, refuse to admit
that the cause of the creation was this, that the good God produced a good creation.23

The same idea of the “big picture” is here, but there are several new things to note too. First is that
he only considers “harm” in relation to humanity. Though he must have been as aware of nature’s
harshness to its own as we are, he simply saw no theological problem to address there, and no
“privation of good”. Secondly we find the biblical idea that some things may harm us because we
deserve punishment: yet the things that execute such punishment are not in themselves evil, but
good. The third is that he regards those who see evil in God’s present creation as heretics. It is hard
to see that he would not apply his final sentence to those who see either Satan or evolution as an
“opposing principle” in nature, responsible for its “evils” independent of God’s determining will. In
this, of course, he is following in direct line from Irenaeus and his condemnation of the Gnostics –
who were almost the only people attached to the early Church talking about evil in the natural

Later, Augustine justifies the goodness even of animal death, which must surely be instructive if we
seek to understand evolution as a work of God:

But it is ridiculous to condemn the faults of beasts and trees, and other such mortal and
mutable things as are void of intelligence, sensation, or life, even though these faults should
destroy their corruptible nature; for these creatures received, at their Creator’s will, an
existence fitting them, by passing away and giving place to others, to secure that lowest
form of beauty, the beauty of seasons, which in its own place is a requisite part of this world.
For things earthly were neither to be made equal to things heavenly, nor were they, though
inferior, to be quite omitted from the universe. Since, then, in those situations where such
things are appropriate, some perish to make way for others that are born in their room, and
the less succumb to the greater, and the things that are overcome are transformed into the
quality of those that have the mastery, this is the appointed order of things transitory. Of
this order the beauty does not strike us, because by our mortal frailty we are so involved in a
part of it, that we cannot perceive the whole, in which these fragments that offend us are
harmonized with the most accurate fitness and beauty. And therefore, where we are not so
well able to perceive the wisdom of the Creator, we are very properly enjoined to believe it,
lest in the vanity of human rashness we presume to find any fault with the work of so great
an Artificer… Therefore it is not with respect to our convenience or discomfort, but with
respect to their own nature, that the creatures are glorifying to their Artificer. Thus even the
nature of the eternal fire, penal though it be to the condemned sinners, is most assuredly
worthy of praise.24

Augustine even doubts the commonly understood implication of Genesis 3:18:

Concerning thorns and thistles, we can give a more definite answer, because after the fall of
man God said to him, speaking of the earth, Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you. But
we should not jump to the conclusion that it was only then that these plants came forth from
the earth. For it could be that, in view of the many advantages found in different kinds of
seeds, these plants had a place on earth without afflicting man in any way. But since they
were growing in the fields in which man was now labouring in punishment for his sin, it is
reasonable to suppose that they became one of the means of punishing him. For they might
have grown elsewhere, for the nourishment of birds and beasts, or even for the use of man.25

Finally, a word from his work on original sin, which may serve to hinder us from being too ready to
compare animal behaviours with human immorality, and so draw the conclusion that “original sin” is
in fact an evolutionary phenomenon with natural evil simply merging into moral evil:

God’s work continues still good, however evil the deeds of the impious may be. For although
“man being placed in honour abideth not; and being without understanding, is compared
with the beasts, and is like them,” yet the resemblance is not so absolute that man actually
becomes a beast. There is a comparison, no doubt, between the two; but it is not by reason
of nature, but through vice — not vice in the beast, but in nature [i.e. the difference between_ _animal and human nature]. For so excellent is a man in comparison with a beast, that the
man’s vice is the beast’s nature.26 <<<

From Jon Garvey’s article, God’s Good Creation.

(Jon) #15

[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:10, topic:5529”]
For those who take the curse as the literal creation of thorns as a penalty for sins, they affirm only “There will be thorns and thistles”.[/quote]

The argument I have always heard and was taught, is that thorns and thistles did not exist before the fall. In fact just last year I saw a YEC forum debating the troubling discovery of fossilized thorns which are millions of years old, and trying to find ways of “explaining” this uncomfortable fact. That is the view of CMI, which states “That means that death, toil, the need to till the soil to grow field crops, along with the appearance of thorns and thistles, all resulted from Adam’s sin”. They explain it like this.

The answer lies in the observation that thorns, prickles and spines are degenerative—mutant leaves or parts of leaves that didn’t unfold properly; leaf bases that have failed to grow into leaves or are left over when leaves fall off or failed branch development. It is easy to imagine a once-perfect world without such spiny projections, but in today’s world, mutations and other biological development errors are abundant—and increasing.

On the issue of fossilized ancient thorns, CMI claims “these Devonian spiny plants cannot have been buried and fossilized until after Adam sinned”, and “the dinosaurs, too, can only have been buried and fossilized after Adam sinned”. Their explanation is this.

A much more likely scenario is that the Devonian leafless plant fossils with their “spine-like appendages”21 were in reality leafy plants while living. Once those plants were uprooted and washed away by swirling floodwaters in the mayhem of the global Deluge, the leaves became detached from the plant, which became buried (and fossilized) separately

Make of that what you will.

Of course it is, and that’s exactly what I expect them to say. The aim of the exercise is not to pose a question they can’t answer, but to pose a question which demonstrates their ad hoc reasoning process.

That might be valid if it was being used to try and figure out how God thinks, but it’s not being used that way. It’s being used to figure out how other people think, and sheds light on what they think about how God thinks (incredibly, it seems He so often thinks the way they do!). It’s a very good line of thinking for exploring people’s beliefs and why they hold them.

(Jon Garvey) #16

Mazrocon - I think your Ken Ham quote reaches far beyond the YEC view to a much wider modern perception of God (which, in my view, ultimately arises from the assumption of a fallen creation). Ham is, despite his apparent reliance on Scripture, prioritising here his own perception of the world, and drawing subjective moral conclusions from it, over God’s self-revelation in both creation and Scripture.

That, of course, is what he habitually accuses “evolutionists” of doing by preferring science to Scripture: but in truth, theologically much evolutionary discourse has done just as he does and reached the same, unscriptural, conclusions.

Charles Darwin could not believe a loving God would make Ichneumonidae wasps, Richard Dawkins that such a God could not be responsible for the (supposed) agonising deaths of most animals, Francisco Ayala (writing for BioLogos!) that it is blasphemous to attribute the faulty human reproductive system with its spontaneous abortions to God, and Darrel Falk (running BioLogos) that God would not have created the ingenious intricacies of viruses.

Such thinking - questioning God’s goodness in creation and so denying his involvement - pervades much modern theology too, and dates back to Leibniz (and not really much before), but colours all sides in the origins discussion, as my book attempts to document. And it’s likely that this pessimistic view of creation goes back to the unfortunate tendency of the Reformers to extrapolate “thorns and thistles” beyond their role in Genesis.

So the YEC assumption about these verses actually reflects a far bigger issue, which is the widespread loss of the true biblical picture of God, and his creation, affecting not only much Christian thinking, but the perception our wider culture has of the creation.

(Mazrocon) #17

In one sense, I tend to have a lot of respect for the Old Earth Creation position over YEC, and some forms of TE / EC. The vast majority of YECs contend that God CAN’T be responsible for those things which we find unpleasant: diseases, tsunamis, carnivorous activity, death, and so forth … and thus all of that is lobbed into one idea, namely, that the cosmos became fallen due to Adam’s sin.

While on the flipside, many ECs (I won’t say everyone, of course, but a significant number) can tend to say that “evolution” is responsible for things like viruses and such, while at the same time argue that, “God guides evolution” or “God uses evolution” … which sounds to me like “having your cake and eating it too” …

An Old Earth Creationist viewpoint, however, can do no such thing. They find the evidence for an Old Universe compelling, which includes all that comes with it … death, suffering, disease, etc., … all of which God ordained BEFORE Adam’s sin. They can’t say “evolution did it” (implying, somehow, “not God” in other words) because they don’t believe in evolution (ironically … they believe in it LESS than YECs) …

(Phil) #18

I share your position, as old earth creationists and ID people tend not to deny the obvious, and we essentially just argue over mechanism.

(system) #19

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