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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Eden Narrative: A Literary and Religio-historical Study of Genesis 2-3
Mettinger, Tryggve N. D.

Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2007 pp. xvii + 165. $29.50


Description: In a book marked by unusually readable yet academic style, Mettinger transforms our knowledge of the story of Eden in Genesis. He shows us a story focused on a divine test of human obedience, with human disobedience and its consequences as its main theme. Both of the special trees in Eden had a function: the tree of knowledge as the test case, and the tree of life as the potential reward for obedience. Mettinger adopts a two-tiered approach. In a synchronic move, he understakes a literary analysis that yields striking observations on narratology, theme, and genre in the text studied. He defines the genre as myth and subjects the narrative to a functional analysis. He then applies a diachronic approach and presents a tradition-historical reconstruction of an Adamic myth in Ezekiel 28. The presence of both wisdom and immortality in this myth leads to a discussion of these divine prerogatives in Mesopotamian literature (remember Adapa and Gilgamesh). The two prerogatives demarcated an ontological boundary between the divine and human spheres. Nevertheless, the Eden Narrative does not evaluate the human desire to obtain knowledge or wisdom negatively. A piece of fresh, original scholarship in accessible form, this book is ideal for courses on creation, primeval history, the Bible and literature, and the Bible and the ancient Near East.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, Literature

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Review by Howard N. Wallace
Published 12/20/2008
Citation: Howard N. Wallace, review of Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Eden Narrative: A Literary and Religio-historical Study of Genesis 2-3, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2008).


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