Forbidden fruit

Well, so far — like the serpent in the Garden of Eden — I’ve questioned the nature of truth, insinuated that we don’t really want to know the truth, argued that our conscience can hinder our quest … and even gone so far as to suggest that we wouldn’t be able to articulate the truth if we discovered it.

In this post (part five in my mini-series), I wanted to go further still: I do not believe that mere words, whether spoken or written, can adequately express truth. But there’s something else I need to deal with first.

In a recent post titled The Agony of Babel (Myths of Language, Part II), EddystoneLight goes “combing through the ruins of the Tower of Babel.” This is a topic which, as I have previously admitted to him, interests me greatly. My approach is very different from his, of course, because my intentions are very different.

“God confused the languages of the nations because he wanted to stop them from getting to heaven,” asserts EddystoneLight. Which, if we remain within the cordon of the literal text, is a fair-enough reading.

But if we extract the structural essence of this statement, we find it closely aligns with an earlier structure: that of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

In its useful précis of the story, the Wikipedia article says: “A serpent tempted Eve, who was aware of the prohibition against eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3:1-6). The serpent had suggested to Eve that eating the fruit would bestow wisdom upon them. Eve and then Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and they became aware of their nakedness (Genesis 3:6-7). After discovering their disobedience, God banished the couple from the garden in order to deny them access to the Tree of Life, which would have bestowed immortality onto them.”

The “curse” that follows is an apt expression of the human condition. “In Christian theology,” says Wikipedia, “the tree of knowledge is connected to the doctrine of original sin (Gen 2:17 and 3:1-24).”

What must inevitably follow here is a discussion of the question of how God’s perfect world suddenly went so terribly wrong. That must wait until next time.

In the meantime … “Literature is the question minus the answer” (Roland Barthes)


2 thoughts on “Forbidden fruit

  1. I’m very interested to see where you’re going with this, and how you wrap it back around to language. In my own posts, I have been trying to focus on language pretty narrowly, to the exclusion of more general theological issues. Perhaps I ought to give a wave to the broader context, though, to show how what I’m writing relates to orthodox Christian beliefs. Unfortunately I’m not very good at that. . . I look forward to the rest of your series!

    • I meant to say, when I first read your comment (a week ago) that, for me, it is the “more general theological issues” that I’m most interested in — on the basis that the reader will tend to evaluate and interpret any particular theoretical mythos in relation to the context of what they already know. Your mythos and mine were always destined to become part of all the spinning and weaving that is integral to the polysemous intertextual fabric of our cultural and intellectual life.

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