This exegetical work scrutinizes what happened in the Garden of Eden to better clarify the concepts of sin and redemption.
Like many Christians, debut author Combs—a retired Presbyterian minister—came to understand sin, salvation, and faith through the New Testament. With this book, he focuses on these concepts as introduced in the Old Testament and the Garden of Eden episode so as to “delve into the events through which sin and death entered the world.” Combs begins by considering the joys of Eden, the circumstances that forced Adam and Eve out of it, and the results of leaving Eden, including the murder of Abel by Cain. He explores the nature of faith, the difference between faith and works, challenges to faith, and what it truly means to follow Christ. He also considers the true nature of sin, which he argues should be seen as relational, not as something that lies in wait to trip us up; for example, it wasn’t lurking Satan but Cain’s “perception of his relationship with his brother” that drove him to murder. Adam and Eve’s shame for their nakedness didn’t derive from disobedience, a common interpretation. What the apple truly disclosed, according to the author, was an inner conviction of not measuring up, especially to God. Combs cautions readers to remember difficulties of translation but doesn’t otherwise historicize Eden or interpret it metaphorically as some writers have done (for example, by seeing it as a story of the agricultural revolution, which introduced social inequality). Throughout, Combs lightens his discussion with vivid retellings of biblical events and stories of personal encounters with the divine, the straightforward accounting of which may startle some. Believers are likely to find fresh ways to understand well-known texts, while readers who disagree may not be persuaded but can engage fruitfully with Combs’ carefully made points, supported through biblical and scholarly references, study questions, and endnotes.
This readable discussion on sin, faith, and salvation offers an inventive, informed take on Eden and the nature of faith.