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The Christian And The Rabbinic Adam: Genesis Rabbah And Patristic Exegesis Of Gen 3:17–19

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Chapter Summary

The heritage of ancient Jewish and Christian biblical interpretation embodies the intricate relationship of similarity and divergence between the two religions. Often the two meet, sharing exegetical motifs and theological concerns. This chapter focuses on a case in which the exegetical ways parted considerably, which is Genesis Rabbah's reading of Gen 3:17-19 as contrasted to patristic interpretation of the same verses. It gives an overview of the patristic reading of the punishment of Adam and then turns to Genesis Rabbah's reading of the relevant verses. By contrasting Christ and Adam as counter poles in salvation history, the one causing the fall of humanity and the other its restoration, the nascent church elaborated upon a pre-Christian, Jewish interpretative tradition of the Eden account. While the fall-tradition was generally adopted by Christian authors, in rabbinic Judaism it came to be overshadowed by other perspectives on Adam.

Keywords: Christian Adam; Genesis Rabbah; Judaism; Patristic Exegesis; Rabbinic Adam



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