Bible Youth Bible of the Catholic Church with a Preface by Pope Francis
An introduction to the Bible with selected biblical texts
Y O U C AT foundation C AT H O L I C T R U T H S O C I E T Y
Overvie w of Bible His tory
jos 1800 (?)
exodus and desert years 1200
Original graphics by Robert Saam
kings and prophets
Kingdom of David and Solomon
David Kingdom & Temple 1 Kings 3:16ff. 1 Kings 6:8 1 Kings 12 1 Kings 19
1 Sam 17
932 Fall of the Solomon Kingdom
Abraham Circumcision Gen 12.15.17
jos eph jacob
Exodus from Egypt Ex 1
Noah Rainbow Gen 6–9
mos es 10 Commandments Ex 19–20
1200 Immigration in Canaan (“The Promised Land“)
Division into Northern and Southern Kingdoms
932 Fall of the Solomonic Kingdom
2 Kings 17
Israel: Samaria Judah: Jerusalem
2 Kings 25
These selections from the Bible were published originally in German by the Austrian Conference of Bishops This book, including the selection of Bible passages, was prepared in collaboration with young people by Prof. Michael Langer, Regensburg (coordination) Prof. Georg Fischer, S.J., Innsbruck (Old Testament) Prof. Dominik Markl, S.J., Rome (Old Testament) Prof. Thomas Söding, Bochum (New Testament) Editor-in-chief: Bernhard Meuser Editorial coordinator: Clara Steber Original German edition © 2015 YOUCAT Foundation, a non-profit corporation, Augsburg. The English edition is based on the 3rd revised and expanded German edition (2016): Scripture passages from The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition; non-scriptural texts translated by Michael J. Miller. Nihil Obstat: Reverend Patrick Hartin, Ph.D. Imprimatur: + Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco March 20, 2017 Cover design, layout, illustrations, and typographic design: Alexander von Lengerke, Cologne All rights reserved. Published by the Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road London SE11 5AY © 2017 by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society ISBN 978-1-78469-190-5 The publishing house YOUCAT Verlag is wholly owned by the non-profit YOUCAT Foundation gGmbH, with headquarters in Königstein im Taunus. The YOUCAT trademark is used with permission of the publisher of YOUCAT, the Austrian Conference of Bishops. YOUCAT© is an internationally protected trademark and logo. Registered under GM: 011929131.
Content Preface Pope Francis 6 How to Read the Bible 8 The Bible Is Unique 11
The Torah 16 The Historical Books 74 The Wisdom Books 140 The Books of the Prophets 188
The Old Testament 14 Genesis 18 | Exodus 34 | Leviticus 50 Numbers 54 | Deuteronomy 62
Joshua 76 | Judges 80 | Ruth 84 | Samuel 90 Kings 104 | Chronicles 118 | Ezra/Nehemiah 122 Tobit 128 | Judith 132 | Esther 134 | Maccabees 136 Job 142 | Psalms 150 | Proverbs 168 | Ecclesiastes 172 Song of Solomon 176 | Wisdom of Solomon 180 | Sirach 184 Isaiah 190 | Jeremiah 206 | Lamentations/Baruch 218 Ezekiel 220 | Daniel 228 The Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets 234 Hosea/Joel/Amos 236 | Obadiah/Jonah 238 Micah/Nahum/Habakkuk 241 | Zephaniah/Haggai 244 Zechariah/Malachi 246
The Gospels 250
The New Testament 248 Matthew 252 | Mark 286 Luke 292 | John 308
The Acts of the Apostles 326 The Letters 350
The Letters of the Apostle Paul 355 Letter to the Romans 354 First and Second Letter to the Corinthians 359 Letter to the Galatians 364 | Letter to the Ephesians 366 Letter to the Philippians 368 | Letter to the Colossians 374 First and Second Letter to the Thessalonians 376 First and Second Brief to Timothy 378 | Letter to Titus 380 Letter to Philemon 381 Letter to the Hebrews 382 The Catholic Letters 384 Letter of James 386 | First Letter of Peter 387 Second Letter of Peter 394 | First Letter of John 395 Second and Third Letter of John 398 | Letter of Jude 399 The Revelation 400 Instructions for Use, Index of Names, and Index of Subjects 408
P r efa c e
Dear Young Friends, If you were to see my Bible, you might not think that it was particularly impressive. “What?! That is the Pope’s Bible! Such an old, wornout book!” You could give me a new one as a present, one that cost a thousand dollars, but I would not want it. I love my old Bible, which has been with me for half of my life. It witnessed my priestly jubilee and has been sprinkled by my tears. It is my most precious treasure. My life depends on it. I would not give it up for anything in the world. I like very much the Youth Bible that you have just opened. It is so colorful, so rich in testimonies—the testimonies of saints, the testimonies of young people—and it entices the reader to start reading it from the beginning and not to stop until the last page. And then …? And then you put it away. It disappears on the bookshelf, back in the third row. It collects dust. Your children sell it someday at the flea market. No, that must not happen! I want to tell you something: Today there are more persecuted Christians than in the early centuries of the Church. And why are they being persecuted? They are being persecuted because they wear a cross and give witness to Jesus. They are condemned because they own a Bible. The Bible is therefore an extremely dangerous book. So dangerous that in many countries its owners are treated as though they were storing hand grenades in the wardrobe. It was a non-Christian, Mahatma Gandhi, who once said: “You Christians look after a document
Pope Fr ancis
containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it were nothing more than a piece of literature.” What, then, are you holding in your hands? A piece of literature? A few nice old stories? Then we would have to say to the many Christians who let themselves be locked up and tortured for the Bible: “How stupid you were; after all, it is only a piece of literature!” No, through the Word of God, light came into the world. And it will never again be extinguished. In Evangelii gaudium (175), I said: “We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for ‘God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us.’ Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word.” So you are holding something divine in your hands: a book that is like fire! A book through which God speaks. So keep in mind: the Bible is not something to be put on a bookshelf but, rather, to be kept on hand, so you can read from it often, every day, both alone and together. After all, you play sports together or go shopping together. Why not read the Bible together, two, three, or four of you at a time? Outdoors in nature, in the woods, on the beach, in the evening, by the light of a few candles.… You will have a powerful experience! Or are you afraid to make fools of yourselves in front of others with such a suggestion? Read attentively. Do not remain on the surface, as with a comic book. Never just flip through the Word of God! Ask yourselves: “What does it say to my heart? Is God speaking to me through this passage? Is he touching me in the depths of my yearning? What must I do?” Only in that way can the Word of God display its power. Only then can our lives change and become great and beautiful. I want to tell you how I read in my old Bible! Often I take it out and read a little in it, then I put it away and let the Lord look at me. I do not look at the Lord, but HE looks at me. Indeed, HE is there. I let him gaze at me. And I perceive—this is not just sentimentality—I perceive very deeply the things that the Lord says to me. Sometimes he does not speak. Then I feel nothing, only emptiness, emptiness, emptiness.… But I remain there patiently, and so I wait. I read and pray. I pray seated, because it hurts me to kneel down. Sometimes I even fall asleep while praying. But that makes no difference. I am like a son in his father’s house, and that is the important thing. Do you want to make me happy? Read the Bible. Yours truly, Pope Francis
How to re ad the Bible
How to Read the Bible The Bible is written for you. By reading it, you can let God’s Word become a part of your life. The following ten rules for reading can help that to happen. Read the Bible …
1 2 3 4 5 6
… and pray. The Bible is Sacred Scripture. Therefore it is good to pray, before reading, to ask God for his Holy Spirit and, after reading to thank him. How can you pray? Simply start with this short prayer: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). … and allow yourself to be surprised. The Bible is a book full of surprises. Even though you have heard many of the stories already, give them a second chance. And yourself, too! The Bible shows you the all-surpassing breadth and greatness of God. … and be glad. The Bible is a great love story with a happy ending: death does not have a chance. Life wins. You find this Good News again and again in all passages of the Bible. Look for it—and be glad when you have found it. … and do it regularly. The Bible is the book for your life. If you read from it every day, even if it is only a verse or a short paragraph, you may realize that the book does you a lot of good. Just as with sports and music: you make progress only by constant practice—and once you have acquired a few skills, it is really fun. … and do not read too much. The Bible is a gigantic treasure. You receive it as a free gift. You do not have to unpack it all right away. Read only as much as you can take in well. If something speaks to you in a special way, write it out for yourself and learn it by heart. … and allow yourself time. The Bible is an ancient book that is eternally young and new. It is not supposed to be read from start to finish without a break. It is good to pause as you read. That way you can reflect and become aware of what God wants to say to you. And once you have read through the Bible, just start over again from the beginning. You will again discover completely different aspects of it.
How to re ad the Bible
Reading the Bible should be a form of prayer. The Bible should be read in God’s presence and as the unfolding of His mind. It is not just a book, but God’s love letter to you. Peter Kreef t (b. 1937), American philosopher and spiritual writer
… and be patient. The Bible is a book full of profound wisdom, but occasionally it seems puzzling and strange. You will not understand everything right away. Then, too, much can be understood only in terms of the time or the historical situation. Have patience with yourself and with the Bible. When something is not clear to you, then look at the context or at other passages that deal with the same subject. Your Bible gives you a lot of support. … and read it with others. You can share with others what the Bible says to you. And what others have discovered in the Bible can help you to understand it better. If you speak with others about the Bible, make sure that God’s Word remains central and does not get talked to death. The Bible is never a weapon to use against others; it is a bridge for peacemakers. … and open your heart. The Bible is a matter of the heart. Someone who reads the Bible cannot leave it at that. God opens his heart. His Word continues to be written in your life, and you can celebrate it in the liturgy. You are being invited to read the Bible with an open heart. … and go on your way. The Bible is the compass for your life. It shows you how things ought to be. You yourself walk the path of your life. But you do not travel it alone. Think of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13–35). At first they did not recognize Jesus, who accompanied them in their grief. But then they asked themselves: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Lk 24:32).
7 8 9 10
Foto Mrtine schรถpfungsmorgen
EINFรHRUNG DIE BIBEL
The Bible is unique.
he Bible is unique. It is the most widely circulated book in the world. No other book has been translated into as many different languages. No other book in human history has had a greater influence. For all Christians, the Bible is Sacred Scripture. The Bible is world literature. It contains wonderful stories. Many biblical writings are of great poetical beauty, for example the Book of Job and a whole series of psalms from the Old Testament or the great hymn of love (1 Cor 13) and the Revelation of John from the New Testament. Often the Bible is disturbing. It is critical. Many times it strikes contemporary readers as odd. It may take years to understand a particular passage from
Sacred Scripture. But it is worthwhile to keep trying. For all Christians, it is the charter of the faith. And more than that: the Bible is the “Word of God”. It expresses it with human words and in human language. But it is a revelation. It was written because men listened to God’s Word and wrote it down in their own words. It was handed down, because others believed that those people did not just invent something but really had a message from God to convey. The Bible is meant to move people. It ought to motivate readers to a life of striving for good. This life should combine love for God and love for one’s neighbors. That is why we cannot just read
the Bible and leave it at that. Praying is part of it, helping others, reflecting on the faithâ€”and in all this there is the joy that God exists, who gives us life. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deut 6:4â€“7
The Old Testament Historical Books
Christians call the first part of the Bible the Old Testament. It is a collection of writings that give testimony to the creation and God’s care for mankind before Jesus came to earth. “Old” does not mean “out-of-date” but, rather, “original’”. This “Old Testament” was Jesus’ Bible. He knew, loved, and often quoted it. It is the basis for his proclamation. Jesus sees his task as transforming the message of the Old Testament in a new spirit. Many hands contributed to the writing of the Old Testament. Only about a few books do we know
e es ca b mac
josh ua judg es
nomy d eute ro
le viti cu s nu m be rs
ge ne si s exod us
precisely who wrote them, when, and where. Most of the books of the Old Testament were composed in Hebrew—some in Aramaic and Greek. Most of the books originated in Israel, though several were perhaps composed outside the Holy Land. It took centuries for the Old Testament to come into being and to take its present form. For those of the Jewish faith, the Old Testament is all of Sacred Scripture. The New Testament is not recognized in Judaism. According to the Jewish tradition, the Hebrew Bible has three parts: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings.
T h e O l d T e s ta m en t
The Christian Old Testament is subdivided somewhat differently. After the “Pentateuch” (Genesis through Deuteronomy) come the Historical Books, then the Wisdom Books, and finally the Prophets, including the Book of Daniel. Moreover, in the Old Testament of the Eastern Christian and Roman Catholic tradition, there are more books than in the Jewish Bible: Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Ps 119:105
The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is made plain in the New. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), Father of the Church and philosopher
The writings of the Old Testament reflect a revolution in the history of the religions of mankind. While almost all the peoples in the vicinity of Israel feared a multitude of gods, in Israel the belief developed that there is only one God of the entire universe. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are characterized by this fundamental conviction.
jeremiah lame ntations ezek iel danie l
si ra ch
mo n so ng of so lo w is do m
hosea /joel /amos / obadi ah/jo nah/m icah/ nahum /haba kkuk/ zepha niah/zecha riah/ malac hi
The Torah is made up of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy). The Prophets include both many historical books (from Joshua on) and the so-called “literary prophets”, among which are numbered Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as well as the twelve minor prophets (from Hosea to Malachi). All the remaining works written in Hebrew, for example the Psalms, belong to the category of “Writings”.
do with all aspects of life. On the other hand, we must read these passages very carefully and try to understand them. Biblical passages must never be misunderstood as justification for destructive violence. God is above all the God of life (Gen 1–2) and of mercy (Ex 34:6–7).
The Old Testament contains passages that speak very often about violence. Sometimes God himself appears to be violent. This shows, on the one hand, that the Bible looks realistically at the difficult and painful sides of reality, too. God has to
THE TOR AH
he Hebrew word “Torah” means “teaching, instruction”. It designates the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Just as the Gospels in the New Testament loom large and important by their position at the beginning, so too does the Torah in the Old Testament. It is the foundation on which all the rest is based. In the Christian Old Testament, the Torah is called “the Law” because it contains the revelation of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, with the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) at the head. The Torah follows a long narrative arc from the creation (Genesis 1–2) to the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34). The so-called Primordial History (Gen 1–11) is followed by stories about the patriarchs and matriarchs (starting
with Abraham and Sarah, Gen 12–50), the liberation of the People Israel from Egypt (Exodus 1–15), the long encounter with God on Mount Sinai (from Exodus 19 to Numbers 10), the further travels through the desert toward the Promised Land (from Numbers 10 on), and the lengthy speeches of Moses on the last day of his life, as found in the Book of Deuteronomy. The Torah thus presents a sort of “pre-history”, before the life of the People Israel begins in the Holy Land. With the creation, the deliverance from Egypt, and the gift of the Law, it lays the foundation for belief in God, both in Judaism and in Christianity.
the book of
Genesis The first book of the Bible begins with God’s creation of the world and of man (Gen 1–2); it ends with the stay of the large family of Jacob (who also bears the name Israel) in Egypt. Later the Israelites will set out from there again, which is described in the following Book of Exodus. In the first eleven chapters, the Book of Genesis is centered on creation and all mankind. In this way it shows that the biblical God is all-embracing and present throughout the universe. With Noah he makes a covenant with all living things (Gen 9) and gives them his blessing. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow (Gen 9:12–17). In the following chapters, Genesis shows how God enters into relationships with men: he accompanies them and promises them his strong assistance. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with their wives and children experience this in a special way, even in difficult situations. Famine, personal failure, conflicts, living in foreign lands—in all their needs, God proves to be their helper.
The Tor ah
T wo Creation Accounts (Gen 1–2) The first two chapters of the Bible are a testimony of faith: God is the Creator of the world and of mankind. The Bible does not intend to explain scientifically how the universe came into being. Rather, it intends to show the sense, the deeper meaning, and important connections of the cosmos. It does this on the basis of the world view at that time, but in a unique way: everything that exists has its origin in God and owes its life to him. The first account depicts an ordered, good creation. It has two goals: the creation of man (Gen 1:26f.) and God’s rest on the seventh day (Gen 2:1–3), the Sabbath.
Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised. And man, this tiny part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You. Augustine
→ 42 Can someone accept the theory of evolution and still believe in the Creator?
The first account (Gen 1:1–2:4a) 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”7And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under
the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. 9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.11 And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so.12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
G en e s i s
20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created
them.28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
“Image” and “likeness” (v. 26) show that man is very close to God. In every human being God is visible. This constitutes our dignity and our worth. Our life is characterized by the fact that we are equal as human beings yet different as man and woman. It challenges us to have great respect for every person and to accept our diversity (↗ Is 49:15).
“Subdue” and “have dominion” (v. 28) do not mean to rule recklessly but, rather, to manage responsibly, as God’s representatives.
God’s assessment (v. 31) shows how positively the Bible views creation: It is ordered and well done.
The second creation account completes the first. It is focused on man: he is created as the work of God’s hands and has the breath of God within him (Gen 2:7). He has a relation to the ground from which he is taken (Gen 2:7). But this is the man who will be driven out of Paradise.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work
→ 43 Is the world a product of chance?
THE TOR AH
which he had done.3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. 4a These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
“Eden”, the Hebrew word “delight”, stands for Paradise. It is above all to be understood as a symbolic place of original happiness. Verses 9–14 go on to describe, among other things, its rivers.
“Woman” and “man” (vv. 23) are a play on words in Hebrew as well (ishshah and ish). This shows that they belong together—they are created for each other.
These verses were often misunderstood and interpreted as the subordination of the woman. Yet “helper” (v. 18, 20) in Hebrew also means rescuer and protector, and “fit for him” expresses the equality of the two sexes. The man confirms this in his first statement in v. 23. The image of making from a “rib” shows that man and woman originally belong together.
Jesus Christ goes Adam’s route, but in reverse. In contrast to Adam he is really “like God”. … Because he does not go the route of power but that of love, he can descend into the depths of Adam’s lie, into the depths of death, and there raise up truth and life. →
The second account (Gen 2:4b–25) 4b In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed…. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
The end of paradise (Gen 3:1–24) Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God
G EN E S I S
say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ “ 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I
was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Thus Christ is the new Adam, with whom mankind begins anew. The Son, who is by nature relationship and relatedness, reestablishes relationships. His arms, spread out on the cross, are an open invitation to relationship, which is continually offered to us. JOSEPH R ATZINGER (POPE BENEDIC T X VI), In the Beginning…: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, 1986.
Nature-lovers hug trees. Christians, too, have a “tree of life” that they are supposed to embrace: the Cross. On the tree of the Cross, life started over again.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the figurative sense, stands for an attitude whereby people try to decide on their own, without God, what is right and what is wrong.
But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:20b–21
O God, to turn away from you is to fall. To turn toward you is to stand up. To remain in you is to have steady support. AUGUSTINE