Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 93

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE “occurs with a positive meaning,” in the midst of God’s blessing to humankind as He describes their purpose in His new creation.33 When Genesis expounds on humankind’s role in Genesis 2:15, it states that God placed man in the Garden of Eden “to till it and to keep watch over it.” There are several important words and phrases to note here. First, that God places humankind in the Garden, not over the Garden. The Hebrew word here is the preposition ְּ‫ ב‬meaning in, with, on, or indicating proximity.34 Without making too much of the preposition, it should simply be noted that the meaning of the preposition does not connote possession, nor is it translated “over.” Humanity, by being placed in the Garden is invited into relationship with the Garden and that which dwells there. Second, after telling humankind where they will live—in the Garden—God clearly states their purpose for being there, namely to till the Garden and to keep watch over it. “It is [humankind’s] responsibility to nurture and conserve the pristine perfection of the garden. This [humankind] must do by the labor of [their] hands.”35 Here, at the very beginning, humankind is given the gift of bearing God’s image through their tender care and cultivation of His creation. Now that God has created the earth and everything in it, humankind is to continue that which God has begun as they live in the Garden of Eden. After sin enters the world, God discloses to Adam and Eve that “cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground” (Gn 3:17–19 ESV). One of the consequences of sin is that the relationship between humankind and the creation in which humankind dwells, rules over, works, and keeps watch is broken.36 Thus, humankind’s role to rule, work, and watch over the land, which God intended to be a blessing, becomes a reminder of humankind’s sin. It then also becomes an 33. William A. Gemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 3:1055–1056. 34. Francis Brown, Samuel R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-DriverBriggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic, new ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 88–91. 35. Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis =: Be-reshit, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 20. 36. Francis A. Schaeffer and Udo Middelmann, Pollution and the Death of Man (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway Books, 1992), 65–66. 90