Connections 02.26.2023: For All We Know

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

The narrative of the Garden of Eden makes a great children’s story. It’s ideal for picture books: the flowing blues of water and sky, with the shining sun, moon, and stars in their courses. All the bright colors of flowers and fishes, all the animals living in harmony. Even the people make great illustrations—first with their unmentionables shielded by artfully placed plants… then, after they Make A Bad Choice, wearing their clever fig-leaf fashions.

Adam and Eve make good illustrations for adults too. They illustrate the possibility of God’s great design: the possibility that humans could walk with God. They also illustrate the reality of free will: the reality that humans are unlikely to live up to God’s great optimism for us.

I have mixed feelings about Adam and Eve. I’m annoyed that they didn’t realize how good they had it, and I’m embarrassed to admit my own skewed perception of God’s goodness in my life. I’m frustrated that Eve bought into the serpent’s sales pitch so easily, and I’m empathetic because I don’t think she stood a chance against the craftiest of all the creatures (not to mention Satan himself). I’m appalled by their blatant disobedience of God’s instruction, and I totally understand why they were tempted by the promise of wisdom and god-like-ness. After all, wouldn’t you like to know good from evil? I know I would.

But there’s knowing… and then there’s knowing. Other languages sometimes have more than one vocabulary word for single words in English. Where English says “know,” the French translation of this verse uses the verb connaître, which implies knowing something through personal experience (instead of savoir, which means a more academic understanding of information). In Hebrew, the verb for “discern” is nakar, but in Genesis 3 the verb for “know” is yada. Yada is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament, including for the most intimate of relationships (see Gen 4:1, 17, 25). Knowing good and evil is not an academic exercise but a personal experience.

The fruit of this knowing still tempts us, and most of us probably don’t even need the shrewd serpent to talk us into taking a bite. The Garden makes a colorful children’s story, but Adam and Eve make us picture something more intimate: ourselves. They illustrate the possibility and the reality of us: the possibility of knowing, the reality of consequence, and the never-ending story of God’s grace.


  • Do you think it is possible to have an academic understanding of good and evil without having a personal experience of good and evil? How is wisdom related to knowledge, understanding information, and personal experience?
  • How important is it to “know” good and evil as they exist in the world around us? How important is it to “know” good and evil so we can recognize them in ourselves?
  • If we understand this knowing as a personal, intimate experience, how have you “known” good? How have you “known” evil?
  • Do you think the serpent lied to Eve?
  • How do you feel about Adam and Eve? Do you feel empathy and understanding? Do you feel anger or grief?
  • We cannot “un-know” good and evil. How do you think God still invites us to grow in wisdom and to become more Godly?
  • Do you relate to Adam and Eve? How is their story reflective of your own experience? What lesson does their story have for you today?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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