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The Two Trees in the Garden of Eden / שני העצים אשר בתוך הגן

מתתיהו צבת and M. Tsevat
Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה
Vol. יב‎, NELSON GLUECK MEMORIAL VOLUME / ספר נלסון גליק‎ (1975 / תשל"ה), pp. 40-43
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23619053
Page Count: 4
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The Two Trees in the Garden of Eden / שני העצים אשר בתוך הגן
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Abstract

Biblical criticism has long been concerned with the two special trees of the Eden story. The structural function, in that story, of the Tree of Life has often been minimized by exegetes who maintain that that tree was added to a narrative which was complete without this element. As regards the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, an argument can be made that the tree might appropriately have been called the Tree of Death. This argument has not been urged by commentators, possibly for the reason that, while the Tree of Life is an anthropological feature of frequent occurrence, a Tree of Death has apparently not been attested. Attestation is now available with the recent publication, in Ugaritica, V, of UT, 607. That text and Gen. 2 f., although belonging to different genres of literature, have several features in common, among them the snake(s). An investigation of the relation of the snakes and the tree in UT, 607, combined with observation of Gen. 2 f., make it probable that, contrary to the critical view cited above, the Tree of Life is not a late accretion to the Eden story, and that the name of the other tree was originally Tree of Death or, alternatively, that the tree had two names, Tree of Death and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad. The eventual elimination of the name Tree of Death may be seen not only as an 'improvement' in the narrative but also as serving to highlight one of the central ideas of Gen. 2 f.

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