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Abstract

The tree of life appears briefly and enigmatically near the beginning and end of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis 2–3, but goes unmentioned in the main body of that narrative. Modern scholars have taken both diachronic (oriented toward literary prehistory) and synchronic (oriented toward the received text) approaches to addressing the perplexing questions raised by this tree’s presence in the Eden story. While diachronic approaches respond to genuinely problematic textual phenomena, they create additional difficulties that require ever more speculative solutions. By contrast, a synchronic approach yields a coherent reading that satisfactorily interprets the same phenomena.

In: The Tree of Life