Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 12th, 2015 by Joel Watts

St. John of Damascus on contemplation

I am writing a post on this, but views of the tree of knowledge of good and evil are often complicated and not really reaching to (what I feel is) the proper understanding. Yet, St. John comes pretty close to it.

English: Genesis : God the Father forbids Eve ...

English: Genesis : God the Father forbids Eve to pick the fruit from the tree of good and evil; marble bas-relief on the left pier of the façade of the cathedral; Orvieto, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the power of discernment by multidimensional vision. This is the complete knowing of one’s own nature. Of itself it manifests the magnificence of the Creator, and it is good for them that are fullgrown and have walked in the contemplation of God—for them that have no fear of changing, because in the course of time they have acquired a certain habit of such contemplation. It is not good, however, for such as are still young and are more greedy in their appetites, who, because of the uncertainty of their perseverance in the true good and because of their not yet being solidly established in their application to the only good, are naturally inclined to be drawn away and distracted by their solicitude for their own bodies. Orthodox Faith 2.11.1

What does it mean to be self-knowing, to practice contemplation? I think this gets to the heart of the human experience.

  1.  Andrew Louth and Marco Conti, eds., Genesis 1–11 (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 62–63.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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