Comparing two biblical commentaries on Adam and Eve

Wesley’s commentary makes it clear to the reader that the story surrounding the forbidden fruit is a grand analogy to the immoral tendencies in humans. Wesley’s commentary thus takes the story beyond its literal interpretation and into a broader-philosophical lesson to the faithful. The seduction of our first parents into the great transgression is at once a deprivation of the tree of knowledge. There is an element of misogyny in the latter verses of the Genesis, for the woman is treated as the “ring-leader in the transgression”. (Wesley) She is apportioned a greater share of the guilt for falling for the pleasant sights, odors and tastes of the tree and its fruit. The woman, thus convincing herself of the value of the said tree, “gave also to her husband with her”. (Genesis 3:6) The husband (Adam) merely follows Eve’s example and “he did eat”. (Genesis 3:7) As the duo realized the dire consequence of their deed, “the eyes of them both were opened”. (Genesis 3:8)

In terms of dramatic detail, Henry’s commentary is more expressive than that of Wesley’s. For example, he likens our first parents’ transgression as a process of spiral toward the pit. Henry’s condemnation of Adam and Eve for their fall is sharper when compared to Wesley’s. Henry likens their transgression to amounting to contempt of God. In eating off the forbidden tree of knowledge and eschewing the tree of life, Adam had shown the highest form of disobedience to God’s command. Henry also takes a philosophical analysis of verses 6-8, whereby he speculates on the nature of man’s free will and its capacity to be employed morally. There is also a scholarly dissection into the nature of sin itself, where Henry notes,

“See her what dishonour and trouble sin is; it makes mischief wherever it gets in, and destroys all comfort. Sooner or later it will bring shame; either the shame of true repentance, which ends in glory, or that shame and everlasting contempt, to which the wicked shall rise at the great day. See here what is commonly the folly of those that have sinned.” (Henry)

Works Cited:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Genesis 3, Christ Notes, retrieved from on 2nd June, 2014.

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, Genesis 3, Christ Notes, retrieved from on 2nd June, 2014.

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