The Golden Compass and Genesis 3
|November 27, 2007||Posted by Anthony under Blog, General, Philip Pullman|
This is probably my last post on the “His Dark Materials” series and to tell you the truth I’m about ready to be done. There are innumerable issues raised by the HDM series and quite a bit that I wanted to respond to. This blog contains many of those responses and there probably could be even more said. It is my hope that my information serves as a starting point for Christians to learn more about these issues. These issues will always be with us and hiding from them is not the solution.
It has been noted that one of the issues with the Golden Compass is that it is not nearly as overtly anti-Christian as the later books. These themes have been purged even more in the movie so that the unwary movie goer and reader might not ever see what is coming in the later books. Granted, but there is one thing in the Golden Compass that has the potential to catch someone off guard.
In the last few chapters of TGC, chapter 21 in particular, there is a long, extended quote from Genesis 3. This follows a long discussion about the nature of ‘Dust’ and the Church’s grave concern about it. Lord Asriel, Lyra’s father is trying to explain matters and finally compels Lyra to open up the Bible to Genesis and read. In the main, the text is familiar. … “ye shall not surely die yada yada yada” and then it gets interesting…
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and your daemons shall assume their true forms, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to reveal the true form of one’s deamon, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband…
And on like that for awhile. When I read this material myself, I sort of sat back and wondered how the man thinks he can get away with blatant mistranslation such as this. Before my very eyes, I saw thousands of young Christians and even some older ones who ought to know better thinking about this telling of Genesis and comparing it with what they remembered. Has something been concealed in the translation? they may wonder. What else is being withheld? another might say.
Initially, the staggering display of intellectual deceit here took my breath away and then I realized what he was about and where he was going. It was here that I really understood that the Golden Compass, when talking about the Church, and Christianity, and the multiverse, and such, this material was taking place in one of these other rival universes and knew that the bridge to our own universe was on its way.
This isn’t intellectual deceit, you see, because this is merely how the Genesis account evolved in this particular universe. We need not dwell on the intellectual blindness that keeps Pullman from realizing that his whole multiverse system of thought means that there is really a universe where there was an Adam and Eve and a young earth. With innumerable universes to work with expressing all possible outcomes, the improbable will happen eventually: in some universe, the Christians are right. At any rate, this post is not about all that.
This post is for those who stumble on this passage and suddenly wonder if their translation of Genesis 3 is horribly flawed and Pullman is subtly revealing an alternate translation that has been brutally suppressed by that evil, nasty, Christian Church. I have no idea if this passage is going to be read in the movie, so maybe this post will only be for those that read the book.
Conclusion: No. The Hebrew text does not support this translation and Pullman doesn’t need it to because he can have the ‘Genesis’ in another universe say whatever he darn well pleases, and this passage is just that.
The truly astute reader will suddenly remember the pointed claim by Mary Malone that “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” Was she speaking of the ‘Christian Religion’ of an alternate universe, or our own? When she reduced the oppressiveness of Christianity to be symbolized by the fact that Catholics expect their nuns to be celibate, was that an alternate universe, or our own? Correct answer: Our own.
If Mary (the ‘temptress’ of the series) was speaking of a Christianity in a parallel universe we might chalk it up to Pullman’s poetic license. But since he puts his most explicit assertions about Christianity in the mouth of a woman who comes from our own universe, we’ll have to admit it for what it is- a strawman that bears very little resemblance to actual Christianity.