The Imperfections of God Shown in Genesis
Throughout the Bible God shows that he is imperfect disregarding the common belief that God makes no mistakes. Genesis is a creation story explaining how God created everything on earth, but there are many different ways the creation story in Genesis can be interpreted. It says that he made the heavens and earth, light and darkness, and vegetation and animals. He saw that all these things were good but something was missing. There was no one to tend to the land or care for the animals, so God created man. God Said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26). This exact statement puts the idea into readers heads that God made humans to be like him, to do what he does, and to live in the image of himself. If God did not make any mistakes then he would have created humans to be perfect without sin in the world. This raises the questions, if God was the one who created free will, did he know that sin and evil was a possibility and if so; why did he give free will to humans if he knew sin could come from it?
In Genesis 1-2, Adam and Eve were first created not knowing right from wrong. Not until they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree were they aware of sin or realized that they were naked, but God gave them that choice to stay innocent or to go against his word and introduce sin into the world. Some people say that God himself created sin in the world and others say that God only created the possibility of sin in the world. Both statements could be true depending on how you interpret Genesis. God created humans with choice because he created us to be like his children. Children ask their parents for help when making decisions just like humans do to God when they pray or ask him for answers. We know God created us to look up to him as a parental figure because after the flood in the Bible it says, “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built” (Genesis 11:5). He refers to humanity here directly as his children. Most parents want their children to always make the right decisions but that is not always what happens in the end. This is exactly what God did when he gave us free will. Without choice and free will, humans would be like robots and there would be no individuality or creativity in the world. God gave humans the choice to love him and have faith in him, he does not force people to believe he is there. I believe that this is why he gave Adam the choice to disobey him and eat the fruit or to have faith in his creator and what he tells him. This is like when children disobey their parents. God created the choice of free will and sin in the world even though he knew it could cause pain because it makes Gods love for us even stronger. Some people could argue that by eating the fruit, Adam created sin and others could say that the serpent is the one who created sin for the first time. The serpent said to Eve, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened” (Genesis 3:5). This particular line shows that the serpent knew God created free will and the chance for sin to be introduced, but made sin seem like something good to eve because she was so innocent and did not realize what she was doing.
Later in Genesis 6, The Bible says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). This quote reinforces the statement that God created humans perfect but put the chance for corruption into the world with free will. With the gift of free will, came the chance of evil coming into the world. When God created humans, and gave them free will, he did not know what the outcome would be of his creations. God created the flood because he saw so much hate and evil in the world that he created out of his love. This brings some people to ask, if God is “all powerful and all knowing” like he is conceived to be, then shouldn’t he have created a world without sin if he did not want people to be imperfect? I believe an answer to this question could be that it is not that God did not want his creations to be perfect, but he wanted them to know not to destroy the world they were given and treat him with the respect that a parent figure should be treated. He knew that he gave room for impurities in the world but probably hoped that the good would outweigh the evil.
If God would not have put the fruit in the middle of the garden to tempt Adam and Eve then original sin would have never been introduced. But can we blame God for allowing humans the right to make their own choices? The role of the serpent in the story, I believe, is to prove how heavily humans influence one another. Most decisions, good or bad, are not made alone so even though there is free will in the world, people still depend on each other. Also, a lot of times there is not a clear line between what is right and wrong and people turn to each other or God for guidance. In my opinion, God made the line between right and wrong not clear sometimes for a reason. He gave people free will and making them choose between right and wrong is how humans exercise the free will God has given them. This also plays into, again, God being a parental figure. He wants us to ask for help from him to see what choice is good but he cannot stop us from making the wrong choice. Even if God is there that does not mean that people always listen to him. Like Adam and Eve, God told them not to eat the fruit but they did. Situations like this happen every day. This is where the idea of forgiveness of sin comes in. God knows that he put the option of sin into the world and that sometimes people will choose evil over good and need to ask for forgiveness. It is not until after the free will has been exercised, that we sometimes realize we made the wrong choice.
Overall, I do not personally believe that God created sin with the intentions of creating an evil world or that god was the one who even “created” evil at all. He wanted his relationships with his children to be genuine and if humans did not have free will they would have been forced to love him. We all live in Gods image every day and make mistakes just has he does but he loves us no matter what because he knows no one was created to be perfect. If God himself was perfect, he would have created a perfect world with no fighting, disease, or hate. Throughout the Bible it is clear that God is imperfect and has made mistakes himself and does not expect his creations to be perfect although they are good in his eyes.
How God Evolves in Genesis
In the book of Genesis, God creates humans to serve as caretakers for the world that he created. He creates a garden to nourish them and to provide a location in which he can speak with the pair. Even after Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by God, he still interacts with them and their descendants. These interactions usually serve as a message to the rest of humanity either by setting an example or defining what is right and wrong. An argument could be made that his interactions with humanity both as a whole and on an individual level changes him from a very involved god to a much less-involved one. This change is shown to be possible through his regret, and it is demonstrated through the contrasting methods that he uses to interact with humanity along with the difference in the way he punishes sins.
God’s regret indicates that he is able to change. When “the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth… [He] regretted that He had made man on earth, and His heart was saddened.” (Genesis 6:5) If he regrets making mankind, then he would have not made mankind if he knew that they would be corrupted – therefore, he is capable of changing his decisions. If he was perfect, then he would not be able to change; however, since his decisions are shown to cause him to have regret, then he is not a perfect being, meaning that he is also able to change in character and behavior.
At the start of Genesis, God is a very active god – he has a personal connection with his world and wants to take part in not only its creation but also its development. In the first creation story, God sees the world as good whereas in the second, God desires to actively maintain it. This is exemplified when “…God banished [Adam] from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken.” (Genesis 3:23) God responds to Adam and Eve’s consumption of the forbidden fruit by directly intervening and exiling them from the Garden, something that an controlling, imminent God would do. He also takes extremely drastic action when his mistake is realized by him – he drowns the whole world in a great flood because he deemed it unredeemable. Additionally, he has many direct one-on-one conversations with certain chosen people in the beginning, such as the various interactions he has with Abraham. God favored Abraham due to his unwavering loyalty and unquestioning obedience of God’s commands, even to the point of “not withholding [his] son, [his] favored one.” (Genesis 22:2) God wants to directly control the actions of the people on Earth by rewarding them whenever he is obeyed. All of these actions expresses his tight grip on the world’s actions and people. Unfortunately, whenever he becomes directly involved in worldly affairs, it almost always results in something evil or catastrophic happening such as the Flood and the murder of Abel. These disasters makes God learn a lesson: direct interference with the world only results in a bad outcome.
A turning point in his strictness is shown when Jacob engages a covenant with God, in which he instructs Jacob to “be fertile and increase.” (Genesis 35:11) The covenant is essentially a contract between God and humanity in which humanity promises to be recognize God’s sovereignty in exchange for prosperity and happiness. God’s change is shown through this contract, as he now realizes that a mutual agreement between his people and him is more likely to work that a continual reminder of their need to obey him. From this point on, God is never again mentioned directly speaking or guiding anyone through personal guidance for the rest of Genesis; instead, he becomes more of an abstract, less involved god. He still communicates with humanity, but now it is through dreams rather than direct conversations. The dreams serve as a solution to his desire to maintain the world but without directly interfering. For example, the Pharaoh has two dreams of alternating seasons of fertility followed by a large famine. Although he could not interpret the dream, the Pharaoh’s questions were answered when God inspires Joseph to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream. Instead of directly telling Joseph the answers, he nudges Joseph in the right direction. This is an major difference which seems to be caused by the lesson he learned from his prior experiences with the Flood and other disasters.
God’s attitude towards sins also change from beginning to end. When Cain kills Abel, God is shocked by Cain’s sin, asking him “What have you done?” (Genesis 4:10) He was then cursed to wander the Earth and never have plentiful harvests, among many other punishments. Compare this curse to the lack of one placed on Lamech, Cain’s fifth-generation son. Lamech kills two people and then proceed to brag about it, saying how he is untouchable because “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:23-24) God does not respond to Lamech’s boast, which is rather interesting, as both Cain and Lamech has the same severity of sin. After cursing Cain, God shows no indication of doing anything to Lamech. Surprisingly, God seems to want only to make an example out of Cain and stop there.
It may be argued that God cannot change, as he is a perfect being and everything that he does is already planned. His regret of making the human race is indicative of his imperfection, as a perfect being would not regret anything that he did. Because God is imperfect, he is capable of change. Changing from the beginning, God can be seen to shift from a controlling, strict deity to a much more subtle, background role after he creates a covenant with people. His experiences with humanity not only shows that God is able to change, but also that he is actively learning how to maintain a world as it progresses, suggesting that he does not know the true course for his own creation.
The Unique Position Of Joseph In Genesis
The central, overarching story in Genesis is the account of the fathers of Israel, which contains the individual stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and finally Joseph. Although each account is compiled together, there is a fundamental shift in the authors’ presentation of God once the narrative of Joseph’s life begins. God is an active player, who speaks and even physically intercedes, in the lives of the first three Patriarchs as he directs their lives with his commands and promises. Within the story of Joseph’s life, however, from chapters thirty-seven through fifty with the exception of chapter thirty-eight, God is not an active character in the narrative. Divine influence on this fourth generation Hebrew is undeniable, since he is able to accurately interpret dreams and seems to innately know God’s will, but the deity never makes himself known to Joseph as he does to the man’s three predecessors. This shift in the role of God may simply indicate an author who is speaking from a tradition separate from the J or Priestly traditions, or it may be symbolic in that Joseph, while blessed, is not as close to God as his fathers. Regardless of the historical reasons, the story of Joseph’s life in the text of Genesis as a whole, from his first prophetic dreams to his royal burial in Egypt, stands apart from the rest of the account of the Patriarchs as Joseph establishes himself as a ruler among men in spite of his God’s silent role.
Of Joseph’s three fathers, Abraham has the most interactive relationship with God beginning with his calling in chapter twelve, when God promises, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great…” (Gen. 12:2). From this point on, God is a ubiquitous character in Abraham’s life as he continually speaks to the old man. After revealing the promised land of Canaan (Gen. 13:14-17), God verbally seals his covenant with Abraham by changing his name from Abram, requiring circumcision and promising once again that in return for loyalty the man “…shall be the father of a multitude of nations.” (Gen. 17:4) Abraham has such a close relationship with God that he feels inclined to reason with the deity over the destruction of Sodom as he questions the justification of destroying a minority of righteous people who happen to live in an evil city (Gen. 18:23). This scene is the only time in Genesis when God’s judgement is directly called into question, and since Abraham, who is “…but dust and ashes,” (18:27) does not lose God’s favor by his questioning, he proves his exceptional status among men. Despite this elevated position, God feels it necessary to give Abraham the ultimate test as he requests the sacrifice of Isaac, his only son. After proving his loyalty to God, Abraham passes out of the narrative, and Isaac becomes the central Patriarch.
In Isaac’s narrative, God speaks not only to him, but to his wife Rebekah as well. God’s presence is tangible enough for Rebekah to be able to go directly to him for answers when she feels the tension between Jacob and Esau in her womb (Gen. 25:22). Even Abraham had to wait for God to come to him, and while Rebekah’s inquiry does not necessarily make her more favored than her father-in-law, God’s answer indicates his participatory nature in this particular story. As for his interaction with Isaac himself, God comes to him twice with the same promise that he made to Abraham as he tells the man, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give to your descendants all these lands,” (Gen. 26:4). Aside from his dialogue with Isaac, the narrator of chapter twenty-six verses twelve to thirteen says that God is directly responsible for Isaac’s success during his stay with Abim’elech and the Philistines as “The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich.” When Isaac’s son Jacob reaches maturity, God continues his active and vocalized role in the lives of the Hebrews.
God first addresses Jacob in a dream, reiterating the promise that he made to both Isaac and Abraham while assuring that he will bring Jacob back to Haran (Gen. 28:12-15). After Laban gives Jacob his two daughters, God steps in and selectively opens Leah’s womb before Rachel’s, and the latter is unable to bear children herself until God “…hearkened to her and opened her womb,” (Gen. 30:22). According to the text, without the deity’s intercession, Rachel would not have borne Joseph and Benjamin. Later, when Jacob flees Laban’s household, God once again acts on his behalf as he commands Laban to leave Jacob alone (Gen. 31:24). Jacob’s divine relationship continues and goes one step farther than his fathers’ when he becomes physically entangled with an angel of God. Even though the text does not say outright that his wrestling opponent is of divine origin, the being disappears before sunrise, which was an ancient indication of divinity (Gen. 32:26, p. 41, fn. 26). Finally, in chapter thirty-five, God commands Jacob to go to Bethel and safeguards his journey with “a terror,” and when the man arrives at his destination, God gives him his new name, Israel. From this point on, the nature of God’s character in the story of the Patriarchs changes from a vocal role to a silent one in which his presence is only acknowledged by the active characters instead of by his own voice or direct action.
Joseph’s career begins with his two dreams that prophesy his ascendancy over his brothers. Although Jacob chides his son over these dreams of power, he recognizes their potential import, “…his father kept the saying in mind,” (Gen. 37:11). At this point, Joseph’s story has already diverted from the path of his fathers’, because while they are compelled directly by the voice of God, his divine relationship expresses itself more subtly through symbolic dreams. The extent of the narrator’s acknowledgement of God’s presence in this episode is to say that Joseph became successful because, “The LORD was with (him),” (Gen. 39:2). While Abraham’s worth was tested with a command from God himself to sacrifice Isaac, Joseph is tested with the deceit of Potiphar’s wife and the unjust prison sentence that followed, and the fourth Patriarch proves himself as he patiently waits for release. With indirect assistance from God that is only alluded to in the text with the question, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 40:8) Joseph propels his career by accurately interpreting the dreams of the butler, the baker and finally Pharaoh himself. Joseph does not receive commands or assurances from God that he had the ability to interpret dreams, he is able to simply do it.
As the Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, Joseph ascended to a position of terrestrial power never attained by his forefathers. From this vantage, Joseph imposes a godlike test of righteousness upon his brothers without an explicit command from God himself, and his test forces his brothers to remember their greedy and jealous actions so that they seek forgiveness once he reveals himself. Joseph’s power is further demonstrated when by his own managerial capabilities, which are independent from God’s direct influence, he becomes a proficient administrator, who is able to successfully extend Egypt’s grain stores to last throughout the famine while providing for the surrounding territory as well. Through his land reforms, Joseph was able to feed the people of Egypt while essentially making them serfs for Pharaoh. Even though feudalism usually has negative connotations, the text indicates that the people, “…gained possessions in (Egypt), and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly,” (Gen. 47:27). This land tenancy program also ultimately fits into God’s plan for the Israelites as he related it to Abraham, because they had to be subjugated before he could liberate them in Exodus. After Jacob dies in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers fear retribution, but he reveals his inherent knowledge of God’s will when he says, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today,” (Gen. 50:20). Throughout his career, Joseph followed God’s will with no direct contact between himself and the deity, and he gained more power over other humans than his fathers before him.
Without access to extensive archaeological and anthropological data, which probably does not even exist, it is difficult to say if the story of Joseph was part of a separate tradition or even an excerpt from Egyptian history that was added to Genesis by the early editors of the Bible, but an analysis of the text itself reveals the basic difference between the God who speaks to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the divine spirit who serves as a supportive backdrop for Joseph. Perhaps the most important point to realize is the fact that these early writings are simply not consistent due to the influence of multiple authorship and regional legends and traditions. While one might draw the thematic conclusion that Joseph was not as close to God as Abraham, for example, the reverse could also be said; essentially, that Joseph is closer to God and knows him better, because he does not need to hear God’s voice in order to know what his will is. The text itself only provides one of Professor Williams’ “silent spots” for an answer, which leaves the accounts open to vast interpretation like every other part of the Bible. Taken as a cohesive story, the account of the Patriarchs can be said to outline a general development in the line of Abraham from God having to practically hold the hands of the grandfather, the father and the grandson to the divinely inspired intuition of the fourth generation. Whether one sees these chapters as accurate historical accounts of God’s relationship with man or as complicated myths that offer insights independent of religion, the stories provide an interesting and useful glimpse into human history.
How “Adam and Eve” came to be
Is Genesis History was about how creationist had points of view on how the world got created. One of my points has been that God created the heavens and the Earth, fully formed and functioning in six twenty four hour days. I liked what George Grant (pastor) stated in the movie/documentary, Is Genesis History? Because I think that he has very strong wording to what happened in the beginning of times like the flood because in the bible it clearly tells us that the flood actually happened even though some people and because he knows more about how the world got created and how long it took and he knows that there is sin in the world because of Adam and Eve. He also knows the reality of the founding fathers, how “Adam and Eve” came to be.
I also really liked what he said, because he knows what he is saying about creationism. He is a pastor who has a Ph.D. and went to school and learned all of this important information.(Evolutionist)think that the world just came to be but in reality the world got created by God Pastor Grant stated “There are two good reasons we know they were real. First, there are reliable historical accounts. Second, we can see the results of their actions in our world today. Adam and Eve are no different. Some people say, however, that they were made up to serve a theological function. They want to replace the history recorded in the Bible with a different history, one that says “Adam” and “Eve” represent our first human-like ancestors that lived millions of years ago. Saying this is like denying the reality of our founding fathers. Adam and Eve are essential for understanding the history of the world. Without them, there can be no history”(Is Genesis History).
Apparently, you can be both an evolutionist and creationist because in the website they said this, “Clearly, Bill Nye is an evolutionist, and Ken Ham is a creationist—with two opposing religions. “But, what is the best way to describe the view of Francis Collins? Does he have more in common with Ken Ham because they both believe in God? If so, that would make Collins more like a creationist. Or does he have more in common with Bill Nye because they both have essentially the same view on evolution?” “If so, that would make him more like the evolutionist. Is the greater contrast between evolutionary creation and young earth creation or between theistic and atheistic evolution”(Is Genesis History)?
Bill Nye is an atheist who believes in molecules-to-man evolution, the Big Bang, millions of years, and common ancestry, and who rejects young earth creation, Noah’s Flood, and intelligent design. He fully embraces evolutionary theory and believes God had nothing to do with it because he rejects the notion that God exists. Francis Collins is a well-known scientist who professes to be a Christian. He also believes in molecules-to-man evolution, the Big Bang, millions of years, and common ancestry, and he rejects young earth creation, Noah’s Flood, and has been critical of intelligent design. He fully embraces evolution and argues that the evidence for molecules-to-man evolution is compelling—even though we cannot observe or repeat evolution! I think that Ken Ham is a Christian who believes God created all things in a total of six days. He doesn’t like molecules-to-man evolution, the Big Bang, millions of years, and common ancestry. I like that he believes in earth creation, Noah’s Flood, and Adam and Eve.
Comparing the Book of John and Genesis
Similarities between Genesis 1 and John 1 are that they both function as creation stories in the sense that they refer to the origin of life on earth. This similarity is explicitly highlighted since both accounts begin with the words “In the beginning….” (Gen 1:1, John 1:1). Both mention God as creator of life and light. As that creator, he separates those from the preexisting death and darkness (Gen 1: 1-5, Jn 1:4-5). The two stories also reference the idea of God’s Word being the force of creation. God speaks in Genesis, and life comes into being (Gen 1:11-13). In John, he speaks through the power of his Word (Jesus) to baptize (that is, make men into children of God) (Jn 1:9-14). Finally, God calls man to “witness to the light”, that is, participate in his work of creation. He commands Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis, but in John, John the Baptist is speaking of God’s saving grace that draws people to the light and glory of the Trinity’s communion-love (Gen 1:28, Jn 1:6-8, 14-18).
The major difference between these two chapters, though, is that Genesis 1 comes from the Old Testament and John 1 belongs to the New. Therefore, the Genesis account speaks of God’s original creation, while John is writing about how God redeemed it. Nothing is wrong is the original creation, with God seeing that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31). However, God needs to save his fallen creation in John by manifesting himself in a new creation because his creation is so perverted to the point where it cannot recognize it as their creator (Jn 1: 9-13). Therefore, despite their similarities involving vocabulary, images, and symbols, Genesis ends up describing the original, perfect work of creation, while John describes God’s new, redeemed, glorified creation.
Ultimately, these differences and similarities reveal that the theological message of Genesis speaks of God’s power to create man for the purpose of perpetuating his work of creation. In John, that underlying message references God’s power to create anew in man when he failed to live up to his divine calling. Even after the Fall, God sent his Son to redeem and glorify man. Thanks to Christ, man no longer has just the purpose of being a coworker-slave of God; man’s vocation is to create with God and live in his love as adopted son. Being “born of God” now, man now can be in “closest relationship with the Father” as Christ is (Jn 1:13, 18).
Genesis of old age homes
In a fourth pattern, elders live all alone in the city, the children having migrated to foreign countries or for higher education, jobs and so on. The children will be living settled and comfortable lives with family and children, with all material comforts. They will visit the elders once in two or three years; this situation causes health-related and emotional insecurities, though the elders will be financially sound thanks to foreign remittances. In another pattern, elders live with relatives or in old age homes, either with spouse or alone, with financial, health and emotional insecurity. Elders, both men and women, who remained single without marriage invariably landed in OAHs. Each of these situations has its own merits and demerits. While many elders accept the change, others are unable to adjust, and start grumbling and sulking, which is understandable considering the age and exposure to circumstances.
Among the estimated population of over 10 crores in the country in the age range of 65 and above, at least 10 to 20% will be above 75 who face health problems to different degrees. Due to personal compulsions many have emigrated and stay with children mostly in the United States. But some are unable to travel owing to health reasons such as immobility or other personal reasons, and go in search of OAHs.
Genesis of old age homes
Each family has its own problems, with a single child or two or many sons and daughters to look after parents. As they give priority to their own lives with a bright future, many children face the embarrassment of taking care of their parents. Here comes the question of whether to stay back in the country to provide a comfortable life for parents in their advanced age or to migrate to other countries. Attracted by advanced technologies that provide opportunities to prosper in life and by materialistic benefits, many youngsters migrate to greener pastures, leaving behind parents to take care of themselves or with relatives. In the absence of either option, the choice is to leave the elders in old age home under the care of others who manage the system. Thus, old age home was born to help chiefly the non-resident Indians (NRIs), to relieve them of the tension of leaving behind parents under the care of someone outside the family system. So, the old age home was a concomitant of the emergence of the nuclear family system.
Having said that, it must be admitted that there are sons and daughters in some families who do not want to leave their aged parents and prefer to take care of them until their last breath, by opting to remain in the country with the satisfaction of whatever employment and other benefits they have commensurate with their education and qualifications. Thus, the mindset of children varies widely and parents have learnt to compromise with the given situation.
Despite surveys and fact findings in different methods the major problem that we face are the research question which will help the proposal to draw out some implications. The proposed project will be conducted with the following objectives.
- How many Old Age Home are presently functioning to provide healthcare facility to elderly people.
- How many elderly people are able to receive medical help from those facilities.
- How many ill elderly people who can’t afford their medical treatment are there in Udupi district.
- To determine the incline in old age homes.
- To identity the areas that need immediate medical attention for elderly people.
- To undergo further studies about Old age homes.
- To provide jobs for unemployed people in old age homes.
- To study the impact of old age homes in this generation.
Data collection: The primary data required for the study will be collected from the existing old age homes in Karnataka or in Kerala states and also from the government hospitals in and around Udupi district.
Data Analysis: Data analysis involves converting a series of recorded observations into descriptive statement and/ or inferences about relationships. For the Statistical analysis of the data, the major tools proposed to use includes: Factor Analysis, Multiple Regression analysis, Analysis of Variance (One-way ANOVA), Chi-Square test, T-test, pie-charts, averages, percentages graphs, bar diagrams, tests of significance using statistical packages (SPSS).
Review of the organogenesis of date palm true to type plant.
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the most essential fruit crops cultured in arid and semi-arid regions. It is circulated throughout the Middle East, North Africa, South Sahel, areas of East and South Africa, Europe and USA (Mazri et al ., 2015), with approximately 150 million trees worldwide (Mazri et al ., 2015). Date palm is refined for its high yield and the high nutrient value of its fruit, for preserving ecosystems threatened by desertification and creating a suitable microclimate for agriculture under arid surroundings. In addition, date palm cultivation generates considerable chances for rural employment, provides a chief source of income for farmers and confirms livelihood and food security of the rural areas (Mazri et al ., 2015). The date palm can be proliferated sexually by seeds or asexually by offshoots. Propagation by seeds cannot be used for the commercial production of best genotypes due to its heterozygous character (Tisserat, B. 1982), and because of the considerable difference between seedlings and vegetatively propagated plants in expressions of production potential, fruit maturation and value, and harvesting time. Propagation by offshoots is a slow procedure that is hampered by the limited number of offshoots produced by a single date palm tree, the low survival rate and the risk of transferring diseases. Propagation of date palm concluded in vitro techniques presents a competent alternative for the conventional methods. Indeed, date palm micropropagation allows the fast and large-scale proliferation of uniform and healthy plants, with neither seasonal effects nor the risk of distribution diseases and pests during plant material exchange (Quiroz-Figueroa et al ., 2006)
The aim of this review is to summarize the literature on date palm micropropagation through somatic embryogenesis and organogenesis and to highlight the main factors affecting each stage of these two micropropagation techniques. Besides this, the main problems come across during date palm micropropagation are described.
Date Palm Propagation Methods:-
Available techniques of rapid multiplication of date palm have contributed hugely increased demand of date palm fruits worldwide (Jain et al., 2011). Traditionally, date palm is proliferated by both sexually through seeds and vegetatively by offshoots that produced from axillary buds located on the base of the trunk during the juvenile phase in date palm tree. It is very slow for offshoots to progress and that hampers vegetative propagation of date palm plant. So far, there is no obtainable technique to speed up in increasing the offshoot quantities as well as reduce the time in developing them. Use of offshoots preserves the true-to-type character of reproduced genotypes. Moreover, sexual propagation of date palm is unsuitable for commercial production of true-to-type value-added genotypes. It is due to the heterozygous character of date palm seedlings and also their dioecious nature (Jain, 2007a). In addition, half of this progeny is collected of male trees which not distinguished before flowering stage. The female plants produce variable fruits and commonly of inferior quality (Eke et al., 2005). Additionally, seed propagation method has another drawback that the growth and maturation of seedlings are extremely low, and this is a reason, date palm seedling may begin to fruit after 8-10 years of plantation. Though offshoot propagation is a true-to-type technique, it is not commercially practical for the following causes:
Offshoot production is restricted to a relatively short vegetative phase of about 10 to 15 years;
Only a limited number of offshoots are formed during this phase (20 to 30 offshoots, depending on variety);
Some varieties harvest more offshoots than others (some do not produce offshoots at all);
Offshoot survival ratio is low;
The use of offshoots improves the spread of date palm diseases and pests; Offshoot propagation is difficult, lengthy, and therefore expensive.
In vitro propagation of date palm:
Use of in vitro techniques such as somatic embryogenesis and organogenesis is highly proper for large-scale plant multiplication of vegetatively proliferated crops. The success of these techniques is highly genotypic dependent, though, have successfully been practical for plant propagation in wide-ranging crops including date palm (Jain, 2007a). Micropropagation by direct organogenesis is commonly used for rapid clonal propagation of best genetic material of date palm plant (Khierallah and Bader, 2007). Performance of micropropagated date palm appears to be better than conventionally grown plants in terms of harvest, early flowering time, and relatively uniform in fruit value and physical properties. Aaouine reported plant redevelopment from 30 genotypes of date palm by direct shoot organogenesis. The major concern with this method is a somaclonal variation that is dependent on different factors including genotype, explants, plant growth regulators (Jain, 2007a).
Moreover, it is highly necessary to maintain genetic fidelity of regenerated plants, which can be studied by many molecular markers Micropropagation has a benefit of using low concentrations of plant growth regulators, as a result, callus phase is avoided. Direct regeneration of vegetative buds reduces the risk of somaclonal variation among regenerants. Duration of culture period is limited by numerous subcultures for maintaining and given that shoot cultures for plantlet production. However, the highest number of subcultures must be determined before starting the fresh cultures from the mother plants. This is done to prevent or reduce somaclonal variation.
Currently, only a few laboratories use this technique to produce commercially in vitro date palm plants, mainly in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. A micropropagation technique has been used commercially in selected date palm cultivars described advantages and limitations of date palm micropropagation; major advantages are the year-round availability of plants, quality control, rapid production of plants of elite cultivars, and cold storage of elite genetic material.
Advantages and disadvantages of somatic embryogenesis (Jain, 2007b)
Advantages of somatic embryogenesis:
Somatic embryos originate from a single cell and minimize or eliminate chimera depending on the plant species.
Somatic embryo cell suspension is ideal for mutation induction due to the production of direct mutant somatic embryos.
Somatic embryos behave like a zygotic embryo in germination.
The single somatic embryo can be encapsulated to develop into a somatic seed that could germinate like a normal seed. This aspect still requires further research for use at a commercial scale.
The most suitable approach in woody species for plant regeneration. Somatic embryos can be produced in a bioreactor which could be automated for large-scale production of somatic embryos.
Somatic embryos are suitable for long-term storage by cryopreservation Disadvantages of somatic embryogenesis:-
Somatic embryogenesis is highly genotypic dependent and therefore culture medium modification may be needed for different genotype.
The germination rate of somatic embryos is very poor in most of the crops.
Somatic embryogenic cultures can lose their property if they are not sub-cultured regularly on the fresh culture medium, and that raises the chance of getting genetic variability.
Organogenesis of Date Palm
The choice of an explant and its disinfection process can affect the success of micropropagation including the date palm. Shoot tips and adventitious shoots in lateral buds contain more meristematic tissues than other organs and therefore are frequently used in date palm tissue cultures (Mazri and Meziani, 2015). A successful regeneration of many date palm genotypes has been achieved when shoot tips were used as explants: “Jihel” and “Iklane”, “Mordarsing” and “Khanizi” , “Nabout” and “Khasab” (Al-Khayri, 2007), and “Khalasah”, “Zardari”, “Banshee”, “Zart”, “Muzati” and “Shishi”. Date palm tissue culturing can also be achieved by using explants derived from inflorescences, as was reported for “Banshee” and “Gulistan”. Reynolds and Murashige (1979) induced somatic embryogenesis from zygotic embryos obtained from green fruits that were harvested 2-3 months after pollination. Pinker also used zygotic embryos to induce somatic embryogenesis in “Khistawi”, “Zahdi”, “Barban”, “Asabe” and “Elarous”. Somatic embryos are useful for the micropropagation and large-scale production of date palm plants and may also be used to obtain true-to-type genotypes.
Explant disinfection and preparation:-
The main disinfecting agent that has been used for shoot tips is sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) at a concentration range from 5% to 25% and for spikelets, mercuric chloride (HgCl2) at 0.1% concentration. In addition, the use of antioxidants such as 150 mg/l ascorbic acid (for 30 min), 4% polyvinylpyrrolidone (Aslam and Khan, 2009), citric acid at a concentration of 150 mg/l with 150 mg/l ascorbic acid (soaked overnight), or anhydrous caffeine are widely used during shoot tip explant disinfection (Khierallah et al., 2007). Khan and Tabassum (2012) used an effective protocol to eliminate infection from shoot tips: treatment with 5% (w/v) NaOCl containing one drop of a surfactant (Tween-20/100 ml), stirred gently for 30 min, rinsed three times in sterile distilled water (SDW; 5 min each rinse), surface disinfested with 0.2% (w/v) HgCl2 for 10 min and then rinsed three times with SDW. Leaf primordia of 6 cm long shoot tips were removed and used as explants and 2 cm long shoot tips with 2-4 intact primordial leaves also served as explants. A similar protocol has been used by Othmani for leaves adjacent to the apex of axillary shoots of cv. “Boufeggous”. Fki first washed young leaves with tap water, and surface sterilized them with 0.01% HgCl2 for 1 h, rinsed three times with SDW, then cut them into 5-10, 10-15 and 15-20 mm long explants. Ledo described a disinfection procedure for zygotic embryos from mature (wine-colored, -2.17 g) and immature (green, -1.68 g) fruits from “a?ai” palm, a Euterpe species of palm tree cultivated for its fruit. After being washed under running tap water, fruits were immersed in 40EC water, and seeds were excised on a laminar flow bench, immersed in 70% ethanol for 2 min, then in 2% NaOCl for 20 min under agitation, and finally washed four times with SDW (Khokhar, M. I. et al ., 2017).
Adventitious bud initiation:
The formation of adventitious buds on date palm explants depends on many factors such as media components, genotype, and time period of plant material collection. Various culture media were suggested for adventitious bud formation, depending on the cultivar. From offshoot-derived explants, Beauchesne et al. suggested half-strength Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium supplemented with 1-5 mg/L 2-naphthoxyacetic acid (NOA), 1 mg/L NAA, 1 mg/L indole-3acetic acid (IAA) and 0.1-3 mg/L 6-(dimethylallylamino) purine (2iP). Khierallah and Bader recommended MS medium supplemented with 2 mg/L 2ip, 1 mg/L BAP, 1 mg/L NAA and 1 mg/L NOA for cv. Maktoom. Al-Mayahi suggested MS medium supplemented with 1 mg/L BAP and 0.5 mg/L thidiazuron (TDZ) for cv. Hillawi. For cv. Zaghlool, Bekheet used MS medium supplemented with 2 mg/L 2ip and 1 mg/L NAA while Hussain et al. used MS medium supplemented with 4 mg/L IBA and 1 mg/L BAP for CVS. Asil, Hussaini, and Zaidi. According to Al-Khateeb, low PGRs concentrations promote the formation of buds while high concentrations induce abnormal growth without bud formation. Studies on adventitious bud formation from inflorescence explants are very scarce. Loutfi and chlyah indicated that shoot primordia are formed mostly on Greshoff and Doy medium supplemented with 0.5 mg/L NAA, 2 mg/L BAP, and 1 mg/L 2iP. In a recent review of the literature, Abahmane reported that the combination of one auxin and two cytokinins is effective for bud formation on inflorescence explants. With regard to the period of offshoot removal, Beauchesne et al. suggested a period starting from the end of dates harvesting and lasting until the beginning of flowering. Aissam reported that the explants taken between October and February show the highest buds formation rate, whereas Zaid et al. reported that the best period for the in vitro culturing of offshoot-derived explants is from the onset of flowering. Shoot bud multiplication Many factors influence shoot bud multiplication in date palm, especially the basal formulation of the culture medium, the genotype, and PGRs. Abahmane mentioned that the main basal formulation used is MS at full or half-strength, supplemented with PGRs at low concentrations as compared with the bud initiation stage. Zaid et al. reported that for shoot bud multiplication, NAA, NOA, IAA, BAP, and kinetin might be used at 0.5-5 mg/L. Beauchesne et al. suggested half-strength MS medium supplemented with 2 mg/L NOA, 1 mg/L NAA, 1 mg/L IAA, 0.5 mg/L BAP, 1 mg/L 2iP and 1-5 mg/L kinetin. For cultivar Khalas, Aslam and Khan used 7.84 µM BAP for high shoot bud multiplication. Khierallah and Bader recommended MS medium with a combination of 1 mg/L NAA, 1 mg/L NOA, 4 mg/L 2iP and 2 mg/L BAP for date palm cv. Maktoom while Khan and Bi Bi found that MS medium containing 0.5 mg/L BAP and 0.5 mg/L kinetin yields the highest number of shoots per explant in cv. Dhakki. In a previous work on cv. Najda, we found that the best medium for shoot bud multiplication was half-strength MS medium supplemented with 0.5 mg/L NOA and 0.5 mg/L kinetin, which yielded an average of 23.5 shoot bud per explant after 3 months of multiplication. Mazri recommended MS medium containing 2.5 µM IBA and 2.5 µM BAP for cv. 16-bis (22.3 shoot buds per explant) while he recommended half-strength MS medium supplemented with 3 µM IBA and 3 µM BAP for cv. Boufeggous, which showed 22.9 shoot buds per explant. Al-Mayahi suggested MS medium containing 1 mg/L BAP and 0.5 mg/L TDZ for cv. Hillawi, which resulted in an average of 18.2 buds per culture. Other factors such as the medium texture, cultivation in bioreactors, explant size, and density and carbon source were also reported to affect shoot bud multiplication of date palm.
Shoot elongation, rooting and plantlet acclimatization:
Shoot elongation and rooting may be achieved either on a medium containing PGRs or on a PGR-free medium. Beauchesne et al. suggested the use of half-strength MS medium supplemented with 1 mg/L NAA, 0.5 mg/L BAP, 0.5 mg/L kinetin and 1-3 mg/L gibberellin for shoot elongation. El Sharabasy et al. reported that the use of 0.1 mg/L NAA has a better effect on shoot elongation as compared to IBA and IAA. The use of liquid medium was also reported to promote shoot elongation. With regard to shooting rooting, Bekheet recommended 1 mg/L NAA, which showed better results than IAA or IBA at the same concentration. In a previous work on cv. Najda, we compared media with and without PGRs. Our results showed that shoot elongation is fast in media supplemented with PGRs, with high root formation rates. However, shoots cultured on PGR-free media had wider and greener leaves and exhibited higher survival rates after acclimatization. This shows that plantlet acclimatization might be influenced by previous culture conditions. Along with this line, it has been shown that the texture of the elongation-rooting medium influences the survival rate of plantlets after ex vitro transfer. Indeed, the use of a liquid medium just before plantlet acclimatization showed lower survival rates as compared to a semi-solid medium. On the other hand, increasing the level of sucrose in the elongation-rooting medium increases the survival rate of plantlets during acclimatization. Other factors such as the nature of the substrate and the application of gamma-aminobutyric acid were reported to influence plantlet acclimatization (Mazri et al .,2015).
Micropropagation of date palm either through somatic embryogenesis or through organogenesis was reported for many cultivars, and several factors have been revealed to influence these regeneration systems. Date palm micropropagation presents an efficient way for the large-scale propagation of genotypes resistant to bayoud, a very dangerous disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. albedinis, which had decimated more than 12 million trees during the last century. Plantlets of bayoud-resistant genotypes are used to rehabilitate palm groves ravaged by this fungus. Micropropagation also allows the large-scale propagation of cultivars of high fruit quality, in order to satisfy the high demand of farmers and consumers. Despite the numerous works published on date palm micropropagation, research is still needed to optimize culture conditions for the newly selected genotypes and recalcitrant cultivars, to shorten the time needed to produce plantlets, and to reduce the incidence of physiological disorders. It is also important to carry out studies related to the application of somatic embryogenesis to genetic transformation, synthetic seeds production and cryopreservation of embryogenic culture.
The Prayer of the Scarlet: the Allegory Genesis and the Use of Christian Symbolism in the Picture of Dorian Gray
The Scarlet Prayer: Genesis Allegory and Christian Symbolism in The Picture of Dorian Gray
Dorian Gray and the Bible (NKJV) seem to agree on at least one semblance of doctrine, if only partially. They both maintain that the body is a temple, though the principles to worship within it remain a point of contention between the two. Gray’s religion is a faith of the flesh where one worships on an altar of pleasure. This does not prevent his participation in a narrative full of the themes, narrative structure and principal figures from Biblical history, including the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and the crucifixion at Calvary. Gray’s titular picture, shielding him from the visible consequences of his debauchery, contains an allusion to the Messiah arriving to deliver fallen “mankind” (represented by Gray) from the repercussions of sins against the body’s purity and the will of the creator deity, the God of Abraham. In its role as redeemer and omen, Gray’s messianic painting is the central link in a chain of allegorical and biblical roles spanning from the tempter to the Father himself, and directly parallels the moral history of mankind in relation to the Christian trinity.
Gray’s rapid shift from innocence to inundation in worldly pleasure parallels the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, correlating the Bible’s teachings about the origins of sin. The circumstances of Gray’s corruption resemble those of collective humanity in Genesis. Just as mankind existed in a pristine state before gaining knowledge of both good and evil, Gray has “a simple and beautiful nature” (Wilde 16). His petulant, simpering attitude embodies the naïve purity of the young. The young man’s crimson lips and turquoise gaze reflect how he has “kept himself unspotted from the world” (Wilde 18), just as Adam and Eve, in their incipient innocence, “were both naked [in Eden]…and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).
In yet another allusion to Eden, the introduction to the possibility of corruption (the original sin from which all future iniquity proceeds) in Dorian Gray occurs in Basil Hallward’s garden. The lavish sanctuary brims with graceful dragonflies and the fragrance of roses, reminiscent of Eden’s multitude of desirable trees, among which God communed daily with untainted man. In Hallward’s garden, Gray’s existence suddenly blazes with moral (or, in retrospect, immoral) revelation in the moment where he awakens, physically and philosophically, from “the candor of youth” into a world ripe with murder, drug use, alien sensory fulfillment, eroticism and “sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain [his] cheek with shame” (Wilde 21). Wilde’s specific mention of shame here is unique in that it exactly echoes the aforementioned description from Genesis 2:25 of mankind’s previous state as being “not ashamed.” This shame stems from the new moral awareness, or perhaps simply the moral conception of nakedness—physical for Adam and Eve, and emotional for Gray. Wilde does not imply Gray’s emotional nakedness through a heartfelt confession or a personal revelation of some sort, but through his reaction of shame in recognition of his former condition. He is profoundly uneasy in light of his previous moral innocence, or rather, his ignorance of having lived “nakedly” (without knowledge of evil or wrongness, as did Adam and Eve) for two decades in a world whose moral tenets, and the possibility of their reciprocal violations existed, regardless of his participation in upholding or abusing them. This lack of poisonous knowledge, that Wilde portrays as innocence, is the same state that Adam and Eve occupied before their own personal revolutions. The same catalyst as in Gray’s case—the dark knowingness of the world epitomized by “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17)—instigates the couple’s exile.
After listening to Henry Wotton’s hedonist monologue, Gray flees to the garden and obsessively drinks in a flower’s scent, in a frenzy that mimics that of Adam and Eve when “the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:7) and, after realizing their nakedness, they sewed themselves coverings of fig leaves. These reactions of bewilderment and embarrassment showcase not only Gray and the Eden couple’s regretful inauguration into their newfound states of awareness, but also their first concessions to the behavioral demands that this fresh moral self-consciousness places upon them. Their implied states of emotional shock also suggest a shared abruptness in their states during the moment in which they awaken to moral choice. Upon discovering of the possibility of wrongdoing, Adam and Eve hide fearfully from the eyes of God, and, as is evident from his hyperbolic desperation in the garden, Gray receives his epiphany with the same shock and dread. In a process that features the same thematic significance with which the eyes of the first of mankind were “opened”, Gray is startlingly awakened to the potential for evil against himself and others.
The Edenic parallel between Genesis and Gray’s representation of fallen mankind is sealed with certainty in Hallward’s garden when Wotton at last pronounces Gray a “wonderful creation” (Wilde 23), alluding to the exultant sentiment that humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). The presence of a being that can conceive of moral and immoral actions (even if that being is still yet considered an animal) among a garden of organisms whose thoughts do not exist on the plain of morality is an exceptional marvel that Eden and Hallward’s gardens clearly share. At the conclusion of Adam and Eve’s narrative, God proclaims that mankind has become “like [a god], to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). Similarly, Dorian Gray’s soul flexes its freedom of will, seeking out “the things it has forbidden to itself” (Wilde 21), and he soon emerges into a world of sordid possibilities, drunk with the power of choice. His actions unfold such that, in the novel’s allegory, he collectively represents mankind from Adam onward, in accordance with the biblical account of man’s moral history and relationship with God, from its tainted roots in Eden to the millennia beyond.
Whether fallen or forgiven, mankind (and therefore, Dorian Gray) suffers from surrendering to the whispered depravities of a tempter. The novel does not leave the allegory lacking in this respect. Wotton, Gray’s acquaintance and later his confidante, describes in the opening scenes his love of “persons with no principles” (Wilde 11) in reference to the unsavory personalities with whom he has made acquaintance. Wotton’s olive complexion and blasé composure beguile the naïve Dorian into insisting that wherever Wotton goes, he shall follow. Wotton waxes fondly and eloquently of the pleasures attainable only in youth, sowing the seeds of Gray’s wickedness with a disturbing prowess for manipulation tantamount with the craftiness of the serpent (commonly assumed to be an incarnation of Satan, who is “more cunning” than any beast in the Garden (Genesis 3:1). Despite the protests of Gray’s friend Hallward that Wotton’s influence may be dangerous, the devious lord gleefully observes Gray’s new, hedonistic psychological outlook. His fascination is rooted (as is Satan’s) in the observation of the destruction of perfect innocence, for which he happily admits he is responsible. He regards Gray’s worldly new self as “his own creation” (Wilde 61). When Gray realizes his mortality and begins to weep, declaring himself envious of all things whose appeal will never fade, Hallward admonishes Wotton, saying, “this is your doing, Harry” (Wilde 29). Hallward’s bitter, fatalistic manner corresponds with the condemnation God issues to the serpent for his role in the beginning of man’s iniquity (Genesis 3:14). As Gray’s innocence degrades, Wotton solidifies his role as the tempter of perfect mankind. Abstentions from sin are merely inexplicable refusals, Wotton says, and the idea of sin is simply a relic of a medieval era. He adds bluntly that yielding to a temptation is “[t]he only way to get rid of…it” (Wilde 20-21), cementing himself in the Christian allegory (at least in semantics) as the “tempter” in Matthew 4:3 who accosts Jesus in the wilderness. However, unlike Christ, Gray yields to the allure of putting Wotton’s views into practice, as he claims to do with everything Wotton says (Wilde 51). Of course, this decision later concludes disastrously for Gray, as it does for Eden’s residents when they heed the tempter’s reasoning.
From the outset, Wilde conceives Gray’s relationship with his painting in terms of salvation and divinity. In particular, the mention of Gray’s soul as an object to be relinquished renders spiritual significance to his pledge that he would give all he possesses for the painting to replace him as he ages so he can remain free from limits of the flesh. The specification that Gray’s physical youth is the painting’s protectorate conjures the promise that “no evil shall befall you, nor any plague come near your dwelling…For He shall give His angels charge over you…lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:10-12). This passage evokes the health (“nor any plague”) and providence that, like angels, relentlessly tend to Gray. In addition to attaining eternal bodily life, for instance, he survives a nearly disastrous confrontation with James Vane, the vengeful brother of one of his dead lovers by virtue of his young appearance, (Wilde 196). This fortuitous occurrence suggests not merely supernatural protection, but also a kind of immunity to the consequences of his past actions. Because this moment of immunity takes place while Gray is spellbound by the painting (which represents the intervention of the supernatural), Gray’s imperviousness symbolizes divine forgiveness for his sins. Manifested in his reprieve from death and physical suffering, this forgiveness is maintained so long as Gray remains within the protectorate of his relationship with the painting, just as in Christianity, a human soul’s forgiven state endures once the person has yielded him or herself to the divine will. Gray’s death at the novel’s closing is also indicative of this arrangement. Determined to “kill this monstrous soul-life” (Wilde 229), Gray stabs the painting and immediately perishes in a moment representing man’s own rebellion against God. It is his ultimate rejection of the divinity that has cloaked him in protection from spiritual death as well as earthly trauma. This is the end of Gray’s arrangement with the supernatural, the murder of the relationship on which his eternal life depends. The action is simply more visual and overt in the novel because of the painting’s earthbound status, and because Gray’s physical body directly relies on the picture to stave off the maladies he has accumulated in his sinful life.
Wilde’s text further implies the spiritual context of Gray’s redemption through the painting when it describes him as burying his face in a cushion after his plea, “as though he were praying” (Wilde 29). Years later, Gray confirms to Basil Hallward that his wish was in fact something that could be called a prayer (Wilde 161). Wilde demonstrates that Gray’s characterization of his plea has a specifically Christian nature when Hallward implores him to pray, “‘Lead us not into temptation. Forgive us our sins. Wash away our iniquities’…Isn’t there a verse somewhere, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, yet I will make them as white as snow’?” (Wilde 162). This image of redemption recalls Wotton’s comment about Gray’s “rose-white boyhood” (Wilde 21). The color imagery that signifies purity in these metaphors indicates yet another kinship between Dorian Gray and the Bible, specifically in their ideas of morality and the moral cleansing/restoration involved in salvation. The painting redeems Gray (albeit only physically) to his former state of blossoming youth, unburdened by the rot of aging, untarnished by the bruise of his malice, just as Christ does to sinners and forgiveness does to a soul “scarlet” with sin.
Hallward’s quote about sin comes from the book of Isaiah (KJV). This Pre-Messianic text prophesies in later chapters that “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…And His name will be called…Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The origin of this remark implies that readers should view the painting’s powers of restoration as an instance of salvation; limited in this circumstance to the physical self of one blessed, and cursed, man. In Gray’s case, though, the painting is a reverse of Christ in two respects: the picture is an inanimate, enchanted object rather than a divine teacher, and it cleanses from Gray only the physical symptoms of immorality rather than rebuking in entirety the inner, spiritual decay that persists in his soul and soon grows visible on the canvas. However, these anomalies fail to significantly distort the underlying parallel of granted salvation and answered prayers which Christ and the painting share. Nestled in Biblical references that make Wilde’s text fertile ground for symbolic comparison, the relationship between Gray and the painting uncannily mirrors the one between Christ and sin-laden mankind. Just as Gray “converts” into the painting’s protection, the Christian sinners are reconciled to “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21), a spiritual version of Gray’s spotless youth.
As do Adam and Christ, Gray’s painting has a moral, unyielding father who opposes the tempter’s wish to spoil his ward’s golden nature. Basil Hallward is the artistic intellect and grand designer behind the portrait (Christ) which has saved Gray (mankind) from facing the full repercussions of his sinful conspiracy with Wotton (the Devil). Also, like his allegorical counterpart who placed the first man in Eden, Hallward presides over the garden setting in which Gray’s nature is first tempted to indulge its baser desires. As the painting’s “parent,” Hallward symbolically fulfills the role of the Father entity in the Christian trinity. He is the main force in the novel’s allegory that spawns the “only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14) that rescues humanity from being condemned to mortality. He is a plainspoken advocate for tradition and a view of morality consistent with that of the Biblical law the Father espouses: he despises the mischievous, deceptive way in which Wotton speaks of his marriage, laments that his old friend is “thoroughly ashamed of [his] own virtues” (Wilde 6) and refuses to invest in Wotton’s blasé opinion that “conscience and cowardice are really the same things” (Wilde 9).
Years later, in a moment of spiritual orthodoxy, the artist hearkens back to his childhood to recall Bible verses from Isaiah; just as the Father urges humanity to abide in Him, Hallward urges Gray to turn to God for forgiveness: “The prayer of your pride has been answered. The prayer of your repentance will be answered also…It is never too late, Dorian. Let us kneel down and try if we cannot remember a prayer” (Wilde 162). Hallward’s exhortation alludes strongly to his connection with the Father’s relentless nature, embodied in the promise that “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).
After Wotton whisks Gray away from Hallward, his emotions mirror the pain of the Father after being estranged from His creations, “As the door closed behind [Wotton and Gray], the painter flung himself down on a sofa, and a look of pain came into his face” (Wilde 33). Though Hallward warns Wotton not to influence Gray just before they greet the young man, Wotton mesmerizes Gray with his philosophy and spirits him away from his private friendship with Hallward. In the process, Hallward is separated forever from a dear friend, and loses the opportunity to commune with a creature of perfect innocence, just as God loses the chance to know his human creations intimately when they reject Him in favor of the tempter’s twisted notions. This grief is evident in Hallward’s obvious despair after his former, untarnished conception of Gray disappears, yet he remains committed to praying for Gray’s wellbeing, thus displaying the “longsuffering and abundan[ce] in mercy” attributed to the Father God (Numbers 14:18). Each of these emotions mimics on an infinitely smaller scale the reactions and efforts of the Father God to reconcile humanity to His sovereignty, even at the cost of His own son (or, in Hallward’s case, the beauty of his painting).
In Dorian Gray, Wilde’s portrayal of a soul descending into the corridors of pleasure and self-fascination is a reflection, even in grotesque miniature, of the Genesis creation narrative of fall and redemption. Dorian Gray’s antiheroic journey from redemption to disgrace and death is a chronological reverse of the Bible’s own version of man’s moral journey, although this by no means diminishes the symbolic resemblance between the circumstances, events and themes of the two texts. In fact, Gray’s climactic murder of Basil Hallward, the “Father” attempting to save him, is symbolic of mankind thinking itself too modern or too human for God. It serves as a warning, or possibly just a chilling pronouncement, about the haunted state of a humanity that has rebelled bloodily against its native reality, and is now left only to stare its own wickedness in the face.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991. Print.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003. Print.
A Comparative Analysis of Bacchae and Genesis
The characters of Agave and Eve, while subordinate to their male counterparts, Pentheus and Adam, play extremely important roles within The Bacchae and Genesis, respectively. Their characters are portrayals of typical women who, because of encounters with the divine, are able to break away (albeit temporarily and not without repercussion) from the constraints placed on them because of their gender. Both women must give something up for this elevated power; Eve must give up her innocence in exchange for knowledge of “good and evil” and Agave must give up her ability to reason in exchange for power and freedom. The punishments handed down to each woman by her respective god are severe. This process of sacrifice-empowerment-punishment helps to demonstrate a main theme in both stories: humankind is subservient to the divine and cannot occupy a god’s position.
Eve is created by God as “a helper and a partner” (Genesis 2:18) to Adam. This establishes from the beginning that woman is in a way subservient to man. However, the use of the term “partner” suggests that this does not imply total servitude. Other than her position as Adam’s helper, Eve’s status is not clearly defined. She and Adam both are ignorant, naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:3). At the point that Eve decides to take a more active role in her life, thus departing from her role as helper, she heeds the encouragements of the serpent and “took of (the tree’s) fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened” (Genesis 2:3). In doing this she disobeyed God’s explicit instructions not only regarding the tree of knowledge but also regarding her relationship to Adam, and is punished.
If Eve took a step forward by asserting her independence, then God moved her two steps back by demoting her to servility. Because of her initiative deciding to open her eyes and Adam’s eyes to good and evil she is punished by God. Any essence of equality that existed in their relationship disappears and she is relegated to the status of servant. God makes her a servant not only to Adam but also to her female anatomy and the desires it creates: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing: in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for you husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). For the remainder of the text, Eve is referred to only when “knowing” Adam and when giving birth.
The message in Eve’s defiance of God and her punishment is clear. The serpent tells Eve that in eating from the tree of knowledge she “will be like god knowing good and evil,” therefore, in doing so she attempted to take on the role of God (Genesis 3:5). As a human she cannot challenge God by attempting to assume his role. As a consequence of violating her status as a woman she is cursed with being dependent on Adam and desiring him. As a consequence of violating her status as a human being she is banished from the garden of Eden and barred by a flaming sword from eating the fruit of life and living forever like God (Genesis 3:22).
The message concerning humankind’s subordinate position in relation to God along with the pattern of sacrifice-empowerment-punishment is also displayed in Euripides’ The Bacchae. Although their situations are not identical?Eve willingly makes the sacrifice of her innocence to gain knowledge, whereas Agave is compelled by Dionysus to do so strong parallels exist between their relationships to their gods, their challenging of gender roles, and their ultimate punishments.In the city of Thebes women were denied citizenship rights and consequently could not run for office or speak out in the assembly. Socially they were thought to be of a lower class than men (Graham 2000). The case of Agave is no exception. However, because she (as well as other women) was used by Dionysus as a tool to exact revenge on the city, she was given a unique escape from this social constraint. While the sacrifice itself was not described by Euripides, it is clear that in exchange for her senses she gained a sense of freedom and empowerment that a woman in her position could have only dreamed of. Rather than being a mere subordinate to her son or husband, Agave became the leader of a band of equally empowered women, who were free to dance, sing, drink and hunt as they pleased (Bacchae 680-710). She was not only able to do things forbidden to women, but things forbidden to humans as well, in that she was granted superhuman, almost god-like powers of strength.Agave, like Eve, is ultimately punished twofold; once for a crime against God and once for a crime against man. For the crime against man, (the murder of her son Pentheus) she is banished from the city of Thebes. For her crime against God, (denying his very existence) she is made to murder her own child in a most gruesome fashion (Bacchae 1330).
It is true that both Agave and Eve shed their gender roles and attain powers that in their respective positions were god-like and that both were eventually punished by their deities for both human crimes and crimes against God. Despite these strong connections their situations are quite different. Eve is an archetypal woman, who, in ways too numerous too explain here, has helped form western views towards women, whereas Agave is already a victim of views similar to those which the allegory of Adam and Eve helped create. Eve was also a far more independent person who through her own will disobeys God and her gender role (Genesis 2:3). In contrast, the character of Agave is forcefully commandeered by Dionysus and made to challenge her gender role. The gods with whom the two women must deal are also quite different. The biblical God is a more rational being than Dionysus, punishing Adam and Eve (his own creations) after they disobey his only rule (Genesis 3:22). Dionysus, on the other hand, is a wrathful, vindictive God, punishing Agave for her impiety by forcing her to kill her own son and then banishing her from her home for the very crime he made her commit (Bacchae 1340). Although Agave and Eve both followed the pattern of sacrifice-empowerment-punishment, their situations were quite different.
For all the complexities of their similarities and differences, one simple message can be extracted from the experiences of these two women; “many are the ways of the gods. Many are the deeds of the gods. All beyond the mind of man. That which was expected was not done. That which was expected not, was done. The god found a way. It is finished” (Bacchae 1392).
The Execution of Knowledge in Genesis and Oedipus
The differing treatments of knowledge in the early stages of the Book of Genesis and in the tragedy Oedipus Rex reveal a fundamental difference in the representative traditions of Hebraism and Hellenism. Hebraic obedience to divine authority is the ‘true and righteous human way’ (Kass 68) while autonomous knowledge pursued outside divine prohibition is ‘deeply questionable and the likely source of all… unhappiness’ (Kass 64). In contrast, Oedipus’ pursuit of knowledge results in the tragic realization of his origins and self-punishment. However, Oedipus exhibits greatness ‘in virtue of his inner strength: strength to pursue the truth at whatever the personal cost, and strength to accept and endure it when found’ (Dodds 28), thus exemplifying the Hellenistic ardor for knowledge. In this paper, I will argue that while knowledge is indeed dangerous and may be harmful to the truth seeker himself, the pursuit of knowledge is justified if we can fully embrace the consequences of the knowledge. ‘Hellenism may thus actually serve the needs of Hebraism’ (Arnold 158) with regard to the virtue of the knowledge pursued, in so far that as is combined with Hebraic discretion and good judgement.
In Genesis 2, Hebraic obedience to divine authority is emphasized through the explicit commandment not to eat from the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (2:9), and the downfall of man upon transgression of the commandment clearly illustrates the dangers of disobedience to divine authority. However, I will also argue that the story of the Fall of Man does not oppose the pursuit of knowledge in itself, only that it underscores the fallibility of autonomous human reasoning against divine commandment.
The Hebraic God does not prohibit human reasoning and knowledge, unless it seeks to exist independently of divine authority. In Genesis 2, man is said to be made in the image of God, which means that he possesses the ability to exercise speech and reason, freedom in doing and making, powers of contemplation, judgment and care (Kass 38). However, it is in man’s development of practical reasoning through naming, language, rationalization and questioning that he misuses his faculties of reasoning and transgresses, resulting in this ‘radical self-consciousness’ (Kass 89) that is the consequence of autonomous knowledge. This ‘radical self-consciousness’ is the full development of the awareness in differences between binary opposites, an awareness that is finally illuminated after man’s transgression, causing his own separation and fall. As Leon Kass explains, the naming of animals is an exercise of man’s first use of reasoning, ‘for the ability to name rests on the rational capacity for recognizing otherness and sameness’ (74). While this act in itself does not give rise to prohibited knowledge, it awakens consciousness in man, as man is given the ability to project independent and subjective knowledge unto the objective reality that he encounters, ultimately giving rise to the ability to gain autonomous knowledge.
Language is the subsequent demonstration of man’s reasoning, and it is misused as a tool for distorting and misrepresenting divine commandments. The serpent manipulates language to the effect of inducing the woman to question God’s divine prohibition, posing a question that alludes to undermining the authority of divine commandment: ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ (3:1) It is clear that the serpent has no intention of clarifying the commandment, but rather in provoking outrage and incredulity towards the need to obey. Language is thus used as a tool of provoking self-awareness and questioning objective statements or commandments. The serpent also uses language to superficially distort the meaning of God’s commandments. In saying that ‘You will not surely die’ (3:4), the serpent is ‘both right and wrong’ (Buber 44), as the first humans merely comprehend the knowledge of death to come. Furthermore, the serpent introduces the notion that God’s motive for prohibition is largely selfish, as eating from the tree would cause the man and woman to ‘be like God, knowing good and evil’ (3:5). In a single sentence, he undermines God’s authority and promotes autonomy. Encouraged by the serpent’s call for rebellion, the woman sees the tree for what it is ‘apart from the prohibition’ (White 135). As a result, she begins to view the tree with subjective independent desire as White explains, through ‘non-verbal perceptual experience, simple awareness of possibility and the force of desire’ (135). The strength of this desire that is born from newfound consciousness thus culminates in her independent judgment that the tree was ‘good for food… a delight to the eyes… desired to make one wise’ (3:6). Within the same sentence, the transgression of her eating the fruit and offering it to her husband occurs, indicating quick successive action.
The act of choosing freely for oneself is thus portrayed as the cause of the Fall of Man: ‘Any free choice implies reaching for and acting on our own knowledge of good or bad’ (Kass 65), and this ultimately points to the fallibility of human reasoning and the importance of divine obedience. Naming and the development of language amount to a misuse and disabuse of practical reasoning against better judgment. The serpent facilitates the development of a consciousness that appeals to an independent and subjective interpretation of the tree beyond divine prohibition, leading up to the transgression and fall of Man.
Beyond pointing to the fallibility of human reasoning, the story of Genesis 3 underscores the material consequences of transgression against divine obedience, which was that ‘Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked’ (3:7). This discovery of nakedness is only possible through the ‘knowledge of oppositeness’ (Buber 46), as they come to the realization of the ‘ill or evil’ in the state of unclothedness. Nakedness which was meant to be their natural state of perfection, is now a perceived defect and imperfection, ‘a badness of our own nature… the mind’s first judgmental and shame-inducing discovery’ (Kass 67). As a result, this ‘radical self-consciousness’ is produced in us, and then induces a constant state of anxiety and imperfectability. This realization of deficiency in relation to divinity is aptly summed up by Hugh C. White as an eternal struggle defined by ‘narcissistic conflict with their opposites… a humbling inferiority that they will desire but never attain.. superiority’ (White 137). Thus, the story of the Fall of Man negatively presents the pursuit of autonomous knowledge and its fruits, that such parts of life will only give rise to inner conflict and dissatisfaction.
Initially, Oedipus Rex is the traditional embodiment of the Hellenistic thirst for knowledge; however, through the tragic turn of events, Sophocles offers a ‘critique of impure reason’ (Lear 194), a superficial ‘knowingness’ (196) that comes from Oedipus’ lack of awareness of the terrible knowledge that he is seeking. I will thus argue that the tragic realization of identity adds a caveat to the valorized Hellenistic pursuit of knowledge, that the discovered truths do not necessarily lead to the best consequences. Nonetheless, a man’s strength lies in the endurance of such terrible truths.
The initial ‘knowingness’ of Oedipus is a commitment to the pursuit of a superficial kind of knowledge, the kind of knowledge that already conforms to Oedipus’ own truths and beliefs. The very name ‘Oedipus,’ translated as ‘know foot,’ is an example of man’s triumph of intelligence against the monstrosity of the Sphinx (Segal 41). It is a mark of pride that the protagonist is able to solve the riddle, ‘the flight of [his] own intelligence that hit the mark’ (453). Yet the double meanings of his name as ‘swell foot’ (oidein, pous) and ‘know where’ (oida pou) invokes the greater mystery of his own identity and origins (Segal 141), knowledge that has eluded him till now. Thus, his claim to knowledge and intelligence is limited at this point precisely because he is lacking in personal knowledge.
This self-serving pursuit of knowledge plays out in the quest to find the king’s murderer. When the prophet Tiresias does not speak, Oedipus retaliates with immediate anger and comes to the rash conclusion that Tiresias is in conspiracy with Creon to blame Oedipus for the murder. Ironically, he refutes and taunts Tiresias’ claim to know the truth on the basis of his physical blindness, ‘You’ve lost your power, stone-blind, stone-deaf—senses, eyes blind as stone!’ (422-2) Furthermore, he continues to dismiss Creon’s attempts to explain the falsity of his conspiracy delusion, in his response ‘but I’ll be slow to learn—from you. I find you a menace’ (611-12). His sheer determination to attain the truth thus obscures and hinders his finding of the truth, so that any challenge or obstacle to his quest (such as Tiresias) is immediately ignored and thrown aside.
Upon realization of the truth, Oedipus perceives his metaphorical blindness to his own personal knowledge. In his act of self-blinding, he renounces his reliance on intelligence and reasoning, which once hindered him from ‘seeing’ the truth. His self-blinding, prophesied by blind Tiresias, ‘with darkness on your eyes, that now have such straight vision’ (454), indicates an attempt to exchange his physical sight for his metaphorical blindness. The act of self-blinding can be seen as a symbolic negation of his pride and arrogance in his ‘knowingness,’ a negation of oida, the very quality of ‘knowing,’ which also comes from the root word of ‘I have seen’ (Segal 42). Thus, we may understand that Oedipus renounces the superficial knowledge seeking that he had previously relied on.
Yet the play also affirms the greatness of Oedipus as he displays consistent persistence in uncovering the truth, and a respectable fortitude in enduring and accepting the terrible truth. He assumes full responsibility for the transgression that he has committed, and imposes impartial punishment on himself, ‘Take me away, far, far from Thebes’ (1477), as well as ownership of his destiny in saying ‘It’s mine alone, my destiny – I am Oedipus!’ (1446) Although his fate seems to demand great pity from the audience, Oedipus emerges heroic; his acceptance and embrace of his demise is at once humanistic and noble, since he has faced the consequences of uncovering a painful truth. Consequently, Oedipus Rex can be seen as largely Hebraic in its conception that human reasoning is ultimately fallible, condemning hubristic overconfidence in human ‘knowingness,’ while favoring humble religious submission (Lear 198). At the same time, it draws upon elements of Hellenism as it lauds those who seek knowledge with the ability to fully endure and accept the consequences of such a pursuit.
The Fall of Man similarly follows the vein of Hebraic cautiousness with regard to the pursuit of autonomous knowledge. The fallibility of human reasoning, as demonstrated in the abuse of language leading to transgression and the resulting ‘radical self-consciousness,’ is the cause of inherent dissatisfaction and anxiety in man. Thus, while it does not condemn knowledge and reasoning, this narrative presents autonomous knowledge outside divine probation as problematic and unnatural within the divine order.
While both Genesis and Oedipus Rex indicate the fallibility of human reasoning, the Oedipus conception of truth is optimistic in that it presents a solution to the problematic dilemma of human suffering as a result of autonomous knowledge. Under these ideas, human grace and dignity can be achieved through the stoic acceptance of the consequences. In such an understanding, a Hellenistic acceptance of the consequences of autonomous knowledge can serve as a realistic fallback in failing to abide with Hebraic obedience and judgement.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001. Print.
Arnold, Matthew. “Hebraism and Hellenism” in Culture and Anarchy, ed. by William S. Knickerbocker. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1925. 128-143. Print.
Kass, Leon. The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Print.
White, Hugh C. Narration and Discourse in the Book of Genesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Print.
Buber, Martin. “The Tree of Knowledge: Genesis 3” in Genesis ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 43-8. Print.