Hayes on Evil in the Bible

From Introduction to the Bible (The Open Yale Courses Series) by Christine Hayes:

Kaufmann argued that in the Hebrew Bible, evil has no independent existence. Yet evil and suffering are experienced as a condition of human existence, a reality of life. How can this state of affairs be explained? The Garden of Eden story seeks to answer that question, asserting ultimately that evil stems not from the activity of an independent demonic force but from the exercise of human free will in defiance of the creator. The created world is a good world; humans, however, in the exercise of their moral autonomy, have the power to corrupt the good. According to Kaufmann, the Garden of Eden story communicates this basic idea of the monotheistic worldview: Evil is not a metaphysical reality; it is a moral reality. Ultimately, this means that evil lacks inevitability. It lies within the realm of human responsibility and control.

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