Did any early Church fathers ever reason that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:9) either is or symbolizes the Torah/ Law?


I have found this discussed in a couple of places. It is compared to Romans 7:5-7.

An excerpt from the third century father Methodius:

Read a compendious interpretation of some apostolic words from the same discourse. Let us see, then, what it is that we have endeavoured to say respecting the apostle. For this saying of his, “I was alive without the law once,” [Rom. vii. 9.] refers to the life which was lived in paradise before the law, not without a body, but with a body, by our first parents, as we have shown above; for we lived without concupiscence, being altogether ignorant of its assaults. For not to have a law according to which we ought to live, nor a power of establishing what manner of life we ought to adopt, so that we might justly be approved or blamed, is considered to exempt a person from accusation. Because one cannot lust after those things from which he is not restrained, and even if he lusted after them, he would not be blamed. For lust is not directed to things which are before us, and subject to our power, but to those which are before us, and not in our power. For how should one care for a thing which is neither forbidden nor necessary to him? And for this reason it is said, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” [ Rom. vii. 7.] For when (our first parents) heard, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” [Gen. ii. 17.] then they conceived lust, and gathered it. Therefore was it said, I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet;” nor would they have desired to eat, except it had been said, “Thou shalt not eat of it.” For it was thence that sin took occasion to deceive me. For when the law was given, the devil had it in his power to work lust in me; “for without the law, sin was dead;” [Rom. vii. 8.] which means “when the law was not given, sin could not be committed.” But I was alive and blameless before the law, having no commandment in accordance with which it was necessary to live; “but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.”[Rom. vii. 9, 10.] For after God had given the law, and had commanded me what I ought to do, and what I ought not to do, the devil wrought lust in me. For the promise of God which was given to me, this was for life and incorruption, so that obeying it I might have ever-blooming life and joy unto incorruption; but to him who disobeyed it, it would issue in death. But the devil, whom he calls sin, because he is the author of sin, taking occasion by the commandment to deceive me to disobedience, deceived and slew me, thus rendering me subject to the condemnation, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[ Gen. ii. 17.] “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good;” [ Rom. vii. 12.] because it was given, not for injury, but for safety; for let us not suppose that God makes anything useless or hurtful. What then? “Was then that which is good made death unto me?” [Rom. vii. 13.] namely, that which was given as a law, that it might be the cause of the greatest good? “God forbid.” For it was not the law of God that became the cause of my being brought into subjection to corruption, but the devil; that he might be made manifested who, through that which is good, wrought evil; that the inventor of evil might become and be proved the greatest of all sinners. “For we know that the law is spiritual;” [ Rom. vii. 14.] and therefore it can in no respect be injurious to any one; for spiritual things are far removed from irrational lust and sin. “But I am carnal, sold under sin;” [ Rom. vii. 14.] which means: But I being carnal, and being placed between good and evil as a voluntary agent, am so that I may have it in my power to choose what I will. For “behold I set before thee life and death;”[ Jer. xxi. 8; Ecclus. xv. 8; Deut. xxx. 15.] meaning that death would result from disobedience of the spiritual law, that is of the commandment; and from obedience to the carnal law, that is the counsel of the serpent; for by such a choice “I am sold” to the devil, fallen under sin. Hence evil, as though besieging me, cleaves to me and dwells in me, justice giving me up to be sold to the Evil One, in consequence of having violated the law. Therefore also the expressions: “That which I do, I allow not,” and “what I hate, that do I,”[ Rom. vii. 15.] are not to be understood of doing evil, but of only thinking it. For it is not in our power to think or not to think of improper things, but to act or not to act upon our thoughts. For we cannot hinder thoughts from coming into our minds, since we receive them when they are inspired into us from without; but we are able to abstain from obeying them and acting upon them. Therefore it is in our power to will not to think these things; but not to bring it about that they shall pass away, so as not to come into the mind again; for this does not lie in our power, as I said; which is the meaning of that statement, “The good that I would, I do not;” [ Rom. vii. 19.] for I do not will to think the things which injure me; for this good is altogether innocent. But “the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do;” not willing to think, and yet thinking what I do not will. And consider whether it was not for these very things that David entreated God, grieving that he thought of those things which he did not will: “O cleanse Thou me from my secret faults. Keep Thy servant also from presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent from the great offence.” [Ps. xix. 12, 13.] And the apostle too, in another place: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” [2 Cor. x. 5.]

Methodius, Part III. From the Discourse on the Resurrection. A Synopsis of Some Apostolic Words from the Same Discourse.

also check, The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, Chapter XII.—The importance of knowledge to true spiritual life.

The tree of life is mentioned in Proverbs:

Pro 3:18, 11:30, 13:12; 15:4

and in the Apocrypha

Sir_19:19 The knowledge of the commandments of the Lord is the doctrine of life: and they that do things that please him shall receive the fruit of the tree of immortality.


Did any early Church fathers ever reason that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:9) either is or symbolizes the Torah/ Law? I do not know all the writings of all the early church fathers, but I have read some of them. And from those I never found this reasoning. But an understanding to what the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is compared to the Torah / Law I am willing to share.

First to prove that the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the platform for denial. Now a child who has done wrong may tell the parent a lie, knowing that if the parent finds out a punishment is coming. Knowing that this evil is on the way, he removes his faith from God's redemption, and puts his faith in the darkness breaking the Law. Now a child in a room of cookies may try to take a cookie off the plate of cookies even though he is not allowed, because he knows that the cookie will taste good, so he removes his faith from God and decides to go after the cookie himself breaking the Law.

Here is a list of Early Writings that I do not see any teaching about this comparison (I wasn't looking for this teaching, I just don't remember any of them talking about it):
Passion Narrative, Signs Gospel, Didache, Gospel of Thomas, 1 Clement, Apocalypse of Peter, Dialogue of the Savior, Gospel of the Savior, Gospel of Truth, Testimony of Truth, Authoritative Teaching, Preaching of Paul, Acts of Carpus, and Irenaeus of Lyons.

Here explains the removal of the discernment of good and evil by Faith

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23 NKJV)

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