Review: Who Told You That You Were Naked? by William E. Combs

★★★★ Who Told You That You Were Naked?: A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden

Who Told You That You Were Naked? is a reevaluation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Pastor William E. Combs. Combs’ primary argument is that humanity has long interpreted not only “The Fall” incorrectly, but also a large portion of the biblical message.  To correct this, he argues that Christians must be willing to cast away the illusion that ‘sin’ is a list of infractions and embrace what it truly is: inherited knowledge, passed down from Adam and Eve, that allows us to recognize and analyze good and evil.

However, lacking perfect wisdom, that all-encompassing understanding that God possesses, we fail repeatedly to interpret this knowledge. Knowing without wholly comprehending has led to a skewed perception, which we can never hope to dispose of on our own. Only through faith, trusting that God comprehends this dichotomy of good and evil in a way that we may never fully grasp, can we hope to obtain fulfillment and righteousness.

The early chapters give the impression that Who Told You? is just another study devotional, but further reading reveals it to be much more. Combs’ extraordinary book is a personal testimony, doctoral thesis, theological analysis, and, yes, devotional all in one.

The first noticeable aspect is the writing.  Combs is clearly a veteran wordsmith, who has painstakingly edited and revised his book.  The writing is rich and evocative, implications are clear, and even the syntax is pleasing.  In addition, Combs’ often digs into the original Hebrew and Greek of the source texts, which offers a purer, more accurate picture while providing substantial weight to his claims.

Only two issues deserve attention as potential problems, one rather minor and the other a clear defect that Combs should definitely address. The first is Combs’ tendency to speculate. He makes some assumptions about the biblical text that are pure supposition. Some of his theories are intriguing, but they still have little in the way of evidence to recommend them beyond conjecture. The major issue is Combs’ disregard for an important line of his analysis. Genesis 3:6 states:

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Emphasis mine)

This implies, if not summarily states, that Adam was with Eve during her temptation by the serpent. Combs ignores/overlooks this moment, which should play a huge part in his analysis. He not only fails to address this crucial information, he constructs an alternate version in which Adam is elsewhere threshing wheat. It’s an omission that weakens the strength of many important points in his thesis.

It’s an excellent thesis overall that hits the nail on the head.  Because, ultimately, Combs is correct: faith is not just the key tenant of Christianity, it’s the sole factor. It’s all that truly matters. With faith, all else falls into place. Without it, all the charity, all the goodness, all the knowledge, all the church attendance in the world does not suffice.

Insightful, profound, and genuine, Who Told You That You Were Naked? is an excellent resource for deep biblical study, as well as a much-needed message for believers struggling with prevalent religious legalism.

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Who Told You That You Were Naked?: A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden


STAR RATING

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  • Bill Combs

    I am Bill Combs, the author of Who Told You That You Were Naked. I sent the following reply to the editor of Self Publishing Review concerning this review and did not know I could comment on it. But the editor wrote back giving me permission to offer this comment:

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    Dear Editor:

    I am humbled by the thoughtful words of the reviewer and want to say how much I appreciate them.

    I have a policy that if I disagree on a certain point with any reviewer, I will never try to change that person’s mind by responding to them. However, I also want to uphold the reputation of the reviewer if that person has stated something that is merely based on an oversight of what is in fact in the text.

    For example, I am sure the reviewer gave my book four stars because they felt I had overlooked a critical passage in Genesis 3:6 — enough that the reviewer quoted the passage and emphasized the text they thought I had overlooked: “… and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” The reviewer stated that this omission weakened the strength of many important point in my thesis.

    Truth is, I did address this point but chose to put it in an Endnote instead of addressing it in the main text. There are others who will read my book and know that the reviewer missed this endnote. And perhaps, because of the review, they will look for it more closely and will discover the endnote reference. Thanks, :o) Bill
    ===

    Reviewers are busy and this person simply did not see the reference number in the Scriptural quote in the fourth chapter of my book. Please do not think ill of the reviewer — I certainly do not.

    The reason I was drawn to my conclusion about this text was that if Adam had been standing right beside his wife while she was talking with the serpent and touching and eating the fruit, then he would also have been complicit to some degree in her actions. There is no indications in his reply to the Lord that he participated with her in the encounter or knew the content of her conversation with the serpent.

    I was raised on a farm and know that if two people, for example Jim and Mary, are in the same area of a field or garden, it would take no more than a few yards for them to be separated enough so that a normal conversation carried on by Mary and another person would not be overheard by Jim especially if Jim were actively involved with some unrelated task.

    I am sure you have been in a room with a friend where this has happened to you. Further, if someone had been looking for you, and upon finding you, had asked you where you had been, you would likely have said you had been in the same room with your friend.