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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