John Howell

Rev. John Howell



The choice in Genesis 2:15-17

This paper will explore the interpretation of setting the choice in Genesis 2-3 primarily in the context of the second creation narrative.  Von Rad:  “…what the serpent’s insinuation means is the possibility of an extension of human existence beyond the limits set for it by God at creation”.  Walter Brueggemann:  [the text] “probes the extent to which one may order one’s life autonomously, without reference to any limit or prohibition.”  Some themes to explore are obedience (Paul’s view in Romans 5:19), autonomy, freedom, and the relation between well-being and boundaries.   How does this fit with Barr’s view that it is a “story of how immortality was almost gained but was in fact lost”.  Are these (in the genre of poetry rather than history or science) insights about the human condition?   Can we connect this wisdom with the science that humanity is overstepping planetary boundaries?


John Howell is a retired Presbyterian minister in Wellington.  In his retirement, he wrote a book of poems entitled “Homeless”.  From 2004-2013 he ministered at St Paul’s Union Church in Taupo and published two books of prayers.  For 11 years, he lived in Tauranga managing social service agencies.  From 1974-93 he ministered in three parishes. He has a long interest in environmental matters since his time on the Environmental Council, an advisory committee to the government from 1975-85, during which he edited a book on Environmental Ethics.  His formative degrees were in science, philosophy and theology, and in mid-life he earned a diploma in Business studies.