Original Research

The nature and scope of Nietzsche’s philosophical reception of Genesis 2:4b–3:24

Jacobus W. Gericke
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a1902 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.1902 | © 2019 Jacobus W. Gericke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2018 | Published: 11 April 2019

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Jacobus W. Gericke, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Vaal Triangle, South Africa

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Nietzsche’s writings on the Old Testament have been the subject of in-depth research in various academic disciplines. This article’s original contribution to the ongoing discussion lies in its exclusive focus on Nietzsche’s philosophical reception of Genesis 2:4b–3:24 in particular. The objective is to provide an extensive overview of the related data by way of thematically correlated representative samples in the philosopher’s German writings. As background, the relevant aspects of Schopenhauer’s reception of Genesis 2:4b–3:24 are noted before identifying two types of philosophical criticism discernible in Nietzsche’s consistent and frequent recourse to the text’s memorable mythological motifs. Based on the sheer quantity and quality of associated content involved, the study concludes that Nietzsche’s critical and creative interactions with Genesis 2:4b–3:24 represent a combined critique and revitalisation of the tradition of allegorical interpretations in philosophical approaches to religious mythology.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The research is located at the intersection of biblical studies and philosophy. More specifically, the history of the Old Testament’s reception within 19th-century German atheist philosophy of religion is enriched with the first overview exclusively devoted to the nature and extent of motifs from Genesis 2:4b–3:24 in the writings of Nietzsche.


Nietzsche; Schopenhauer; Old Testament; Genesis 2–3; reception history; philosophical interpretation; allegory; hermeneutics


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