Law Asks for Trust

24 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2018

See all articles by Nathan S. Chapman

Nathan S. Chapman

University of Georgia School of Law

Date Written: 2011


This Article offers a reading of chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Genesis, informed by concerns for the social effects of law. Part I considers the implications of God's method of creating the world by speech in the first chapter of Genesis. Part II turns to God's prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The content of the prohibition and the nature of the threatened penalty suggest that the prohibition is a rule against disobedience generally, paradigmatic of a general claim by God to be the ruler. With the creation of the woman out of the side of the man, the story gains social complexity with important implications for the role of trust. Part III considers the intimacy between God and the man suggested by the creation of the woman. At the same time, the woman became for the man-and vice versa-a new locus of trust, one who shared something with him that they did not share with God-humanity. Part IV explores the implications of this reading of Genesis for the effects of law on social relationships. In particular, this Article argues that Genesis suggests that law always entails a request from the lawmaker to the subject for trust.

Keywords: law and religion, Genesis, bible, lawmaking, lawmaker, Adam and Eve, tree of knowledge of good and evil, ruler-subject, distrust, enforcement, God

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Chapman, Nathan S., Law Asks for Trust (2011). St. John's Law Review , Vol. 85, 2011; University of Georgia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN:

Nathan S. Chapman (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States
(706) 542-5235 (Phone)


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