Tests in the Bible and in Literature

The Biblical motif of a test is illuminated in the Bible passage of “The Garden Test” by Genesis. In this passage, Eve is tested on her loyalty to God and her purity and kindness as the serpent tempts her to eat the forbidden fruit. Once she fails this test, she is condemned for her actions and faces many repercussions such as pain during childbirth and submissiveness under men. This motif of a test is also seen in literature, especially in The Odyssey. Odysseus and his men are constantly tested for their loyalty, bravery, and resistance to temptations by royals and supernatural beings. For example, when the ships sail near the Sirens, Odysseus is tested on his resistance to the temptation of their songs and voices. Another test in the Odyssey is when Odysseus and his men face Scylla and the Charybdis. He must use his cunning intuition and make good decisions in order to defeat the monsters. Also, Odysseus and his men were told not to kill the cattle of the sun god, Helios, but his men did so anyway when Odysseus was asleep. Zeus punished them by creating a storm as they failed another test. Odysseus also fails tests such as when he gives into kleos (glory) while fighting Polyphemus and also when he becomes intimate with Calypso. Evidently, tests are an important part of developing character and plot in literature, and express resistance to temptation in both the Bible and The Odyssey.

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