I love this thread! Mostly, Christians have read this primarily (not exclusively) in an allegorical fashion. That is, they saw this as a question of obedience. Humanityís free will directed by a loving obedience to God. Knowledge of good & evil represents wisdom, yes, but also the loss of a simple direct knowledge of God (i.e., there God is padding about in the Garden, ask him a question). With that knowledge comes shame, an awareness of a desire not directed at God (and so a false desire). To make a long story short, it is disobedience to God that causes on a macro scale human suffering (death and sickness were not originally created by God but are punishments for disobedience).
In this version we pose no threat to God, only to ourselves. Milton was reading Dante and for Dante God is both the creator of Hell in Justice, but that sin is what really creates Hell. Sin is its own punishment since sin isolates us from God, each other, and all of creation, sin makes us unhappy.
Gnostic Christians saw the created world and the body as the products of an evil god designed to trap people in the flesh. The serpent then is a force for liberation, as Prof. Lenz notes, eat the fruit and youíll recognize that you are in a fleshly trap and need to be set free.
As for the parallel between Abraham sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus, spot on, thatís exactly how Christians read Hebrew Scripture in terms of their own texts. Prof. Hamilton, Religious Studies