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Eve (Bible)

In Genesis, Eve is the first woman, the wife of Adam. God created her from Adam's rib as his helpmate. She succumbs to the serpent's temptation to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and she shares the fruit with Adam. As a result, the first humans are expelled from the Garden of Eden and are cursed.

Name and Origin

According to the Bible, Eve (Hebrew: חַוָּה, chavvah; Arabic: حواء, Hawwa; Ge'ez: ሕይዋን Hiywan; "living one" or "source of life", from Hebrew ḥawwâ, "living", "life", from ḥāyâ, "to live"; ultimately from the Semitic root ḥyw) is Adam's wife, created for and named by Adam. Derived from the words chavah, meaning "to breathe" and chayah, meaning "to live", her name occurs only five times in the Bible. Historically the name appears to have been derived from that of the Hurrian Goddess "Kheba", who was shown in the Amarna Letters to be worshipped in Jerusalem during the Late Bronze Age. It has been suggested that the name Kheba may derive from Kubau, a woman who reigned as the first "king" of the Third Dynasty of Kish Another name of Asherah in the first millennium BCE was Chawat, Hawah in Hebrew (Eve in English).

Eve is not a saint's name, but the traditional name day of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, has been celebrated on December 24 since the Middle Ages in many European countries, e.g. Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Scandinavia, Estonia.

Eve is the first woman mentioned in the Bible. Here it was Adam who gave her the name Eve. Eve lived with Adam in the Garden of Eden during the time Adam was described as having walked with God. Eventually, however, with the Fall, the pair were removed from the garden because she was encouraged by a snake to take a fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and with the Temptation led Adam to eat of the Forbidden Fruit.

The Creation of Eve

Eve was created in the Garden of Eden to be the wife of Adam, as he was lonely. As a result God decides that "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." and in Genesis 2:21–22 it states

"And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man"
After her creation, Adam names his companion Woman, "because she was taken out of Man. "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." A Jewish book called The Alphabet of Ben-Sira entered Europe from the East in the 6th century A.D. In it, the delighted rabbis read that Lilith, not Eve, was Adam's first wife, created at the same time and from the same dust. Claiming to be thus created equal, she refused to sleep or serve "under him." When Adam tried to force her into the "inferior" position, she flew away from Eden into the air, where she copulated with demons, conceiving hundreds more each day. God sent three angels after her, who threatened to kill her brood if she refused to return to Adam. But she did refuse. So God made Eve from Adam's rib to be his "second wife."

Eve is also mentioned in the Book of Tobit (viii, 8; Sept., viii, 6) where it is simply affirmed that she was given to Adam for a helper.

Controversy regarding the "rib" continues to the present day, regarding the Sumerian and the original Hebrew words for rib. The common translation, for example, that of the King James Version, is that אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו means "one of his ribs". The contrary position is that the term צלע ṣelaʿ, occurring forty-one times in the Tanakh, is most often translated as "side" in general.[7]. "Rib" is, however, the etymologically primary meaning of the term, which is from a root ṣ-l-ʿ, "bend", cognate to Assyrian ṣêlu "rib".[8] Also God took "one" (ʾeḫad) of Adam's ṣelaʿ, suggesting an individual rib. The Septuagint has μίαν τῶν πλευρῶν αὐτοῦ, with ἡ πλευρά choosing a Greek term that like the Hebrew ṣelaʿ may mean either "rib", or, in the plural, "side [of a man or animal]" in general. The specification "one of the πλευρά" thus closely imitates the Hebrew text. The Aramaic form of the word is עלע ʿalaʿ, which appears, also in the meaning "rib", in Daniel 7:5.

An old story of the rib is told by Rabbi Joshua:

"God deliberated from what member He would create woman, and He reasoned with Himself thus: I must not create her from Adam's head, for she would be a proud person, and hold her head high. If I create her from the eye, then she will wish to pry into all things; if from the ear, she will wish to hear all things; if from the mouth, she will talk much; if from the heart, she will envy people; if from the hand, she will desire to take all things; if from the feet, she will be a gadabout. Therefore I will create her from the member which is hid, that is the rib, which is not even seen when man is naked."[9]

Anatomically, men and women have the same number of ribs - 24. When this fact was noted by the Flemish anatomist Vesalius in 1524 it touched off a wave of controversy, as it seemed to contradict Genesis 2:21.

Some hold that the origin of this motif is the Sumerian myth in which the goddess Ninhursag created a beautiful garden full of lush vegetation and fruit trees, called Edinu, in Dilmun, the Sumerian earthly Paradise, a place which the Sumerians believed to exist to the east of their own land, beyond the sea. Ninhursag charged Enki, her lover and husband, with controlling the wild animals and tending the garden, but Enki became curious about the garden and his assistant, Adapa, selected seven plants and offered them to Enki, who ate them. (In other versions of the story he seduced in turn seven generations of the offspring of his divine marriage with Ninhursag). This enraged Ninhursag, and she caused Enki to fall ill. Enki felt pain in his rib, which is a pun in Sumerian, as the word "ti" means both "rib" and "life". The other gods persuaded Ninhursag to relent. Ninhursag then created a new goddess named Ninti, (a name made up of "Nin", or "lady", plus "ti", and which can be translated as both Lady of Living and Lady of the Rib), to cure Enki. Ninhursag is known as mother of all living creatures, and thus holds the same position in the story as does Eve. The story has a clear parallel with Eve's creation from Adam's rib, but given that the pun with rib is present only in Sumerian, linguistic criticism places the Sumerian account as the more ancient.

The Temptation, Fall, and Expulsion from the Garden

The serpent tells the woman that she will not die if she eats the fruit of the tree: "When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So the woman eats, and gives to the man who also eats. "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." The man and woman hide themselves from God, the man blaming the woman for giving him the fruit, and the woman blaming the serpent. God curses the serpent, "upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life;" the woman he punishes with pain in childbirth, and with subordination to man: "your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you;" and Adam he punishes with a life of toil: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground." The man names his wife Eve, "because she was the mother of all living."

"Behold," says God, "the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." God expels the couple from Eden, "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;" the gate of Eden is sealed by cherubim and a flaming sword "to guard the way to the tree of life."

In a story preserved in the prologue of Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld, the goddess Inanna gains knowledge of sex by descending to earth and eating from various plants and fruits. She transplants the huluppu tree from the Euphrates to her own garden, but a wicked serpent made its nest among the roots of the tree. This tale connects the serpent to the garden, and with the presence of Inanna, the theme of sexuality.

Eve as mother of humanity

According to the Bible, for her share in the transgression, Eve (and womankind after her) is sentenced to a life of sorrow and travail in childbirth, and to be under the power of her husband. Early anti-feminists argued that "sex education" for women was a violation of God's curse and should be resisted. While believers accept all subsequent humans have Eve as an ancestor, she is believed to be unique in that although all people after her were physically created from women, Eve herself was created from a man. Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel, the first a tiller of the ground, the second a keeper of sheep. After the death of Abel, there is supposedly a third son, Seth, from which Noah (and thus the whole of modern humanity) is descended. According to the Bible, Eve states "God hath given me [literally, "put" or "appointed"] another seed, for Abel whom Cain slew" (Genesis 4:25).

Eve in Other Traditions

Eve in Judaism

Even in ancient times, the presence of two distinct accounts was noted, and regarded with some curiosity. The first account says male and female [God] created them (Genesis 1:27), which has been assumed by critical scholars to imply simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve from Adam's rib because Adam was lonely (Genesis 2:18 ff.). Thus to resolve this apparent discrepancy, mediaeval rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals.

Preserved in the Midrash, and the mediaeval Alphabet of Ben Sira, this rabbinic tradition held that the first woman refused to take the submissive position to Adam in sex, and eventually fled from him, consequently leaving him lonely. This first woman was identified in the Midrash as Lilith, a figure elsewhere described as a night demon.

The word liyliyth can also mean "screech owl", as it is translated in the King James Version of Isaiah 34:14, although some scholars take this to be a reference to the same demonic entity as mentioned in the Talmud.

In the Talmud, Adam is said to have separated from Eve for 130 years, during which time his ejaculations gave rise to "ghouls, and demons." Elsewhere in the Talmud, Lilith is identified as the mother of these creatures. The demons were said to prey on newborn males before they had been circumcised, and so a tradition arose in which a protective amulet was placed around the neck of newborns. Traditions in the Midrash concerning Lilith, and her sexual appetite, have been compared to Sumerian mythology concerning the demon ki-sikil-lil-la-ke, by scholars who postulate an intermediate Akkadian folk etymology interpreting the lil-la-ke portion of the name as a corruption of lîlîtu, literally meaning female night demon.

The Alphabet of Ben Sira Midrash goes even further and identifies a third wife, created after Lilith deserted Adam, but before Eve. This unnamed wife was purportedly made in the same way as Adam, from the "dust of the earth", but the sight of her being created proved too much for Adam to take and he refused to go near her. It is also said that she was created from nothing at all, and that God created into being a skeleton, then organs, and then flesh. The Midrash tells that Adam saw her as "full of blood and secretions," suggesting that he witnessed her creation and was horrified at seeing a body from the inside out. Ben Sira does not record this wife's fate. She was never named, and it assumed that she was allowed to leave the Garden a perpetual virgin, or was ultimately destroyed by God in favor of Eve, who was created when Adam was asleep and oblivious. It should be noted here, that both Lilith and the Second Wife are free from any curse of the Tree of Knowledge, as they left long before the event occurred.

Genesis does not tell for how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, but the Book of Jubilees states that they were removed from the garden on the new moon of the fourth month of the 8th year after creation (Jubilees 3:33); other Jewish sources assert that it was less than a day. Shortly after their expulsion, Eve brought forth her first-born child, and thereafter their second — Cain and Abel, respectively.

Another Jewish tradition---also used to explain "male and female He created them" line, is that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite[Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VIII:1], and in this way was bodily and spiritually male and female. He later decided that "it is not good for [Adam] to be alone," and created the separate beings of Adam and Eve, thus creating the idea of two people joining together to achieve a union of the two separate spirits.

Only three of Adam's children (Cain, Abel, and Seth) are explicitly named in Genesis, although it does state that there were other sons and daughters as well (Genesis 5:4). In Jubilees, two daughters are named - Azûrâ being the first, and Awân, who was born after Seth, Cain, Abel, nine other sons, and Azûrâ. Jubilees goes on to state that Cain later married Awân and Seth married Azûrâ, thus, accounting for their descendants. However, according to Genesis Rabba and other later sources, either Cain had a twin sister, and Abel had two twin sisters, or Cain had a twin sister named Lebuda, and Abel a twin sister named Qelimath. In the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, Cain's twin sister is named Luluwa, and Abel's twin sister is named Aklia.

Other pseudepigrapha give further details of their life outside of Eden, in particular, the Life of Adam and Eve (also known as the Apocalypse of Moses) consists entirely of a description of their life outside Eden. Generally in Judaism Eve's sin was used as an example of what can happen to women who stray from their childbearing duties.

Eve in Christianity

In Christian tradition Eve is often used as the exemplar of sexual temptation, a tendency not found in Judaism where Lilith plays that role. Furthermore, the serpent that tempted Eve was interpreted within most Christian traditions to have been Satan, although there is no mention of this identification in the Torah. In fact, Genesis does not even hint at any of these readings, although it is found in some of the Jewish apocrypha but their adoption by many Christians has marked the religion's radical break from its Judaic parent. Writings dealing with this subject are extant in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Armenian and Arabic. They go back undoubtedly to a Jewish basis, but in some of the forms in which they appear at present they are Christianized throughout. The oldest and for the most part Jewish portion of this literature is preserved to us in Greek, Armenian, Latin and Slavonic,

  1. The Greek Διηγησις περι Αδαμ και Ευας (published under the misleading title Αποκαλυψις Μωυσεως in Tischendorf's Apocalypses Apocryphae, 1866) deals with the Fall and the death of Adam and Eve. Antonio Maria Ceriani edited this text from a Milan MS. (Monumenta Sacra et Profana, v. i). This work is found also in Armenian, and has been published by the Mechitharist community in Venice in their Collection of Uncanonical Writings of the Old Testament, and translated by Conybeare (Jewish Quarterly Review, vii. 216 sqq., 1895), and by Issaverdens in 1901.
  2. The Vita Adae et Evae is closely related and in part identical with the Διηγησις. It was printed by W. Meyer in Abh. d. Münch. Akad., Philos.-philol. Cl. xiv., 1878.
  3. The Slavonic Adam book was published by Jajic along with a Latin translation (Denkschr. d. Wien. Akad. d. Wiss. xlii., 1893). This version agrees for the most part with the Διηγησις. It has, moreover, a section, §§ 28-39, which though not found in the Διηγησις is found in the Vita.

Before we discuss these three documents we shall mention other members of this literature, which, though derivable ultimately from Jewish sources, are Christian in their present form,

  • The Book of Adam and Eve, also called the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, translated from the Ethiopic (1882) by Malan. This was first translated by Dillmann (Das christl. Adambuch des Morgenlandes, 1853), and the Ethiopic book first edited by Trump (Abh. d. Münch. Akad. xv., 1870-1881).
  • A Syriac work entitled Die Schatzhöhle translated by Carl Bezold from three Syriac MSS. in 1883 and subsequently edited in Syriac in 1888. This work has close affinities to the Conflict, but is said by Dillmann to be more original.

Drawing upon the statement in II Cor., xi, 3, where reference is made to her seduction by the serpent, and in I Tim., ii, 13, where the Apostle enjoins submission and silence upon women, arguing that "Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced, but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression", because Eve had tempted Adam to eat of the fatal fruit, some early Fathers of the Church held her and all subsequent women to be the first sinners, and especially responsible for the Fall because of the sin of Eve. She was also called "the lance of the demon", "the road of iniquity" "the sting of the scorpion", "a daughter of falsehood, the sentinel of Hell", "the enemy of peace" and "of the wild beast, the most dangerous." "You are the devil's gateway," Tertullian told his female listeners in the early 2nd century, and went on to explain that all women were responsible for the death of Christ: "On account of your desert _ that is, death - even the Son of God had to die. In this way Eve is equated with the Greco-Roman myth of Pandora who was responsible for bringing evil into the world.

Saint Augustine, according to Elaine Pagels, used the sin of Eve to justify his idiosyncratic view of humanity as permanently scarred by the Fall, which led to the Catholic doctrine of Original sin.

In 1486 the Renaissance Dominicans Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger took this further as one of their justifications in the Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of the Witches") a central text in three centuries of persecution of "witches". Such "Eve bashing" is much more common in Christianity than in Judaism or Islam, though major differences in women status does not seem to have been the result. This is often balanced by the typology of the Madonna, much as "Old Adam" is balanced by Christ - this is even the case in the "Mallus" whose authors were capable of writings things such as "Justly we may say with Cato of Utica: If the world could be rid of women, we should not be without God in our intercourse. For truly, without the wickedness of women, to say nothing of witchcraft, the world would still remain proof against innumerable dangers" but were perhaps aware that (tragically) a large percentage of those accusing witches were female as well, and feared losing their support: "There are also others who bring forward yet other reasons, of which preachers should be very careful how they make use. For it is true that in the Old Testament the Scriptures have much that is evil to say about women, and this because of the first temptress, Eve, and her imitators; yet afterwards in the New Testament we find a change of name, as from Eva to Ave (as S. Jerome says), and the whole sin of Eve taken away by the benediction of Mary. Therefore preachers should always say as much praise of them as possible." It is interesting to note that in pre - industrial times, misogynic authorities were often (such as in "The Romance of the Rose" feminist debate) just called "The Roman Books", due to the perceived paternalistic attitude of both Pagan & Christian Romans to gender problems. Another example often given of this, Gregory of Tours report of how, in the 585CE Council of Macon, attended by 43 bishops that one bishop maintained that woman could not be included under the term "man", and as being responsible for Adam's sin, had a deficient soul. However, he accepted the reasoning of the other bishops and did not press his case for the holy book of the Old Testament tells us that in the beginning, when God created man, "Male and female he created them and called their name Adam," which means earthly man; even so, he called the woman Eve, yet of both he used the word "man."

Eve in Christian Art is most usually portrayed as the temptress of Adam, and often during the Renaissance the serpent in the Garden is portrayed as having a woman's face identical to that of Eve.

Some Christians claim monogamy is implied in the story of Adam and Eve as one woman is created for one man. Eve's being taken from his side implies not only her secondary role in the conjugal state (1 Corinthians 11:9), but also emphasizes the intimate union between husband and wife, and the dependence of the latter on the former "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh."

Eve is commemorated as a matriarch in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod with Adam on December 19.

Eve in Gnosticism

Eve too has different roles within Gnosticism. For example she is often seen as the embodiment of the supreme feminine principle, called Barbelo (from Arb-Eloh), barbeloth, or barthenos. As such she is equated with the Light-Maiden of Sophia (Wisdom), creator of the word (Logos) of God, the "thygater tou photos" or simply the Virgin Maiden, "parthenos". In other texts she is equated with Zoe (Life) . Again, in conventional Christianity, this is a prefigurement of Mary, also sometimes called "the Second Eve". In other Gnostic texts, such as The Hypostasis of the Archons (The Reality of the Rulers), the Pistis Sophia is equated with Eve's daughter, Norea, the wife of Seth.

As a result of such Gnostic beliefs, especially among Marcionites, women were considered equal to men, being revered as prophets, teachers, travelling evangelists, faith healers, priests and even bishops.

Eve in Islam

Eve is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, she is nevertheless referred to as Adam's spouse, and Islamic tradition refers to her by an etymologically similar name - حواء (Hawwāʾ) .

Thus mention is found in verses 30-39 of Sura 2, verses 11-25 of Sura 7, verses 26-42 of Sura 15, verses 61-65 of Sura 17, verses 50-51 of Sura 18, verses 110-124 of Sura 20 and in verses 71-85 of Sura 38.

God puts Adam and his wife (Hawa) in a garden, where there is no toil or pain and where there is more than enough food to eat. God tells them to eat of whatever they desire in the garden, except for one certain fruiting tree. He also warns them of the lure of Iblis (the evil who did not obey God to prostrate Adam & Eve), and that they should not follow him as he is their enemy. Iblis nevertheless manages to whisper suggestions to the pair. He tells them God only forbade the tree because if they eat of it then they shall become like angels and live forever. Encouraged by Iblis' lure, Adam and his wife both eat of the tree. As soon they do so, they loose their dressing and see a bad thing of themselves).

It is claimed in Islam that the bad thing they see (after eating the forbidden fruit) is not necessarily their naked body. It might refer something else.

An important distinction between the notion of Eve in Islam, versus that found in pre-Islamic texts and belief systems, is that in Islamic texts and in the Muslim interpretive tradition - Adam and Eve share the temptation of Satan equally. Therefore, no burden is passed on from Eve to women-kind - and there is no original sin as sin cannot be inherited in Islam. (Moreover, in the Islamic tradition, Adam and Eve are forgiven for their transgression.)

The Islamic scholar Tabari cites the biblical tale of Eve's creation, stating that she was named because she was created from a living thing (her name means living). The torah gives an etymology for woman, or rather the Hebrew equivalent (ish-shah), stating that she should be called woman since she was taken out of man (ish in Hebrew). The etymology is regarded as implausible by most semitic linguists.

Traditionally, the final resting place of Eve is said to be the "Eve Grave" in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Eve in Hinduism

Eve is mentioned in Hinduism as Havyavati and is considered to be the consort of Adhama (Adam). In Hinduism, Eve is the child of Vishnu-Kardama and is said to increase the generations of mlecchas. In the time of Kali Yuga, a deity named Kali Purusha worshipped Naryana. After some time, the lord appeared and said to him that there is a man named Adama and his wife Havyavati, and that they will increase the generations of mlecchas. This took place in the city of Pradan, where there was a sacred forest (God-given Forest). The forest was on the east side of Pradan city, and was sixteen square yojanas in size. Adam was staying under the Papa-Vriksha tree and was eager to see his wife Havyavati. The deity Kali purusha transformed herself into a serpent and persuaded them to disobey the Lord. They lived by eating air with the leaves called udumbar. They had a son named Sveta-nama.

Eve in Modern times

On the basis of Eve's so-called transgression, in the late sixteenth century a young scholar, Valentius Acidalius, who was working as a teacher in Silesia, published a pamphlet later republished at Lyons in France in 1647 in Italian, That was entitled Women do not have a soul and do not belong to the human race, as is shown by many passages of Holy Scripture. This belief was taken up by Johannes Leyser, a Lutheran pastor from the region of Frankfurt in 1675, who linked the story to a misreading of the results of the Council of Macon. Pierre Bayle, a Dutch Calvinist with a marked distaste for the Catholicism to which he had once adhered, spread Leyer's belief further by writing in his Dictionnaire: "What I think yet more strange is to find that in a Council it has been gravely proposed as a question whether women were human creatures, and that it was determined affirmatively [only] after a long debate."

An alternative view was given by Matilda Joslyn Gage who in Woman, Church and State: A Historical Account of the Status of Woman Through the Christian Ages with Reminiscences of the Matriarchate (1893, reprinted by Arno Press Inc, 1972), who showed that in book printed in Amsterdam, 1700, in a series of eleven reasons, threw the greater culpability upon Adam, saying of Eve (pages 522–523):

  • First: The serpent tempted her before she thought of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and suffered herself to be persuaded that not well understood his meaning.
  • Second: That believing that God had not given such prohibition she ate the fruit.
  • Third: Sinning through ignorance she committed a less heinous crime than Adam.
  • Fourth: That Eve did not necessarily mean the penalty of eternal death, for God's decree only imported that man should die if he sinned against his conscience.
  • Fifth: That God might have inflicted death on Eve without injustice, yet he resolved, so great is his mercy toward his works, to let her live, in (that) she had not sinned maliciously.
  • Sixth: That being exempted from the punishment contained in God's decree, she might retain all the prerogatives of her sex except those that were not incidental with the infirmities to which God condemned her.
  • Seventh: That she retained in particulars the prerogative of bringing forth children who had a right to eternal happiness on condition of obeying the new Adam.
  • Eighth: That as mankind was to proceed from Adam and Eve, Adam was preserved alive only because his preservation was necessary for the procreation of children.
  • Ninth: That it was by accident therefore, that the sentence of death was not executed on him, but that otherwise he was more (justly) punished than his wife.
  • Tenth: That she was not driven out from Paradise as he was, but was only obliged to leave it to find out Adam in the earth; and that it was full privilege of returning thither again.
  • Eleventh: That the children of Adam and Eve were subject to eternal damnation, not a proceeding from Eve, but as proceeding from Adam."

Early feminist theologian Katharine Bushnell writes that Eve was deceived by the Serpent and therefore sinned in ignorance. She confesses her sin and God does not banish her from Eden. Adam, however, sinned in full knowledge and does not repent, and is therefore assigned the blame.

Pamela Norris in her book "Eve: A Biography" argues that throughout history the story of Eve "was developed to manipulate and control women." Bryce Christiansen, commenting upon Norris's work shows how "The effort to demystify Eve requires a context that sharply contrasts her subordination to Adam with the awesome power of female deities prominent in Babylonian and Canaanite myths. Norris exposes the various ways in which the Genesis account of Eve's transgression has justified centuries of scapegoating women". Norris also reports upon the snaky Lamias and Liliths who haunted nineteenth-century painting and literature, suggesting that centuries of disobedient women have been linked with Eve, the original bad girl, providing ample ammunition for male fears and fantasies.

Elaine Pagels in her book "Adam, Eve and the Serpent" shows how the disgust felt by early Christians for the flesh was a radical departure from both pagan and Jewish sexual attitudes. In fact, as she demonstrates, the ascetic movement in Christianity met with great resistance in the first four centuries. Sex only became fully tainted, inextricably linked to sin through the work of Tertullian and Augustine, attacking Gnosticism while adopting certain of their attitudes

Modern feminists have tended to examine the story of Eve as the source of patriarchal misogyny in Christianity. Genesis 2-3 is more often cited than any other biblical text, justifying the suppression of women and proof of their inferiority to men. Others like Phyllis Trible, have contested that it is a certain kind of interpretation of Genesis 2-3 that is the source of the problem. Trible, for instance, argues that before the fall, there is an amazing equality between Adam and Eve. Before the creation of Eve, she argues, 'ādām or human, is created from the 'ădāmāh or humus, and although a male pronoun is used for this creature Trible argues that it was androgynous, not yet sexually differentiated. This interpretation is not original, it in fact goes back through Rashi, the 10th century Jewish interpreter, and ultimately back to Plato. Trible also argues that Eve is the crown of creation rather than an afterthought. She further argues that the word 'ēzer, meaning "helper" is not to signify a subordinate position to man as it is also most often used describe God and is thus a superior rather than an inferior being. In the story of the garden, Eve is also autonomous and independent while Adam is surprisingly passive. . Mieke Bal, while less positive than Trible, nevertheless argues that Eve taking of the apple is the first act of human independence, and by gaining knowledge of good and evil, she achieves a position of greater equality with the divinity, rather than remaining a puppet of God.

Robert McElvaine argues that the story of Adam and Eve can be linked to the gender dynamics associated with the rise of Patriarchy in the ancient world. The Garden of Eden he claims is a mythical reference to hunting and gathering societies in which people lived in nature, not doing much work. With eating of the tree of Knowledge, first women, and then men took conscious control over the food supply, and now had to take care and be answerable for any ecological problems this brought. The parallel between Adam cursing Eve is paralleled in the Cain and Abel story, according toMcElwaine, as "real men don't fool about with plants". Through associating male semen metaphorically with seed 'man became the Godlike creator of life and women from their Goddess-like creators [transformed] into ...dirt ...In Genesis the soil has no creative power" (p.128). Projecting this into the sacred world, the belief that through planting seed in the Earth men had procreative power, just as with planting semen in the womb he had the same. As a result, it was argued, the Supreme God must also been male and men are closer to God than women. The hierarchy that emerged was

God - over
Men - over
Women - over
the Earth.

Thus according to McElvaine, men can be the sons of God, but all women are the daughters of men.

See also

Footnotes

References

Primary sources

  • Genesis ii.7-iii.23
  • Paulinus Minorita, Compendium

Secondary sources

  • Pamela Norris (1998) "The Story of Eve" (MacMillan Books)
  • Elaine Pagels (1989) "Adam, Eve and the Serpent" (Vintage Books)

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