Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve, according to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman. The story of Adam and Eve is central to the belief that God created human beings to live in a Paradise on earth, although they fell away from that state and formed the present world full of suffering and injustice. It provides the basis for the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone descended from a single pair of original ancestors. It also provides much of the scriptural basis for the doctrines of the Fall of man and Original Sin, important beliefs in Christianity, although not generally shared by Judaism or Islam.
In the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, chapters one through five, there are two creation narratives with two distinct perspectives. In the first, Adam and Eve were created together in God's image and jointly given instructions to multiply and to be stewards over everything else that God had made. In the second narrative, God fashions Adam from dust and places him in the Garden of Eden where he is to have dominion over the plants and animals. God places a tree in the garden which he prohibits Adam from eating. Eve is later created from one of Adam's ribs to be Adam's companion. However, the serpent tricks Eve into eating fruit from the forbidden tree. God curses only the serpent and the ground. He prophetically tells the woman and the man what will be the consequences of their sin of disobeying God. Then he banishes the man (and presumably also the woman) from the Garden of Eden.
The story underwent extensive elaboration in later Abrahamic traditions, and has been extensively analyzed by modern biblical scholars. Interpretations and beliefs regarding Adam and Eve and the story revolving around them vary across religions and sects.
- 1 Adam and Eve in Genesis
- 2 Adam and Eve in other works
- 3 Abrahamic traditions
- 4 Scientific community criticism
- 5 Art and literature
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Adam and Eve in Genesis
Creation of man
In the Book of Genesis, the Genesis creation narrative tells of the creation of the first humans, humankind, in Genesis 1:26-30 as male and female. According to the Documentary hypothesis of the Genesis creation narrative, there are two stories that derive from original independent sources: a Priestly source (P) (sixth-fifth centuries BC) in Gen. 1:1-2:4a and in Genesis 5; and an older Jahwist (J) or Jahwist-Elohist (J-E) (tenth-ninth centuries BC) in Genesis 2:4b-25. Claus Westermann finds the recognition of two separate creation accounts to be "one of the most important and most assured results of the literary-critical examination of the Old Testament". In the Priestly narrative (Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4a), Elohim creates the world in six days, culminating in the creation of humanity, then rests on the seventh day.
In an older Jahwist or Jahwist-Elohist sources (tenth-ninth centuries BC) in Genesis 2:4b-25, also known as the "subordinating (of woman) account", Yahweh fashions a man (Heb. adam, "man" or "mankind") from the dust (Heb. adamah) and blows the breath of life into his nostrils.
God brings the animals to the man for him to name. None of them are found to be a suitable companion for the man, so God causes the man to sleep and creates a woman from a part of his body (English-language tradition describes the part as a rib, but the Hebrew word tsela, from which this interpretation is derived, having multiple meanings, could also mean "side". See the Textual Note below). Describing her in Gen. 2:23a as "bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh," the man calls his new partner "woman" (Heb. ishshah), "for this one was taken from a man" (Heb. ish). The chapter ends by establishing the state of primeval innocence, noting that the man and woman were naked and not ashamed, and so provides the departure point for the subsequent narrative in which wisdom is gained through disobedience at severe cost. Marriage is monogamous ("wife", not "wives": in Judah at the time Genesis was canonised the issue of marriage, polygamy and divorce was a burning one) and takes precedence over all other ties. The end-point of creation is a man and a woman united in a state of innocence, but the word "naked", arummim, looks forward to the "subtle", arum, serpent about to be introduced in the next verse.
Adam named his wife Eve (Heb. hawwah) "because she was the mother of all living" and Adam receives his name "the man", changing from "eth-ha'adham", before the fall to "ha'Adham" (with article/command), to Adam after the fall (disobedience). Eve/woman is also established as subordinate to Adam/man, as the impetus for her creation is to serve the needs of Adam by being his "helpmate" to man and to ensure that he not "be alone."[Gen. 3:18] However, others argue for a translation of the Hebrew ezer as "companion," in which manner it is used elsewhere in the Bible; under that reading, the hierarchical relationship is not manifest in the original text but rather a result of mis-translation.
Expulsion from Eden
Genesis 3 continues the Adam and Eve story into the expulsion from Eden narrative. A form analysis of Genesis 3 reveals that this portion of the Adam and Eve story is characterized as a parable or wisdom tale in the wisdom tradition. Genesis 3's poetic addresses belong to the speculative type of wisdom that questions the paradoxes and harsh realities of life. This characterization is determined by the narrative's format, settings, and the plot. Genesis 3's form is also shaped by its vocabulary technique, which makes use of various puns and double entendres. The dating of Chapter 3 is said to be around 900s BCE during the reigns of King David or Solomon. The Documentary hypothesis for this narrative portion is attributed to Yahwist (J), due to the use of YHWH.
The expulsion from Eden narrative begins with a dialogue that is exchanged between the serpent and the woman (3:1-5). The serpent is identified in 2:19 as an animal that was made by Yahweh among the beasts of the field. The woman is willing to talk to the serpent and respond to the creature's cynicism by rehearsing Yahweh's prohibition from 2:17. The woman is lured into dialogue on the serpent's terms which directly disputes Yahweh's command. Adam and the woman sin (3:6-8).
In the next narrative dialogue, Yahweh questions Adam and the woman (3:9-13). Yahweh initiates dialogue by calling out to Adam with a rhetorical question designed to consider his wrongdoing. Adam explains that he hid out of fear because he realized his nakedness. This is followed by two more rhetorical questions designed to show awareness of a defiance of Yahweh's command. Adam then points to the woman as the real offender, then accuses Yahweh for the tragedy. Yahweh challenges the woman to explain herself, whereby she shifts the blame to the serpent.
Divine pronouncement of three judgments are then laid against all culprits (3:14-19). A judgement oracle and the nature of the crime is first laid upon the serpent, then the woman, and finally Adam. To the serpent, Yahweh places a divine curse. To the woman, she receives a penalty that impacts two primary roles: childbearing and her relationship to her husband. Adam's penalty results in Yahweh cursing the ground from which he came, and then receives a death oracle. The reaction of Adam, the naming of Eve, and Yahweh making skin garments are described in a concise narrative (3:20-21). The garden account ends with an intradivine monologue, determining the couple's expulsion, and the execution of that deliberation (3:22-24). The reason given for the expulsion was not as retribution for eating the fruit, but to prevent a challenge to Yahweh: "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever".[Gen. 3:22] Thus, Yahweh removed the threat to His power by exiling Adam and Eve from the Garden and installing cherubs (human-headed winged lions) and the "ever-turning sword" to guard the entrance.[Gen. 3:24]
Genesis four tells of the birth of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve's first children, while Genesis five gives Adam's genealogy past that. Adam and Eve are listed as having three children, Cain, Abel and Seth, then "other sons and daughters".[Gen 5:4]
Adam and Eve in other works
Certain concepts such as the serpent being identified as Satan, Eve being a sexual temptation, or Adam's first wife being Lilith, come from literary works found in various Jewish apocrypha, but not found anywhere in the Book of Genesis or the Torah itself. Writings dealing with these subjects are extant literature in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Armenian and Arabic, going back to ancient Jewish thought. Their influential concepts were then adopted into Christian theology, but not into modern Judaism. This marked a radical split between the two religions. Some of the oldest Jewish portions of apocrypha are called Primary Adam Literature where some works became Christianized. Examples of Christianized works are Life of Adam and Eve, Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, (translated from the Ethiopic by Solomon Caesar Malan, 1882) and an original Syriac work entitled Cave of Treasures which has close affinities to the Conflict as noted by August Dillmann.
It was also recognized in ancient Judaism, that there are two distinct accounts for the creation of man. The first account says "male and female [God] created them", implying simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve subsequent to the creation of Adam. The Midrash Rabbah – Genesis VIII:1 reconciled the two by stating that Genesis one, "male and female He created them", indicates that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite, bodily and spiritually both male and female, before creating the separate beings of Adam and Eve. Other rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals, the first being identified as Lilith, a figure elsewhere described as a night demon.
In Reform Judaism, Harry Orlinsky analyzes the Hebrew word nefesh in [Gen. 2:7] where "God breathes into the man's nostrils and he becomes nefesh hayya." Orlinksy argues that the earlier translation of the phrase "living soul" is incorrect. He points out that "nefesh" signifies something like the English word "being", in the sense of a corporeal body capable of life; the concept of a "soul" in the modern sense, did not exist in Hebrew thought until around the 2nd century BC, when the idea of a bodily resurrection gained popularity.
Some early Fathers of the Church took the view that because Eve tempted Adam to eat of the fatal fruit, they held her responsible for the Fall of man, and all subsequent women to be the first sinners. "You are the devil's gateway" Tertullian told his female listeners in the early 2nd century, and went on to explain that they were responsible for the death of Christ: "On account of your desert (i.e., punishment for sin), that is, death, even the Son of God had to die." In 1486, the Dominicans Kramer and Sprengler used similar tracts in Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of Witches") to justify the persecution of "witches".
Medieval Christian art often depicted the Edenic Serpent as a woman (often identified as Lilith), thus both emphasizing the Serpent's seductiveness as well as its relationship to Eve. Several early Church Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea, interpreted the Hebrew "Heva" as not only the name of Eve, but in its aspirated form as "female serpent."
Based on the Christian doctrine of the Fall of man, came the doctrine of original sin. St Augustine of Hippo (354–430), working with a Latin translation of the Epistle to the Romans, interpreted the Apostle Paul as having said that Adam's sin was hereditary: "Death passed upon (i.e., spread to) all men because of Adam, [in whom] all sinned" (Romans 5:12). Original sin became a concept that man is born into a condition of sinfulness and must await redemption. This doctrine became a cornerstone of Western Christian theological tradition, however, not shared by Judaism or the Orthodox churches.
Over the centuries, a system of unique Christian beliefs had developed from these doctrines. Baptism became understood as a washing away of the stain of hereditary sin in many churches, although its original symbolism was apparently rebirth. Additionally, the serpent that tempted Eve was interpreted to have been Satan, or that Satan was using a serpent as a mouthpiece, although there is no mention of this identification in the Torah and it is not held in Judaism.
Conservative Protestants typically interpret Genesis 3 as defining humanity's original parents as Adam and Eve who disobeyed God's prime directive that they were not to eat "the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (NIV). When they disobeyed, they committed a major transgression against God and were immediately punished, which led to "the fall" of humanity. Thus, sin and death entered the universe for the first time. Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, never to return.
Gnostic and Manichaean traditions
Gnostic Christianity discussed Adam and Eve in two known surviving texts, namely the "Apocalypse of Adam" found in the Nag Hammadi documents and the "Testament of Adam". The creation of Adam as Protoanthropos, the original man, is the focal concept of these writings.
- "Mani said, 'Then Jesus came and spoke to the one who had been born, who was Adam, and … made him fear Eve, showing him how to suppress (desire) for her, and he forbade him to approach her… Then that (male) Archon came back to his daughter, who was Eve, and lustfully had intercourse with her. He engendered with her a son, deformed in shape and possessing a red complexion, and his name was Cain, the Red Man.'"
Another Gnostic tradition held that Adam and Eve were created to help defeat Satan. The serpent, instead of being identified with Satan, is seen as a hero by the Ophites. Still other Gnostics believed that Satan's fall, however, came after the creation of humanity. As in Islamic tradition, this story says that Satan refused to bow to Adam due to pride. Satan said that Adam was inferior to him as he was made of fire, whereas Adam was made of clay. This refusal led to the fall of Satan recorded in works such as the Book of Enoch.
In Islam, Adam (Ādam; Arabic: آدم), whose role is being the father of humanity, is looked upon by Muslims with reverence. Eve (Ḥawwāʼ; Arabic: حواء ) is the "mother of humanity." The creation of Adam and Eve is referred to in the Qurʼān, although different Qurʼanic interpreters give different views on the actual creation story (Qurʼan, Surat al-Nisaʼ, verse 1).
In al-Qummi's tafsir on the Garden of Eden, such place was not entirely earthly. According to the Qurʼān, both Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in a Heavenly Eden (See also Jannah). As a result, they were both sent down to Earth as God's representatives. Each person was sent to a mountain peak: Adam on al-Safa, and Eve on al-Marwah. In this Islamic tradition, Adam wept 40 days until he repented, after which God sent down the Black Stone, teaching him the Hajj. According to a prophetic hadith, Adam and Eve reunited in the plain of ʻArafat, near Mecca. They had two sons together, Qabil and Habil. There is also a legend of a younger son, named Rocail, who created a palace and sepulcher containing autonomous statues that lived out the lives of men so realistically they were mistaken for having souls.
The concept of original sin does not exist in Islam, because Adam and Eve were forgiven by God. When God orders the angels to bow to Adam, Iblīs questioned, "Why should I bow to man? I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil." The liberal movements within Islam have viewed God's commanding the angels to bow before Adam as an exaltation of humanity, and as a means of supporting human rights; others view it as an act of showing Adam that the biggest enemy of humans on earth will be their ego.
In the Baha'i Faith, Adam is seen as a manifestation of God, and the Adam and Eve narratives are seen as having divine mysteries and containing universal meanings, but are also seen as having mythical features. Abdul-Baha described Adam as a spirit and Eve as a soul. Their story is explained in the Baha'i text Some Answered Questions.
Scientific community criticism
The story of Adam and Eve contradicts the scientific consensus that humans evolved from more primitive species of hominids. It is also incompatible with the current understanding of human genetics. In particular, if all humans descended from two individuals several thousand years ago, it would require an impossibly high mutation rate to account for the observed variation. These incompatibilities have caused many Christians to move away from a literal interpretation and belief in the Genesis creation narrative, while others continue to believe in what they see as a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.
The names Adam and Eve are used metaphorically in a scientific context to designate the patrilineal and matrilineal most recent common ancestors, the Y-chromosomal Adam and the Mitochondrial Eve. Those are not fixed individuals, nor is there any reason to assume that they lived at the same time, let alone that they met or formed a couple. A recent study on the subject estimates that the Y-chromosomal Adam lived 120 to 156 thousand years ago, while the Mitochondrial Eve lived 99 to 148 thousand years ago.  Another recent study places the Y-chromosomal Adam 180 to 200 thousand years ago.
Art and literature
Adam and Eve were used by early Renaissance artists as a theme to represent female and male nudes. Later, the nudity was objected to by more modest elements, and fig leaves were added to the older pictures and sculptures, covering their genitals. The choice of the fig was a result of Mediterranean traditions identifying the unnamed Tree of knowledge as a fig tree, and since fig leaves were actually mentioned in Genesis as being used to cover Adam and Eve's nudity.
Treating the concept of Adam and Eve as the historical truth introduces some logical dilemmas. One such dilemma is whether they should be depicted with navels (the Omphalos theory). Since they were created fully grown, and did not develop in a uterus, they would not have been connected to an umbilical cord as were all born humans. Paintings without navels looked unnatural and some artists obscure that area of their bodies, sometimes by depicting them covering up that area of their body with their hand or some other intervening object.
John Milton's Paradise Lost is a famous 17th-century epic poem written in blank verse which explores the story of Adam and Eve in great detail. As opposed to the Biblical Adam, Milton's Adam is given a glimpse of the future of mankind, by the archangel Michael, before he has to leave Paradise.
Adam and Eve by Titian.
Eve giving Adam the forbidden fruit, by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Adam and Eve from a copy of the Falnama (Book of Omens) ascribed to Ja´far al-Sadiq, ca. 1550, Safavid dynasty, Iran.
Detail of a stained glass window (XIIth century) in Saint-Julien cathedral - Le Mans, France.
Adam & Eve, illuminated manuscript circa 950, Escorial Beatus
Adam and Eve by Maarten van Heemskerck
Early Christian depiction of Adam and Eve in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter
- Adam and Eve (LDS Church)
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- Generations of Adam
- Líf and Lífþrasir
- Mashya and Mashyana, the first two humans in Zoroastrian cosmogony
- Tree of Jiva and Atman
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