Adam and Eve and When It All Went Wrong

Well, it’s been a while since we dropped in on our friends Adam and Eve in the garden. So I figured I might as well make it a week of weird and tell y’all what I’ve been thinking/figuring out about them.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a wee bit of an obsession with the creation stories and the story of the fall. In fact, if it were possible to make money off meditating on them, I would be writing this from a beach in Fuji instead of on a computer with vacuum tubes in a spare bedroom that looks it hasn’t been cleaned in 2 months (because it hasn’t).

The reason I am so obsessed with these stories is because they seem to hold the key to understanding what is wrong with our relationships with each other, God and creation. Once you stop reading them as either the worst history book ever written or a fairy tale just-so story and taking them seriously, you discover that they are a lot like a puzzle. And I’m one of those people who plays soduku to relax. I like puzzles.

Anyhow, last spring I wrote a short series about a vision/dreamy sort of thingy I was given about what happened at the fall. Which if you may want to check out. The big take-away from the whole thing was that the fall wasn’t actually our fault. It was more like the world’s worse act of abuse against a couple of kids. If you think I’m full of it or want to know more, you can go read the posts on the subject. They’re short, we can wait:

What Was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Doing in the Garden?

The Fall Wasn’t Our Fault

Does God Sit Around Monitoring Our Thoughts? And Other Pertinent Questions

So What Happened to Adam and Eve Anyhow?

Now if I haven’t scared you off, today I want to discuss the relationship between Adam and Eve. As I’ve said before (and as Ireneus and a few other early church fathers said), Adam and Eve were children. Little children.

Adam was made first. Adam is the Hebrew word for man or mankind. It’s used thousands of times in the Hebrew OT to mean man or mankind. So when we talk about Adam, we are talking about a character who represents mankind as a whole, not necessarily about one specific individual. (Remember, mankind is one.)

Eve is formed later as a subset of mankind. Still a part of mankind, but defined by her gender. Eve is like a little sister to Adam. Consider that it is Adam who named the animals, received instructions from God, went looking for a partner, etc. Adam even got to name Eve.

So Adam would have been much like a big brother, showing his little sister around, telling her what things were called, explaining the rules, etc. Anyone who has ever seen a preschooler with a toddler sibling knows exactly what I am talking about here. A little kid enjoying being in charge and showing off what he knows for an admiring younger sibling.

I’ve written before about a small detail from the story of the fall which is normally overlooked, but I think is important. When Adam and Eve were standing by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the snake approaches them, Eve says something untrue. She tells the serpent that not only can they not eat the fruit of the tree, but they are not even allowed to touch it. It’s a little detail that points to the fact that perfection, as we think of perfection, did not exist even before the fall. Which makes sense; God had declared the earth “good” and Adam and Eve “very good”. We’re the ones who made up this idea that it was perfect.

So, where did Eve get this idea that they weren’t allowed to touch the tree? Perhaps she made it up and was just lying. Or perhaps it was what her big brother Adam had told her. It’s totally the sort of thing a big brother would do. (I once had my little sister convinced that clouds moving across the sky showed how fast the earth was turning. Because I wanted to impress her with my great understanding of the workings of the earth, of course.)

God had given Adam one little rule to follow. It’s very easy to imagine that as a big brother, earnestly taking his responsibilities very seriously and feeling very important, he had instructed Eve, “see that fruit over there? God says we can’t eat it or we will die. We can’t even touch the tree it’s so dangerous!” He exaggerated a bit. Who doesn’t exaggerate from time to time? (My computer does not have vacuum tubes, by the way.) Especially when we’re trying to impress someone?

So Adam and Eve are standing by the tree. Maybe Adam’s showing off how brave he is to get so close to the dangerous tree. And the snake, who knows damn well that he has no business messing with them comes by to chat. And let’s just say that perhaps, as they are talking a breeze goes by and a branch moves and a bit of fruit brushes against Eve. Who doesn’t die.

And the snake says, “You will not certainly die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eve at this point is perhaps aware that her brother may have been doing what big brothers do and scared her in order to impress her. She didn’t die from touching the fruit. Perhaps eating it wasn’t so scary either. It was pretty. What little girl doesn’t like pretty things? And God had given the garden to them to eat from. Plus, the fruit was useful for gaining wisdom. If she was wise, then she wouldn’t be the little kid her brother could trick.

Adam is standing there silently. Perhaps he heard Eve repeat his harmless lie and had some idea that he had made a mistake in telling her they couldn’t touch the fruit. Perhaps he had some vague awareness that he had been caught; that Eve knew he had lied to her. But I have had a child tell me “I didn’t stand on the coffee table” while they were standing on the coffee table. Little kids aren’t exactly know for their willingness to admit that they did something wrong.

So Eve eats the fruit and hands it to Adam. Adam has just watched his Eve, who God made just for him, who would be the mother of all adam, sign her own death sentence. All he had meant was to keep Eve safe and maybe impress her a bit. He was the big brother and being a big brother comes with responsibilities. So Adam does just what a good man would do in that situation and bravely took a bite of the fruit Eve handed him. If she was going to die, he would go with her.


8 thoughts on “Adam and Eve and When It All Went Wrong

    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you wouldn’t say it to a child on their first night after being sold into slavery, it’s the wrong answer. I wouldn’t tell a child in that situation that she was suffering because gaining wisdom is hard. The only acceptable answer is, “I’m so sorry. It’s not supposed to be like this.”

      1. We aren’t in that situation. We’ve been at this awhile; we have gained some wisdom; and largely it’s been a bitch because during that process we haven’t been anywhere near to getting it yet.

      2. Let’s put it this way: There’s this story about Joseph in the Bible. Slavery back then wasn’t a whole lot better than slavery now; having power over another human being never did bring out the best in people. Anything might have come of his being sold to Egyptians including having bits chopped off.

        So you wouldn’t tell him, in that part of the story, that some day he would look back on this experience in a whole new light. But it would be true.

    2. We haven’t been anywhere near getting it because this isn’t the way we’re supposed to be learning it. And I may not be in that situation, but I’ve been through enough to know that there are depths of human suffering that are beyond what we can imagine without experiencing them ourselves. And frankly, there’s nothing that kind of suffering can teach that can’t be learned in other ways. All suffering like that does is show you that the abyss of human suffering has no bottom. So any explanation that doesn’t start with “it’s not supposed to be like this” is cruelly wrong. If what I’ve been through is just to be expected as something that can happen on the way to gaining wisdom, then the whole thing is fucked beyond redemption. And there are plenty of people who have been through worse.

      1. Of course that’s not to say that God can’t redeem it all. But Joseph was extraordinarily privileged that was. Most slaves died in misery, never having experienced any redemption. I think we err when we treat an unusual situation like Joseph’s as normative rather than as an exception to the rule that people suffer in horrific ways for no reason or benefit. That is the normal course of human suffering.

      2. Those stories don’t end with “death.”

        We both know that truly horrible things happen, that worse things have happened to other people than ever happened to us; and that our own suffering has been plenty bad. And nothing in this world is ‘accidental.’

        We also know that it is not “fucked beyond redemption.”

  1. You are correct by saying Adam means mankind. Even says soin the 5th chapter of Genesis…and he called them Adam.

    The whole bible is nothing but allagory, parables and symbols. They might have happened and might not have. Not the point really. But it is what is dicovered within that matters.

    Adam(mankind) has a garden within us all. We can choose life(understanding, true nature) or death(missing the mark) We all start out the same when we are born. Formless and void. Meaning until we are taught thing from outside sources like; dont do this or do that, that’s wrong this is wrong we miss that true nature within us all right off until we question those things and God says let there be light( truth)

    The tree of life isin us. Its our true nature. As he is…so am I. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the law. The lies about God and how we need to try to be like God. The snake is nothing but carnal thoughts, lies, darkness. In other words everything we’ve been taught or believe thats not of God. We are born with the Father in us. We are taught he is some seperate being we must please and say magic words then he accepts us and lives in us. We are already accepted no matter what. His love never fails.

    God is salvation. And all salvation is, is the perception of we really are. Which as he is so are we. We are one.

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