Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Facts about Adam and Eve

The story of Adam and Eve and their fall into sin has been called the “Central Myth of the West.” The book Saving the Original Sinner, the story of Adam’s evolution from a minor player in ancient Jewish mythology to the most significant figure in Western culture after Jesus. Now, Adam stands at the center of a great controversy over evolution, with geneticists saying he could not possibly have existed and many Americans insisting they are wrong.

Here are ten curious things about Adam and Eve that are true and that even may surprise you.
Adam is a generic Hebrew word. In the Hebrew language in which Genesis was originally written, the word “Adam” is the generic term for “man.” Our modern translations make it difficult to see this, especially since “Adam” has become a popular male name. Similarly, “Eve” means “Mother all of living.”

Eve may not have been Adam’s first wife. There are actually two creation stories in Genesis, although most readers merge them into one. The story we tend to recall starts with the first verse in the Bible. It starts  with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and then it describes the six days during which God creates something different each day It ends on the sixth day with humans last and Eve being created from Adam’s rib. Finally this is followed by the seventh day during which God rested. However, that is not actually what Genesis says. In the first creation story (the one with six days and a creator named Yahweh) the woman is created in the same way as the man and at the same time with no hint that she is secondary. This puzzling difference evolved into the story of Lilith, Adam’s first wife who was ejected from Eden for insisting she should be Adam’s equal. Lilith is a shadowy and evolving part of Jewish mythology, mentioned only once in the Bible. By the Middle Ages, however, she was a persistent demon feared by Jewish women because she threatened the fragile lives of 

In the second creation story (the one with Eve being created from Adam’s rib and a creator named Elohim) God clearly creates the woman from Adam's rib for the man. In the legend of Lilith, Eve was a replacement wife, subservient to Adam and much less demanding.

The story of Adam and Eve is not original to the Bible. In The Epic of Gilgamesh which is dated well over one thousand years before Genesis, it is possible to read of a talking serpent suggesting immortality and of a man divinely created from soil who lived naked among the animals. A temptress leads this man into sin after which the two clothe themselves and are expelled from their garden paradise. Sound familiar?
A Fragment of The Epic of Gilgamesh

The two different stories in Genesis cannot be reconciled. Despite the best efforts of religious fundamentalist creationists, the two stories cannot both be accurate. To reconcile the two accounts, the sixth day of creation (which the fundamentalists insist  was an ordinary twenty-four-hour day) has to include the following events: Adam is fashioned from the dust of the earth and given the breath of life; every kind of animal on the planet is brought to Adam who gives them names corresponding to their characteristics; Adam notices that every animal showed up with a mate and grows lonely as he realizes he has none; God takes sympathy on lonely Adam, puts him to sleep and fashions a woman from his side; Adam names his wife “woman” for she was taken out of “man.” Quite a busy twenty-four day!

Adam only appears in the beginning of Genesis. After his brief appearances in the first chapters of Genesis, Adam disappears from the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament). Even though sin is a recurring theme, with divine judgments occurring at the Flood of Noah, the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and elsewhere, Adam is never implicated as the source of that sin. That idea was invented by Saint Paul in the New Testament with no Jewish precedent.

God did not destroy Eden after Adam and Eve sinned. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, God did not destroy their former paradise home. Instead, God placed cherubim (angles) and a flaming sword at the entrance so they could not reenter and eat from the tree of life. The continued existence of Eden was widely accepted, and intrepid explorers often took off in search of it. Christopher Columbus wrote home from South America that he had discovered a beautiful paradise he believed was the biblical Eden.

Some Christians believe Cain was not Adam’s son. The doctrine known as the “serpent seed” claims that Cain was the offspring of Eve and the talking serpent that Christians much later identified as Satan. Sin thus entered the human race directly from Satan when he had sex with Eve. The most well known church that teaches this doctrine is Sarah Palin’s home church in Wasilla, Alaska.
Sarah Palin

Leading figures in the Western world took Adam very seriously. The great Italian poet Dante, the author of The Divine Comedy, tried to figure out what language Adam spoke in Eden by inspecting existing human languages for mysterious common features. Francis Bacon promoted science as a way to recover the lost knowledge God had given to Adam. Only in the last couple of centuries have scholars moved away from the idea that Adam and Eve were important historical figures.
Dante Alighieri

Many have claimed that Adam had super-human traits. The incarcerated creationist who calls himself Dr. Dino, Kent Hovind, claimed that Adam and Eve had hundreds of children and did not need a car because they could run for hundreds of miles without getting tired. The prosperity evangelist Benny Hinn says Adam could fly to the moon. Many have believed Adam was fifteen feet tall. Some Christians claim Adam had X-ray vision which allowed him to see into the interior of animals when he was naming them according to their essential features. In dramatic contrast to evolution, these views understand the history of the human race to be one of steady deterioration from a perfect beginning rather than a rise from simpler primates as asserted by Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin

Geneticists are certain Adam and Eve did not begin the human race. Geneticists who have mapped the human genome have stated with certainty that the human race cannot have consisted of just two people a few thousand years ago. This conclusion is actually quite straightforward. The human gene pool simply has too many genes in it today to have ever been housed in just two humans. Geneticists estimate the human race never consisted of less than 1,000 individuals and they lived long before the biblical

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The Expulsion of Adam and Eve
from the Garden of Eden According to
The King James Bible

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the LORD God said, 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:  Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
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Images of Adam and Eve