The Story Of Adam And Eve From The Bible – Review of The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve – How the Myth Exposed by Stephen Greenblatt
This fascinating work traces the slow process from Augustine to Milton and Darwin that invalidated the Genesis story.
The Story Of Adam And Eve From The Bible
The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (1615) by Jan Bruegel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens. Photo: Alamy
The Story Of Adam And Eve Storyboard By Kandra1234
When they were young, my children reflected on where they came from. At different stages of their lives, they have developed three different types of responses. Their first answer is biological: “I come from my mother. No, mom and dad. And they consist of grandmother and grandfather, and grandmother and grandfather.” The second is geographical: “I’m from Exeter. But I was born in Cambridge. And I live in Yorkshire. And Oxford.” The third is more complicated and came after several years of science: “I am descended from African hominins. Or fish, if you follow it long enough.
One of the first lessons children take to heart is that they don’t always exist. It was “me” time. Trying to figure out what it is, what it means, takes a lot of childhood intellectual work. And as the above examples show, there are no simple answers: everything comes from something else. The existential dread of endlessly returning to origins begins early in life.
Theories about the great questions of human culture – what is the need for narrative, art and religion? – most of the time they are not done by children. The teachers to whom we owe our great theories are often less concerned with the question “Where did we come from?” rather than “where am I going?” Most modern theories of human civilization are primarily about the need to deal with mortality. But Stephen Greenblatt’s fascinating new book on the transitions in the story of Adam and Eve—the world’s most influential attempt to halt the eternal decline of creation—shows how central the question of origin of man to pre-scientific concepts of humanity. .
It is not a complete account of the biblical historical perspective: it says little about Rabbinic Judaism and almost nothing about Islam. Greenblatt is a specialist in the culture of early modern England, and it is westward from the deserts of Israel to Europe and finally the New World that the narrative weaves its way. The main characters are a North African Christian bishop, Augustine, who turns the story into a tale of sex and sin; the painter Albrecht Dürer, whose engravings and paintings on this subject revolutionized European art; John Milton, who turned the entire biblical story of creation into a complex emotional portrait of human values (derived in part from his reflections on the tragic, unkind and thoughtless treatment of his wife); Isaac La Peyer, a French theologian whose thoughts on Native Americans led him to believe that humanity predates Adam and Eve; French Enlightenment philosopher Pierre Bayle, who could not accept the Genesis account as literally true; and Charles Darwin.
A Summary And Analysis Of The Garden Of Eden Story
Therefore, this is a book about the historical formation of the attitude of the Christian West towards the origin of man. It is also a parable for the Christian West today, at a time when creationism is clearly on the rise. When Greenblatt refers to the “fall” of Adam and Eve in his title, he is not referring to the fall of the fictional characters, but to the rapid decline of the authority of biblical interpretation that occurred beginning in the 18th century. Greenblatt leaves the reader in no doubt that science has won the intellectual debate. He was an Enlightenment realist: the steady accumulation of philological, anthropological, biological, and geological knowledge made Genesis unusable outside of history.
Augustine became history’s most ardent defender of the literal truth of the biblical narrative: he even suggested that Eve’s fault was actually that she did not obey God’s commandments literally (so woe to you if you obey! ). But even he could not reconcile all his quirks: “Try as he might, not every word can be understood literally, and Augustine did not find a simple and reliable rule for the appropriate level of literalness.” Was Adam really made of clay? When we are told that God spoke to Adam, can we imagine that He used human language that comes from the physical vocal cords? If the Bible says that eating the fruit means that the eyes of the two proto-humans were opened, can we imagine that they were sealed until then?
Greenblatt has many similar stories of how devout readers have tried and failed to arrive at the results of complete submission to the authority of the Bible. Perhaps the most interesting is the case of the secular preacher and naturalist Philip Gosse, who (among other things) created the world’s first saltwater aquarium. Like many other residents of Victorian Britain, Goss was concerned by the discoveries of geologist Charles Lyell, whose pioneering work on rock stratigraphy showed that the earth was millions of years old. So Goss began to reconcile the evidence of the Bible with the evidence of the physical world and came up with a good theory. The world, he argued, was indeed of recent origin; but it was created by God with a geological background. The reasoning behind his theory is as ingenious as it is surprisingly complex. Gosse invites his readers to consider the analogy with Adam himself: the Bible says that he was created as a fully formed adult (according to Gosse) between the ages of 25 and 30. Like Earth, Adam was created which is permanent; and again, like the Earth, he must have carried with him traces of his former youth, though he had not experienced it. In particular, Goss shows Adam’s navel – surely it is, as the ideal human model – as a sign of a birth that never happened. If Adam was created as an adult with an umbilical cord, why couldn’t Earth have been created with complex layers of sedimentary rock that testify to a past that never happened?
However, the success of the story of Adam and Eve has long been tied to more than silly navel-gazing. Above all it is a story full of resonant motifs: utopia, order and transgression, duty and autonomy, gender and gender difference, paradise and exile. It is this narrative power that explains its enduring appeal as a stimulus to literary, artistic, and philosophical creativity. Greenblatt is clearly drawn to bolder creative responses that challenge dominant ideologies. A memorable piece—even more memorable in a largely male-centric narrative—is the beautifully titled 17th-century Italian nun Arcangela Tarabotti, author of the uncompromising anti-patriarchal treatise The Tyranny of the Father. According to Tarabotti, there was no discrimination between the sexes in Eden, and Eve was indeed made of a nobler substance than Adam’s clay; only the evil slander of Eve led to the subjugation of women. Another feature is John Ball’s iconic slogan for the English peasant uprisings (later taken up by the 17th century diggers): “When Adam dug and Eve, who a gentleman?” For Ball, paradise is defined by the absence of class structure.
Adam And Eve In The Garden Of Eden, 1615, 59×90 Cm By Jan Bruegel The Elder: History, Analysis & Facts
It’s a study of Western disillusionment, of intellectual progress – but it’s also an ode to human creativity.
Milton represents the pinnacle of this work: Milton, the no-nonsense, pious, puritanical literary genius who, according to Greenblatt, made Adam and Eve “real.” As a young man, Milton was amazed by the extraordinary fury of sexuality that he proudly displayed in front of his peers. At one point, he described male ejaculation as “the quintessence of excrement.” His marriage was doomed from the start: not least because Mary Powell was a sophisticated local young lady from a royalist Oxford family to whom Milton owed money and therefore not the most likely match for the strict parliamentarian. When the relationship broke up and Mary returned to her family home, Milton responded with an essay stating that divorce was morally justified. The scandalous climax that followed drew notable insults from Milton’s pen, including “worm of the brain,” “lawyer with certain brains,” and “boasted louse.” But when the tide of civil war turned against Cromwell, Mary returned to John in open repentance. Milton, whose eyesight began to fail, felt his heart melt: he took her and they had four children before her untimely death in childbirth.
After this period of personal, financial and political trauma, Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Greenblatt claims that the paradise he envisions is the complete freedom of man from political and social constraints. It is a utopian model of an achievable state where people can be freed from tyranny, both literally (the king) and metaphorically (social conventions). But that Edenic state is rapidly deteriorating: not only is he now blind, but the restoration of the monarchy is accompanied by