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Fall of Eve - The Fall of Eve Shawna Dolansky-Overton...

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The Fall of Eve Shawna Dolansky-Overton Virtually everyone is familiar with the story of the Garden of Eden. It is impressed on us in Sunday school, celebrated in art and song, and has been re-told, elaborated, and interpreted in countless ways over the millennia. Man is created to tend the garden of God, home to the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and bad, and is told that he will die if he eats from the tree of knowledge. To keep the man company, God creates animals and birds, but no fitting partner for the man emerges from these creations. So God removes one of Adam‟s ribs and creates woman. They are naked and innocent until the serpent, shrewdest of all the animals, tells the woman that eating from the tree of knowledge of good and bad will not lead to death, but rather to a state of divinity. She eats the fruit of the forbidden tree, shares it with Adam, and their eyes are opened. They use leaves to cover their nudity. God discovers their transgression and punishes the serpent, the woman, and Adam. Adam names his wife Eve, and God makes clothes for them and then expels them from his garden. This is a story about primary relationships: between man and woman, between God and humanity. It is a story about the creation of humankind and our appropriation of the divine power of wisdom. It is about the dawn of morality and our loss of innocence. It gives a reason for mortality. It explains why snakes don‟t have legs, why women have pain in childbirth and are to be subordinated to their husbands, and why men have to work to bring food from the ground. This story has been interpreted in countless ways. In Christian theology, the story is about the Devil, disguised as a serpent, who tempts humans to disobey their Creator. In contrast, the Gnostics thought that the Creator-god who forbad humans the acquisition of knowledge was the evil one. Bible scholars have interpreted this story as everything
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P a g e | 2 from a polemic against Canaanite fertility rites 1 to a narrative about the acceptance of social and family relationships. 2 We are so familiar with this story that it is easier to draw new and different interpretations than it is to stop, back away from it, and approach it as if for the first time. As children hearing the story we accept it in all of its strangeness: the talking snake, the magical trees, the punishments from God for acquiring knowledge. As adults reading the story for the first time, our reaction should be different: this is a truly bizarre story. Why is man created from earth and not stone, a plant, sea, sun, or cloud? Why a snake and not a cherub, a bull, or a unicorn? Why does the snake talk to the woman and not the man? Why have magical trees and not bushes, flowers, a magic stone or a star? Why does God tell Adam that on the day that he eats from the tree of knowledge, he will die? Why does Adam name the woman “Eve,” stating that it is because she is the mother of all living, when she is the last creation? Why is the tree of knowledge forbidden, and not the tree of life?
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