Adam and Eve: A historical perspective
- Ancient origins
- Christian interpretations
- Sex and death
All human cultures have sought to explain how the world as we know it came into being by developing creation myths. These myths tell us a lot about the cultures that create them. For example, sometimes a Goddess gives birth to creation, and sometimes a male God creates it out of violence. Sometimes the physical world comes out of chaos, and sometimes out of nothing.Due to historical events, the creation story that has informed Western culture is based on the myth of a once obscure Hebrew tribe that lived in a very small area in the Middle East. That story, the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, was incorporated into the Christian Bible and taken as literal history for more than one millennia. Today a few people still accept it as literal truth, but many others view the story as symbolic.This paper will examine the myth, from the earliest point in recorded history, and chart the different message this legend carried to the cultures and religious groups that encountered it.
[...] This a view still held by some conservative Christians today. V. Conclusion Even as a symbolic story the account of Adam and Eve and paradise have a major impact on our culture. It has helped to form our cultural understanding of why creation is not perfect, what is natural and unnatural, and relative roles of men and women. Historical examination of the evolution of the myth gives a new perspective on how this story and its interpretation have evolved through time. Bibliography Augustine, Opus Imperfectum Brown, Peter. [...]
[...] Their initiation into the knowledge of good and evil is not a positive step in their growth as humans, as it was for Enkidu, but a fall into sin that brings suffering on all of creation. They clothe themselves because they become ashamed of what they are, instead of because they recognize that they are not animals. The guide who brings them to the new knowledge is now a demon instead of a priestess. There may have been another message in the changes the Hebrew made to the earlier myth. [...]
[...] Sexual intercourse with birth control could only be for the purpose of pleasure instead of procreation, and that is considered a sin. Christian views on the nature of sexuality continued to be supported by interpretations of the Adam and Eve story from Genesis. For example, in the fourth-century debate between Julian, bishop of Eclanum, and Augustine, they both relied on Genesis. Julian argued that neither death nor sexual desire resulted from the sin of Adam and Eve, because everything in creation is natural and good: God made bodies, distinguished the sexes made genitalia, bestowed affection through which bodies would be joined, gave power to the semen, and operates in the secret nature of the semen?and God made nothing evil. Augustine, on the other hand, argued that the sinful act of Adam and Eve actually corrupted nature, so that nature that was created good became distorted. [...]