Monday, March 8, 2010

Are Adam and Eve Real?


Alice C. Linsley


In what sense are Adam and Eve real? In biblical parlance they represent the first humans created by God.  As such, we must relate them to the oldest known human populations over 3 million years ago. In this sense they are best described as meta-historical.

The first verifiably hsitorical persons in Genesis at the rulers Cain and Seth. They married the daughters of an Proto-Saharan ruler named Nok or Enoch/Enosh. This has been confirmed through analysis of the Genesis 4 and 5 King Lists.

Must Adam and Eve be historical persons to be real? Only if we insist on reading the text as empiricists who are ignorance of the worldview of the people from whom we receive this material.

Adam is from ha-dam, meaning “the blood.” In the original Nilotic and Proto-Saharan context of Abraham’s ancestors “the Blood” simply meant Human. This is why Adam sometimes mean the human/man.

Also Adam is used in parallelism with Enoch/Enosh in Psalm 8:4 – “What is man [enosh] that you are mindful of him, the son of man [ben adam] that you care for him?”

The parallelism makes it clear that the historical Enosh/Enoch is regarded as progenitor (Gen. 4 and 5) just as the archetypal Adam is regarded as progenitor. Among the ancients the historical and the type were both seen as real. Only empirical moderns have trouble with this.

To Abraham's Proto-Saharan and Nilotic ancestors the idea of a meta-historical archetype was not foreign. They did not require that something be historical to be true or real. They were metaphysical thinkers, something that we are not after generations of Pragmatism in American education.

In this essay we look at five approaches to understanding Adam and Eve.


1. Literal Interpretation

In this view, Adam and Eve were the historical first parents of humanity. Many who hold this view also hold to a young earth creationism, placing Adam and Eve only about 6,000 years ago. They are not concerned with reconciling this view with the fact that the oldest human remains are millions of years old or that the Genesis genealogies are actually King Lists, not lsists of the first people living on earth. Analysis of the Genesis 4 and 5 marriage and ascendancy pattern reveals that Cain [1] and his brother Seth married into the royal house of Nok (Enoch). This would make Nok a contemporary of Adam.




2. Allegory
In this view, the story of Adam and Eve explains how humans fell from innocence to a state in which they experience suffering and death. An allegory is a literary and artistic device in which characters represent an idea or a religious or moral principle. Those who hold this view need not insist that Adam and Eve were historical persons. An example of the allegorical approach is Philo's commentary [2] which looks at the history of mankind, beginning at Genesis 2.


3. Federal Headship
Others view Adam as the “federal head” or head male who brought all of humanity into sin. They argue that Adam must therefore be an historical person. They cite Hebrews 7:9-10: “And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” Here federal headship rests with Abraham, from whom Levi descended. Levi, who received tithes from his brothers, is said to have acted while still in the loins of his "father" Abraham when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20).

Of course, this misses the point that it was Eve who first sinned, not Adam.  She who was the crown of creation, who stood upright with her head to the heavens, submitted herself to the will of the lowest of creatures - one that moves with its belly near the earth. Eve's agreement to do the will of the serpent represents an inversion of the hierarchical order of creation.

Likewise, instead of listening to God, Adam listened to his wife and became like the serpent, eating dust all the days of his toil. Adam’s fall recalls his origins from dust: "And God formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7).

4. Typology
In Romans 5:14, Paul declares that Adam “is a figure (tupos) of him that was to come”, i.e., Christ. Charles T. Fritsch [3] wrote that “A type is an institution, historical event or person, ordained by God, which effectively prefigures some truth connected with Christianity.” By this definition we can’t say that Jesus is like Adam or like Melchizedek. Instead we must hold that Adam is a type of the true Man Jesus and Melchizedek is a type of the One Priest whose ministry is Messianic and eternal.

Typology can be approach from another angle. Instead of prefiguring, a type can be understood as a shadow cast on the pages of Old Testament by a reality, embodiment or antitype found in the New Testament. According to this view, Adam is but a shadow (skia, following Colossians 2:17) of the eternal Form Man, who is Christ Jesus.

Typology must always be considered against the backdrop of the pattern of Reality. The use of antitupona, rendered “figures” (KJV) or “pattern” (ASV) in Hebrews 9:24, leads us to explore the pattern shown in Scripture and explored by the Church Fathers. Typology is fruitful because there is a pattern. It is the very weave of Reality and runs deeper than we generally recognize. We discover it when we explore the couplets found in Scripture: Two Passovers and Two Drunken Fathers, 2 Tabernacles: the earthly and heavenly, and 2 trees at the sacred center (here we have another type of the "tree in the midst of the garden" which has as its antitype the Cross at the center of all things, seen and unseen).


5. Myth
Some see the Adam and Eve story as an origin myth. Myths, like dreams, speak in symbols. Symbols pose meaning at the deepest level by presenting relationships. Adam is made from the red earth, which is the meaning of the word adamah. This may also be a reference to the place Adamah in west central Africa and to the ruddy skin color of the Nilotic peoples who give us this origin story. Myths lift up relationships such as flesh to spirit, woman to man, and heaven and earth, and also contain clues to the origin or source of the myth. The Adam and Eve story finds its closest parallels to origin myths of East Africa.

The cultural context of the Genesis creation stories is African [5]. That being so, we must try to understand the story in the context of creation stories held by African tribes. For example, we note the similarities of the Garden of Eden story to the story of Gikuyu and Mumbi, the first ancestors of the Gikuyu (East Africa). Here is a portion of that story:

Now you know that at the beginning of things there was only one man (Gikuyu) and one woman (Mumbi). It was under this Mukuyu that He first put them. And immediately the sun rose and the dark night melted away. The sun shone with a warmth that gave life and activity to all things. The wind and the lightning and thunder stopped. The animals stopped moaning and moved, giving homage to the Creator and to Gikuyu and Mumbi. And the Creator, who is also called Murungu, took Gikuyu and Mumbi from his holy mountain to the country of the ridges near Siriana and there stood them on a big ridge. The He took them to Mukuruwe wa Gathanga about which you have heard so much. But He had shown them all the land - yes, children, God showed Gikuyu and Mumbi all the land and told them: "This land I hand over to you, O Man and Woman. It is yours to rule and to till in serenity, sacrificing only to me, your God, under my sacred tree.

It is evident that Gikuyu and Mumbi are the first ancestors of the Gikuyu. They are not conceived by the Gikuyu as the progenitors of all humanity. Likewise, it is not necessary to insist that Adam and Eve are the progenitors of all humanity. Instead we may understand them as the first ancestors of the people who gave us Genesis. This concept of the first ancestors or heads of tribes and clans is found throughout the Bible. Midian is the head of the Midianites; Jacob is the head of the Israelites, and Lot is the head of the Moabites.

In the Revised Standard Version of the Bible the word adamah is rendered as “land” 105 times, as “ground” 67 times, as “earth” 37 times, as “soil” 6 times, and as “country” twice. It never refers to an historical person.

In what sense may we speak of Adam and Eve as real? The question reveals a shortcoming in the Western approach to Scripture.  We tend to equate real with historical, an equation that would have struck the ancients as strange. Our approach is informed by Empiricism which views as real only what is material and finite.

The biblical worldview, on the other hand, allows for metaphysical realness in the Platonic sense (although Plato likely borrowed his binary idea of Form and Image from the ancient Egyptians). Genesis presents Adam as real, not in the Empirical sense, but in the sense of archetypes.  In Platonic thought, the temporal and material is a reflection of the eternal and immaterial. The temporal passes away, but the eternal can neither pass away nor can it be corrupted or changed. St. Paul is a great master of the method and he views Adam as the archetype of the God-Man. Adam, the temporal and material points to Jesus Christ. Adam experiences corruption and passes away. Christ is ever without corruption and eternal. When Adam was made in the image of the eternal true Form, he was made in the Divine Image. In His incarnation, Christ our God was eternally 'begotten' of the Father, but without corruption since His existence is from before time.


6.  Archetype
Adam and Eve as archetype does not necessarily exclude the possibility that they are also ancestors.  The ancient Afro-Asiatics regarded ancestors as archetypes and archtypes as ancestors. A problem comes when we insist that they lived as the historical first parnets of all the people in the world. When we make this statement we force the Bible to say something that it doesn't say.  In fact, we make it say the opposite of what it says, because analysis of Genesis 4 and 5 reveals that Cain and Seth married the daughters of an African chief name Nok (Enoch) and where there are chiefs, there already exists a social fabric, laws, traditions, language and artifacts. Cain and Seth are themselves associated with the symbols of authority.  So if Adam and Eve are ancestors, they are ancestors of the descendants of Cain and Seth whose reigns were in Central East Africa.


NOTES

1. The genealogical information found in Genesis 4 and 5 reveals that Cain and his brother Seth married sisters. These brides were the daughters of a Nilo-Saharan chief named Nok (Enoch). The Nok civilization is dated between 12,000 and about 2000 years ago and is related to the Naqada civilization. Cain lived close to B.C. 3200 - 3050; the Naqada III civilization; the last century of the Predynastic period of Egypt. 

2. Read http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book2.html

3. Read Charles T. Fritch here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/fritsch.html

4. Read Wick Broomall here: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/126-a-study-of-biblical-typology

5. Read about the cultural context of the Genesis creation stories here and here.



Reading reading:  Lamech Segment Analysis; Between Biblical Literalism and Biblical Illiteracy; The African Cultural Context of Genesis 1-11Christians Debate Genesis and Evolution; The Genesis King Lists; Bishop Ussher Goofed; Adam and Eve as Archetypal Ancestors; The First Verifiably Historical Persons in Genesis; Eve's Sin

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ms. Linsley, interesting discusssion. Years ago, one of my college religion profs was #2; the same who said about Joshua 6, "My God would never command or condone that (vs 21)." Another was #4, and originally a philosophy major in his own undergrad work; had a Platonic viewpoint and a rigorous mind. ...It's challenging to talk to modern "conservative" Christians who regard as heretical those that might understand Adam/Eve non-empirically; as typology. They think I'm undermining Scripture (and Christian witness) when I discuss Gen 1-11 as anything other than literal, chrono (no gap) human history. Your research is helpful.

Best and blessings,
Brent

Alice C. Linsley said...

Someone once asked me what is the point of the Adam and Eve story if it is "only a myth"?

The point is that God made us in the Divine Image to enjoy His fellowship and He is restoring that Image through the Divine Person Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Linsley,
Why, do you suppose, that Holy Tradition treats Adam and Eve as literal persons if they are only figurative?

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete speaks of a seemingly literal Adam: "I have rivaled in transgression Adam the first formed man" and a seemingly literal Eve: "Woe, to thee, miserable soul! How thou art like the first Eve!"

The icon of the Resurrrection clearly shows Christ pulling a real Adam and a real Eve from Hades. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

I read the article in RTE. Very good! I really appreciated the discussion about binary opposition - although I confess I didn't understand it all! I was wondering if there is a deeper meaning to binary opposition that either was not discussed in the article, or was but I didn't understand. I'm referring to the mystical foundation of binary opposition. Do you see that in the Holy Trinity? Is there a hint of that in Rublev's 'Holy Trinity' icon? Two of the angels facing each other?

Thank you for taking the time to speak with RTE...and for this site!

Nilus

Alice C. Linsley said...

Nilus,

I'm not sure that Holy Tradition treats Adam and Eve as real in the historical sense, though it is best to err on the side of literal interpretation when uncertain. If Holy Tradition is about the divine Person of Jesus Christ, then Adam and Eve must be understood in reference to HIM. This is where the Apostle Paul's writings prove most informative. He treats Adam as a type of Christ. Adam is the first man by whom death enters the world. Christ is the True Man by whom Life enters the world. Adam who was made in the divine image has that image restored in the Incarnation.

Is the Great Canon of St. Andrew stating something about Adam and Eve contrary to what St. Paul has written? I don't think so.

The icon of Christ pulling Adam and Eve from Hades is also typological, applying to all humanity covered by His blood, not to Adam and Eve alone.

The Theotokos is shown between 2 angels, reflecting that she is holy and in God's presence, even as God was conceived inside her. This is a binary arrangement of the two angels facing each other with wings extended over the Ark of the Covenant. God was said to dwell between the angels.

The worldview of the Afro-Asiatics who gave us Genesis, the foundation to the Bible, is binary. Read more on this here:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/03/circumcision-and-binary-distinctions.html

And here:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2008/09/pleromic-blood-and-gender-distinctions.html

And here:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/03/blood-and-binary-distinctions.html

I'm glad that you liked the Road to Emmaus interview. I hope it might help us to look more deeply at Holy Tradition and Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Alice Linsley said:
"The icon of Christ pulling Adam and Eve from Hades is also typological, applying to all humanity covered by His blood, not to Adam and Eve alone. "

But certainly Adam and Eve too.

Alice C. Linsley said...

If Adam and Eve are historical the benefits of the blood of Christ apply to them, of course.

The Bible doesn't insist that they are historical. If they are the first human couple created by God they would have lived about 3 million years ago. Yet Cain and Seth can't be said to have lived before about 12,000 years ago. And the genealogical data provided in Genesis 4 and 5 reveals that their brides were the daughters of a man named Nok (Enoch). This Nok would have been a contemporary of Adam and Eve, so they couldn't have been the only original humans.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Linsley,

Have you read Fr. Seraphim Rose's 'Genesis, Creation, and Early Man'? He takes a quite literal view of Genesis. I guess there are varying opinions as to just what is literal and what is figurative though....I belive that Dr. Peter Bouteneff of St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary wrote a book on the same subject and takes view similar to your own.

One thing that I think is important to note though, is that even though icons can be typological, they seem always to be based upon real events and real persons. I by no means am an expert though. I am a convert (6 years this Pascha!), so am still learning.

Thank you for your patience and willingness to discuss these topics. I am learning to not be dogamtic about things that are not salvific, so I confess that I may be completely wrong about the historical reality of Adam and Eve!

Alice C. Linsley said...

Father Seraphim Rose (1934-1982) also proposed that the six days of creation ended about 6,000 years ago. He also believed in a catastrophic worldwide flood and insisted that this is the view of the Church Fathers and the teaching of the Church until modern times. Fr. Rose is incorrect in asserting that the Holy Fathers interpreted Genesis in a uniform way. I've written about his book on Genesis here:

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/10/eastern-orthodox-approach-to-genesis.html

I think it is important to try to understand what Genesis actually says on the deeper level since the whole of Scripture rests on this pre-Jewish foundation.

Tom said...

Hi, personally I read Genesis 1-11 as being historical narrative. The text makes no distinction between chapters 1-11 and 12 following. Since the Jews saw Abraham as a historical figure, it is hard to see why an abritrary and textually unsupportable distinction should made between these two sections.

You mention Plato, but he wrote considerably later than the composition of the book of Genesis, so it is difficult to see what bearing his views could have on our interpretation. Certainly, there is no evidence that the Jewish Scriptures share his views, and the NT is very skeptical of Greek 'wisdom' (see 1 Corinthians).

However, I post not to debate the points, but to ask for a clarification. I can't see any evidence that Genesis 4 and 5 say that Cain and Seth married sisters who were daugters of Enoch. Please could you clarify where this idea comes from?

Thanks so much,

Tom.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Genesis 1-3 contains mythological elements of a very ancient character: the Tree of Life, the Serpent, God walking in the garden. These motifs originate in Africa. See this:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2010/05/african-religion-predates-hinduism.html

I mention Plato because he and many other ancient Greeks drew on the more ancient Afro-Asiatic ideas that had crossed to Europe from Africa many thousands of years ago. See this:
http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/ancient-hominids-sailors-seas.html

St. Paul was familiar with Greek philosophy. There was a prestigious Academy of Philosophy in Tarsus. Paul applied the idea of the true form (Christ) as the ontological source of the reflection (Adam). In a sense Paul was reclaiming the Afro-Asiatic approach to meaning, as did Jacques Derrida in our century. See this:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/09/genesis-and-jacques-derrida.html

We meet the first historical persons in Genesis 4 and 5, the lines of Kain and Seth, his brother. The two lines intermarried and analysis of the data reveals that this is probably the oldest authentic list of rulers in existence. Read more about this here:
http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2010/07/analysis-of-genesis-4-and-5-king-lists.html

The ancient Afro-Asiatics told history through genealogy so it is true that Genesis 4-12 is a unified history.

Zajigirl said...

Hi Alice. Love your blogs! Have you explored the possibility of Egyptian Ausar (Osiri) and Auset being Adam and Eve. I would think ancient Egypt would have more details on them. I find it intriguing because Ausar and Auset are usually depicted with Heru. And it seems intriguing given that their "the first couple." Just curious.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Zajigirl, welcome to Just Genesis!

Yes, it is intriguing. Here we have the ancient Horite triad. It aligns with the Gospel of Jesus, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary.

Egyptologist Sir E. A. Wallis Budge wrote,
"The new religion (Christianity) which was preached there by St. Mark and his immediate followers, in all essentials so closely resembled that which was the outcome of the worship of Osiris, Isis, and Horus that popular opposition was entirely disarmed."

Even today the Coptic Christians of Egypt maintain that they represent the oldest Egyptian religion, that of their Horite ancestors.

I don't see a parallel with Adam and Eve so much.

DDeden said...

"If they are the first human couple created by God they would have lived about 3 million years ago."

By genetic reckoning, 5.2 million years ago a DNA mutation occurred to our first human ancestors with 46 chromosomes, permanently splitting from other hominid ancestors with 48 chromosomes, most likely in central Africa rainforest.

Alice Linsley said...

DDedan,

The oldest verifiable human populations are dated at 3.4-3.6 million years.

The theory of humans emerging from sub-humans or apes lacks substance.

DDeden said...

"The oldest verifiable human populations are dated at 3.4-3.6 million years"

I don't know how this date range was determined. [Lucy &] Selam/dk1 were Australopith afarensis fossils with evidence of laryngeal air sacs (as chimpanzees & gorillas have) based on the hyoid bone shape (bone attached to tongue) unlike H. erectus, heidelbergensis, neanderthal and sapiens.

Humans are mammals/primates/anthropoids with 46chr. human ancestors; apes are mammals/primates/anthropoids with 48chr. ape ancestors.

Biological "Adam" & "Eve" began begatting (46chr) humans 5,200,000 years ago in the Edenic tropical rainforest where figs were in abundance, as far as I can tell.

Biologically, "sub-humans" are fiction, archaic humans are non-fiction.

Alice Linsley said...

There is no reason to assume that A. afarensis were not human. The morphology of the hyoid is not indicative. The same hyoid bone shape has been found in other human populations as an adaption to jungle or tropical forest environments, such as existed in Israel around 60,000 B.C. Such is the case with the archaic population designated "Neaderthal" that lived in the Kebara Caves in Israel. All other traits of A. afarensis indicate that this population was fully human, including evidence of controlled fire.

I agree with the dating and chromosome count. I much prefer the term "archaic humans" to the terms used by evolutionary theorists. For example, it is misleading to designate the Kebara population as Neaderthal because a similar anatomical structure was found in the Neader Valley in Germany.

When Jeremy DeSilva, a British anthropologist, compared the ankle joint, the tibia and the talus fossils of "hominins" between 4.12 million to 1.53 million years old, he discovered that all of the ankle joints resembled those of modern humans rather than those of apes. Chimpanzees flex their ankles 45 degrees from normal resting position. This makes it possible for apes to climb trees with great ease. While walking, humans flex their ankles a maximum of 20 degrees. The human ankle bones are quite distinct from those of apes.

The discovery of a complete fourth metatarsal of A. afarensis at Hadar that shows the deep, flat base and tarsal facets that "imply that its midfoot had no ape-like midtarsal break. These features show that the A. afarensis foot was functionally like that of modern humans." (Carol Ward, William H. Kimbel, Donald C. Johanson, Feb. 2011)

DDeden said...

I am not disputing the genetic position of Australopithecines, I'm merely saying that humanity began as a genetically distinct taxon (Genus) 5.2ma based on chromosomes.

Dennis Bonnette, Ph.D. said...

While the genus Australopithecus dates back some four million years and genus Homo some two million years, I fail to see how one can base the inference that humans date back about three million years simply on anatomical findings. In fact, I maintain, with Aristotle, that man is defined as a rational animal. This means that human nature is distinguished from subhuman nature by possession of rational faculties that are lacking in brute animals, even those with fairly sophisticated hominin morphology.

You imply this criterion when you mention that humans "controlled fire." The problem is that irrational animals have highly-developed sense faculties -- external and internal senses, including sense memory, imagination, and instincts -- which allow them to exhibit behaviors often mimicking the human intellectual abilities of understanding natures (forming universal concepts), judging, and reasoning -- not to mention free will.

The problem is that the first unequivocal signs of human intellective behaviors appear to date back only to about the early Middle Pleistocene period. These activities include the making of artistic Acheulian stone hand axes which exhibit congruent symmetry, and the clearly controlled use of fire. The best examples of such hand axes date to about three-quarter million years ago, and the earliest evidence of fairly-assured hominin-controlled use of fire is found at Gesher Benot Ya'agov, Israel, dating back to about the same time frame. (Science 304 (2004): 725-727.) Earlier than this period, we have morphological continuities with earlier hominins, but it is not at all clear that behaviors must be explained in purely intellective terms. I would refer you to my own work at www.drbonnette.com, a web site designed to present my book, Origin of the Human Species (Sapientia Press, second edition, 2005), but which also posts fully two articles on Genesis and the credibility of a literal Adam and Eve.

I realize that many people do not grasp the radical difference between mere sensory faculties and qualitatively superior intellectual ones. But this distinction is critical to the possession by true man of a spiritual soul, which makes him essentially superior to brute animals, qualifying him as a person and assuring his personal immortality. As Boethius defined the term in the early Christian Patristic period, "A person is a supposit (substance) of a rational nature." Thus, the defining characteristic of true man is, not his morphology, but his rational/intellective nature.

This would imply that Adam and Eve would be the first genuinely rational hominins, the first true human beings -- perhaps appearing around the early Middle Pleistocene period, about three-quarters of a million years ago. Part of the advantage of this scenario is that the cranial capacity of H. erectus in that time frame more closely resembles that of modern men today, while the overall anatomical structure of the erectus hominins is extremely close to ours today.

Alice Linsley said...

Dr. Bonnette,

Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I look forward to reading more at your site.

My point is that the essence of the Human has not changed. Whether Adam and Eve lived millions of years ago, which I don't believe is the case, or they are the First Parents of the peoples we know as Afro-Asiatics, they represent Humanity in the Bible.

Ramona Gordy said...

I believe that Adam and Eve were at once "real" people, and their lives were set for a pattern of a people, past, present and future. The pattern of a people who chose to obey God and all that entails. They are also set forth as a sign and a beginning of the blood line of the Savior.
I am fascinated by your research on the customs of the Horite's. Adam lived to be at least 900 years old and had many children. No record of how old Eve lived, do you suppose that Adam had other wives, in that Horite type of tradition?

Alice Linsley said...

Ramona,

Pattern is so important in proper understanding of the Genesis material. Adam and Eve are the pattern for every man and woman. We, like they, are made in the "image and likeness" of our Creator. In that humans are unique among all the creatures.

They are also the First Parents of the line of Jesus Christ and we trace that line by paying attention to the marriage pattern of the kings listed in Gen. 4, 5, 10 and 11. Analysis of their marriage and ascendancy structure reveals a pattern that remained unchanged from Cain and Seth to Jesus. It is the Horite pattern of Abraham's ancestors, Joktan the Elder, Seir the Horite (Gen. 36) Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, and Samuel.

Personally, I believe that the ages attributed to the pre-flood rulers come from a later time and source and reflect a Kabalistic interest in hidden meanings. It is interesting, however, to note the number nine in reference to Adam since that number was sacred to Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.

It would be speculating well beyond the biblical evidence to say that Adam had two wives, but there is a Talmudic tradition that suggests he did. The first wife was called Lilith and she was evil. However, like the Talmud, the myth of Lilith is also much later than the Genesis king lists, and the context is Babylonian, not Nilo-Saharan.

Ramona Gordy said...

Thank you Alice
That was very helpful, I had an impression today, just a thought as I was studying that record in Genesis. I will continue to explore it.

Alice Linsley said...

Ramona,

Please check Just Genesis on Friday, July 19. Your question is the focus of the post that day. You go, girl!

Dave said...

Ms. Linsley, do you believe that the first man was created from the dust of the earth and that the first woman was made from the rib of Adam. Please dumb down your answer for this poorly educated house painter. I love what you do. Thanks for being out there. Dave

Alice Linsley said...

Dave, I believe the first humans were created by God as fully human with reasoning, intelligence, speech, self-awareness, inventiveness, humor, wonder, memory, and the yearning to be in relationship with other humans and with the Creator. That said, I do not take the creation stories in Genesis 1-4:16 literally. The meaning of these stories is more profound than a literal reading grants. The meaning becomes evident only when we place these stories in their origin context, which is Nilo-Saharan. The question then is what is meant by "dust of the earth" in that context? The dust of that region ranged from red to reddish-brown to black. Perhaps we are being told that Abraham's ancestors were red and black. Today we know that there were red Nubians and black Nubians and the name of God - YHWH - originated among the Nubians. The woman being taken from the man suggests that she and the man are of one essence, one being, yet distinct. Remember that the archaic peoples used symbols to communicate such ideas and those symbols are now letters. Consider how M and W are a binary set. M symbolized stiffness and erectness and became the basis for the words Man and Mountain. W symbolized the opposite: fluidity and curves and became the basis for the words Woman and Water. This binary view of man-woman as a set, being of the same essence, is consistent with the worldview of peoples living in Sudan and the Nile Valley even today. You will find Janice Boddy's research on male and female circumcision in Sudan relevant to this. http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/03/circumcision-and-binary-distinctions.html

Linguistics, archaeology, anthropology, climate studies, DNA studies, and migration studies are useful in our efforts to understand Genesis. I'm been studying this material for over 30 years and I still don't understand it. What I DO understand is that the Biblical record IS reliable when we allow it to speak for itself, and not impose our modern assumptions on the text.