Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve, according to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman and the ancestors of all humans. The story of Adam and Eve is central to the belief that God created human beings in the Garden of Eden, although they fell away from that state into the present world full of death, wickedness, pain and suffering. It provides the basis for the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone descended from a single pair of original ancestors. It also provides much of the scriptural basis for the doctrines of the fall of man and original sin that are important beliefs in Christianity, but which are not generally held in Judaism or Islam.
In the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, chapters one through five, there are two creation narratives with two distinct perspectives. In the first, Adam and Eve are not mentioned (at least not mentioned by name). Instead, God created humankind in God's image and instructed them to multiply and to be stewards over everything else that God had made. In the second narrative, God fashions Adam from dust and places him in the Garden of Eden. Adam is told that he can till the ground and eat freely of all the trees in the garden, except for a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Subsequently, Eve is created from one of Adam's ribs to be Adam's companion. They are innocent and unembarrassed about their nakedness. However, a serpent deceives Eve into eating fruit from the forbidden tree, and she gives some of the fruit to Adam. These acts give them additional knowledge, but it gives them the ability to conjure negative and destructive concepts such as shame and evil. God later curses the serpent and the ground. God prophetically tells the woman and the man what will be the consequences of their sin of disobeying God. Then he banishes them from the Garden of Eden.
The story underwent extensive elaboration in later Abrahamic traditions, and it has been extensively analyzed by modern biblical scholars. Interpretations and beliefs regarding Adam and Eve and the story revolving around them vary across religions and sects; for example, the Islamic version of the story holds that Adam and Eve were equally responsible for their sins of hubris, instead of Eve being the first one to be unfaithful. The story of Adam and Eve is often depicted in art, and it has had an important influence in literature and poetry. The story of the fall of Adam is often understood to be an allegory.
There is no physical evidence that Adam and Eve ever literally existed, and their literal existence is incompatible with human evolutionary genetics. However, there is in some countries a large discrepancy between the scientific consensus and popular opinion; a 2014 poll reports that 56% of Americans believe that "Adam and Eve were real people", and 44% believe so with strong or absolute certainty.
Creation of man
In the Book of Genesis, the Genesis creation narrative tells of the creation of the first humans, humankind, in Genesis 1:26–30 as male and female. According to the Documentary hypothesis of the Genesis creation narrative, there are two stories that derive from independent sources: a Priestly source (P) (sixth-fifth centuries BCE) in Genesis 1:1–2:4a and in Genesis 5; and an older Jahwist (J) or Jahwist-Elohist (J-E) (tenth-ninth centuries BCE) in Genesis 2:4b-25. Scholars recognize two separate accounts of the creation in the Old Testament.:15; In the Priestly narrative (Genesis 1:1-2:4a), God creates the world in six days, culminating in the creation of humanity, then rests on the seventh day. Here, in the Priestly narrative, the emphasis is on the entirety of the universe and its creation. In an older Jahwist or Jahwist-Elohist sources (tenth-ninth centuries BCE) in Genesis 2:4b-25, also known as the "subordinating (of woman) account", Yahweh fashions a man (Heb. adam, "man" or "mankind", Genesis 2:4–7, from the dust (Heb. adamah) and blows the breath of life into his nostrils. Here, in the Jahwist narrative, the emphasis is on the Earth within the universe, and humankind's residence on the Earth. Contrast, for example, the order of terms in Genesis 1:1 where it says that God made the "heavens and the Earth" with Genesis 2:4 where it says "God made the Earth and the heavens".:15
In the Jahwist version of the story, God places the man in a garden in Eden where he is permitted to till the land and tend the garden and animals, Genesis 2:8–15. God also places a tree in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and God prohibits the man from eating the fruit of this tree, warning him that he would die if he ate the fruit Genesis 2:17. But none of the animals are found to be a suitable companion for the man, so God causes the man to sleep and creates a woman from a part of his body (English-language tradition describes the part as a rib, but the Hebrew word tsela, from which this interpretation is derived, having multiple meanings, could also mean "side"). The woman is established as subordinate to the man, as the impetus for her creation is to serve the needs of the man by being his "helpmate" and to ensure that he not "be alone", Genesis 2:18. However, some argue for a translation of the Hebrew ezer as "companion," as used elsewhere in the Bible; under that reading, the hierarchical relationship is not manifest in the original text but rather a result of mistranslation.
The man describes the woman in Genesis 2:23 as "bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh", and he calls his new partner "woman" (Heb. ishshah), "for this one was taken from a man" (Heb. ish). The chapter ends by establishing the state of primeval innocence, noting that the man and woman were "naked and not ashamed", Genesis 2:25, and so provides the departure point for the subsequent narrative in which wisdom is gained through disobedience at severe cost.
The Fall and expulsion from Eden
The Adam and Eve story continues in Genesis 3 with the "expulsion from Eden" narrative. A form analysis of Genesis 3 reveals that this portion of the story can be characterized as a parable or "wisdom tale" in the wisdom tradition. The poetic addresses of the chapter belong to a speculative type of wisdom that questions the paradoxes and harsh realities of life. This characterization is determined by the narrative's format, settings, and the plot. The form of Genesis 3 is also shaped by its vocabulary, making use of various puns and double entendres. The chapter is said to date to around 900s BCE during the reigns of King David or Solomon. The documentary hypothesis for this narrative portion can be attributed to Yahwist (J), due to the use of the tetragrammaton.
The expulsion from Eden narrative begins with a dialogue between the woman and a serpent, identified in Genesis 3:1 as an animal that was more crafty than any other animal made by God, although Genesis does not identify the serpent with Satan.:16 The woman is willing to talk to the serpent and respond to the creature's cynicism by repeating God's prohibition against eating fruit from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:17). The woman is lured into dialogue on the serpent's terms which directly disputes God's command. The serpent assures the woman that God will not let her die if she ate the fruit, and, furthermore, that if she ate the fruit, her "eyes would be opened" and she would "be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). The woman sees that the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a delight to the eye and that it would be desirable to acquire wisdom by eating the fruit. The woman eats the fruit and gives some to the man (Genesis 3:6). With this the man and woman recognize their own nakedness, and they make loincloths of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).
In the next narrative dialogue, God questions the man and the woman (Genesis 3:8–13), and God initiates a dialogue by calling out to the man with a rhetorical question designed to consider his wrongdoing. The man explains that he hid in the garden out of fear because he realized his own nakedness (Genesis 3:10). This is followed by two more rhetorical questions designed to show awareness of a defiance of God's command. The man then points to the woman as the real offender, and he implies that God is responsible for the tragedy because the woman was given to him by God (Genesis 3:12). God challenges the woman to explain herself, whereby she shifts the blame to the serpent (Genesis 3:13).
Divine pronouncement of three judgments are then laid against all the culprits, Genesis 3:14–19. A judgement oracle and the nature of the crime is first laid upon the serpent, then the woman, and, finally, the man. On the serpent, God places a divine curse. The woman receives penalties that impact her in two primary roles: she shall experience pangs during childbearing, pain during childbirth, and while she shall desire her husband, he will rule over her. The man's penalty results in God cursing the ground from which he came, and the man then receives a death oracle, although the man has not been described, in the text, as immortal.:18; Abruptly, in the flow of text, in Genesis 3:20, the man names the woman "Eve", (Heb. hawwah) "because she was the mother of all living" and Adam receives his name "the man", changing from "eth-ha'adham", before the fall to "ha'Adham" (with article/command), to Adam after the fall (disobedience). God makes skin garments for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20).
The chiasmus structure of the death oracle given to Adam in Genesis 3:19, is a link between man's creation from "dust" (Genesis 2:7) to the "return" of his beginnings:" you return, to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are, and to dust, you will return."
The garden account ends with an intradivine monologue, determining the couple's expulsion, and the execution of that deliberation (Genesis 3:22–24}. The reason given for the expulsion was to prevent the man from eating from the tree of life and becoming immortal: "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" (Genesis 3:22).:18; God exiles Adam and Eve from the Garden and installs cherubs (supernatural beings that provide protection) and the "ever-turning sword" to guard the entrance (Genesis 3:24).
Genesis 4 tells of the birth of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve's first children, while Genesis 5 gives Adam's genealogy past that. Adam and Eve are listed as having three children, Cain, Abel and Seth, then "other sons and daughters", Genesis 5:4. According to the Book of Jubilees (which is usually not considered canonical), Cain married his sister Awan, a daughter of Adam and Eve.
In other works
Certain concepts, such as the serpent being identified as Satan, Eve being a sexual temptation, or Adam's first wife being Lilith, come from literary works found in various Jewish apocrypha, but they are not found anywhere in the Book of Genesis or the Torah itself. Writings dealing with these subjects are extant literature in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Armenian, and Arabic, extending back to ancient Jewish thought. The concepts are not part of Rabbinic Judaism, but they did influence Christian theology, and this marks a radical split between the two religions. Some of the oldest Jewish portions of apocrypha are called Primary Adam Literature where some works became Christianized. Examples of Christianized works are Life of Adam and Eve, Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan and an original Syriac work entitled Cave of Treasures which has close affinities to the Conflict as noted by August Dillmann.
Some modern scholars, such as James Barr, Moshe Greenberg, and Michael Fishbane, see the story of Adam and Eve as a representation of a rise to moral agency, at least as much as, if not more than the story of a fall from grace. Carol Meyers and Bruce Naidoff view the tale as an explanation of agricultural conditions in the highlands of Canaan.
It was also recognized in ancient Judaism, that there are two distinct accounts for the creation of man. The first account says "male and female [God] created them", implying simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve subsequent to the creation of Adam. The Midrash Rabbah – Genesis VIII:1 reconciled the two by stating that Genesis one, "male and female He created them", indicates that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite, bodily and spiritually both male and female, before creating the separate beings of Adam and Eve. Other rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals, the first being identified as Lilith, a figure elsewhere described as a night demon.
In Reform Judaism, Harry Orlinsky analyzes the Hebrew word nefesh in Genesis 2:7 where "God breathes into the man's nostrils and he becomes nefesh hayya." Orlinksy argues that the earlier translation of the phrase "living soul" is incorrect. He points out that "nefesh" signifies something like the English word "being", in the sense of a corporeal body capable of life; the concept of a "soul" in the modern sense, did not exist in Hebrew thought until around the 2nd century B.C., when the idea of a bodily resurrection gained popularity.
Some early fathers of the Christian church held Eve responsible for the Fall of man and all subsequent women to be the first sinners because Eve tempted Adam to commit the taboo. "You are the devil's gateway" Tertullian told his female listeners in the early 2nd century, and went on to explain that they were responsible for the death of Christ: "On account of your desert [i.e., punishment for sin, that is, death], even the Son of God had to die." In 1486, the Dominicans Kramer and Sprengler used similar tracts in Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of Witches") to justify the persecution of "witches".
Medieval Christian art often depicted the Edenic Serpent as a woman (often identified as Lilith), thus both emphasizing the Serpent's seductiveness as well as its relationship to Eve. Several early Church Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea, interpreted the Hebrew "Heva" as not only the name of Eve, but in its aspirated form as "female serpent."
Based on the Christian doctrine of the Fall of man, came the doctrine of original sin. St Augustine of Hippo (354–430), working with a Latin translation of the Epistle to the Romans, interpreted the Apostle Paul as having said that Adam's sin was hereditary: "Death passed upon [i.e., spread to] all men because of Adam, [in whom] all sinned", Romans 5:12 Original sin became a concept that man is born into a condition of sinfulness and must await redemption. This doctrine became a cornerstone of Western Christian theological tradition, however, not shared by Judaism or the Orthodox churches.
Over the centuries, a system of unique Christian beliefs had developed from these doctrines. Baptism became understood as a washing away of the stain of hereditary sin in many churches, although its original symbolism was apparently rebirth. Additionally, the serpent that tempted Eve was interpreted to have been Satan, or that Satan was using a serpent as a mouthpiece, although there is no mention of this identification in the Torah and it is not held in Judaism.
Conservative Protestants typically interpret Genesis 3 as defining humanity's original parents as Adam and Eve who disobeyed God's prime directive that they were not to eat "the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (NIV). When they disobeyed, they committed a major transgression against God and were immediately punished, which led to "the fall" of humanity. Thus, sin and death entered the universe for the first time. Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, never to return.
In Islam, Adam (Ādam; Arabic: آدم), whose role is being the father of humanity, is looked upon by Muslims with reverence. Eve (Ḥawwāʼ; Arabic: حواء ) is the "mother of humanity." The creation of Adam and Eve is referred to in the Qurʼān, although different Qurʼanic interpreters give different views on the actual creation story (Qurʼan, Surat al-Nisaʼ, verse 1).
In al-Qummi's tafsir on the Garden of Eden, such place was not entirely earthly. According to the Qurʼān, both Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in a Heavenly Eden (See also Jannah). As a result, they were both sent down to Earth as God's representatives. Each person was sent to a mountain peak: Adam on al-Safa, and Eve on al-Marwah. In this Islamic tradition, Adam wept 40 days until he repented, after which God sent down the Black Stone, teaching him the Hajj. According to a prophetic hadith, Adam and Eve reunited in the plain of ʻArafat, near Mecca. They had two sons together, Qabil and Habil. There is also a legend of a younger son, named Rocail, who created a palace and sepulcher containing autonomous statues that lived out the lives of men so realistically they were mistaken for having souls.
The concept of "original sin" does not exist in Islam, because according to Islam Adam and Eve were forgiven by God. When God orders the angels to bow to Adam, Iblīs questioned, "Why should I bow to man? I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil." The liberal movements within Islam have viewed God's commanding the angels to bow before Adam as an exaltation of humanity, and as a means of supporting human rights; others view it as an act of showing Adam that the biggest enemy of humans on earth will be their ego.
Gnostic Christianity discussed Adam and Eve in two known surviving texts, namely the "Apocalypse of Adam" found in the Nag Hammadi documents and the "Testament of Adam". The creation of Adam as Protoanthropos, the original man, is the focal concept of these writings.
Another Gnostic tradition held that Adam and Eve were created to help defeat Satan. The serpent, instead of being identified with Satan, is seen as a hero by the Ophites. Still other Gnostics believed that Satan's fall, however, came after the creation of humanity. As in Islamic tradition, this story says that Satan refused to bow to Adam due to pride. Satan said that Adam was inferior to him as he was made of fire, whereas Adam was made of clay. This refusal led to the fall of Satan recorded in works such as the Book of Enoch.
In the Bahá'í Faith, the Adam and Eve narrative is seen as symbolic. In Some Answered Questions, 'Abdu'l-Bahá rejects a literal reading and states that the story contains "divine mysteries and universal meanings". Adam symbolizes the "heavenly spirit", Eve symbolizes the "human soul", the Tree of Knowledge symbolizes "the human world", and the serpent symbolizes "attachment to the human world". The fall of Adam thus represents the way humanity became conscious of good and evil.
Dating Adam and Eve
The Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) contains an internal Anno Mundi chronology, meaning one which commences with the creation of the world. Adam and Eve are created on the sixth day of the first year of creation, i.e., in AM 1. Many attempts have been made over many centuries to identify AM 1 with real history, but the authors of the Bible were describing a mythical past which ended with the rededication of the Temple in 164 BCE – history, according to the mythical scheme adopted, began an ideal four thousand years in the past.
The story of Adam and Eve contradicts the scientific consensus that humans evolved from earlier species of hominids and is incompatible with human evolutionary genetics; in particular, if all humans descended from two individuals that lived several thousand years ago, the observed variation would require an impossibly high mutation rate. This entails a lower bound on the size of the ancestral group, currently thought to be of the order of 10,000 individuals.
Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve
The names Adam and Eve are used metaphorically in a scientific context to designate the patrilineal and matrilineal most recent common ancestors, the Y-chromosomal Adam and the Mitochondrial Eve. Those are not fixed individuals, nor is there any reason to assume that they lived at the same time, let alone that they met or formed a couple. A recent study on the subject estimates that the Y-chromosomal Adam lived in prehistory 120 to 156 thousand years ago, while the Mitochondrial Eve lived 99 to 148 thousand years ago.  Another recent study places the Y-chromosomal Adam 180 to 200 thousand years ago.
Impact on religion
The evidence against Adam and Eve existing has caused many Christians to move away from a literal interpretation and belief in the Genesis creation narrative to an allegorical approach, while others continue to believe in what they see as fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. In particular the evidence for their non-existence casts doubt on original sin and the origin and nature of evil.
Arts and literature
Adam and Eve were used by early Renaissance artists as a theme to represent female and male nudes. Later, the nudity was objected to by more modest elements, and fig leaves were added to the older pictures and sculptures, covering their genitals. The choice of the fig was a result of Mediterranean traditions identifying the unnamed Tree of Knowledge as a fig tree, and since fig leaves were actually mentioned in Genesis as being used to cover Adam and Eve's nudity.
Treating the concept of Adam and Eve as the historical truth introduces some logical dilemmas. One such dilemma is whether they should be depicted with navels (the Omphalos theory). Since they did not develop in a uterus, they would not have been connected to an umbilical cord like all other humans. Paintings without navels looked unnatural and some artists obscure that area of their bodies, sometimes by depicting them covering up that area of their body with their hand or some other intervening object.
John Milton's Paradise Lost, a famous 17th-century epic poem written in blank verse, explores and elaborates upon the story of Adam and Eve in great detail. As opposed to the Biblical Adam, Milton's Adam is given a glimpse of the future of mankind, by the archangel Michael, before he has to leave Paradise.
C. L. Moore's 1940 story Fruit of Knowledge is a re-telling of the Fall of Man as a love triangle between Lilith, Adam and Eve – with Eve's eating the forbidden fruit being in this version the result of misguided manipulations by the jealous Lilith, who had hoped to get her rival discredited and destroyed by God and thus regain Adam's love.
In Stephen Schwartz's musical Children of Eden, "Father" (God) creates Adam and Eve at the same time and considers them His children. They even assist Him in naming the animals. When Eve is tempted by the serpent and eats the forbidden fruit, Father makes Adam choose between Him and Eden, or Eve. Adam chooses Eve and eats the fruit, causing Father to banish them into the wilderness and destroying the Tree of Knowledge, from which Adam carves a staff. Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel, and Adam forbids his children from going beyond the waterfall in hopes Father will forgive them and bring them back to Eden. When Cain and Abel grow up, Cain breaks his promise and goes beyond the waterfall, finding the giant stones made by other humans, which he brings the family to see, and Adam reveals his discovery from the past: during their infancy, he discovered these humans, but had kept it secret. He tries to forbid Cain from seeking them out, which causes Cain to become enraged and he tries to attack Adam, but instead turns his rage to Abel when he tries to stop him and kills him. Later, when an elderly Eve tries to speak to Father, she tells how Adam continually looked for Cain, and after many years, he dies and is buried underneath the waterfall. Eve also gave birth to Seth, which expanded hers and Adam's generations. Finally, Father speaks to her to bring her home. Before she dies, she gives her blessings to all her future generations, and passes Adam's staff to Seth. Father embraces Eve and she also reunited with Adam and Abel. Smaller casts of the American version usually have the actors cast as Adam and Eve double as Noah and Mama Noah.
In C.S.Lewis' Science Fiction novel "Perelandra", the story of Adam and Eve is re-enacted on the Planet Venus - but with a different ending. A green-skinned pair, who are destined to be the ancestors of Venusian humanity, are living in naked innocence on wonderful floating islands which are the Venusian Eden; a demonically-possessed Earth scientist arrives in a spaceship, acting the part of the snake and trying to tempt the Venusian Eve into disobeying God; but the protagonist, Cambridge scholar Ransom, succeeds in thwarting him - so that Venusian humanity will have a glorious future, free of Original Sin.
The Woman, the Man, and the Serpent by Byam Shaw
Adam and Eve by Titian
Eve giving Adam the forbidden fruit, by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Adam and Eve from a copy of the Falnama (Book of Omens) ascribed to Ja´far al-Sadiq, ca. 1550, Safavid dynasty, Iran
Detail of a stained glass window (12th century) in Saint-Julien cathedral - Le Mans, France
Adam & Eve, illuminated manuscript circa 950, Escorial Beatus
Adam and Eve by Maarten van Heemskerck
Early Christian depiction of Adam and Eve in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter
Adam and Eve Driven From Paradise by James Tissot
- Adam and Eve (LDS Church)
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- Generations of Adam
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Creation myths are symbolic stories describing how the universe and its inhabitants came to be. Creation myths develop through oral traditions and therefore typically have multiple versions.
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- Exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas
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- Sykes, Bryan. The Seven Daughters of Eve
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