15 August 2011

Adam & Eve in the Abrahamic Traditions

Adam (Hebrew: אָדָם‎, ʼĀḏām, "dust; man; mankind"; Arabic: آدم‎, ʼĀdam) and Eve (Hebrew: חַוָּה‎, Ḥawwā, "living one") were, according to the Book of Genesis, the first man and woman created by YHWH (the God of the Hebrew Bible).

Genesis 1
God creates the universe in seven days, reserving for his sixth-day labor the climax of creation: man and woman. On the seventh day God rests and so establishes the holiness of the Sabbath.

Genesis 2
God fashions a man (Heb. adam, "man" or "mankind") from the dust (Heb. adamah) and blows the breath of life into his nostrils, then plants a garden (the Garden of Eden) and causes to grow in the middle of the garden the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. God sets the man in the garden "to work it and watch over it," permitting him to eat from all the trees in the garden except the Tree of Knowledge, "for on the day you eat of it you shall surely die." God brings the animals to the man for him to name. None of them 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, has multiple meanings; see the Textual Note, below). Describing her as "bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh," the man calls his new help-mate "woman" (Heb. ishshah), "for this one was taken from a man" (Heb. ish). This sundering, a making of two from one, predicates reunification in marriage, in which two will be made one: "On account of this a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his woman." The chapter ends by establishing the state of primeval innocence, noting that the man and woman were naked and not ashamed, and so provides the departure point for the subsequent narrative in which wisdom is gained through disobedience at severe cost.

Genesis 3
The Serpent, "slyer than every beast of the field," tempts the woman to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, telling her that it will make her more like God, and that it will not lead to death. After some thought about the fruit's beauty and succulence, and its ability to grant wisdom, the woman decides to eat it. She then gives the fruit to the man, who eats also, "and the eyes of the two of them were opened." Aware now of their nakedness, they make coverings of fig leaves, and hide from the sight of God. God asks them what they have done, and man and woman defer responsibility. The man blames the woman for giving him the fruit, but implies a sentiment that God is also at fault for making the woman in the first place ("The woman Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate"), while the woman blames the serpent for seducing her to disobedience ("The serpent beguiled me and I ate"). God curses the Serpent "above all animals," causing it to lose its legs and to become an eternal enemy of the human race. God then passes judgment for the disobedience of the man and woman, condemning the man to sustain life through hard labor and the woman to create new life through painful childbirth, and banishes them from the garden. The woman is given the name Eve (Heb. hawwah) "because she was the mother of all living [Heb. hay]," and Adam receives his name when the text drops the definite article from the word for "the man," changing "ha-adam" to "Adam". Eve/woman is also established as subordinate to Adam/man, ending utopian unity between the sexes. God then posts two cherubim, with flaming swords, at the entrance to the Garden of Eden in order to block the way to the Tree of Life, "lest he put out his hand ... and eat, and live forever."

Genesis 4 and 5
Genesis 4 tells of the birth of Cain and Abel, Adam & Eve's first children, while Genesis 5 gives Adam's genealogy past that. Adam & Eve are listed as having three children named Cain, Abel and Seth, then "other sons and daughters" (Genesis 5:4, NIV). Adam lived for 930 years.
"Let us make man..." (Genesis 1:26) - The plural "us" (and "our" in the phrase "in our image") is  traditionally interpreted as evidence for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. 
"...you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17) - Adam is told that if he eats of the forbidden tree the consequence will be moth tamuth, "die a death", indicating not merely death but emphatically so. As Adam does not in fact die immediately on eating the fruit, some exegetes have argued that it means "you shall die eventually," so that Adam and Eve would have had immortality in the Garden, but lost it by eating the forbidden fruit. Another explanation is that Adam will undergo "a spiritual death". The 2nd century Book of Jubilees (4:29–31) explained that "one day" is equivalent to a thousand years and thus Adam died within that same "day"; the Greek Septuagint, on the other hand, has "day" translated into the Greek word for a twenty-four hour period. 
Eve" (Genesis 3.20) - The Hebrew word for Eve is hawwah, deriving from a word for "life" or "living". "Eve" probably resulted from corruption of the Hebrew phonemes, roughly pronounced CHA-vah, as the stories of the ancient Israelites spread into Greece and Rome.
The Sibylline Oracles, dating from the centuries immediately around the time of Christ, explain the name Adam as a notaricon composed of the initials of the four directions; anatole (east), dusis (west), arktos (north), and mesembria (south). In the 2nd century, Rabbi Yohanan used the Greek technique of notarichon to explain the name אָדָם as the initials of the words afer, dam, and marah, being dust, blood, and gall.

According to the Torah (Genesis 2:7), Adam was formed from "dust from the earth"; in the Talmud(Tractate Sanhedrin 38b) of the first centuries of A.D. he is, more specifically, described as having initially been a golem kneaded from mud.

Even in ancient times, the presence of two distinct accounts of the creation of the first man (or couple) was noted. The first account says male and female [God] created them, 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 1, "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.

Genesis does not tell for how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, but the 2nd century BC Book of Jubilees, provides more specific information. It states (ch3 v17) that the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the 8th year after Adam's creation. It also states that they were removed from the garden on the new moon of the fourth month of that year (ch3 v33). Other Jewish sources assert that the period involved was less than a day.

According to traditional Jewish belief Adam and Eve are buried in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron.

The story of Adam and Eve forms the basis for the Christian doctrine of original sin: "Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned," said Paul of Tarsus in his Epistle to the Romans, although Chapter 3 of Genesis does not use the word "sin" and Genesis 3:24 makes clear that the couple are expelled "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever". St Augustine of Hippo (354–430), working with a Latin translation of the epistle, understood Paul to have said that Adam's sin was hereditary: "Death passed upon (i.e. spread to) all men because of Adam, [in whom] all sinned". Original sin, the concept that man is born in a condition of sinfulness and must await redemption, thus became a cornerstone of Western Christian theological tradition; the belief is not shared by Judaism or the Orthodox Christian churches, and has been dropped by some post-Reformation churches.

Over the centuries, Baptism has become 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. A Christian basis for this identification can be found in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 where Satan is called the "Old Serpent".

The Quran tells of آدم (ʾĀdam) in the surah al-Baqara (2):30-39, al-A'raf (7):11-25, al-Hijr (15):26-44, al-Isra (17):61-65, Ta-Ha (20):115-124, and Sad (38):71-85.

The Quran says that Adam initiated the fruit eating and that both Adam and Eve (Hawa) ate the forbidden fruit, for which God later forgave them, and then sent both of them down to earth as his representatives. The Hadith (the prophetic narrations) and literature shed light on the Muslim view of the first couple.

Islamic texts, which include The Qur'an and the books of Sunnah (Hadith), do not dramatically alter the story of Adam and Eve unlike other stories from the Bible. In particular, the Quran does not absolve Eve from the responsibility of leading Adam to commit the original sin by completely omitting the details of the legend as written in the Genesis. Quran simply blames both of them for the transgression. However, a saying of Prophet Mohammed narrated by Abu Hurrairah clearly designates Eve as the epitome of female betrayal, linking her to the original sin. “Narrated Abu Hurrairah: The Prophet said, ‘Were it not for Bani Israel, meat would not decay; and were it not for Eve, no woman would ever betray her husband.’" (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 611, Volume 55) An identical but more explicit version is found in the second most respected book of prophetic narrations, Sahih Muslim. “Abu Hurrairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (May peace be upon him) as saying: Had it not been for Eve, woman would have never acted unfaithfully towards her husband.” (Hadith 3471, Volume 8)

The early Islamic commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari adds a number of details to the Torah, based on hadith as well as specific Jewish traditions (so-called isra'iliyat). Tabari records that when it came time to create Adam, God sent Gabriel (Jibril), then Michael (Mika'il), to fetch clay from the earth; but the earth complained, saying I take refuge in God from you, if you have come to diminish or deform me, so the angels returned empty-handed. Tabari goes on to state that God responded by sending the Angel of Death, who took clay from all regions, hence providing an explanation for the variety of appearances of the different races of mankind.

According to Tabari's account, after receiving the breath of God, Adam remained a dry body for 40 days. Then gradually came to life from the head downwards. He came back to life saying "All praise be to God, the Lord of all beings." Having been created, Adam, the first man, is described as having been given domination over all the lower creatures, which he proceeds to name. As one of the people, to whom God have spoken directly. Adam is seen as a prophet in Islam.

At this point, Adam takes a prominent role in Islamic traditions concerning the fall of Satan, which is not recorded in the Torah, but in the Book of Enoch which is used in Oriental Orthodox churches. In these, when God announces his intention of creating Adam, some of the angels express dismay, asking why he would create a being that would do evil. Teaching Adam the names reassures the angels as to Adam's abilities, though commentators dispute which particular names were involved; various theories say they were the names of all things animate and inanimate, the names of the angels, the names of his own descendants, or the names of God.

When God orders the angels to bow to Adam one of those present, Satan, a Djinn, who said "why should I bow to man, I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil", refuses due to his pride, and is summarily banished from the Heavens. 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.

Eve is referred to in the Qur'an as Adam's spouse, and Islamic tradition refers to her by an etymologically similar name, حواء (Hawwāʾ) . It has been said in The Qur'an surah 4: Surah Al-Nisa' O! mankind ! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife Hawwa (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women; Thus the Quran (4:1) reveals that God created Eve from Adam. The Torah gives an etymology for woman, or rather the Hebrew equivalent (ish-shah), stating that she should be called woman since she was taken out of man (ish in Hebrew).

The Quran blames both Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit and as a punishment they were both banished from Heaven to the Earth. Muslims therefore interpret that this event does not pose a problem of women inferiority to men intrinsically. The concept of original sin doesn't exist in Islam. Adam and Eve were forgiven after they repented on Earth. A Prophetic Hadith recalls that after leaving Eden, Adam descended in India whereas Eve descended in Jeddah. They searched for each other, and finally found each other at the Plain of 'Arafat (near Mecca), which means recognition.

Al-Qummi records the opinion that Eden was not entirely earthly, and so, having been sent to earth, Adam and Eve first arrived at mountain peaks outside Mecca; Adam on Safa, and Eve on Marwa. In this Islamic tradition, Adam remained weeping for 40 days, until he repented, at which point God rewarded him by sending down the Black Stone, and teaching him the hajj.

The Qur'an also describes the two sons of Adam (named Qabil and Habil in Islamic tradition) that correspond to Cain and Abel.

Shi'a Muslims believe that Adam is buried next to Ali, within Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.

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 the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a fig tree, and since fig leaves were actually mentioned in Genesis as being used to cover Adam and Eve's nudity.

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