Adam and Eve

Linda Schearing

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online December 2011 | | DOI:
Adam and Eve


The figures of Adam and Eve are ubiquitous in Western civilization. Their story is a story of origins. But stories of origins are never just about the past. Readers and listeners mine them for clues about life, human nature, and God. From gender roles to genetic engineering—all have fallen under the purview of Genesis 2–3. Oddly, neither the Hebrew Bible nor the New Testament gives much space to Adam and Eve. The Hebrew term for “man” occurs with the definite article in Genesis 2:7 and means “the earthling,” for out of the “earth” he was taken. It is not really until Genesis 5 that the term signifies a proper name: “Adam.” Moreover, the female character in Genesis 2–3 is simply called “woman” until Genesis 3:20 where she is named “Eve” by the man. Outside of the narratives found in Genesis 2:4b–3:25, the birth of their sons in Genesis 4, and the genealogy in Genesis 5:1–5, the Hebrew Bible barely mentions this first couple. Key passages in the New Testament that refer to Adam are Romans 5:12–21; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45–49; and 1 Timothy 2:13–14. Key references to Eve can be found in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:11–15. Yet in spite of this lack of literary development in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Adam and Eve’s story evoked a frenzy of interpretation. Over more than two thousand years and across three world religions, the “meaning” of their story has challenged readers, sparked debates among theologians, and inspired poets, writers, and artists.

Article.  10248 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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