Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview
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Part 1

EVE—THE MOTHER OF US ALL

Introduction

Eve stands as a pivotal figure for women interpreters of the Bible not only because the biblical creation story presents her as the first woman in history, but also because historically she was the best known woman of the Old Testament. When nineteenth-century women wrote about Eve, they faced a complex history of interpretation that included Christian art, theology, and literature. In telling the story of Eve, these women were not simply retelling the story found in Genesis 2, 3, and 4. They had a pre-understanding of the text based on the history of interpretation and their own experiences. They interacted with the traditional understandings of these texts, either by reinforcing, challenging, or overturning them.

The creation account in Genesis 1:26–29 describes the creation of human beings, both male and female. Genesis 2 focuses specifically on the creation of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:20–25, Adam named all the creatures, but no helper was found for him. So God created a woman out of his rib and brought her to him. Adam identified her as "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" and named her woman. Genesis 3 recounts the temptation story and Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The serpent approached Eve and asked "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Eve entered into dialogue with the serpent and when she "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." God appeared in the Garden, and addressed, then judged the man, woman, and serpent. Following upon God's judgment, Adam named his wife Eve, "the mother of all the living." God then expelled them from the Garden of Eden. Genesis 4 contains the

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