Genesis and Gender: Biblical Myths of Sexuality and Their Cultural Impact

By William E. Phipps | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
The Fall and Woman

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATIONS

"Fall," as used in Christian theology, conveys the idea of a precipitous plunge into the abyss of damnation. Humans are presumed to be like the fallen Humpty Dumpty, who cannot become a whole egg again and develop into a mature bird despite the massive efforts of royal horses and men. The Fall of the first humans is irreparable so their descendants cannot ascend from depravity to innocence.

This image of the Fall, and the "Sinned we all" rhyme, is etched so indelibly in the Christian's psyche that most commentaries interpret Genesis 3 as the story of mankind's Fall. As commonly assumed, the necessity of a God-man savior is predicated upon the Fall of a woman and then the Fall of her spouse. However, Hebrew or Greek words translatable as fall do not occur in the Bible in reference to Adam and Eve. There is no foundation in the Garden of Eden story for doctrines of original sin, inherited guilt, or total depravity which allegedly infect all humans. What then has given rise to this basic belief among most Christians?

As we have noted, the Eden story is about the human misuse of moral freedom and the consequential penalties. Yahweh gives the man a life sentence at hard labor on marginal farmland; the woman is given pain in childbirth and domination by her husband. Such suffering is no more part of divine

-51-

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Genesis and Gender: Biblical Myths of Sexuality and Their Cultural Impact
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction: the Purpose of Myths xi
  • Chapter 1 Androgyny in Myths 1
  • Chapter 2 A Bone of Contention 19
  • Chapter 3 Eve and Pandora 37
  • Chapter 4 The Fall and Woman 51
  • Chapter 5 Jesus and Creation 67
  • Chapter 6 Paradise Continued 87
  • Notes 103
  • Selected Bibliography 121
  • Index 123
  • About the Author 127
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