The Mother of All Living
and We Her Children
In Western tradition, the symbolization of woman as evil is usually traced back to the primeval person of Eve.1 In the words of the ancient sage Sirach, "From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die" (Sir 25:24).2 The all-too-familiar injunction of 1 Tim 2:11–15 directs the silencing and submission of women to men because "Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty." Nevertheless, according to Tertullian, Eve, the mother of all living, is not saved by childbearing. As the devil's gateway (Cultu fern. 1.1), Eve's first child becomes a demon's offspring: "Let no one say that Eve conceived nothing in her womb at the devil's word. The devil's word was the seed for her so that afterward she should give birth as an outcast and bring forth in sorrow. In fact she gave birth to a devil who murdered his brother; while Mary bore one who with time would bring salvation to Israel" (De Came Christ 17).
Except for Genesis, the Hebrew Bible contains no other speculation on Eve.3 In this chapter I focus on the Yahwist's portrayal of Eve in Genesis 2–3, since it is chiefly the Yahwist's narrative that triggers subsequent symbolizations of Eve as the origin of evil.4 In my extrinsic analysis of Genesis 2–3, I first discuss the dating of the Yahwist (or J) during the monarchical period of Israelite history, with its change in mode of production. I then show that a slow but conscious effort