“And the Lord God cast a deep slumber on the human, and he slept, and He took one of his ribs and closed over the flesh where it had been, and the Lord God built the rib he had taken from the human into a woman…” (Genesis 2, translated by Robert Alter directly from the Hebrew)
I am disinclined to write further about the literal interpretation of Genesis in the newspaper; it only seems to draw letters from readers who are either unfamiliar with the evidence or determined to reject it on ideological grounds. So I quote this passage here because it is interesting to speculate with you on the truth which inspired the narrative.
Since sexual evolution has existed for many millions of years, and is of course directly evident in our hominid forebears, it would seem strange indeed for God to have decided to create the female of home sapiens in such a remarkable way. Presumably Eve would have been a near-clone of Adam (a near-clone because she would have had a full set of x chromosomes rather than the denatured y chromosome left in Adam). I can see some real genetic problems here, and these would presumably have caused further difficulties in their immediate descendants.
We are familiar with the King James’ translation “help meet for him”, as the reason for creating Eve, but Alter chooses “sustainer.” The Hebrew is ‘ezer kenegdo. ‘ezer means “active intervention” and kenegdo may best be translated as “counterpart”. Aquinas thought that the conception of woman was a happy accident of God’s providence, but an accident nevertheless. What is the Hebrew for Vive la différence?
So the original does not seem to have any overtones of male superiority, and Genesis1 says quite simply “male and female” he created them. Perhaps this equality is all the more significant because Scripture was written, and so reflects, patriarchal times. Should we place any significance on the fact that the male is mentioned first? Does the way in which Jesus treated men and women have a bearing on our understanding?
It leaves me in a quandary. When I was married, over 50 years ago, my wife promised to obey me. Since this promise no longer has to be made she takes the view that her undertaking has been nullified. Of course I disagree. Not that the question has any practical relevance. We discovered who was boss years ago.
(A note. This piece was temporarily published before I spotted a typo at the top. I had written “one of his fibs”. I was tempted to leave it for someone to spot…)