“Adam and Eve and Pinchmetight went down to the river to bathe. Adam and Eve were drowned, who do you think was saved?”
We all know the rhyme, but I was interested in the treatment of Adam and Eve in Radio Replies.*
This presents a literal story as it is described in the Bible. It answers questions about how the human race started and bred — notwithstanding only having a single couple as the source.
Of course, some other long-term religions start of with a story as literal belief, but do you take Adam and Eve as simply an illustration of the fundaments of Judaism, and eventually Christianity? Or, do you believe that the biblical story is history?
With or without Adam and Eve, we accept that we are created by God, and that we have an inherent tendency to evil choices. But we know that other Homo species with various characteristics and systems preceded us. The remains of some early species appear to have some sort of value systems. However, our human moral system cannot, I think, be fully explained by material genetic elements.
x x x
*Radio Replies came in three volumes, 1940. It was a splendid description of Catholic teaching, presented in questions and answers. I understand that a special briefer version is available via Amazon, but I happen to have the originals. It was invaluable when, as a young man, I spoke to the passing crowd in Leicester Square and Hyde Park, teaching the nature of Catholicism. I keep it in the loo as a convenience
Quentin writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/11/14/pinchmetight/ ) :
// Of course, some other long-term religions start of with a story as literal belief, but do you take Adam and Eve as simply an illustration of the fundaments of Judaism, and eventually Christianity? Or, do you believe that the biblical story is history? //
Neither. It may be literally true and it may be something else. I incline toward “something else”, but there are far more things in heaven and on earth than I can imagine.
// However, our human moral system cannot, I think, be fully explained by material genetic elements. //
Yes, natural science observes what man can observe and draws provisional conclusions. No more.
I’m still learning about human nature by watching my grand-children. We’ve just had two of them to look after for a day. The youngest is just 12 months – at 3 months she would cry if she was hungry, tired, in need of a nappy change or just wanted to be held – just basics. At 12 months she cries if you don’t let her play with a toy or try to get here to eat something she doesn’t like (or if her elder sister has food that looks more interesting).
The just 4 year old knows how to get grandpa to do what she wants, she reminds me of whatever I said she could do “next time”, she knows she is manipulating me into buying her another episode of Paw Patrol. Within bounds, I humour her but have now learned to hide my iPad (it’s a window onto a world with far too few controls).
My point, human nature is there from the very beginning, differentiating self from others is the first step and some sort of selfishness inevitably develops from that, and selfishness is the root of all that we call sin,
As Chesterton put it ‘Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.”
Just delightful to read this piece of reflection – and very insightful too!
It suggests more of Wordsworth to me rather than Chestertonm when I read it.
In my opinion if it could be proved, it would not be theology!
But certainly “the child is the father of the man”.
Our literal interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve has brought with it great harm.
Harm that has constituted the basis and structure of our culture in the West.
As such, not only has if given foundation to a very toxic patriarchy but it has been the source of an instinctive misogyny that flourishes in all our Western institutions.
The fact is, these great overarching, origin-myths of Hellenistic Judaeo Christianity, can only yield any true religious meaning within and because of the Christ event.
This is not to dismiss the value of the ancient and still living religion to which Jesus belongs.
But Eve and Adam can only make sense, for us in light of Jesus of Nazareth. As the once historical figure, Jesus is now the new humanity whose formation is alluded to in the Eve and Adam story.
In our attempt to describe our need for completion as human beings, our fulfilment as children of God, Our Father, we can only fantasize about the terms of our spiritual inadequacy. And to do this, we came up with our “first parents”.
Jesus makes no mention of Eve and Adam. And for good reason.
The purpose of that myth is merely to point to our need for Jesus. In Him, the ongoing and ever enhancing creation of humanity unfolds in the truth that is his life and death and resurrection and ascension. And it keeps on evolving.
But like all our stories we don’t like to knock them.
But, Santa Claus and tooth fairies do harm us if we absolutely and religiously and devotedly refuse to let go of them in order to see them for what they really are.
Although I see your point, it is interesting that St. Paul lays such great emphasis on Adam as the source of sin and Jesus as the remedy. As I understand it, it was not until Augustine that this gained the status of dogma.
When I was a child, a devout Irish aunt assured me that men have one less rib than women because Eve was made from Adam’s rib. I never thought to raise the issue when I eventally did a bit of biology at secondary school.
I think Paul is a very good example to mention – as a devout Jewish teacher he would have made great use of the story of Adam and Eve in so far as it was understood in his culture.
Along the same lines as your Aunt’s reference to the spare rib I often wonder if Jesus himself is not so well served in the description of His temptations.
Perhaps we are inclined to see his struggle a bit like Adam’s and therefore only as a once off, before He goes off into the desert.
The fact of His incarnation must mean that Jesus would have been the subject of temptation in every way during the course of his entire life right up to his death.
I like to think so.
A quick thought on searching radioreplies.info. The search capabilities of that site seem a little lacking. There is a way around that. In the google search window, type, for example:
“adam and eve” site:radioreplies.info
“Our literal interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve has brought with it great harm.
Harm that has constituted the basis and structure of our culture in the West.
As such, not only has if given foundation to a very toxic patriarchy but it has been the source of an instinctive misogyny that flourishes in all our Western institutions.”
Oh, really? Just out of curiosity how do you intend to validate these assertions? Sorry but sometimes these daydreamings of yours seem just that. In fact the strict literal account gives no indication of fault to either the man or the woman, its the serpent that gets the blame. Patriarchy exists quite happily in cultures all over the world without much need for a bible story to encourage it
Pamela Milne, describes the Genesis story of Eve and Adam as having a “profoundly negative impact on women throughout history
“…. For a least 2,000 years it has been interpreted in patriarchal and even misogynist ways by male biblical scholars and theologians”.
Eve has been depicted as subordinate and inferior to Adam (presumably as she is seen as coming from the man’s spare rib!)
As well as being seen as weak, seductive and evil, Eve is described as being the cause of Adam’s sin of disobedience.
And the impact of this prevailing Patriarchy/Misogyny is clear as early as I Timothy where women are prohibited from speaking in assemblies of Christians.
Not too much further into our tradition we hear Tertullian teaching that all women “the devil’s gateway.” *All women* mind you. Nor is he alone among the Fathers.
St Thomas Aquinas extends the argument later in the 13th century, claiming that women were defective by nature referring to them as “misbegotten males”.
The consequence of such thinking can be seen in works like the Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer Against Witches”).
This 15th-century document, which draws heavily on Genesis 3, which provided the Inquisition its principal theological justification for persecuting women as witches.
Milne is only one of many who have produced scholarly research on the topic, she is an associate professor of Hebrew Bible Studies at the University of Windsor (Ontario).
And I feel grateful to such people for the critical analysis that can only enhance our knowledge of who we are as Catholics and how we got to where we are now in our culture.
It’s a good starting point for exploring what is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching and what is mere cultural baggage.
So even from your own discussion above it is plain that there is much nuance in your use of term ‘literal’ What you have described above is a particular interpretation derived not so much from one source but from the surrounding culture and ambience of the age.
“Instinctive mysogyny” is a product of sin but its nowhere near that simple:.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be as drunk on their own blood as on new wine” (Isa. 49:25-26) Destruction of one’s own flesh echoes our favourite topic.
“The remains of some early species appear to have some sort of value systems. However, our human moral system cannot, I think, be fully explained by material genetic elements.”
Other species today appear to have some value systems. Self sacrifice (including giving up their lives for others), a sense of fairness and equity and apparently an appreciation of its impact on others, systems of punishment and acts of forgiveness. The dividing line in terms of how species behave looks like it could be as clear as the dividing line between hills and mountains to me (or that between different species for that matter). In terms of explanations I don’t think I could begin to separate them without knowing much more.
If Galerimo were to take his ‘wokery’ any further he would have to repudiate Genesis 1:27 where it states ‘male and female He created them’ or risk being vilified and cancelled by the ‘trans’ lobby.
At the risk of letting facts spoil a good feminist rant I would point out the following:
1. The early modern witch-craze was almost unknown in Spain, because the Inquisition, whose members were trained lawyers, were sceptical of popular superstition and did not give credence to village gossip.
2. The witch-hunts in Italy originated at local and secular level; the evidence suggests that the Roman Inquisition, far from instigating them, exercised a moderating influence.
Another question: why single out misogyny, which is after all only an attitude? What about misandry, which feminists exhibit in spades, or the misanthropy of environmental activists?