Eve

August 13, 2008 | 71 comments
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(I hope you haven’t discussed this before, at least not in this way.) At the height of national debate over the Equal Rights Amendment, Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that all LDS women should look to Eve: “Eve, the mother of all living, is truly the perfect pattern for all her daughters. Oh that all women would follow the path laid down by the first woman of all women and do the things that she did that all might be saved!”

I have done some preliminary research and realized members of the church interpret the Eve story diversely—seeing Eve as a lesson on everything from working mothers to education, from eternal marriage to the duties of wives and mothers, just to name a few. One of the most interesting arguments I’ve run across is the notion that the trial and sacrifice of plural marriage is part of the price women must pay for Eve’s curse, that polygamy will “more quickly free her [woman] from that bondage and curse which fell upon her through transgression than any other . . . ”

Though Danny L. Jorgensen in “The Mormon Gender-Inclusive Image of God,” argues persuasively that Joseph Smith “thoroughly rejected the doctrine of original sin and the related descriptions of women as inherently weak and sinful,” many historic interpretations of Eve relied on the conception of a curse(s) from which Eve and her daughters must redeem themselves. Other—especially modern—interpretations skip the idea of a curse altogether, consider the curse to be a “blessing,” or label it a statement about the “reality” of this world. A development of the last fifteen or twenty years is the use of scholarly exegesis—by both educated members and General Authorities—as a method to decipher this pervasive story.

I am not really interested in anyone telling me the “right” way to view Eve and the transgression; clearly the story is malleable and able to be “likened” to many a situation. I am interested in the variety of ways that Latter-day Saints have seen and continue to see Eve, especially in differing views on the curse. Historical references would be wonderful, but contemporary stories/folklore work, too. What do you know and think about Eve?

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71 Responses to Eve

  1. Kylie Turley on August 13, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Oops. The footnotes I typed in Word dropped off. If anyone cares, here they are:

    Bruce R. McConkie “Mothers in Israel and Daughters in Zion,” New Era (May 1978), 35; first given as an address in Tonga on February 25, 1976.
    See Jan Underwood Pinborough, “Working Double-Time: The Working Mother’s Dilemma” Ensign (Mar 1986), 22.
    See Mark E. Peterson, “Adam, the Archangel,” Ensign (November 1980).
    See James M. Harper, “ ‘A Man . . . Shall Cleave unto His Wife’: Marriage and Family Advice from the Old Testament,” Ensign (Jan 1990), 28.
    See Margery S. Cannon, “What the Scriptures Say about Being a Wife,” Ensign ((Dec 1972), 30.
    See Sheri L. Dew, “Are We Not All Mothers,” Ensign (Nov 2001), 96.
    Helen Mar Whitney, “Scenes in Nauvoo, and Incidents from H. C. Kimball’s Journal,” Woman’s Exponent 12.10 (15 October 1883), 74.
    Danny L. Jorgensen, “The Mormon Gender-Inclusive Image of God,” The Journal of Mormon History 27:1 (Spring 2000): 113.
    Perhaps this trend began with Hugh Nibley’s “Patriarchy and Matriarchy,” address given at BYU Women’s Conference in Mouritsen, Blueprints for Living, (SLC: Deseret Book Co., 1980): 44-61.

  2. Julie M. Smith on August 13, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    You could add Rockwood’s “The Redemption of Eve” to that list:

    http://tinyurl.com/5s6p7v

  3. Julie M. Smith on August 13, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Woohoo! That’s the first tinyurl I’ve ever done and it worked! The curse is lifted!

  4. sister blah 2 on August 13, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Kylie, which reference is for the analogy to working moms? That sounds….strange.

  5. Sarah on August 13, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Julie – you should use Firefox and get the TinyURL add-on. It’s one of about three things that make me willing to evangelize on behalf of Mozilla. ^_^

    I always thought of Eve as an intellectually independent – some might use the word “uppity” – woman. She’s also near the top of my mind when I realize I’ve managed to pressure some guy friend into doing something he doesn’t want to do.

  6. suzannpappan on August 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Your post is synchronicity for me. I have been on a Goddess “thought roll” all day today. I honestly wonder how much some of the Goddess religions ideas and practices may have been smashed/silenced out of doctrine.

    I also have an issue with the word cursed. Was that really the word used or is it interpretation? How could a woman be cursed by bringing the knowlege of good and evil, thus creating Free Agency, the most important part of The Plan other than the Atonement of Jesus Christ, be a curse? A blessing I believe it was.

  7. TomRod on August 13, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    In response to suzannpappan:

    The \”curse\” could be that women are to receive counsel through their husbands, given that their husbands are righteous.

    \”Goddess religions ideas and practices may have been smashed/silenced out of the doctrine\”? The great thing is that you can know–James 1:5 talks about this.

    Ciao!

  8. Eric Boysen on August 13, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I always thought the curse was Gen 3:16 which comes in three parts:

    1. Bearing children will be painful.
    2. Women will not only have to put up with men, for some strange reason they will want to have one around all the time.
    3. And for some reason, unless you are in the Primary Presidency, you will be presided over by men.

  9. J. Stapley on August 13, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Wasn’t it SYG that described the fall of Emma as “closing once again the gates of Eden” or something like that? 19th century female discourse is saturated with ideas of polygamy redeeming Eve’s curse. It is fairly well documented isn’t it?

    I’ve always found the implications of Adam-God rather fascinating, where Adam and Eve “go into the garden, and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world, until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their celestial bodies to enable them, according to the established laws, to produce mortal tabernacles” (JD 6:275). While this is obviously conflicted with certain versions (notably the lecture at the veil), the idea that the fall was intentional and collaborative is a fascinating narrative.

    I find modern attempts make Eve out as wise for choosing the fruit, while probably well intentioned, fairly incoherent.

  10. Ryan on August 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I find modern attempts make Eve out as wise for choosing the fruit, while probably well intentioned, fairly incoherent.

    J., I must be misunderstanding you… isn’t the attempt to make Eve out as wise for choosing the fruit a rather ancient scriptural concept?

    Suzannpappan,

    I believe you are correct that Eve’s actions were ultimately a blessing and a step forward in the Plan of Salvation. My opinion is that Eve’s beguilement (is that a real word?) led to the Fall in a more base way than was originally intended (i.e., via transgression instead of the proper procedure). Remember that Adam and Eve chose to partake of the fruit before Elohim could return to give them the further instruction that He promised them. We don’t know what this instruction would have been but through lots of conjecture and speculation and such, I have come to think that there was a plan for them to “Fall” through non-transgressionary means. This is why Eve would still be under a “curse”.

    In this regard, I kind of see Eve as the really smart kid in class who can’t quite wait for the teacher for the teacher to call on her before she blurts out the correct answer. Yes, the answer was right, and no, you didn’t really do anything bad, but in the future please wait until you are called upon before giving the answer.

    In a broader sense, I think Eve is rad. I can’t wait to meet her.

  11. Julie M. Smith on August 13, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    “J., I must be misunderstanding you… isn’t the attempt to make Eve out as wise for choosing the fruit a rather ancient scriptural concept?”

    I don’t know of much evidence for it being ancient. I like it, but I admit with J that it isn’t particularly coherent. (I think coherence is overrated, tho.)

    “This is why Eve would still be under a “curse”.”

    Just to be clear: the ground is cursed. The serpent is cursed. Eve is not cursed. (Maybe that’s why you used quotes.)

  12. Ryan on August 13, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
    23 And they would have had no achildren; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no bjoy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no csin.
    24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who aknoweth all things.
    25 aAdam bfell that men might be; and men care, that they might have djoy.

    I’ve always had these verses taught to me as though they indicated that Eve was wise in partaking of the fruit.

  13. Julie M. Smith on August 13, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Ryan, I was thinking of the history of interpretation of Genesis and didn’t even think about that passage. That passage opens the possibility, but doesn’t (in my opinion) seal the deal for the Fall being wise.

  14. J. Stapley on August 13, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    What Julie said. How can you be wise if you don’t know good from evil? Anyway, sorry for the threadjack.

  15. Kylie Turley on August 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    #4: Here’s a quote:
    “The temporal welfare of the family is another responsibility that men and women share. From the beginning, women have worked to help support their families. After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, “Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as … the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.” (Moses 5:1; italics added.)

    The image of Eve helping her husband provide for the temporal needs of the family has been carried down in some form through all cultures. An instance from Church history shows how this helping worked in an earlier, more agrarian culture.”

    . . . and more in Jan Underwood Pinborough, “Working Double Time: The Working Mother’s Dilemma,” March 1986.

  16. Kylie Turley on August 13, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    “I find modern attempts make Eve out as wise for choosing the fruit, while probably well intentioned, fairly incoherent”–interesting point, J. Stapley. I’d love to hear your reasoning.

  17. Ray on August 13, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    I have always believed that Eve was tricked, mislead, deluded. (“The serpent beguiled me.” – Genesis 3:12) Once she was tricked, Adam chose to stay with her and fulfill the first commandment they were given. (“The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” – Genesis 3:13)

    Imo, the worst interpretation of Eve is the one that posits eating the apple as the original seduction of man by woman and that Eve was punished essentially for being the first temptress. I just don’t see that supported in the text. However, the idea that Eve acted knowingly and intentionally also isn’t supported in either the text or the temple.

    As to the “curse” – “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” This says to me that kids will be a pain long past conception, women will want men, and men will run the world. Luckily, the most modern prophets have softened that for individual marriages (couples helping each other with natural primary responsibilities as equal partners), but the worldly pattern (the curse) probably will stay in place. At least, that’s my take, since I view the entire narrative as figurative in the first place.

  18. Julie M. Smith on August 13, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    “However, the idea that Eve acted knowingly and intentionally also isn’t supported in either the text or the temple.”

    I think this needs more parsing: she doesn’t know *who* is offering it to her, but she seems pretty clear on *what* is being offered.

  19. sister blah 2 on August 14, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I concur with Julie #18.

    I’m not sure I see the incoherency of suggesting she decided at least somewhat knowingly/intentionally.

  20. J. Stapley on August 14, 2008 at 12:13 am

    #16: “I find modern attempts make Eve out as wise for choosing the fruit, while probably well intentioned, fairly incoherent”–interesting point, J. Stapley. I’d love to hear your reasoning.

    What we are talking about here is creating a garden narrative. Our narratives incorporate various elements derived from scripture, both ancient and modern, the temple, or any other source that one deems cogent. Most traditional narratives involve an Adam and Eve who don’t have the capacity to discern good from evil. Now that isn’t a problem for certain situations. Take Brigham’s narrative as excerpted in comment #9. Brigham wasn’t particularly interested in being consistent with with various scriptural sources. As I mentioned there, this position is strained by the temple, and the veil sermon shows how Brigham ultimately caved. It is my impression that the recently popular narratives which posit Eve as not only being wise, but as fulfilling God’s will, do significant violence to any number of source materials which proponents aren’t typically willing to abandon. The idea that Adam and Eve are innocent is one of those data.

  21. Earl B on August 14, 2008 at 12:38 am

    What can we learn from Eve? Really not very much. How many verses of scripture tell us about her, her day today life, etc? We know little to nothing about the cultural framework that Eve lived in and how it might compare to ours. Nor do we know much about living a life span like hers compared to ours……..
    It’s like anthropologists creating full blown cultures and belief systems out of a few pots, some ashes and bone fragments. They can speculate all day, but in the end, what do they REALLY know?

  22. Ray on August 14, 2008 at 1:05 am

    Julie, let me rephrase that quote:

    “However, the idea that Eve acted knowing that she was furthering God’s plan and doing the right thing also isn’t supported in either the text or the temple.”

    I believe this for three reasons:

    1) Her own words state that she was beguiled. “Beguiled” means “tricked, misled, deluded” – NOT knowledgeable and insightful. She says she was tricked; I believe her.

    2) 2 Nephi 2:18 makes a direct connection from Lucifer’s status as “the father of all lies” and what he said to Eve. Thus, his statement to Eve was a lie – and she bought it, acting as she did because she believed a lie.

    3) It appears to me that Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden less for partaking of the fruit than for doing so at the behest of Lucifer. Iow, they were punished for placing their trust in the devil instead of their God. God knew Lucifer would try to get them to disobey Him, so he set up a scenario that would test them. According to their own account and God’s subsequent words and actions, I believe they failed the test.

    In fact, I would argue that it isn’t clear that Eve actually was “doing the right thing” by partaking. I agree completely that leaving the Garden of Eden (“falling from the presence of God”) was a necessary part of the plan (that “Adam fell that man might be”), but there is nothing in the text or the temple that indicates Eve knew what she was doing.

    **I think it teaches the danger of trying to take shortcuts in becoming like God.** Interestingly, there also is nothing to indicate whether or not God had an alternate way for them to leave the Garden of Eden if they stood firm and refused to partake of the fruit – if they could have “fallen” and still faced mortal temptation with their progeny without buying Lucifer’s lie in the Garden of Eden.

    Finally, I don’t believe this was a literal event, so that last possibility doesn’t bother me at all. I believe it is allegorical and figurative, so the “you will be punished if you reject your God and follow another god” theme rings true for me – especially given the ebb and flow of the OT record. I don’t read the narrative as a victory of any kind. I read it as teaching, “If you don’t follow my commandments and resist temptation to take shortcuts, you will lose the blessing of my influence. I will provide a way to return, but it will be painful – and you will have to work hard for it to happen.”

    Frankly, I think Eve ate the fruit in the story because the story was written by men. I believe it is an inspired narrative, and I believe it is an amazingly practical narrative, but I believe it is a figurative narrative just the same.

  23. Starfoxy on August 14, 2008 at 1:31 am

    One thing I know about Eve- a person’s opinion of Eve gives a good approximation of that person’s opinion of women.

  24. Merkat on August 14, 2008 at 1:35 am

    I have always seen Eve as an empowering woman in the story of Genesis. (Especially in the temple video). I have always seen her action as purposeful. Eve is the one who bothers to find out why she should partake of the fruit and desires to gain knowledge, even if it means disobedience. Adam simply follows along. In the video, Adam seems like he has no thoughts, but Eve is portrayed, while not terribly positively (sorry for the double adverb), as if she has a brain.

    I know that many do not see this, but I am glad that this is my perception as it brings me comfort. Also, in Genesis from where Ray quotes, footnote 13a leads you to TG Temptation, which is entirely different from deception. Yes, I would be tempted to gain knowledge, and be as the gods, knowing good from evil. Even with the threat of death, which I would not have realized. Even by disobedience.

  25. Ray on August 14, 2008 at 1:35 am

    #23 – ?

    Serious question:

    Based on that statement, how would you characterize my opinion of women? I think the story portrays her as deceived, but I also think the story was written by men from the perspective of men. How in the world can you extrapolate what my opinion of women is from that?

  26. Ray on August 14, 2008 at 1:43 am

    #24 – I really don’t mean to be argumentative here, but are you really saying that it is good to disobey God by following the advice of Satan? In both the scriptures *and* the temple, Eve didn’t “bother to find out why she should partake of the fruit”. In both narratives, **she believed Lucifer’s lie**. Lucifer lied to her and she believed him, and God punished her for it.

    Also, “temptation” is *not* different than being deceived. It is exactly the same thing. Lucifer tempts us by making something appear to be what it is not – to deceive us. Succumbing to temptation is the exact same thing as being deceived by the devil. Exactly the same thing.

  27. Starfoxy on August 14, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Ray- Keep in mind I said ‘approximation’ but from the opinion’s you’ve stated I would guess that you probably feel that throughout history men (in general) have given women a hard time and that women have had to deal with a lot of unnecessary hardship because of it. I’d also guess that you feel that women *aren’t* naturally more spiritual than men- and that such ideas actually limit women.

  28. Ray on August 14, 2008 at 1:56 am

    As an approximation, that’s not bad. *grin*

    I also think, however, that your view is influenced a bit by the fact that you might have read one or two other comments of mine on other threads here and there. *bigger grin*

    Good night.

  29. Ryan on August 14, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Okay, I admit, I cheated and did some googling since I couldn’t support my position regarding Eve’s wisdom off the top of my head… But here’s a quote from Dallin H. Oaks:

    “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall”

    Ha! Put that on your incoherent piano and play it, Stapley!! :)

    Seriously — maybe she was acting wisely, maybe not, but I think there is sufficient evidence such that believing in her capacity for wisdom prior to partaking of the fruit shouldn’t really be termed “incoherent”

  30. Wes Dean on August 14, 2008 at 2:41 am

    sarah/# 5: I think if Adam had understood intially, he WOULD have WANTED to partake of the fruit. That\’s one of the things I love about women, they help us (currently) dumb guys do things we aren\’t quite smart enough yet to figure out on our own. At least, that\’s been my experience.

  31. Cicero on August 14, 2008 at 2:58 am

    I believe Eve was wise in choosing to partake of the fruit. I believe she did realize that it was necessary, however, I believe she was also deceived. What was Satan’s one lie in his whole spiel encouraging the partaking of the fruit? He said that Eve would not die.

    Thus Eve realized that partaking of the fruit was necessary, but did not fully understand the cost. That does not make her decision any less correct.

  32. The Right Trousers on August 14, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Interesting stuff about the “curse” and polygamy. Gotta love Wasatch Doctrine, past and present. I’ve never thought much about that part of the curse – I’m usually more interested in escaping spiritual death – but then it’s my wife who has been delivered of the babies.

    One very interesting take I’ve heard was venerating Adam and Eve for being the *first to repent and return to God*. According to a well-read friend of mine, this view was quite common in early Christianity. I love this view. It resonates with me in a way I can’t quite describe yet.

    BTW, why does the NT (Paul, I think) place the blame solely on Adam? Was it only to draw the Adam-Christ parallels? Could it be an indicator that the specifics of who-did-what-when aren’t all that critical?

    Regarding the general contradictory nature of the whole thing: like J. Stapley, I’m fairly sure the story is allegorical, or at least not literal. (I keep sizeable probability mass on the existence of the participants, though.) The contradictions don’t bother me. They’re followed by even more: God honoring a stolen birthright, Jacob winning a wrestling match with an angel, Jesus being both man and god, etc. My well-read friend told me a theory he got from a rabbi: it’s intentionally contradictory so that we’ll at least *talk about it*. And we are. Mission accomplished!

    Finally, I think it’s useful to consider the “Eve being tricked” aspect as part of an overarching theme in Genesis. There’s Jacob and his mother tricking Isaac, Laban tricking Jacob, Joseph’s brothers tricking Jacob, Potiphar’s wife tricking Potiphar, Joseph tricking his brothers… I think the message is that God’s plan will move forward despite lesser beings’ deceptive little escapades, and sometimes even because of them.

  33. Adam E. on August 14, 2008 at 8:14 am

    #31 said: “What was Satan’s one lie in his whole spiel encouraging the partaking of the fruit? He said that Eve would not die.”

    I’m with Ray in thinking that the account is figurative. Figuratively speaking, how do we know that Satan didn’t tell other lies? What if there was, in fact, another way? (We know that physical bodies and mortality are necessary to salvation; but do we know that Eve’s eating of the fruit was the only way to get here?) I agree with Ryan #10 that we don’t know what further knowledge God would have given A&E if they hadn’t eaten the fruit. Perhaps got had a different timetable or preferred method for bringing us into mortality.

    I respect Eve for her exalted position as the mother of the human family, for choosing to bring us all to the earth, and for her subsequent obedience to God. But I don’t revel in her choice to eat the fruit contrary to God’s commandment. (And I don’t buy the “transgression, not sin” argument. If God commands, “Don’t do this,” and you do it, that’s a sin. In fact, that’s the definition of sin.)

  34. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 9:14 am

    ONe of these days I’ll actually get around to putting together my Adam and Eve post I’ve been planning for three years.

    Advocates of Eve’s “wisdom” always pull out the Oaks and Nelson quotes. But they seem to disregard Talmage’s:

    “Eve was fulfilling the foreseen purposes of God by the part she took in the great drama of the fall; yet she did not partake of the forbidden fruit with that object in view, but with intent to act contrary to the divine command, being deceived by the sophistries of Satan, who also, for that matter, furthered the purposes of the Creator by tempting Eve; yet his design was to thwart the Lord’s plan.”

    The quote is in Articles of Faith as well as the OT Institute manual.

  35. Velska on August 14, 2008 at 9:28 am

    First of all, I always thought that the “curse” of Eve was a notion of the apostate Christendom (I didn’t buy it before I became LDS). I think much of early Church discussion is a result of people having a hard time letting go of stuff. I see lots of stuff like that. It took Eve to buy that one lie Lucifer fed along with the truths (SP for him!). The fact that all sources have that same expression “beguiled” doesn’t mean that she didn’t already know that they were supposed to learn by experience before she did what she did. Perhaps she had by that time figured that the part about not dying was a fib. She had recognized Lucifer for who he is and figured things out.

    I don’t quite know what to make of it, but Paul says “Adam was not deceived, but the woman” (1 Tim 2:14) – I know that this particular chapter has been used to shut women up, but it’s still there. It is clear to me that at least Adam knew more or less what he was doing, despite not “knowing good and evil”. And specifically, this thing that everyone can pretty much agree on that Adam and Eve didn’t know good from evil, didn’t recognize Lucifer, makes it plain that whatever happened was not *sin*. To commit sin requires knowledge.

    I think that if we look at the narrative, we find that God didn’t “punish” Adam & Eve, but He let natural consequences teach the lesson. What happened was what was supposed to happen, if we were to learn by our own experience to distinguish good from evil.

    And, finally, the story injects Lucifer into the affairs of this world. Jesus in Luke 10:18 says “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”. Lehi says in his lecture about the Fall that “…man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (2 Ne 2:16) – thus everything falls into place. There is a redemption prepared from the fall, and the goal stated in Abr 3:25 is attained. We are being proved.

    But when will we know exactly how much of it is allegoric? Perhaps when our pre-earth memory is restored…

  36. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 9:47 am

    “this thing that everyone can pretty much agree on that Adam and Eve didn’t know good from evil, didn’t recognize Lucifer, makes it plain that whatever happened was not *sin*. To commit sin requires knowledge.”

    But they DID know. They knew they weren’t supposed to eat of the fruit.

    Because they ate of the fruit, they suffered spiritual death. Isn’t spiritual death sin?

    If it wasn’t a sin, why did the Lord need to forgive them? (Moses 6:53) I know the verse says “transgression” but I don’t think there’s much difference.

  37. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 9:56 am

    How do we know Adam & Eve didn’t know good from evil prior to taking the fruit?

  38. Ryan on August 14, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Tim,

    Here’s the reason I think the Oaks quote is more accurate than Talmage:

    Eve’s dialogue suggests that she had at least a fair understanding of what was going on. She initially rejects the fruit citing disobedience as her reason. Satan goes through his little spiel and Eve, after asking for another method to Fall (preferably that didn’t include violating one of the only two commandments they had been given), agrees that he is right, that partaking of the fruit is a good thing. I think this shows that she worked out the plan of salvation (as it was taught to her) in her head and realized that the only hiccup in the whole thing was that fact that they could not yet multiply or experience the other aspects of a mortal probation.

    I just don’t really see a reading of the conversation as suggesting that Eve was intentionally partaking of the fruit out of some teenage rebellion. In fact, reading Talmage’s quote, I wonder how he determined what Eve’s true motivations were. I don’t think any of her dialogue or actions support such a decisive statement.

  39. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 10:07 am

    “I wonder how he determined what Eve’s true motivations were.”

    Eve’s true motivations? They’re found in the scriptures themselves.

    Moses 4:12

    Eve saw that:
    It was good for food.
    It was pleasant to the eyes.
    It was to be desired to make her wise.

  40. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Eve two things and two things only about the fruit. What God told her (don’t eat it or you’ll die) and what Satan told her (eat it and you won’t die). I don’t see how Eve could come to any other conclusions on her own accord regarding the fruit. It doesn’t make sense.

  41. Adam E. on August 14, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Velska said: “I don’t quite know what to make of it, but Paul says “Adam was not deceived, but the woman” (1 Tim 2:14).

    Velska, I understand this scripture to mean that Satan deceived Eve into thinking that it was okay to disobey God, even if she believed the ends justified the means. Adam was not deceived, but faced with a choice. Keep one commandment (abstain from fruit), or keep another (cling to Eve; have children eventually). Adam was not deceived into thinking it was okay to disobey God; rather, he chose how he was going to disobey God. He may have been wiser to wait and ask God for His advice, but alas…

    Ryan said: “I think this shows that she… realized that the only hiccup in the whole thing was that fact that they could not yet multiply or experience the other aspects of a mortal probation.”

    I think that God doesn’t make plans with hiccups in them. Maybe Adam and Eve were supposed to eat the fruit; but if so, it wasn’t when God said, “Don’t eat the fruit.” Perhaps later, after they’d been taught more, he would have said, “OK, now eat the fruit.” Either that, or there’s more to the story we don’t know. (or the story is figurative and an imperfect allegory roughly teaching the origins of humankind)

  42. Julie M. Smith on August 14, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Re #37:

    “How do we know Adam & Eve didn’t know good from evil prior to taking the fruit?”

    Because if the fruit is from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then presumably they didn’t have knowledge of good and evil before eating it, or eating it wouldn’t have made any difference.

  43. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I think it had more to do with opposition. Again, they knew it was wrong to eat of the fruit. They weren’t completely ignorant.

  44. Ryan on August 14, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Eve two things and two things only about the fruit.

    This is conjecture, we have no idea what other things were taught to Adam and Eve while they walked with God in the garden

    You’ve just listed a very limited number of scriptural motivations as to why Eve partook of the fruit, but strangely you didn’t include the motivation cited in your Talmage quote (willful disobedience) in your list.

  45. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Ryan, are there any other scriptural motivations available as to why Eve partook of the fruit? I didn’t include Talmage’s because his is the conclusion one would draw from what I listed.

    “This is conjecture, we have no idea what other things were taught to Adam and Eve while they walked with God in the garden”

    True perhaps. But why would God tell them anything else about the fruit beyond what was said? And why would this not appear in the scriptures nor the temple? Basing your argument on something that may have happened outside the scriptural narrative is a bit of a reach not to mention difficult to debate.

  46. gary crane on August 14, 2008 at 10:58 am

    \’the women of mormondom\’ by edward tullage, specifically page 198 is of great interest to your line of questions. however pages 190-200 might also peak interest.

  47. Kylie Turley on August 14, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Here’s a few ideas to add in about learning/knowledge in the garden, pre-Fall.

    “We’re in the garden now. Adam and Eve are married. They’re preparing for the future, hopefully. Now the garden is for two things: it’s for learning and it’s for the fall, and it was made for those things. And they have been learning a lot. Now what they know, I don’t know, except that I know that they know a lot. I know that they know what their destiny is. I know that they understand what kind of being God the Father is — He walks and talks with them. And when he comes to visit them, he doesn’t talk about tiddlywinks. He talks to them about the gospel. Martin Luther says I have an idea that every Sunday they met in the grove and the Father taught them. And that’s what he views as their partaking of the tree of life. Well, they’re in the garden and they’re learning and they’re growing. Now here’s another little interesting thing about Jewish tradition. The Jewish tradition is that in the garden they had scriptures, that they had books. The books contained the ordinances of God and the teachings of God, and that when they fell they lost the book, they couldn’t have the book anymore, and that Adam after the fall, besought the Father to give him back the book. And God gave it back. Well that’s interesting, but there were all kinds of stories all through the Pseudographical literature and all through the adam cycle about the books and the teachings that they had in the garden. Now they had something and they knew a lot and we’ll see a little bit about what they know as we go through this.”

    Vivian McConkie Adams, “Mother Eve and Father Adam,” Deseret Library, 1991. Transcript of a talk.

  48. J. Stapley on August 14, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Kylie, not being prone to fundamentalist readings of scripture, the metaphorical Garden resonates. Further, we all place ourselves in the narrative. I once riffed on that idea, with regards to Brigham’s ideas.

  49. gary on August 14, 2008 at 11:45 am

    B.Y. Salt Lake City Oct 23, 1853: “”You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth?”” ” I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to an “understanding”, and banished from my mind ALL the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child. JD II p 6

  50. gary crane on August 14, 2008 at 11:45 am

    B.Y. Salt Lake City Oct 23, 1853: “”You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth?”” ” I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to an “understanding”, and banished from my mind ALL the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child. JD II p 6

  51. MattG on August 14, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    #41 “Perhaps later, after they’d been taught more, he would have said, “OK, now eat the fruit.”” I think this is true and is the crux of the matter, as others have mentioned. It was not Satan’s prerogative to give the fruit to Adam and Eve, he took it upon himself to do so, and in the temple narrative is chastised for doing so. I don’t think God meant to give his children a “Catch-22″ and see which commandment they’d disobey. I think at some future point, God would have given them the fruit (whatever “the fruit” is) and provided them a way to keep both commandments.

  52. Tim J. on August 14, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Two points:

    First, the fruit, though symbolic, is arbitrary. Being immortal, Adam & Eve didn’t need food. I think it was simply a commandment which they violated. The commandment could have been anything.

    Second, the catch-22 conflicting commandments is something that troubles a lot of people. I don’t think the multiply commandment was given as most believe.

  53. Raymond Takashi Swenson on August 14, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    I don’t have coherent conclusions about how to describe the exact state of knowledge of Eve when she made the choice that led to Adam joining her in the Fall. But it seems to me that among the criteria we should consider when evaluating alternative hypotheses is the function of the Fall as beginning the process of bringing God’s spirit children into mortality, which is completed through the Atonement. The famous Book of Mormon verse in Lehi’s patriarchal sermon, that “Adam fell that men might be [that we would enter mortality], and men are that they might have joy [our purpose in mortal life is to obtain true joy through the Atonement that brings us back to the Father] echoes Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15 (and set to music in Handel’s Messiah) that “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

    I would look to characteristics of the Atonement of Christ and look for parallels to or specific contrasts with the Fall. This would include the fact that both acts by one or two individuals acted vicariously on all mankind–Adam and Eve are our parents, but Christ is also our Father when we are redeemed, as taught by King Benjamin and Abinadi. Both involve knowledge of good and evil–Adam and Eve sought to know what is good and what is evil, not some abstract formula, but real actions in context and how they benefit or harm others, while the Savior became personally acquainted in the Garden of Gethsemane with all of the good and evil experiences of all men and women. Both involve the death of the participants–Adam and Eve are ejected from God’s presence, and become mortal, opening the way for us all to follow, while Christ suffers death before resurrecting himself and returning to the presence of the Father, opening the path by which all mankind can follow.

    In Moroni 7, we are told that the standard for what is good is that it leads us toward Christ and the Atonement. In Moses 5, Adam and Eve are taught how to approach Christ and benefit from the Atonement:

    6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
    7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
    8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
    9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
    10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
    11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

    It is only at this point that they fully understand what is really “good”, namely the Atonement of Christ that counterbalances the negative aspects of the Fall and transforms it into a forward step toward eternal life. Adam and Eve show the pattern that we all must follow, of moving from relative innocence and ignorance toward fuller light, even as they and we, like Christ, experience the imperfection and suffering that is unavoidable in this “lone and dreary world”.

    How does each of you think your interpretation of Eve’s experience might illuminate these connections between the Fall and the Atonement? Do you think these criteria are valid or not?

  54. Ray on August 14, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I will word this comment very carefully – and request anyone who responds do the same. For anyone who doesn’t understand the reference, I apologize.

    Lucifer was angry over his punishment, specifically because he didn’t see any practical difference between his action in the Garden of Eden and what he had observed with (or been taught about) other similar situations. That leads to my belief that, while providing a knowledge of good and evil is a vital part of the Plan of Salvation, such knowledge need not have been gained by succumbing to the temptation of a devil within his timetable.

    Also, God had said not to eat it. Lucifer came up with multiple justifications to do so – **and they were tailored to Adam and then Eve individually**. He hit Adam with what he thought might work on him; he hit Eve with something different that he thought might work on her.

    Finally, it’s hard to give Eve credit for “understanding something” when it is THE DEVIL doing the “teaching”. Why do we assume that “thou shalt not surely die” was the only lie in what he said? It was THE DEVIL who said there was no other way. **Why do we assume that this statement wasn’t a lie?** Why do we assume there really was no other way – especially when Lucifer was punished so harshly (much more harshly than Adam and Eve) for making it happen in that way?

  55. J. Stapley on August 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Ray, as far as exegesis of that particular narrative goes, I have typically taken a similar tack.

  56. Ron on August 14, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Eve launched the world of opposites–she was the first to partake of the forbidden fruit. Later, both Adam and Eve rejoiced because of their decision, and Eve said, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Moses 5:10-11)

    Eve’s initial action moved the Lord’s plan to the stage where life can advance to a higher level. The scriptures say she was beguiled, or used by Satan, but Satan’s plan has always been smaller than the Lord’s plan–maybe there was a reason why she was the one who was susceptable to being beguiled in this case—perhaps she was intuitively oriented to the advancement of life and eternal advancement of the human family, related to her being “the Mother of all living.”

    Notice that in Moses 4:23-26, Adam toils against a cursed earth with its thorns and thistles, trying to reverse the effects of death in the world, while his companion Eve, who received her name because “she is the mother of all living,” is fundamentally and directly an agent of life. Perhaps she had a way of seeing into living situations and knowing life, which is one reason why she can fulfill her role as mother. Perhaps this relates to what Alma 42:24 at some fundamental might imply: “For behold, justice exerciseth all HIS demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is HER own . . .”

  57. manaen on August 15, 2008 at 1:36 am

    I noticed that the PG’s relation of the Adam-&-Eve story includes all we need to know about men and women:
    .
    Moses 5:
    10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
    11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

  58. manaen on August 15, 2008 at 1:41 am

    (maybe the emphasis will be easier to see this time)
    .
    I noticed that the PG’s relation of the Adam-&-Eve story includes all we need to know about men and women:
    .
    Moses 5:
    10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of *my* transgression *my* eyes are opened, and in this life *I* shall have joy, and again in the flesh *I* shall see God.
    11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for *our* transgression *we* never should have had *seed*, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of *our* redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto *all* the obedient.

  59. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill on August 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    The Hebrew Bible knows of no curse placed on Adam or Eve (Chava) on account of an Original Sin in the Garden of Eden womb place. The fact of the ground bringing forth weeds and man working by the sweat of his brow and woman bearing children in pain, or being drawn towards her husband who will dominate her are not viewed as curses in the Hebrew text but as facts to being mortal. Chava (Eve) is even placed in the role of \”Life Giver,\” a role that only YHVH God has previously; thus her name is spelled with Chet, Vav, Heh. The Chet in Hebrew can be substituted for the first Heh in God\’s Express Name Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh. A Chet has the inner meaning of suggesting temporality, while a Heh has an inner meaning of suggesting immortality.Thus, the first woman is the physical representation of the Divine on earth and carries God\’s express Name, the Tetragrammaton.

  60. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill on August 17, 2008 at 12:29 am

    In the Hebrew Garden of Eden myth (a myth is not a lie but a metaphoric story), Adam and Eve violate God’s directive to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil BECAUSE Eve suspects that the fruit will make her more like God in that she will know WHY the tree was good for eating AND a delight to the eyes; she desired to gain wisdom (Gen. 3:6). Far be it from truth that Eve is viewed as a sinful person, The Torah herself posits Eve as a wisdom-seeker and one who desires to become more like God. And, the Torah itself says that in this quest she almost succeeds! Just as the Torah tells us that God stops the builders of the Tower of Babel because “If …. this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they propose to do will be out of their reach,” so God says about Adam and Eve “Now that mankind has become like one of us (not only knowing good and evil), what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life (and become immortal).” God would cease to be unique if Adam and Eve also became Gods. The way Adam and Eve achieve immortality is by bearing the next generation of humans and passing on to them the ethics and moral lessons that they had learned.

  61. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill on August 17, 2008 at 12:59 am

    6. When the Fire Being (Woman) heard this, the forbidden fruit now appeared to her as flavorful to eat and desirous for the eyes to look upon, and the tree itself took on the sense of alluring wisdom. And so she took from its fruit and ate. And she also gave to her male companion who was at her side all this time, and he, too ate.

    7. And their perception broadened so widely that the distinction between good and bad became blurred for them, and they grew anxious, and where once they were aware only of what they had, now they became aware of what they lacked, and they felt naked and wove some fig leaves into girdles and covered their genitalia, separating their spirit selves from their physical selves.

    8. And they heard the sound of Infinite One, Source of All Powers, moving in the wind, blowing time into motion. And Earth Being (Adam) together with his companion, Fire Being (Woman), sought to hide themselves from the face of Infinite One, Source of All Powers, in the middle of the garden.

    9. And Infinite One, Source of All Powers, offering Earth Being (Adam) an opportunity to acknowledge his guilt, called to him and asked: “Where are you?” 10. And Earth Being (Adam) replied: “I heard the sound of your movement in the garden and I became anxious because I am naked, and so I hid myself.”

    11. And Infinite One, Source of All Powers, said to Earth Being: “Who told you that there is any shame in being naked? Is it because you have eaten of the tree which I warned you not to eat, that you have become thus confused?”

    12. And Earth Being (Adam) replied: “The female Fire Being (Woman) whom you gifted to be my companion gave me some of the fruit from the tree, so I ate from it.”

    13. And Infinite One, Source of All Powers, said to Fire Being (Woman): “What exactly is it that you have done?” And Fire Being (Woman) replied: “It was the Contrary (Snake) who seduced me into eating of it.”

    14. And Infinite One, Source of All Powers , said to the Contrary (Snake): “Because you were too direct and disempowering in your role of testing the authenticity of human conviction, all of the animals of the fields and the beasts shall in turn withhold their powers from you. On your belly shall you crawl, for this is the way in which you are to do your work, subtly, not conspicuously; gently and wisely walking — not jolting — humans from their stupor when they become stuck in absolutes, when life for them becomes rote.

    15. “Therefore your relationship with humans shall be strained and challenged, for they are inclined toward the safety and comfort of what is customary. But your power over the humans shall be better balanced, reaching no higher than the heels of their feet, and they will be capable of subduing you are high as your head.”

    16. And to the Fire Being (Woman), Infinite One said: “You have divided between your spirit self and your physical self, which will cause you to experience your natural tendency toward life-giving and birth as alien and difficult. Yet, I will not withhold from you my Life Force which yearns to become manifest through you, and so my insistence on bringing forth life will therefore be pushing against your body’s resistance to it, causing you to experience your pregnancy as uncomfortable and childrearing as difficult. Moreover, since you have relinquished your power to another and not listened to the voice within, be forewarned that your dynamics with Earth Being (Adam) has shifted, and his with yours, so that when you surrender to him with your longing for him, he will be inclined to respond with a tendency to lord over you, to take advantage of your yearning and wield control over you. You have given away your power, so now you must strive to reclaim it. (Genesis: Chapter 3, Verses 6-16 New Millennium Bible translated directly from the Original Hebrew by Rabbi Gershon Winkler)

  62. Ray on August 17, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Thank you, Rabbi. That is fascinating.

  63. Kylie Turley on August 17, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I agree with Ray. Thank you for joining the discussion and adding your perspective. The translation from the New Millennium Bible is very interesting. Is that version of the Bible readily available?

  64. Carrie on August 18, 2008 at 12:51 am

    There is a book, \”Eve and the Choice Made in Eden\”..it\’s been several years since I read it, so the details are sketchy, but as I recall, the author suggests that the original word translated \”beguiled\”, was not synonymous with the idea of deception, but was a much more positive word. Here\’s a quote from an interview with the author:

    \”For example, ‘beguiled’ is a word that is so laden with guilt. And yet I had heard a marvelous Ancient Hebrew scholar speak in Washington D.C. on this subject. She had been raised in the far corners of Siberia and had as her main source of language Ancient Hebrew. She spoke about this just a little, and as I talked to her later she also reminded me she’d referenced it in a book that she’d written. But she said, “That word is no longer in use so most people have no idea what it means. But it is one of the richest and most beautiful words in Ancient Hebrew. It means that you have been caused to pull together every resource—spiritual, physical, and personal—in understanding a concept or a subject and seeing what it means.” Now, the word that she ‘saw,’ we hear that, but we never give any credit that she indeed ‘brought together’ all of the richness of her learning, her time, her walking and talking in the Garden with God the Father, the Son, and a variety of angels that had been sent to teach. And so, with that piece, then you begin to say, “What do all these other pieces mean? If indeed this was the plan she’d been taught, and she was able to pull all of those pieces to the plan together.”

    Along the same lines, she discusses that the language of the command not to eat the fruit was much more along the lines of our commands to our young children to not touch a stove; temporary, appropriate for now, but never intended to be an eternal command.

    fwiw,
    Carrie

  65. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill on August 18, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    The Hebrew word used in Genesis 3: 13 to mean “BEGUILED ME” is the word “HEESHEEANEE” (Heh, Sheen, Yod, Alef, Nun, Yod). It is translated in the NJPS Version as “DUPED ME,” and in The Stone edition as”DECEIVED ME.” The root of the word is Nun, Sheen, Alef, meaning to “lift up,” “to exalt,” “to deceive,” “to beguile,” “to claim a debt,” “to bear,” “to carry.”

  66. Ray on August 18, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Again, Rabbi, thanks.

    Carrie, I appreciate that interpretation as a sincere effort to understand possibilities, but I can’t get past the positioning of the Serpent (Lucifer) as the “beguiler” – and Heavenly Father’s words to him as a result of his beguiling Eve. There is no more blistering condemnation and punishment perhaps in all of our recorded canon. Of the possibilities provided in #65 as possible roots of the word used in this verse, “to deceive” and “to beguile” are the only ones that make sense to me in that context.

  67. Tim J. on August 19, 2008 at 9:23 am

    That’s part of the problem with Eve suddenly becoming “self-aware” so to speak. It takes Satan out of the equation.

  68. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill on August 19, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Ah Tim (#67) you are beginning to understand the story from a Jewish-Hebrew perspective. No where in the Hebrew account does it mention SATAN (the Accuser, the Prosecution – Lucifer is not a Hebrew word and is not found in the Hebrew Bible at all))

  69. Ray on August 19, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    #68 – and that truly is fascinating.

  70. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill on August 21, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Also, you might be interested that there was a tradition prevalent in the first century that the Snake (Nachash) Nun-Chet-Sheen, represented NOT the Satan but the Messiah (Mashiach) Mem-Sheen-Yod-Chet. Both words in Hebrew have the same numerical equivalent of 358. We know from John 3:14 that the writer of that Gospel knew of this tradition and equated the Serpent (the Nachash) raised up in the Wilderness (Numbers 21: 8-10) with the crucifixion of Jesus.

  71. John Fronk on November 17, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    How about emailing the transcript of Vivian McConkie Adams’ talk “Mother Eve and Father Adam”

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