Ron Moe-Lobeda, The Mystery of Eve and Adam: A Prophetic Critique of the Monarchy (Pickwick Publications, 2012)
What if the story of Eve and Adam was not meant to be a story about creation and the origin of life? What if Eve and Adam were not personifications of all women and men? What if the curse on the woman had nothing to do with the physical pain of giving birth? What if working by the sweat of the brow was a description of the slavery that existed under the monarchy? What if being cast out of the garden of Eden was a metaphor for the deportation of people from Judah to Babylon? The author of this book takes readers on a journey of inquiry leading to the conclusion that the story of Eve and Adam was authored by the theological school of Jeremiah in order to dissuade the Judean people never to reinstate the monarchy after their return from Babylon – a monarchy that previously was responsible for so much infant mortality, subjugation of women, and enslavement of its own people. At the heart of this journey is the discovery that Eve and Adam actually are metaphors for Israel and Judah – two nations that chose to have a king like other nations and suffered the consequences.
Francesca Stavrakopoulou of the University of Exeter argued something similar last year in her BBC television series Bible’s Buried Secrets. And going by what I remember of her programme on Eden, I suspect I’ll be asking the same question of Moe-Lobeda’s book: Why is the Adam and Eve story placed at the beginning of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament?
Please don’t mishear me: I don’t have any problem at all with the Adam and Eve story being devised during the Babylonian Exile or even post-exile, as I’m no longer a creationist and don’t feel it’s necessary, on the basis of the Genesis text itself, to postulate an historical Adam and Eve. But the idea that the whole world is portrayed as a temple in Genesis 1, with Adam and Eve barred from re-entering the holy of holies that is Eden, suggests to me that there is something far more generic being argued than simply a warning against re-establishing (corrupt) monarchy. The Adam and Eve story may have been formed in the fury of the Exile; but this event alone, as cataclysmic as it was for the people of Judah, doesn’t explain why those responsible for ordering the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament chose to place it at the very beginning of all things – unless, of course, they saw a natural parallel between Judah’s experience and the experience of humanity in general.
Regardless, The Mystery of Eve and Adam looks like a thoroughly absorbing book.