About Providence, Divine Action and the Church


In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Adam, Eve and the Monarchy

I’ve received the latest email newsletter from Wipf and Stock, and I found the following to be of some interest:

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.

If I recall correctly, 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.

2 comments:

  1. Terry I'd say you WERE a creationist - just not a six day one ;D , and this is right and proper.

    The explanation in this book as you have described it fills me with the same disquiet as the explanation of the 'Discovery' of Deuteronomy by priests to boost the faith of the people.

    Both suggest to me ideas of priestly/prophetly interference and a lack of divine guidance in the laying out of scripture. Unless you are open to the suggestion that God deliberately allows his people to be deceived for purposes other than Judgement.

    I can cede the idea of Genesis being an allegorical framework of how the earth was made but to make that extra step is to suggest that Genesis 2 is merely an allegory of something else not mentioned. A human, political manipulation.

    I also have difficulty believing that, once the Monarchy was established by God (albeit probably as a form of Judgement - sometimes the greatest Judgement is to give us what we want) I find it difficult to believe any Prophet following God would argue against it. Especially after the promises made to David.

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  2. What do you mean by the '"Discovery" of Deuteronomy'? Are you meaning the biblical account where the Book of the Law is found by the high priest Hilkiah (2 Kgs 22:8; 2 Chron 24:15), or something else? If something else, you'll need to spell it out to me. Also, where do you find deception here (as indicated by the final sentence of your second paragraph)?

    Regarding monarchy: Don't forget that there are plenty of warnings throughout Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel about the various kinds of abuses that a king or kings could perpetrate. Even if God allows the people to have what they want as a form of judgement, there is no reason why God couldn't abolish it at a later point, or that God allowed it, like the Mosaic Law, as a temporary office. Most likely, the promises God made to David point to Jesus as the ultimate King, not necessarily as a divine promise that there will be a succession of Davidic kings on the throne.

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