Adam and Eve were, according to the Book of Genesis of the Bible, the
first man and woman created by God. They are also credited as the first man and
woman in Islam.
The Sibylline Oracles, dating from the centuries immediately around the time of Christ, explain the name Adam as a notaricon composed of the initials of the four directions; anatole (east), dusis (west), arktos (north), and mesembria (south). In the 2nd century, Rabbi Yohanan used the Greek technique of notarichon to explain the name אָדָם as the initials of the words afer, dam, and marah, being dust, blood, and gall.
According to the Torah (Genesis 2:7), Adam was formed from "dust from the earth"; in the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b) of the first centuries of the Christian era he is, more specifically, described as having initially been a golem kneaded from mud.
Even in ancient times, the presence of two distinct accounts of the creation of the first man (or couple) was noted. The first account says male and female God created them, implying simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve subsequent to the creation of Adam. The Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VIII:1 reconciled the two by stating that Genesis 1, "male and female He created them", indicates that God originally created Adam as a hermaphrodite, bodily and spiritually both male and female, before creating the separate beings of Adam and Eve. Other rabbis suggested that Eve and the woman of the first account were two separate individuals, the first being identified as Lilith, a figure elsewhere described as a night demon.
Genesis does not tell for how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, but the 2nd century BC Book of Jubilees, provides more specific information. It states (ch3 v17) that the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the 8th year after Adam's creation. It also states that they were removed from the garden on the new moon of the fourth month of that year (ch3 v33). Other Jewish sources assert that the period involved was less than a day.
According to traditional Jewish belief Adam and Eve are buried in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron.
(1) Gnostic Christianity has two unique texts containing stories of Adam and Eve: the Nag Hamadi text "Apocalypse of Adam" and the "Testament of Adam" text. The creation of Adam as Protanthropos – the original man – is the focal concept.
(2) The Manichaean Gnostic sect believed that the Protanthropos was "the World Soul", (Anima Mundi), sent to fight against darkness. The "Fall" meant the primordial man being delivered up to evil and swallowed in darkness, with the Universe as a whole coming into existence as a means of delivering the primordial Adam from Darkness. Sex between Adam and Eve was seen as the way in which darkness overcame the light.
"Mani said, 'Then Jesus came and spoke to the one who had been born, who was Adam, and … made him fear Eve, showing him how to suppress (desire) for her, and he forbade him to approach her… Then that (male) archon came back to his daughter, who was Eve, and lustfully had intercourse with her. He engendered with her a son, deformed in shape and possessing a red complexion, and his name was Cain, the Red Man.'"
(3) Another Gnostic tradition held that Adam and Eve were created to help
defeat Satan. The serpent, instead of being identified with Satan, is seen as a
hero by the Ophite sect.
(4) Still other Gnostics believed that Satan's fall, however, came after the creation of humanity. As in Islamic tradition, this story says that Satan refused to bow to Adam. (As a result of his exclusive love of God, Satan felt that bowing to humankind was a form of idolatry.) This refusal led to the fall of Satan, recorded in works such as the Book of Enoch.
The Quran tells of آدم (ʾĀdam) in the surah al-Baqara (2):30-39, al-A'raf (7):11-25, al-Hijr (15):26-44, al-Isra (17):61-65, Ta-Ha (20):115-124, and Sad (38):71-85.
The early Islamic commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari adds a number of details to the Torah, based on hadith as well as specific Jewish traditions (so-called isra'iliyat). Tabari records that when it came time to create Adam, God sent Gabriel (Jibril), then Michael (Mika'il), to fetch clay from the earth; but the earth complained, saying I take refuge in God from you, if you have come to diminish or deform me, so the angels returned empty-handed. Tabari goes on to state that God responded by sending the Angel of Death, who took clay from all regions, hence providing an explanation for the variety of appearances of the different races of mankind.
According to Tabari's account, after receiving the breath of God, Adam remained a dry body for 40 days, then gradually came to life from the head downwards, sneezing when he had finished coming to life, saying All praise be to God, the Lord of all beings. Having been created, Adam, the first man, is described as having been given dominion over all the lower creatures, which he proceeds to name. As one of the people to whom God is said to have spoken to directly, Adam is seen as a prophet in Islam.
At this point, Adam takes a prominent role in Islamic traditions concerning the fall of Shaytan(Satan), which is not recorded in the Torah, but in the Book of Enoch which is used in Oriental Orthodox churches. In these, when God announces his intention of creating Adam, some of the angels express dismay, asking why he would create a being that would do evil. Teaching Adam the names reassures the angels as to Adam's abilities, though commentators dispute which particular names were involved; various theories say they were the names of all things animate and inanimate, the names of the angels, the names of his own descendants, or the names of God.
When God orders the angels to bow to Adam one of those present, Shaytan Iblis in Islam, a Djinn who said "why should I bow to man, I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil".), refuses due to his pride, and is summarily banished from the Heavens. Liberal movements within Islam have viewed God's commanding the angels to bow before Adam as an exaltation of humanity, and as a means of supporting human rights, others view it as an act of showing Adam that the biggest enemy of humans on earth will be their ego.
Eve is referred to in the Qur'an as Adam's spouse, and Islamic tradition refers to her by an etymologically similar name - حواء (Hawwāʾ) . In fact, although her creation is not recounted in the Qur'an, Tabari recounts the biblical tale of her creation, stating that she was named because she was created from a living thing (her name means living). The Torah gives an etymology for woman, or rather the Hebrew equivalent (ish-shah), stating that she should be called woman since she was taken out of man (ish in Hebrew). The etymology is regarded as implausible by most Semitic linguists. The Quran blames both Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit and as a punishment they were both banished from Heaven to the Earth. Muslims therefore interpret that this event does not pose a problem of women inferiority to men intrinsically. The concept of original sin doesn't exist in Islam. Adam and Eve were forgiven after they repented on Earth.
Al-Qummi records the opinion that Eden was not entirely earthly, and so, having been sent to earth, Adam and Eve first arrived at mountain peaks outside Mecca; Adam on Safa, and Eve on Marwa. In this Islamic tradition, Adam remained weeping for 40 days, until he repented, at which point God rewarded him by sending down the Kaaba, and teaching him the hajj.
The Qur'an also describes the two sons of Adam (named Qabil and Habil in Islamic tradition) that correspond to Cain and Abel.
Eve is said in local folklore to be buried in "Eve Grave" in Jeddah, KSA.
According to some Islamic traditions, Adam is buried beneath the site of the Kaaba in Mecca. Shi'a Muslims on the other hand, believe that Adam is buried next to Ali, within Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.
"...a rib..." (Genesis 2:21-24) - Hebrew tsela` can mean side, chamber, rib, or beam. The traditional reading of "rib" has been questioned recently by feminist theologians who suggest it should instead be rendered as "side," supporting the idea that woman is man's equal and not his subordinate.
According to Joseph Campbell "half of the world population believe that the
myths of religious traditions are facts. The other half states they are not fact
at all. The outcome of it is that we have individuals who consider themselves
faithful because they accept these metaphors as facts and the otehr half believe
they are atheist because they don´t accept". One of these metaphors is Eve.
Campbell argues that Christianity, originaly a denomination of judaism, embraced
part of the jewish pagan culture and the rib metaphor is an example of how
distant the jewish religion was from the pre-historian religion --the worship of
the Mother Goddess or the Goddess. This universal myth is found within a social
and religious context whose historical roots are found in Paleolithic and
Neolithic. According to Campbell, the concept of patriarchy, which emerged from
the jewish religion, is due to the bellicose activity of grazing cattle and
goats and linked to the constant persecution that triggered the nomadism and the
loss of local identity.
Archeology and pagan mythology fully registered the worship of the Goddess. The earliest foundings of a human religion are, initially, the worship of the dead, and the intense cult of red or ochre associated with the menstrual blood. In Greek mythology, mother of all the gods, the goddess Rhea (or Cybele among the Romans), this worship can be easily attested is its etimology:rhea means land or flow. Campbell argues that Adam ((from the hebrew adamá or red earth; adom, red, dam or blood)) was created out of a red clay.
The identity of the mother earth religion, fertility, the origin of life and the maitainance of it, would also be, according to Campbell, portrayed in the Bible:... the sanctity of the land, in itself, because it is the body of the Goddess. By creating, Jehovah created man from the land of mud and blowing life into the body already formed. He is not there... But the Goddess is there, and continues out here. The body of each is made of her body. These mythologies is the recognition of this sort of universal identity.
Adam and Eve were used by early Renaissance artists as a theme to represent female and male nudes. Later, the nudity was objected to by more modest elements, and fig leaves were added to the older pictures and sculptures, covering their genitals. The choice of the fig was a result of Mediterranean traditions identifying the unnamed Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a fig tree, and since fig leaves were actually mentioned in Genesis as being used to cover Adam and Eve's nudity.
Another issue was whether they should be depicted with navels (The Omphalos theory). Since they were created fully grown, and did not develop in a uterus, they would not have had the umbilical scars possessed by all born humans. However, paintings without navels looked unnatural.
John Milton's Paradise Lost is a famous seventeenth-century epic poem written in blank verse which explores the story of Adam and Eve in great detail.
This Adam and Eve Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub