Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I
Adam or Eve, Who First Sinned ?
Does it matter who wrote the Bible to understand why biblical stories are told the way they were told? Would it have been Eve who first sinned if women wrote the Bible? Many will tell you that it doesn’t count because the Bible being the word of God, wouldn’t change to suit one person or the other. Convincing you would say, but that’s if we suspend our reasoning. Yet, God didn’t give us knowledge for it to be suspended to suit a narrative. No, he reminds us to answer to those who will question the reason behind our faith. (1 Peter 3:15).
This why I strongly believe that the only reason why it was Eve who first ate the forbidden fruit was that the story was written by men. Why do I think so? Let‘s get into it.
It is because we know the story was written exclusively by men as in any patriarchal society of that time. And there is no proven reason why men in a patriarchal society, even now, and more still then, should freely give women credit over men except when the alternative is inconceivable.
Also, as we are supposed to know, the book of Genesis is a book of foundation stories. Foundation stories are the narratives of how things began or originated. They are often written many years later to explain why things are the way they are.
In this narrative of Genesis 3, the authors (for it is surely not Moses), tell us why we suffer. It is, they say because Eve succumbed to the temptation of the devil. In this text, the devil [here presented as the serpent] is the reason why we suffer today, they wrote. But why the serpent you might want to ask. According to an American anthropologist, Lynn Isbell, for millions of years, the snake was the highest predator of primates, instilling in our DNA a strong fear as it caused the highest death among primates. This, and many other ritualistic reasons associated with the serpent, made the serpent the symbol of death. So, there was no better symbol to be linked to the fall of our presumed first parents than the eternal cause of death of primates.
And as we know, in this narrative, no one wanted to be wrong: Adam accused Eve, and Eve, the serpent. It is thus obvious that the authors indirectly recreated what they narrated by accusing a woman (Eve).
We also know that the book of Genesis was written millions of years after the intended story they thought they were narrating. And like every other book of the Bible, as we know it today, both the anthropological vision and the social context of the audience are vital.
Reading about a single event in the life of Jesus tells us that not even the synoptic Gospels tell the same story in the same way. Take the baptism of Jesus, for example. Ask yourself why some emphasized one thing, and the others in different things (conf. Matthew 3:13–17, Mark 1:9–11, Luke 3:21–23, and John 1:29–34). Each writer insists on what has more meaning for his community. You can compare other parts of the Gospel as well.
Last but surely not least, the Bible as word of God was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit dictated the words that were written, as certain religious books, like the Koran, appear to be considered. The implication is that most often, the authors or those who recopied the texts allowed human knowledge to guide their judgment. It is also known that there are often earlier non-biblical documents that contained the same stories told by the Bible. The story of the creation and Noah’s ark are good examples. Both were surely not original texts but borrowed from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Yet, none of these facts makes the Bible untrue. It is simply our interpretation of the Bible that could be inaccurate.