Lonely Adam

  • Question from DW, USA
    In regards to Genesis chapter 2, verse 18 “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone…”
    I have two problems with this passage, and feel I have reconciled them, but I would like your opinion. Please explain:
    1. The fact that man “supposedly” was alone
    2. The fact that there existed something that was “Not good”
    I’ve read many commentaries and a lot of them skip over and never answer these questions.

    There is much debate about how literally true Genesis is, but presuming that the author of Genesis wanted to present a seamless account of the creation of the world, these two things do cause a problem. In fact, it would seem that the creation story is a conflation of two accounts, one that describes the world being created in seven days, and the other the specific creation of named human beings.

    If two different stories were merged into one it would explain why God “sees” everything as “good” in Genesis chapter 1, verse 31, but then later on there can be an aspect of this ‘completely good’ creation, which is ‘not good’. There is an abrupt shift in emphasis in Genesis chapter 2, verse 4, which is introduced as being “the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” In this second version of creation the characters of Adam and Eve, the archetypes of humanity, are introduced.

    These creation accounts seek to explain not only the origins of humanity, but why humanity takes the form it does. In non-scientific terms, it is impressive that the conundrum of why a creature should exist in two distinct genders should be addressed at all. In Genesis chapter 2, the ‘weaker’ gender is introduced as a ‘helper’ to the ‘stronger’. There is possibly a strong element of later religious thought influencing this account. Most primitive religions of the Middle East revolved around fertility practices and reverence of the female gender as a life-bearer. As Israelite religion sought to establish worship of Yahweh as different from the Baal and Asherah worship, it would be a natural tendency to promote this creation account where the female is subordinate to the male, created merely to ‘help’. In this sense, the idea that ‘man’ was ‘alone’ before ‘woman’ was created implies an equality of intellectual status between women and men. There are no other animals like men, except women, and the author is presumably trying to explain why that should be so and why two genders would exist at all, but without affirming the feminine gender as greater than the male.

    There is a school of thought that takes both the first chapters of Genesis entirely at face value and within this literal interpretation two conflicting arguments arise. One regards the current status of women as permanently subservient to men as a result of this secondary creation (thus echoing the apostle Paul’s use of this passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, verses 3-10). Others see this as a tremendous affirmation of women, translating ‘helper’ as ‘partner’, and claiming that this special creation account affirms the status of women as equal to men. It is, however, relatively unlikely that this statement of equality was the purpose of the author when these accounts were melded together.

    Thanks for your question DW.

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