Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 005. Eve

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Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 005. Eve

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Horton, R. F., Women of the Old Testament (1898), 1.

Matheson, G., The Representative Women of the Bible (1907), 29.

Miller, T. E., Portraits of Women of the Bible, 11.

Simeon, J., Some Women of the Old Testament; Eve-Ruth (1905), 9.

Whyte, A., Bible Characters: Adam to Achan (1896), 22.

Dictionary of the Bible (Single-volume, 1909), 247 (A. H. McNeile).

Encyclopœdia of Religion and Ethics, v. (1912) 607 (W. H. Bennett), 701 (J. Denney).

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1. (1911), No. 201 (P. Haupt).


And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.- Gen_2:23-24.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.- Gen_3:6.

But she shall be saved through the childbearing.- 1Ti_2:15.

How are we to interpret the story of Adam and Eve, their creation and fall? Three different views have been held from the very earliest times and are still held to-day. The first is that we are to regard the early chapters of Genesis as history, genuine history-the Garden, the Tree, the Serpent-all actual history; the second, that we are to look upon it as myth, like the mythology, say of Greece, in which truth is embodied in a purely mythical form; the third, that it is to be treated, as the Apostle Paul treats certain incidents of Old Testament history, in an allegorical fashion, as an allegory, an interesting story that contains for us profound spiritual truth.

Each of these views has still its advocates, but the generally accepted view to-day is the third, viz.: that we have here not history but allegory, very much the same as in The Pilgrim's Progress. The City of Destruction never existed, yet it is most real: Christian, though only the product of Bunyan's sanctified imagination, is alive to-day in you and me, and will continue to live till the end of time.

It is probable that no reader of the opening chapters of Genesis would, apart from dogmatic presuppositions, take the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to be an historical narrative. Everything in it points to that large utterance of the primitive imagination, the poetry of the human mind when it begins to meditate upon its origins, which among the Greeks was described as myth. The word “myth” has in the modern mind an uneasy suggestion of falsehood and fabrication; and with a proper instinct we decline to apply any word with such a suggestion to the inspired writings. But what the Greeks signified by the muthos (Anglicé, “myth”) was not a falsehood, nor, except in the sense that the highest work of the human mind may be designated by such a word, was it a fabrication. It was a tale, often rich in colour and moving in incident, which contained a deeper meaning than appeared. It was an attempt to convey a truth, a religious truth, or it might be even an historical truth, in the form of a story. Where the records or the memory of man could not penetrate, his imagination, guided by his reason, might make adventurous excursions; and truths which might be communicated in abstract language became more memorable, and therefore more efficacious, when they were “embodied in a tale.”1 [Note: R. F. Horton.]