“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.” — Matthew Henry
I’ll be taking a six-month break from my Master of Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame Sydney — need to rest up before finishing off my degree with a dissertation. I still wanna occupy my spare time with some theology, so as part of my New Year’s resolutions, I resolve to share my notes on The Bible in a Year podcast. To start off, here are my notes on podcast Days 1–2:
Genesis 1 (macro-Creation) is best understood through the lens of St Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways to Prove the Existence of God — it is not a historical event like Fr Georges Lemaître’s Big Bang Theory (ironic, I know). We know that rather, this is Hebrew poetry because it would seemingly have been more logical for Day Four to occur simultaneously with Day One.
Well actually, what was created on Day Four has dominion over Day One creations, Day Five creations have dominion over Day Two creations, and Day Six creations have dominion over Day Three creations — poetical wisdom, not historical facts. Through the Five Ways lens instead we realise that “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.” (CCC 1)
For this reason, as highlighted by Gen 2 (micro-Creation), “at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.” (CCC 1) This is the meaning of imago dei, and what other worldview other than the Judeo-Christian worldview believes in this dignity befitting of the human person? That is, the human person was created for labour, leisure, and love, just like how God labours, rests and loves.
How do we know that the Judeo-Christian worldview is particularly feminist? ‘Helpmate’ in Gn 2 is ezer kenegdo, which is not a Hebrew term that lowers the status of women to that of “make me a sammich”. Rather, ezer/helper is used 21 times in the Old Testament, and for 19 of those times it’s used in reference to God, as in, ‘God is my helper’. Therefore God did not create Eve (Original Woman / Life) as substandard or beneath Adam (Original Man / Humanity).
Why else would Adam exclaim that at last, Eve is bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh? Why else would men leave their parents to cling to their brides? Creation is that good that there was originally no (human knowing of) shame in nakedness. The world we live in today is still good, it’s just that it’s a good world that’s gone wrong (Gn 3).
Satan is described as subtle because he challenges God’s trustworthiness, rather than God’s existence and authority. His original challenge led to Eve claiming to the serpent that she wasn’t allowed to even touch the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (lest she wants to die), but God never gave such a commandment.
God wasn’t really angry about the Fall, rather, He was heartbroken. It’s a blessing than Adam and Eve were driven away from the Tree of Life, lest they want to live forever broken. Better to die slowly then be resurrected eventually. Also, in driving them out of the Garden of Eden, God clothed them in leather garment — God sacrificed animals (first Biblical deaths?) for skin because he still loved Adam and Eve. But there is Good News about the Fall.
Gn 3:15 is the protoevangelium, the ‘first gospel’, where God cursed Satan the serpent with defeat through the seed of a woman who will crush his head. She is the virgin woman whom the prophet Isaiah said would conceive and bear a son (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23). She is Mary Immaculate. Sinless, it was through her consent and her humility as handmaid of the Lord that she gave us her seed that is Jesus, our Redeemer.
When we look at the prophetic and messianic character of this text, it’s clear the woman is not Eve but Mary, the New Eve. This verse points to a future salvific event, as revealed in the Gospel, then the narrative in Gn 3:16 shifts from the prophetic woman, to a different woman: Eve, tool of Satan, who shall bring forth children in pain — their spiritual seed. See also 1 Cor 11:3 and 1 Tim 2:14.
Jesus calls Mary woman in John 2:4 and again from the Cross in Jn 19:26. In Revelation 12 John refers to Mary as woman eight times in 17 verses. In Rev 12:17 Mary is depicted as giving birth to all Christians. In the same verse the reference to the offspring of the woman is from the Greek word spermatos, or seed.
Indeed, Cain’s offering of sacrifice to God was half-hearted compared to Abel’s, which Cain could not accept — Cain could have chosen to resist temptation to kill Abel and reconsider how he prioritises God. Like mother, like son, preferring autonomy over trusting God and His children? If you take Gn 1–4 out of the Bible, the rest of the Bible doesn’t make any sense.