Part I: The Intrusion of Death
The Trial Of Man:
And The Price Of Failure
The Lord God caused a
deep sleep to fall upon Adam,
and he slept:
And He took one of the ribs
and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man
made He a woman,
and brought her to the man.
Adam was first formed,
And Adam was not deceived,
but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
(1 Timothy 2:13,14)
We come now
to an analysis of the events in Eden. Brief as the record is,
these events had tremendous consequences for the subsequent history
of man. The biblical record is deceiving in its simplicity. It
could be said that the words are for children: but the thoughts
are for men.
The first of these events is the physical
separation of Eve out of Adam, signifying a profound difference
between the origin of Adam and the origin of Eve. Anyone who
tries to account for the origin of man in a naturalistic way
while professing to have respect for the biblical record finds
himself in difficulty at this point.
unique formation of Eve played a part of crucial importance in
making possible man's redemption. It is difficult to deal with
this first event without anticipating some of the data to be
examined later. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to speak briefly
about certain aspects of this data because the separation of
Eve out of Adam brought about a radical change in the functioning
of Adam's body. And by reasoning backwards we soon discover that
Adam's constitution at first must have been such that an evolutionary
origin of his body is virtually out of the question.
It is often argued by those who
have addressed the problem of the origin of man that one ought
at least to allow the evolution of his body. The uniqueness
of our first parent would then lie in the possession of a soul
or spirit which was created in the image of God. There are a
number of Roman Catholic theologians who take this position and
apparently have the formal approval of their superiors. * Not
a few evangelical writers with a background in biology also adopt
essentially the same position.
form of solution to the conflict between evolutionary claims
and the biblical account is not really satisfactory because it
does not explain how Adam could have been so structured physiologically
that Eve could be taken out of him in the literal sense that
Genesis 2:21 implies. The King James Version reads: "[The
Lord God] took one of his 'ribs'†
and closed up the flesh instead thereof," and the implication
of a physical separation is reinforced by Adam's words in verse
23: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."
Eve's body was
clearly derived from Adam's body, and in this surgical
process the two genders were separated and sexual dimorphism
in man was initiated. In the original, the two sexes must
therefore have in some way been fused. That is to say, Adam was
at first androgynous, male and female in form and function, and
A compound of two chemical elements has
properties that neither component has in itself. So the compound
of maleness and femaleness was expressed in Adam in a form which
neither a male nor a female can ever exhibit individually. Nor
is it exhibited when maleness and femaleness (in some
kind of aberrant form) occurs in a single individual. It was
something unlike anything we know today.
* In the encyclical Humani: Generis,
[1950, paragraph 361], of Pope Pius XII, such an alternative
to the direct Creation of Adam's body was given official sanction.
The doctrine of evolution is left an open question provided that
speculation is confined to the development only of Adam's body.
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The Hebrew word is not limited to the idea of a
rib. (See further on this in Chapter
would therefore be a grave mistake to suppose that where, by
accident of birth, both sexes find a measure of expression today
in a particular individual that such an individual is approaching
the original Adamic model. Such congenital departures from the
normal are, in a manner of speaking, in violation of what is
implied in Genesis 2:21-24, a fact which bears witness to the
long-range effects of the Fall.
Adam's body, as created, was made
in the image of God in whom is neither maleness nor femaleness
but something out of which maleness and femaleness could be separated
in one of his creatures made in his image. In this respect it
is perfectly in keeping with his Being that God can therefore
act and speak of Himself in the role of Father (1 Chronicles
29:10; Isaiah 9:6; 64:8) and Mother (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13; and
by implication Matthew 23:37) without confusion. This "something,"
this tertium quid, of which we can have no accurate picture
because it is entirely beyond our present experience, made deity
entirely self-sufficient. Such self-sufficiency is proper in
God Himself, but in man such self-sufficiency appears to have
been improper and was therefore not allowed to continue. Genesis
2:18 may well have a more profound significance than merely of
being alone. I suggest that it is not a question of whether a
man should be a bachelor or whether a woman should be
a spinster but rather that neither a man nor a woman should
be so self-sufficient as to feel no sense whatever of an incompleteness.
We are in our relationships.
In short, it is difficult ‹
if not impossible ‹ to view the formation of Eve out of Adam
without being driven to the conclusion that in Adam both principles
(maleness and femaleness) were resident in something analogous
to what we call androgynous form. The biblical record has been
so understood by both Jewish and Christian commentators alike,
and classical tradition (as we shall see subsequently) reflected
the same view though in sadly corrupted form.
We hope to be able to show that
a literal reading of this account can lead to some surprisingly
fruitful lines of inquiry ‹ involving miracle, it is true,
but miracle with an entirely intelligible objective. The rationale
can be taken apart piece by piece, as it were, and examined in
depth. And it will be found, if we take the text in complete
seriousness, that a great deal of light is shed upon the constitution
of Adam as created; on the purpose of the surgical operation
involved in the formation of Eve; on the special significance
of the "seed of the woman" as opposed to the seed of
the man; on the differential effect of the poison from the forbidden
fruit on Adam's body and on Eve's body; on the profound significance,
in the course of time, of the Virgin Conception (the birth itself
was surely natural enough) in relation to the vicarious death
of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, in the present context,
on the origin of death itself in human experience.
sections of the biblical account with which we are here particularly
concerned are as follows:
And the Lord God said, "It
is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an
help fit for him."
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the
field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto
Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called
every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave
names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every
beast of the field: but for Adam there was not found an help
fit for him.
And the Lord God caused a deep
sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his
ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which
the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought
her unto the man.
And Adam 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. And they were both naked, the man and his
wife, and were not ashamed.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered
into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all
men, for all have sinned. (For until the law, sin was in the
world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless,
death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not
sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is a
figure of him that was to come).
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by
man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all
die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Now it is widely
acknowledged that in the animal world below man, creatures which
multiply asexually, in which there is no true maleness or femaleness,
enjoy a potential immortality on this account. It is held that
when, in the course of evolution, sexual dimorphism appeared,
this potential immortality had to be surrendered. Comte du Nouy
expressed it this way: (132)
If several methods of asexual
reproduction are known in plants and animals, it is evident that
these processes reproduce indefinitely the same characters. The
cell or organism separates into two individuals who live, grow,
and in their turn, each separate into two others.
They never die except accidentally.
They go on untiringly doubling their numbers according to their
specific rhythm, so that if it were not checked by a more general
or direct phenomenon [predation, ACC], they would soon
132. du Nouy, Comte, Human Destiny, New
York, Longmans Green, 1947, p.61.
smother the earth under their mass.
Asexual cells do not know death
as individuals. They are immortal. All of a sudden, with sexual
generation, we see the appearance of an entirely new and unforeseen
phenomenon: the birth and death of the individual.
There is some
doubt, however, about this because ‹ as we have already noted
‹ it is not at all certain that fishes, for example, though
they reproduce sexually, are actually subject to natural death
and have thereby surrendered their potential immortality. Although
some, like salmon for instance, do die simply as part of the
consequence of sexual reproduction.
However, we know from Genesis that
Adam and Eve did not immediately surrender their immortality
even though they were divided as to sex. Death was still only
a threat in the event of their being disobedient. Thus Adam,
as created, and then Adam and Eve as separated but unfallen,
must have been differently constituted from other higher forms
of life which shared their world.
Even yet, in spite of the long
continued inheritance of the effects of the forbidden fruit on
our bodies we still cannot detect precisely where the critical
differences lie between the workings of the human body and the
workings of the bodies of primates like man, but it would be
a mistake to assume that such fundamental differences do not
exist. Adam and Eve as male and female were uniquely constituted
by a surgical operation, which does not seem to have applied
in the formation of any other species. It may well be that we
simply do not have the appropriately designed tools of research
to identify these differences, though differences do turn
up in the laboratory where they were previously quite unexpected.
(133) Or it may
be that we are not asking the right questions.
At any rate, there are excellent
reasons for the creation of Adam with both seeds housed in his
own body, and for the subsequent housing of the female seed and
reproductive organs (including the ovaries) in a body that was
distinct from his own both in form and function though originally
derived from it. These reasons bear directly on the events
immediately subsequent to the eating of the forbidden fruit,
for the mortogenic poison which entered Adam's body and Eve's
body had a similar effect on both of them in depriving them of
their potential immortality. But it appears to have had a significantly
different effect upon their seed, upon what Auguste Weismann
termed their germ plasm. It is the latter circumstance
which formed such an essential starting point in the chain of
events by which man's redemption was put into effect. For here
we are dealing with the physiological background of the virgin
conception of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was only thus that He
133. See in Notes at the end of this chapter
could be made after the
power of "endless life" (Hebrews 7:16) by reason of
which He could offer Himself vicariously in order that we might
be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22). And only thus by his
bodily resurrection without corruption are we justified
in God's sight (Acts 13:37-39).
We rightly think of the goal of
redemption as being a spiritual one, but manifestly three of
the prerequisites of the Plan ‹ the virgin conception, vicarious
death, and bodily resurrection without corruption ‹ are all
"hard facts" within the realm of physiology. The saving
of man's soul is not completed without also the saving of his
body: and the very fact of the Incarnation, when God was manifested
in the flesh, underscores the important role which the
body plays in the concept of the whole person. Man is not a spirit
only, but a body/spirit entity. Hence, as Redeemer, the Lord
did not take upon Himself the nature of angels who are pure spirit,
but was made for a little while lower than the angels for the
suffering of death (Hebrews 2:9).
Luther was very
clear on this point. He says that the Saviour in order to suffer
death, had to be incarnated, embodied, made man, for God (being
pure spirit) cannot die, even as the angels cannot die ‹
as we understand death. Embodiment is a prerequisite to physical
death and if we are to be saved by substitutional death, it must
be substitutional physical death ‹ and this required
incarnation. Luther's words as given in the Formula of Concord
(Article VIII, Section 44) are: Non enim in sua natura
Deus mori potest. Postquam autem Deus et homo unitus est in una
persona, recte et vere dicitur: Deus mortuus est, quando videlicet
ille homo moritur, qui cum Dea unum quiddam, seu una persona
est. Translated literally this is: "For God is not able
to die by his very nature. However, after God and man were united
in one person, rightly and truly is it said: God has died, when
it is clear that he died a man, who so to speak is one with God,
at least is one person i.e., one with God."
The part which the Lord's body played
in the redemption of man is sometimes lost sight of. Consider
the following verses:
Colossians 1:21, 22
". . . reconciled in the body
of his flesh through death."
". . . sanctified through
the offering of the body of Christ."
". . . boldness to enter into
the holiest by . . . his flesh."
1 Peter 2:24
"He bore our sins in his own body."
"In Him dwelleth all the fulness
of the Godhead bodily."
hope of bodily resurrection is not a sop to our materialism but
an assurance of our real survival as persons. The Lord Jesus
sacrificed his whole Person for us, body and spirit; this is
why the Incarnation, the embodiment of God, was absolutely essential
for man's redemption. The very first step towards this embodiment,
the Incarnation, was the creation of Adam's body in such a form
that Eve could be taken out of him as Genesis 2:21-23 reveals.
The second event of tremendous
consequence in Eden was the temptation of Eve, followed by the
very different temptation of Adam. It was not Eve's failure but
Adam's that resulted in the introduction of physical death into
human experience. "By one man," not by one woman,
nor even by one pair, death entered and passed by
natural generation upon all men (Romans 5:12). As we shall see,
the reasons for this unexpected situation lie in the internal
structural differences between the man's body and the woman's.
The language of both Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 is
precise and is surely to be taken to mean exactly what it says.
Consider, then, the circumstances
surrounding this fatal test of Eve and of Adam in the Garden
of Eden. The actual record as we have it in several contributing
passages of Scripture is as follows:
Now the serpent had become more
subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
And he said unto the woman:
"Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not
eat of every tree of the garden?" And the woman said unto
the serpent: "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the
garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of
the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall
ye touch it, lest ye die." And the serpent said unto the
woman: "Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that
in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and
ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
And when the woman saw that
the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes,
and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit
thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her;
and he did eat.
And the eyes of them both were
opened, and they knew that they were naked; and sewed fig leaves
together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice
of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:
and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the
Lord God among the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto
Adam, and said unto him: "Where art thou?" And he said,
"I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because
I was naked; and I hid myself."
And He said: "Who told thee
that thou wast naked? Hast thou
eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded
thee that thou shouldest not eat?" And the man said: "The
woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree
and I did eat."
And the Lord God said unto the
woman: "What is this that thou hast done?" And the
woman said: "The serpent beguiled me and I did eat."
1 Timothy 2:13-14
For Adam was first formed, then
And Adam was not deceived, but
the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression.
I believe we
should accept the fact that the forbidden fruit was a real fruit,
even as the Tree of Life was a real tree with leaves having therapeutic
value. That both trees may also be used symbolically to teach
us spiritual truths is not in question. But in this study it
is the actual trees in their physical character that we are examining.
By gathering all the explicit and implicit information available
from the biblical account we appear to have a situation in the
temptation of Eve and of Adam ‹ in that order ‹ which
was far more complex than the childish stealing of a forbidden
fruit as traditionally presented.
Consider the circumstances. Scripture,
it seems to me, has gone out of its way to make it perfectly
clear that Adam really was entirely alone in the world. First
of all, it is apparent that although he was in a real sense complete
in himself, God evidently considered that this kind of self-sufficiency
was not a good thing. Perhaps even in a state of perfection Adam
needed some fundamental human inter-dependence in order
to develop his character. As a potential companion, God may have
brought to him certain of the creatures which man has since domesticated
and whose company he has learned to enjoy as pets. In his fallen
state, man can now often find solace in the 'companionship' of
a dog or a horse ‹ or even of a bird or a cat. In his unfallen
state such creatures were inadequate companions. Certainly God
knew this of course: but perhaps He wanted Adam to discover it
for himself. To none of these creatures which came to him by
divine impulse (Genesis 2:19,20) did Adam respond in such a way
as to indicate their sufficiency as true companions or mates.
His response was revealed by the names which he gave them. He
did not assign his own name to any of them as a groom now assigns
his name to his wife.
So God performed an operation isolating
part of Adam and constituting that part into a new whole which,
when brought to him, he at once identified as the companion he
had not found among the other animals. Accordingly, he named
her "Woman," which is a translation of the Hebrew word
Ishah - And Ishah is the feminine form of the word
Ish which means man, the name by which he himself
was called. Surely he must
have loved her at once,
for she was literally part of himself.
Without sin, radiant in health,
and beautiful as only God could make her in the full perfection
and maturity of womanhood, she must have returned his love. In
the truest possible sense they were verily made for each other.
Each completed for the other the cup of happiness in their idyllic
garden home. Without doubt, her presence became as essential
to his own fulfillment as his presence was to hers. And thus,
in their earthly paradise, Adam and Eve passed cloudless days
(because sinless) in fellowship and open communion with God,
* with neither fear nor shame, and with complete freedom to do
whatever they willed and to eat whatever they desired of the
fruits of the garden ‹ except one tree which was forbidden
And then Satan put Eve to the test.
Whether Satan used a serpent as an agent by controlling its behaviour
from without, or whether he indwelt a serpent (as the legion
of demons indwelt the Gadarene swine, Luke 8:32,33) or whether
he assumed a serpent form, we cannot tell precisely from the
record. Indeed, the word rendered serpent may not even
mean a serpent at all.† But
one could well imagine such a creature reaching up into the forbidden
tree in Eve's presence and there eating its fruit with complete
confidence and manifest enjoyment and, to her amazement perhaps,
with apparent impunity. Possibly the thought came to Eve that
if other creatures could eat of the fruit with safety, why could
not she? It is a common practice of country people in all ages
to be guided in their choice of safe foods by observing what
animals can safely eat. Why should the same thought not have
occurred to Eve?
Yet the serpent may well have actually
spoken to Eve in some language clear to her understanding, as
Balaam was spoken to by his ass (Numbers 22:27-32). Or was it
that Eve was really speaking to herself? Perhaps when doubts
arose in her mind, the Satan-inspired creature reassured her
by deliberately returning to the tree sometime later and
* It has no historical value, but it is interesting
that in an apocryphal book known only from an early Slavonic
manuscript titled The Secrets of Enoch (Chapter XXXII,
3) the unknown author states that "Adam was five and a half
hours in paradise"! The same view appears in several of
the Adam Books. In the Book of Jubilees the life
in Paradise is said to have lasted seven years: so also Syncellus
taught. Josephus puts its duration as at least several days (cf.
John Damascus, De. orth. fide, 11. 10; Augustine, De
Civitas XX. 26; Gregory (Great), Dialogue, IV. 1).
These authorities are followed by Pererius and Ussher. R. Anuni
(Bereshith Rabba II), Irenaeus, Ephrem, Epiphanius, and
some scholastics fix upon one day as its limit. Eusebius (Chronicles
1.16, 4, edited by Mai) said no one could tell anything about
it! He was probably the most correct...
† The Hebrew original nachash, which Driver
suggests is onomatopoeic (= the word hiss) is of uncertain
root but might possibly be related to the word for bronze,
or even to a verbal root connected with divination.
taking the fruit a second
or a third time, until in her own mind she came to doubt that
there were any fatal consequences involved. And yet, her intuition
persisted in warning her that she should neither eat the fruit
nor even touch it. To touch was to take. In the end she
was deceived as the New Testament tells us (1 Timothy 2:14) and,
having plucked the fruit from the tree, she tasted it and found
it to be all she had anticipated, not only beautiful to look
at but good to the taste and in some unexpected way enlightening
to the mind . . . as some modern drugs are.
But now a subtle change took place
in her body, for she had unknowingly introduced a fatal poison.
Even when she went back to Adam and invited him to share her
experience, she still apparently had no real comprehension of
what had happened to herself. And here we come to the crux of
the story. For while Eve was, in one sense, as innocent as a
child who has disobeyed but is not sure exactly in what way,
Adam was not deceived at all. In a moment he realized that he
was once again completely alone, but now it was an aloneness
of a different kind, for he had lost his other self, his love,
his sole human companion in the whole wide world. Part of him
We know that he was alone in this
sense, for Eve became (so the Hebrew) the mother of all
living (Genesis 3:20). There was no other woman who might have
taken her place. She stood before him; yet she stood completely
apart from him. They belonged to different kingdoms. Adam knew
it at once, and in that moment he faced a trial surely more heart-rending
than has ever been the lot of any man since who is called upon
to surrender his dearest possession. For while many other men
have made such a sacrifice for one reason or another (millions
were forced to do so by the Nazis), Adam could never ‹ for
all he knew ‹ expect to recover a helpmeet again. There was
no other woman in the world...Nor was there any other man
who, placed in similar circumstances, might have shared the burden
of loss with him. For a little while he had been alone before
in his undivided state as he came from the hand of his Creator
but very probably without any awareness of loneliness as he now
felt it in his divided self. He had to face the prospect of an
aloneness made acute because of what he had experienced and what
he had now lost. And for all he could see, this loss was for
ever. Adam was still immortal: but for Eve a subtle change had
already begun and she was, as God had said she would be, from
that very day a dying creature. Here lay the gulf between them:
a mortal creature could not be a proper companion to a still
Thus God, who overrules all human
history, had allowed the first man to be brought into a position
of trial, the severity of which is far beyond our true comprehension.
Adam was faced with a choice that
was quite literally
a matter of life and death for him. And it had all been brought
about by the eating of the fruit of a forbidden tree.
In the Hebrew original, at verse
6, there is a small mark which indicates a pause after the words
"and gave also unto her husband with her" and before
the words "and he did eat." The little 'mark' in the
Hebrew text at the word which is translated into English "with
her," is called a Tiphkha. Every Hebrew sentence
is given certain accents to guide the reader as to the appropriate
emphasis, and some of these are called 'separation' marks. They
are somewhat analogous to our comma, colon, and so forth. The
strongest separation mark in a Hebrew sentence is called a Silluq.
It marks the end of a sentence, and usually in translation
also marks the end of a verse. The strongest separation mark
within the sentence, and therefore standing for a pause
by way of emphasis, is called a Tiphhha. It is this little
mark that tells us there is to be a pause after the words "with
It might be thought that this was
hanging too much weight on so small a thread. But I think it
is necessary to bear in mind that when a literary work is characterized
by extreme simplicity and brevity, as Genesis is, and when the
circumstances are of tremendous significance in human history,
it is important to observe all the clues that the writer has
given as to his intention.
Adam was about to make a choice which
was to affect profoundly all subsequent generations. If he joined
Eve, he was settling once for all the question of whether mankind
would retain the potential immortality which God had provided
for. When he followed his wife and ate the fatal fruit, he,
not she (as we shall show), introduced death into human experience.
Death entered by one man and passed upon all men so that every
one of us now lives out his whole life under the shadow of a
sentence of death. This was the consequence of Adam's decision.
There is no knowing what might
have been the course of history had Eve been allowed to go out
of the Garden alone, for ever separated from Adam. We know from
Genesis 4:1 that Eve was not pregnant at this time since Adam
did not "know" her until sometime later. Such a separation
would therefore seem to bring an end to the human race in terms
of further multiplication, unless we suppose that God might have
allowed Adam to go with her into exile even though he had not
disobeyed. Their children would still have been immortal in such
a case, for the seed of the man was still uncorrupted and the
seed of the woman had been protected against corruption.
Though she herself would die, since she had fatally poisoned
her own body, yet Adam and her children would still have retained
their potential immortality ‹ for we know that the fatal
poison is not transmitted through or in the woman's seed, and
the seed of Adam still unfallen
would in such a circumstance
have retained its purity also. But it seems most unlikely that
God would have permitted Adam to leave the Garden, and the hypothesis
has very little validity: but it is an interesting one to contemplate.
Adam cannot perhaps have anticipated
all the profound consequences of his action, but we should not
underestimate the perceptive powers of the human mind untouched
by any poison and perfect as God created it. As Rev. J. B. Heard
rightly observed, even Aristotle was "but the rubbish of
an Adam." *
I cannot imagine
Adam simply agreeing to follow Eve's unhappy choice, blithely
and without thought. We know in fact that he was not deceived
(1 Timothy 2:14). He must surely have known at least something
of what the consequences would be. When he decided to eat the
fruit, he must have done so only after pondering the matter deeply.
It must have been an agonizing decision to make.
He was faced with a choice, the
choice of staying in the Garden and living for ever in complete
and daily fellowship with God, in perfect health and sinless
‹ but without Eve. Or he could surrender his immortality
and his innocence, and his sojourn in the Garden and his daily
sense of the Lord's fellowship ‹ but preserve the companionship
of his love, the woman whom God Himself had "given to be
with him." And who can tell but that his own awareness of
the reality of the situation may have communicated itself to
Eve. Would she not appeal to him not to desert her? How could
he contemplate a separation on such terms as these which
would leave him in the sunshine of Eden and God's presence,
while exiling her to the unknown world outside the Garden. I
do not think we can really grasp the situation that Adam found
himself in, because wherever we go we are likely to find people.
Adam and Eve were entirely alone in the world.
This, then, was the situation.
Can one imagine what must have been Adam's thoughts as he contemplated
the sending forth of his beautiful help meet out of the Garden
into an entirely unknown and supposedly uninhabited world ‹
while he remained within the Garden? And can we imagine what
Adam's thoughts would be as he looked into the future and saw
his beloved lying somewhere "out there" dying alone
and unattended, in her aged condition? There can be little doubt
that he perceived at least something of what such a future could
mean both for her and for himself.
It does not, of course, lessen
his disobedience to realize at what a cost obedience would seem
to have been demanded of him. But it surely underscores the fact
that those who thoughtlessly scoff at the
* Heard, J. B., The Tripartite Nature of
Man, Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1868, p.163.
idea of a temptation
story so childishly linked to a forbidden fruit have, by their
refusal to take the record seriously, entirely failed
to see how acutely was Adam being tried, and how by a completely
reasonable series of circumstances his trial had been allowed
to come about. Surely this is why we are told that Adam was not
deceived and why it is indicated by the punctuation that he only
ate the fruit after deliberation, and why, when faced with his
disobedience, he (not altogether without an element of tragic
truth) reminded God that He had "given" the woman to
be with him as his companion (Genesis 3:12).
Thus it came about that, like Socrates,
he deliberately poisoned himself. He made his choice and surrendered
his immortality because he preferred the company of Eve to that
of the Lord.
I make no apology for the literalism
which marks every aspect of my exegesis. I only regret that I
have not the dramatic skill to paint a more accurate picture.
After some forty years of study I am entirely convinced that
the biblical account is a faithful record of what really happened.
In so far as Archaeology has confirmed the biblical account of
history, it has always favoured a literal interpretation over
an allegorical one. Wherever archaeological confirmation is available,
it consistently lends credence to the biblical record in its
historical detail ‹ not merely in its general tenor or broad
implications, though it has done this too! We do not have archeological
confirmation yet of the events in Eden in the sense that we do
have confirmation of later events, but we seem to be getting
another kind of confirmation now, namely, confirmation from studies
in anatomy and physiology and, in less direct ways, from psychology
Let me restate
as succinctly as I can, even at the risk of being tiresome, what
I think was really involved. So much hinges upon what took place
at the very beginning. God, in his creative wisdom, set the stage
for the working out of man's redemption, the redemption of his
body as well as his spirit, by first creating an Adam who was
potentially immortal and who encompassed within himself both
seeds, male and female, containing within a single organism the
mechanism for the production of both spermatozoa and ova. We
still have evidence in the human body to justify such an interpretation
of the record, as will be amply demonstrated later.
The Lord then separated Eve out
of Adam and entrusted to her one of the two seeds and the related
reproductive mechanism, fashioning her body in a special way
to preserve that seed uncorrupted even if she should poison herself
with the forbidden fruit. Her body was poisoned, like
Adam's: but unlike Adam's seed, her seed (as we shall
show) apparently remained untouched. Thus although Genesis 3:6
affirms that Eve was in the transgression first, her ingestion
forbidden fruit was
not responsible for introducing death to the human race. Adam's
partaking of the forbidden fruit not only poisoned his own body
but affected his seed also, and through his seed was transmitted
to the human race our mortal condition. It was by one MAN
that death entered and passed upon all men. It is when the
seed of the woman is fertilized by the male seed that the fatal
poison is transmitted to the next generation. Via the man's seed
came death (1 Corinthians 15:21); via the seed of the woman was
to come life. It is literally true that in Adam all men
die, as it is true that in Christ, who was both the Second Adam
and the seed of the woman, all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians
Abraham Kuyper stated this succinctly
and in such a way as to demonstrate clearly that he took this
biblical record as sober history. He wrote: *
Death in connection with
man's eating of the tree of knowledge can be understood in a
twofold way: either as a punishment that was threatened, or as
a result that would follow therefrom. If death is fixed as the
punishment of high treason this must be understood as a threat,
for one does not die inevitably of high treason. But when I say,
"Do not take of that Paris Green, for if you do you shall
die," there is no question of punishment: all that is expressed
is that this poison is fatal in its effect, and that one who
takes the poison must die.
In the last instance, I may, if
one should, contrary to my warning take the poison nevertheless,
make an attempt to counteract the deadly effect of the poison
by the application of an antidote to make the patient vomit.
Then I certainly spake fully in accordance with truth: "When
you take the poison, you shall die," and I do not at all
come into conflict with myself when afterwards I make an attempt
to save the reckless one that took the poison. If this is clear,
then it must also be admitted that the words: "If you eat
of the tree of knowledge, you will surely die," are explained
in their full implication when I understand them as implying
nothing else than the declaration, the warning: "Know this,
that when you permit yourself to be tempted to eat of that tree,
you will see that death will be the result."
is how physical death originated for man. It was imposed upon
him as a penalty for disobedience but it was a merciful imposition
nevertheless. Man had to be tested, and he had to be tested in
a context which was meaningful for him. The very simplicity of
Abraham, De Gemeene Gratie, vol.1, p.209ff; translated
by and quoted by Herman Hoekiema, The Triple Knowledge,
Grand Rapids, Reformed Free PubIication Association, 1970, vol.1,
p.136. It should be mentioned in fairness to Hoeksema that he
expresses entire disagreement with Kuyper's interpretation of
the test itself bears
the stamp of truth and of the genius of God. His act of disobedience
and the poison which he introduced into his body together ruined
human nature and made it unsafe for man to continue alive indefinitely:
and thus the same poison was made the agent for the termination
of his life. It was an act of judgment that was also an act of
What kind of
a poison could this have been?
133. (See p.5) An
illustration is the peripheral circulation which performs some
very important functions in the regulation of man's body temperature
and thus his viability. This peripheral circulation is found
to be strikingly different in some of the most commonly used
experimental animals, including those believed to be nearest
to man in their biological make-up [R. H. Fox and O. G. Edholm,
"Peripheral Circulation in Man," British Medical
Bulletin, vol.19, 1963, p.112]. J. D. Hardy remarks particularly
upon the differences between man and some species of monkey in
the matter of body temperature regulation. In fact he concludes
one of his reports by saying: "In summary, although the
monkey was selected originally for this type of experimentation
because it was hoped that its physiology in respect to temperature
regulation might be nearer to man than that of the domestic cat
or dog, it would seem that the monkey does not simulate man in
its method of regulating body temperature" ["Control
of Heat Loss and Heat Production in Physiological Temperature
Regulation," Harvey Lecture Series, XLIX, New York,
Academic Press, 1953-4, p.242-270]. See also the author's "Is
Man An Animal?" in Evolution or Creation, vol.1,
The Doorway Papers Series, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1976,
p.208-320, which deals at some length with these questions.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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