The Bible is filled with some major players. Eve is one from the Old Testament.
Eve. The first woman. The first wife. The first mother. The first sinner?
We are familiar with the story of Eve found in Genesis 2 and 3. But, if you’re looking for a unique retelling, I recommend the Slappy Squirrel animated version. God decides that it is not good for Adam to be alone, so God puts Adam in a deep sleep. While Adam is under, God uses one of his ribs to create Eve. And there they are, one happy, newlywed family.
That is, until the serpent enters the drama. The serpent engages Eve in a conversation not with God, but about God. The serpent and Eve have a little God-talk time. Theologian and scholar Walter Brueggemann writes, “The serpent is the first in the Bible to seem knowing and critical about God and to practice theology in the place of obedience.” Doing theology is not limited to the Ivory Towers. From the beginning, theology – God-talk – has been accessible.
Their conversation ultimately leads to the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The Bible does not name the fruit. Tradition has taught us that it was an apple. However, apples were not Mesopotamian fruits. Most likely, the fruit was a pomegranate, apricot, or fig. But the identity of the truth, at the end of the day, is that important.
What is important is that the serpent talks about what will happen if Eve does eat the fruit of the tree, and the serpent proves to be convincing. “And she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6). And everything changed! She tasted the fruit and then ate it. Cue the John Williams score, the fall of humanity just got real.
We were taught in Sunday school that Eve ate of the fruit first, and then took it to Adam and he ate without thinking. The plural use of “you” in the Hebrew suggests that Adam is most likely with her during this conversation. That is to say that we need to stop giving Eve a bad rap. Eve made have eaten first, but she did not act solely alone. She may have been the spokeswoman for the couple, but that does not mean that she and all women after her must submit to their husbands. It does, however, reinforce the idea that this thing we call faith is a communal act. We are in this together.
There is a three fold action in this story. Eve takes the fruit, she eats the fruit, and she gives the fruit. Compare this to the four fold action Jesus and others use in the New Testament when celebrating the Lord’s Supper. They take the bread, bless the bread, break the bread, and give the bread. The connection is striking. Jesus redeems the basic disobedience of humanity through the action of giving his body and blood for us. When we respond to this taking, blessing, breaking, and giving of bread, we are affirming our active participation in the salvation story.
In a sense, Eve set in motion the fall of humanity, but also the salvation story that would redeem all of humanity.
In what ways are you participating in the salvation story?
Resources: Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. John Knox Press, 1982.