I need to share this. I’ve recently had a “revelation” about the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis. With all due respect to anyone out there who considers this story sacred and/or literal, I would like to explain a new take on it which I’ve recently figured out. I don’t mean this to be contentious. If hearing an alternate interpretation of the Bible might offend you, I request that you please read no further.
Many parts of the Garden of Eden story don’t make sense to me, if read as literal. I will not get snarky as I know many atheists do when pointing out what they see as Biblical errors and illogic. What I want to do is consider the whole story to be allegorical of EACH human’s life, rather than thinking it is the beginning of ALL human life. Suddenly the story makes a lot of sense! Throw in a bit of metaphor about sex, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
In early childhood, we live “carefree” as in a magical garden when all our needs are provided for us. We are not ashamed of being nude, because we have no sexual thoughts at that age. Then when we become adults we suddenly begin to see the opposite sex as attractive, and suddenly also begin to see the point in covering up for modesty’s sake.
The “serpent” is a major character in the story which never made sense to me before. Why would an animal talk? Why would an animal want to tempt Eve to eat an apple (or whatever the fruit was)? In early texts there is no indication that the serpent was anything other than an animal, though when I was told the story the serpent was supposed to be the Devil himself, in disguise. But I once read a story about a man who exposed himself to women, telling them to “kiss the serpent”, and when I took that metaphor into this story it began to click and make sense.
The “fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was a problem for me too. Why would a loving God put such a dangerous and tempting fruit anywhere his beloved children could FIND it? If it was me, I’d put it in a locked cupboard somewhere if it had to exist at all. Then I realized that “knowledge” in the Bible often refers to sex. (ie: Abraham KNEW his wife Sarah, and they conceived a son.) So maybe the tree didn’t help them see for the first time that good and evil existed, nor did it give them any special philosophical understanding of it, but perhaps it gave them an EXPERIENCE that was both good and evil somehow. Then I remembered that apples are often used as a metaphor for sex in many old fairy tales. Suddenly the picture began to come clear. Sex is a very transformative thing in a person’s life. It opens the woman’s womb to the potential of bearing children, in great pain, but which is also a source of great love and joy for her (motherhood). It obligates a man to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood, taking care of a family by working hard all day in the fields, earning bread by the sweat of his brow rather than being provided for as he was in childhood. Yet sex is a great pleasure and joy in people’s life. Surely in sex we experience both good and evil(difficulty or pain, both emotional and physical) in many various ways. In parenthood, even, we experience a great mixture of joys, sorrows, pleasures, and pains as we do the best we can, realizing we are unfortunately NOT god, and sometimes things go wrong or we make mistakes.
So now the story looks like this: God is perhaps a parent figure, for who else provides all a young child’s needs? Little kids think their parents are omnipotent. So God/the parent tells Adam and Eve/young kids not to eat this fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. (ie. “don’t have sex!”) God knows the kids are too young to handle such responsibilities. He knows once you become a parent you can never go back to being a child again. That old life is dead to you. But then the kids begin to grow up, and suddenly that fruit begins to be very tempting. The “serpent” convinces them that if they eat this fruit they will not die, but would be like God. (They think they will be able to handle the problems and responsibilities, and the kids are actually eager to be parents themselves, possibly because they think parents have everything easy and always get their own way, and are omnipotent over their children, and they covet that power.) So they go ahead and indulge.
When asked how this happened, Eve said “the serpent” tricked her. This also explains that bit she added about being warned not only not to “eat the fruit” but not even to touch it. I know a lot of sexual encounters begin with just touching, not really intending to go “all the way”. Anyhow, when he was asked why it happened Adam said “the woman tempted him with the apple”. Surely we know how seeing a woman and imagining having sex with her can be very tempting for young men in particular.
So the upshot was that they both indulged in sexual activity with one another, then they both got exiled from the garden of innocence and childhood paradise, and had to become responsible adults.
I have heard before that parts of the Genesis stories are known to have been written by several different authors, adding, correcting, and changing the story to fit whatever their current society thought were the most important lessons. I fully believe this started off as nothing but a fable about the transition of children to adults and then parents. All the stuff about the curses got added later, to make a point. Then maybe the stories of their children and etc. got added on later, just to keep the narrative growing, and to teach other important lessons that mattered to the people of the time.
Anyway, that’s my take on it. 3 months ago