Eve and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book and it gave me a lot to think about in regards to Mother Eve's story and how it relates to a woman's journey today.
I most appreciated the discussion about Eve and Adam's story and how little we really know about so much of what happened. Timeline, creation processes, etc. are all kind of loosely outlined but not really discussed in full. Because not all the details are there we tend to fill in those blanks using our own personal and cultural biases. The author gives some really good and thoughtful insights into the gaps of the story. She also fills in some of those gaps by talking with experts on biblical history, translation processes (and pitfalls), and the Hebrew language.
As I've been trying to more closely study the old testament I've really been impressed with the fact that tracing it back to the Hebrew is so important. When there are two words meaning similar but different things and the wrong one is picked it can make a huge difference in the way we view the scriptures. For instance...the hebrew word found in the creation story for God- Elohim-is a plural word and is always followed by plural verbs. Reading the creation story with the word Gods instead of God opens up the possibility for a Heavenly Mother and adds so much depth to the interactions between Eve and her creators.
Making sure to know the correct translations can also help with other aspects of the story too...what does help meet mean? What does it mean when it says that the man will rule the woman? Is it only Adam that is given dominion over all the earth? Understanding who is being spoken to in the story can be confusing in English because sometimes man means literally just the male gender but man can also mean mankind which includes all genders. Same with the word Adam in this story. Tracing things back to the original words can sometimes help to clear this up.
This book also does a nice job of discussing the obvious sticking point for many people in this story...what was Eve's intention and understanding when she partook of the fruit? And on a deeper level how does the answer to that question affect our view and treatment of women even today. This book echoes my own feelings in that Eve was fully aware of what she was doing and understood that only through sacrifice could the plan move forward. She chooses to partake of the fruit to become like her Heavenly Parents- gaining knowledge and with it the understanding of how to multiply seed and move mankind into a fully mortal sphere. In genesis Adam calls Eve the mother of all living after they partake of the fruit. Since eating the fruit has lead Adam and Eve into a state where they will die (mortality) Adam acknowledges that Eve's sacrifice makes her the mother of all living including himself.
In the second half of the book she addresses what this story means for men and women today and how we can relate what we learn from this story to our own lives. And while I do agree that the scriptures are meant to be living and applied to our lives I don't necessarily agree with all of the conclusions she draws. This book was written in the 1990's and I found some of the ideas about gender roles to be slightly dated. Not overly so but enough that they deviated from my own opinions. Like I mentioned above our interpretation of scripture is always effected by our own cultural biases (myself included). It was interesting to read about her opinions nevertheless. And I appreciated the quotes she used from scholars and religious authorities alike.
Over all I would definitely recommend this as a great jumping off point for learning more about Eve. It helped me appreciate her and my own womanness so much. In genesis we read that God will multiply woman's sorrow but in Moses 5 we get Eve's insight that the increase in sorrow is what eventually leads to the greatest increase of joy. I have gratitude for her quest for knowledge and for her sacrifice on my behalf and I'm grateful that I get to continue the work of Eve in my family and religious settings.
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