The Book of Mormon on Eve

I’m pretty sure my understanding of the Fall is woefully incomplete. I’ve been still trying to square statements that pop up with frequency in the Bloggernacle and even in General Conference talks that say things like, “Mormons believe that Eve was courageous and wise” in her decision to partake of the forbidden fruit, when the scriptural texts suggest we don’t believe that. I thought it might be useful to explore just what the Book of Mormon says about Eve and the Fall.

I learned a few things. First, while Eve is referred to three times by name (2 Ne 2:18-19, 1 Ne 5:11), she is referred to many more times as one of our “first parents.” (1 Ne 5:11, 2 Ne 2:15, 2 Ne 9:9. Mosiah 16:3Alma 12:21,26, Alma 42:2, 7,  Hel 6:26, Ether 8:25). That is, she and Adam are more frequently referred to as a unit than as separate people. The Fall is never associated with Eve alone.

This treating of Adam and Eve as a unit extends explicitly to the actual partaking of the fruit as well: the two of them were “beguiled” (used three times) or “enticed” (used once) into partaking of the fruit. That is, both are viewed as responsible for the partaking. It is not that Eve is foolish while Adam is wise, or that Eve and Adam are both wise. Both were tricked, both were cut off. If anything, Adam bears the larger burden of blame; many times the fall is referred to just as the “transgression of Adam” or the “fall of Adam.” (Mosiah 3:11, 19, and many other examples.)

Furthermore, the Book of Mormon makes it very clear that Adam and Eve were tricked by Satan into eating the forbidden fruit. While some have argued that “beguiled” might not mean what the dictionary says it does, the context in which the Book of Mormon uses “beguiled” repeatedly very effectively destroys that argument (2 Ne 9:9Mosiah 16:3Ether 8:25). Plus of course the use of the word “entice,” (Hel 6:26) just to make things clear. Nowhere does the Book of Mormon suggest that Adam and Eve were courageous, or wise, or had foreknowledge. Just the opposite — this was something Satan led them to do, not something they did on their own. Lehi asserts, “All things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things,” (2 Ne 2:24) but that knowledge is never attributed to Adam or Eve.

While it is clear that God had planned for the Fall, the Fall still was a transgression with serious and immediate undesirable consequences. It in and of itself was so severe that it led Adam and Eve to be “cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord.” (Alma 42:7), and if there would not have been an opportunity for change from that state (probation/repentance), “they would have been forever miserable.” (Alma 12:26, note again the plural form).

So perhaps I can summarize the implications:

- The Fall was a joint decision and joint action. Eve gets neither sole credit nor sole blame. Both are actors in the story, both are essential and repeatedly mentioned. I find the frequency with which Eve is included in the Fall to be very interesting and quite different from the way Mormons typically describe the Fall. Perhaps we should start referring the Fall of Adam and Eve, rather than the Fall of Adam.

- Both Adam and Eve were tricked (“beguiled,” “enticed”). No foreknowledge. No courage. No wisdom.

- The Fall was a serious transgression that had the same net effect that serious sin has, on both Adam and Eve. To me, this means that the term “transgression,” is a term of art, a description of this particular event, and significant especially in the context of Adam and Eve not yet knowing good from evil.

- God had a plan. This does not, however, mean that Adam and Eve were robots, or that that was not some other alternative to partaking of the fruit. 

I’m sure there’s more…

  • http://jephthahsdancingdaughter.wordpress.com jddaughter

    Hey, if you ever come down to Provo…we must chat indeed!

  • Manuel

    Perhaps your conclusions may be explained through the Gnostic tradition of different levels of teachings. Gnostics (and others) believe information regarding important religious issues is divided into exoteric and esoteric teachings.

    Exoteric teachings are works which are intended for wide circulation and served to attract new apprentices and provide basic information to the general public.

    Esoteric teachings, on the other hand, are intended only for initiates of a certain privileged or advanced group, and often provide further (secret/sacred) and deeper meanings that wouldn’t be found in exoteric teachings and that would require the initiate’s perseverance in attaining.

    Looking for this specific answer on this particular event in the scriptures is a fallacy in these terms.

    I have the feeling that we teach in the Church the concept of Eve being wise or “courageous” given that she partook of the forbidden fruit as a result of our esoteric training. I deduct we promote this teaching as an extension of what we learn in the Temple Endowment.

    The Temple Endowment is part of an esoteric Mormon instruction. This type of instruction is intended for members who have shown a degree of perseverance and consistency. The scriptures on the other hand are exoteric, intended for the general public. Trying to find the every detail of the meaning of an esoteric instruction within an exoteric tract is not a correct process to follow, but a fallacy.

    The esoteric supersedes the exoteric in meaning, and the exoteric in turn, is not intended to disclose the treasures of knowledge to the general public that the enduring and persevering initiates become worthy of and receive through the esoteric. Therefore, you may never find in the scriptures what some members propagate due to extensions of what they learn in the temple.

    And now that I have mentioned the Gnostics, you most likely will enjoy reading their views of the personalities of Adam and Eve regarding the fall. They are not doctrinal in our sphere, but they are nonetheless fascinating and it allows us to expand our knowledge through the analysis of others’ views.

    Here are some excerpts of one of my favorite (radical) gnostic passages (check out Eve’s portrayal here):

    After the day of rest, Sophia (Wisdom) sent her daughter Zoe, being called Eve, as an instructor, in order that she might make Adam, who had no soul, arise, so that those whom he should engender might become containers of light.

    When they saw Eve talking to him, they said to one another, “What sort of thing is this luminous woman? For she resembles that likeness which appeared to us in the light. Now come, let us lay hold of her and cast her seed into her, so that when she becomes soiled she may not be able to ascend into her light. Rather, those whom she bears will be under our charge. But let us not tell Adam, for he is not one of us. Rather let us bring a deep sleep over him. And let us instruct him in his sleep to the effect that she came from his rib, in order that his wife may obey, and he may be lord over her.”

    Then Eve, being a force, laughed at their decision.

    They came up to Adam and Eve timidly: they said to him, “The fruit of all the trees created for you in Paradise shall be eaten; but as for the tree of knowledge, control yourselves and do not eat from it. If you eat, you will die.” Having imparted great fear to them, they withdrew up to their authorities.

    Then came the wisest of all creatures, who was called Beast. And when he saw the likeness of their mother Eve he said to her, “What did God say to you? Was it ‘Do not eat from the tree of knowledge’?” She said, “He said not only, ‘Do not eat from it’, but, ‘Do not touch it, lest you die.’” He said to her, “Do not be afraid. In death you shall not die. For he knows that when you eat from it, your intellect will become sober and you will come to be like gods, recognizing the difference that obtains between evil men and good ones. Indeed, it was in jealousy that he said this to you, so that you would not eat from it.”

    Now Eve had confidence in the words of the instructor. She gazed at the tree and saw that it was beautiful and appetizing, and liked it; she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she gave some also to her husband, and he too ate it. Then their intellect became open. For when they had eaten, the light of knowledge had shone upon them. When they clothed themselves with shame, they knew that they were naked of knowledge. When they became sober, they saw that they were naked and became enamored of one another.

    Nag Hammadi Library, untitled text, on the origin of the world.

  • Manuel

    Thus we see that the early Christian Gnostics also revered Eve as powerful and wise. My personal interpretation of the first paragraph of the previous passage is the following:

    Eve is sent to Adam by the wisdom of God (allegorically personified in the embodiment of Sophia). She is sent as an “instructor,” to make Adam’s soul whole (according to the Gnostic tradition that souls should be paired), so that Adam could have the ability to produce vessels for the children or emanations of God.

    Therefore, it was in God’s wisdom to send Eve, and her particular character, so that she could partake of the tree. If Eve had the same character as Adam, she too would have rejected the idea of partaking and braking a commandment of God. Then knowledge and discernment could not have entered in them, for they would have not experienced the complexio oppositorium, the need for an opposite in all things.

    Then, by eating of the fruit, she made knowledge and discernment possible; she created a state in which knowledge and discernment could enter in them so that in turn they could become like God (being able to discern good from evil) and be able to provide vessels or bodies for the children of God so that the children of God could be the containers of light as they choose to keep the commandments.

    My conclusion from both these teachings and the Mormon Temple Endowment is that “there is no other way.” That the fall is not “plan B” because Eve messed up God’s original plan by yielding into temptation. Rather, that God’s plan went on as He planned it in the beginning. And they both partook of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, as it had been done in other worlds.

  • http://www.mormonconferences.org Kent (MC)

    Secco,

    I see things very similarly to you on this matter. I wrote a post on this at NewCoolThang just a little while ago.

    The question I left everyone there (and hopefully someone will take a stab at it here) is why God cursed Satan for fulfilling a role there if it all went exactly according to his plan, otherwise it seems that God actually was frustrated by Satan’s preemptive action.

  • Manuel

    Yes Ken, I thought your post was about a chapter in a children’s book. I have no knowledge of why the curse is there, but I do have many speculative conclusions I use for my own personal explanation… some of which are based on my own interpretation of alternative traditions that are not found within our church teachings. In terms of your post, I didn’t think it was appropriate for any of that to influence a children’s book.

    On the other hand, I was strongly compelled to comment about your implication that God’s plan was frustrated by Satan. I thought it was important that the book didn’t imply God’s plan was actually thwarted by either Satan, or by Eve for falling into temptation, since I consider this a funtamental pillar of the restored gospel.

    I am actually quite surprised that several people are coming out with this particular view: that God had an alternative plan that was thwarted due to Satan’s intervention. And that somehow, Adam and Eve would have gained knowledge and discernment of the difference between good and evil without having to experience evil. That God intended them to never yield into the temptations of Satan, therefore having no need for a Savior and no need for redemption or atonement. That Adam and Eve would not have to experience the complexio oppositorium, yet somehow be able to gain that knowledge in order to be able to reach their full potential as Gods. There exists no explanation of how this would have happened (Adam’s progress w/o partaking of the fruit against the commandment of God) neither in the scriptures nor in the Temple Endowment, but the opposite is explained numerous times in both, yet some insist that there must have been another way…

    To me, this doctrine is one of the great accomplishments of Mormon Gnosis, and one of the treasures of knowledge that has been restored after having been lost due to the narrow-mindedness of man and the Roman Church . That for man to fulfill his potential and become like God, he has to partake of this knowledge “for that is how God gained his knowledge.” God cannot provide the experience of evil to man. That is why there exists an opposition in all things, and God is not bipolar but He is one of the great poles in the complex of good versus evil.

    It is sad to see this knowledge is not well digested and the views of the Roman Church regarding the fall prevail even among us. For I doubt there exists on this earth another school that teaches that the fall was necessary as detailed, and in as sacred of contexts as we do. I wonder how prevalent this view is among endowed members of the church, that there was no need for Satan in the plan of God, and that the events that transpired must be an alternative to a higher plan that never occurred.

    Perhaps the best scriptural reference full of explanation and doctrine of the complexio oppositorium as a NECESSARY part of God’s plan is found in 2 Ne 2 (please note verse 15):

    11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

    15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

    22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

    23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

    24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

    25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

    26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

    DC 29:

    39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—

    40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.

  • http://www.mormonconferences.org Kent (MC)

    Manuel,

    I have no doubt that the fall was according to God’s plan and that it was a beneficial event for Adam and Eve and all of us. My only point is that Satan acted early and pre-empted what God was planning on doing. The meatloaf was half-baked and all.

  • Manuel

    “My only point is that Satan acted early and pre-empted what God was planning on doing.”

    You seem to be basing this assumption solely on the notion that God cursed Lucifer for having given Adam and Eve of the fruit, therfore exempting your argument of the teaching of the BoM to still making a case. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make any sense. What is then your ideal chronology, scenario and characters of the event?

    You think Lucifer should have waited longer? Remember we don’t know how much time Adam and Eve spent on the garden.

    You think God would have made Adam partake of the fruit therefore making God the adviser to break His own commandment?

    You think God would have lifted the commandment that they should not partake? Therefore Adam and Eve would partake of the fruit without braking a commandment, and by partaking of the fruit somehow (insert here unexplainable concept not found anywhere) they acquire the knowledge of good and evil without ever experiencing having choosed evil. Therefore, they would remain sinless and no savior would be needed?

    You think Adam or Eve should have had the initiative to brake the commandment themselves without having been explained by Lucifer why they needed to do so? Thus making them true original rebels against God (as Satan is) and sinning for the sake of rebellion instead of for the sake of their progress and the progress of mankind?

    Am I missing a scenario that you are proposing?
    Can you explain your scenario?

  • Last Lemming

    What does the curse on Lucifer even mean? Would his existence really be less miserable if he had not successfully tempted Adam and Eve?

  • http://www.mormonconferences.org Kent (MC)

    Manuel, since there is no “one” scenario I have in mind I will rather just make the following assertions.

    1. Satan was not needed to tempt Adam and Eve. They could have partaken of the fruit without “outside” interference.

    2. God may have had further instruction to give Adam and Eve prior to their expulsion.

    3. There was no sin involved in their decision since they were not able to sin. We call it a transgression but there truly was no moral culpability and I dislike the overtones of using the word transgression to imply culpability. I see partaking the fruit as the same as putting your hand on a hot stove, just pain from consequences. The need for the Savior was not due to needing to overcome some “Original Sin”, rather the need for the Savior was to resurrect the dead. Again, no culpability.

    4. As a result of spending more time in the garden being instructed, Adam and Eve could have become sufficiently instructed that they could just have chosen to partake in order for their bodies to become transformed with a better understanding of the consequences.

    5. I find it very Calvanistic to think of God as having a “secret will” that Adam and Eve disobey him when his “public will” says the exact opposite. I despise Calvanism and think that there must be an alternative interpretation of the accounts that doesn’t require God being duplicitous.

  • Manuel

    Exactly. Except for the second part of the curse, It seems to be of a definitional and ritualistic nature.

    Moses 4

    21 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

    The typical loose interpretation of the above:

    Enmity between the seed of the Eve and the seed of Lucifer, means that there needed to be restrictions on Lucifer that the fallen spirits may not be able to inhabit the bodies/vessels that would be intended for the children of Adam and Eve.

    He shall bruise thy head, would mean the power of man to outsmart Lucifer.

    Thou shall bruise his heel, the power of Lucifer to continue to attempt to make man stumble and fall.

    All three concepts necessary for us to be able to dwell in a probatory state where Lucifer has the power to tempt us, we have the power to overcome him, and the bodies born to man would be off limits to the fallen (demonic) spirits.

  • Anonymous For Now

    I feel a little out of my league here, but let me throw out a thought on the topic.

    Sometimes while reading Alma 12 starting at verse 21 I tend to think of God’s commandment as “You can partake of the tree of knowledge and good evil and you can partake of the tree of life, but you cannot partake of both.”

    Does that make sense? If you take eat from the tree of KoGaE you will surely die (can’t eat of ToL). If you continue to eat of ToL, you cannot eat of tree of KoGaE. This would frame AnE’s choice not as sinning, but choosing one of the paths provided by God. The sin comes into play when they follow Satan’s will. That is a separate issue from partaking of the fruit.

    Partaking of the fruit brought death into the world. Doing so by following Satan’s command made them subject to his will (as in D&C 29:40). I also might be persuaded that the first act (eating the fruit) has an affect on all posterity. The second act (submitting to Satan’s will) has no affect on AnE’s posterity, but we each suffer the same consequences as we submit to Satan’s will in our lives.

    Anyway, those are half baked ideas, not sure if it adds to the conversation, but thought I’d throw it out there.

  • Manuel

    Well Kent, at least now I understand why I didn’t understand you… :)

    1. I disagree with number 1. If Lucifer is not needed, then why in heaven would God continue to place his children within Lucifer’s reach? Since it is implied in temple teachings that he has done it in other occasions, you would think God would have learned the lesson by then… I just cannot think like this.

    2. This assertion is highly speculative. Nothing wrong since this is a subject that invites for speculation, but truly there is no indication anywhere that this is so. I can neither agree nor disagree for this assertion appears to me as completely out of the blue.

    3. I have heard and read this view of Adam and Eve breaking a commandment of God not being sin but simply a transgression being passed around in Church. I do not know where it originated. I respect the view, but I don’t believe in it. I think it is wrong.

    I also disagree that Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit is analogous to putting a hand on a hot stove, where there is absolutely no intention to disobey but a simple and unfortunate mistake with natural consequences. I also think this is wrong.

    I agree with you that a savior was not needed to overcome an “Original Sin.” Nevertheless, I find it that this idea (sinless Adam) has gone way too far on the other side of the spectrum by obliterating the notion of there being any sin in Adam’s fall.

    Additionally, I do think that the Savior was needed for both, to atone for the sins of Adam and Eve and their posterity and to overcome spiritual death through the remission of sins, and also, to overcome physical death through the resurrection.

    Your view that there is no culpability seems a bit radical to me, since we learn in very specific terms in the temple that they both knew prior to partaking, that they were breaking a commandment of God, and they also knew of at least one negative consequence: being cast out of the garden, thus being separated if Adam didn’t partake. I don’t mean this in a negative tone, I simply have my way of interpreting teachings.

    I understand your aversion with a Calvinistic view of a dualistic God (but I invite you not to “despise it” rather analyze it objectively). I think this is the part which is the most difficult to convey with language. It is not that God had a secret will that opposed his public will.

    How to convey with words to you how I understand this aspect of the fall seems out of my textual ability. What I can say in a limited and apologetic manner is that within His immense wisdom He understands the things that need to transpire in order for Adam to become like Him. Here is where I see the need for God’s antithesis to be an active participant, because of your very argument: God will not contradict himself. It is then Satan who lured the man and the woman to disobey God. I think this is why it is so hard to understand, because as humans, we seem to accept with words that for us to progress and become like God, being agents to ourselves discerning between good and evil, that there needs to be an opposition in all things (including God), yet in reality, we do not seem to be able to comprehend how it is that very principle, the opposition, the existence and need of an antithesis, that allows us to become like Him. Therefore we do not embrace the idea in its totallity, we would have the path to become as God is, without the need for this opposition, this antithesis, this Lucifer.

    But at least now I understand why I don’t understand you. We simply have opposite understandings of the fall, and I respect that.

  • Manuel

    Anonymous for now,

    I think Alma’s explanation to Antionah is the opposite of what you wrote. Alma is explaining that indeed it was not possible for Adam to partake of the Tree of Life prior to his partaking of the Tree of KoGaE.

    Alma 12:
    23 And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have apartaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely die.

  • http://bycommonconsent.com/cynthia/ sister blah 2

    > If anything, Adam bears the larger burden of blame; many times the fall is referred to just as the “transgression of Adam” or the “fall of Adam.”

    I don’t think that Adam bearing more of the blame is the only possible reading of references to “fall of Adam.”

    Could it be that this is an example of old-school misogynist language and assumption that women are either inherently evil or don’t matter? In other words, Adam was previously great then subsequently fell, whereas Eve was either exhibiting the expected evil or we just don’t care that she fell. Adam had more potential energy, to use a physics analogy.

    Or maybe Adam is misogynist shorthand for Adam and Eve, kind of like “Mr. & Mrs. John Smith.”

    I don’t necessarily think that’s what is going on here with these instances of “fall of Adam” (I defer in all things to the vastly greater wisdom of the FPR folks), but I think it is one possible reading. FWIW, I don’t really think in terms of “blame” because I have a hard time seeing the fall as a bad thing in the first place.

  • Secco

    Manuel, thank you for your comments. You’ve made a few points that I’d like to respond to.

    As to esoteric/exoteric knowledge or gnosis: I’m not well-versed in this area, but in general, I reject arguments of secret knowledge. The temple ceremony reinforces what the Church teaches in public, it does not contradict it.

    Specifically, while I do not wish to discuss specifics of the endowment ceremony, I do not see anything in it that contradicts the Book of Mormon account interpretation. Rather, it quite forcefully supports the same four conclusions (joint action, beguiled/tricked, same consequences as sin, part of God’s plan) that the Book of Mormon clearly explains. Any suggestion that “there is no other way” does not come from God.

    Perhaps a useful analogy is the Gnostic teaching that Judas was secretly but righteously acting out God’s plan by betraying Jesus (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas). As I understand it, Mormonism rejects this. The atonement / crucifixion was as essential and as pre-planned as the Fall (or more so), but LDS doctrine does not ascribe wisdom or courage or foreknowledge to Pilate or Judas, though their roles were essential and foretold in detail.

    KMC, you raise a useful point: God’s actions deserve closer scrutiny, I will think more about this. I agree with you that unless we think God is somehow play-acting, the cursing of Satan / the serpent must mean something. Last Lemming #8, Satan is not yet as bound as he will eventually be, so cursing still has some meaning it seems to me.

    Anonymous, thanks for weighing in. It does seem like Adam & Eve had a number of choices — 2 Ne 2 supports this thinking as well.

    Sister B–my apologies for use of “blame.” You can blame me for that :-). I don’t read the Book of Mormon as ascribing blame and I didn’t intend to either, I was referring the to too-frequent colloquial usage of that term in our common culture. And I agree that the Book of Mormon celebrates the Fall as an overall good thing, as part of God’s plan for us. I find a lot of merit in your argument that “fall of Adam” is misogynist language. It’s actually quite remarkable to me that the Book of Mormon, a book where women get so little mention, is so positive about Eve.

    Thank you all again for the comments.

  • Manuel

    Secco,

    Yes, we have esoteric teachings in the Church. I am sorry you don’t like this term, but this is an undisputable fact. While the teachings of the Temple do support exoteric teachings, there are things received in there that are simply not available outside, not even in the scriptures.

    No,no,no. I didn’t ever even slightly implied that our esoteric teachings “contradict” our exoteric teachings. NO! I clearly said they “deepen” them. I have no clue where you get the word “contradict,” but that is not what I tried to communicate. (I think you know)

    I was specifically talking about Eve’s portrayal as being “courageous,” as being an “extension” or an interpretation of members from what they have seen in the temple. Therefore, what I was trying to say is that you may never find scriptures to back up these specific types of extensions.

    I respect if you don’t want to analyze teachings as being esoteric or exoteric, but I think if you did, it would help you a lot in your studies and research. I believe there is a level of research (especially doctrinal and historical) that demand this contextual distinction in order to trully understand the meanings of

    I also don’t want to bring up the temple endowment in detail, but I can think of at least 9 main substantial elements of it that cannot possibly be supported by scriptures in as close detail as you are trying to do with Eve’s character. So, in this same light, I also never said the Book of Mormon or any other account contradicts the temple account. (I think you also know this)

    “Any suggestion that “there is no other way” does not come from God.” Well, that is not how I read 2 Ne 2 nor numerous other church teachings, but I respect your opinion. I think I have written enough to make my case on how I base my interpretation.

    I read the Gospel of Judas as soon as it was available a few years ago, and I really enjoyed it. Nevertheless, I would hardly be comparing this Gnostic writing about the justification of the acts of Judas that led to the arrest of Jesus as being analogous to the plan of God regarding the fall of Adam and Eve. I really hope you don’t think I can see is them the same way. I don’t even consider the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus the climax of the Atonement anyway (therefore, a divine call for Judas to turn in Jesus is highly dubious to me).

  • http://Blakeostler.com Blake

    For me, none of the proposed analysis of 2 Nephi work. Here is why: w2 Ne. 2:13 begins a reductio about where there is no law, there is no sin. The chapter seems to me to be addressing the condition of Adam and Eve before the fall as being like little children, not knowing good from evil. Adam and Eve are “innocent” and without law before the fall. 2 Ne. 2:23. They couldn’t do good because they didn’t know evil.

    What they did was a transgression — not a sin. That is, they violated God’s request not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and it is only after they do so that they become free in a morally significant sense, knowing good from evil. 2 Ne. 2:26.

    I don’t see Eve being singled out for anything in 2 Ne. 2. D&C 29:36-40 focuses on the temptation of Adam and his having “transgressed the commandment.” Moses 5:11-12 portrays the fall as something that is actually beneficial for the growth of the human family. Adam blesses his transgression: “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy . . .” Moses 5:10 Eve then joins Adam in blessing their act: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” Moses 5:11

    What interests me is that Eve states that the blessings of their transgression are knowledge, seed and eternal life for those who obey; but their transgression is precisely disobedience. I guess that’s opposition in all things – the very thing that damns us (being tempted) is the very thing that saves us (being tempted).

    None of these sources treat the transgression as a serious sin but as a necessary choice to be like God by knowing good and evil.

    The chapter doesn’t seem to me to

  • http://www.mormonconferences.org Kent (MC)

    Blake,

    I’m glad you weighed in on this one. What do you make of God cursing Lucifer?

  • Secco

    Blake and Manuel, I appreciate your comments, but I can see I didn’t start off on the right foot. As I begin to read some of the better commentaries, I see that the best scholars use a tactic that I was hoping to employ here, in a very beginner sort of way. That is considering a text in a stand-alone fashion, to see what just that author has said. This helps elucidate what a given author is really stating, without bringing in other authors’ views.

    I was hoping to use this same approach here. I wonder if you could help me understand how you see just what the Book of Mormon says about Eve. Both of you have good points, but bring in outside accounts to support your interpretations. My initial point — admittedly not stated clearly enough — is that when just the Book of Mormon account is analyzed, there are some interesting conclusions.

    For example, Manuel, I realize that this precludes your esoteric teachings, and you might argue that without the esoteric teachings the story cannot be understood the way you want. But this is why I would argue that your interpretation forces a contradiction: the Book of Mormon account clearly does not attribute foreknowledge or wisdom. It sounds like you agree with this, as you indicate that some of your conclusions may never have scriptural support. You are certainly entitled to your interpretation, but hopefully you can see why it is hard for me to find such unsupportable interpretations, well, unsupportable. Lehi, Alma, and other writers seem to be completely comfortable with their versions without needing esoteric information. (And the Book of Mormon has no problem hinting or even explicitly stating that esoteric information exists when it wants to.)

    I also think you have not clearly sorted out how Eve & Adam acting according to prophetically described plans differs from Judas acting according to prophetically described plans (other than perhaps Judas not being specifically named in the Book of Mormon). While I concur that non-BoM scriptural accounts bring additional information in, it is interesting that Lehi, Alma, and other writers did not see the need to defend Eve the way modern writers seem to need to do.

    Blake, I’m intrigued by your comments about the symmetry of obedience/disobedience, your comment got cut off and I’d welcome an expansion. I’d also like to invite you to restrict your analysis to just the Book of Mormon account if you’d care to.

    Kent, the cursing certainly suggests that wrong was done, and to me at least suggests that perhaps other outcomes could have been possible. God never comes out and says, “Eve, Adam — strong work. You saw through the awkward charade we all had to go through, and made the right choice to bring My plans about. Good job.” As much as Mormons might speculate that this is actually what was happening, the fact that no such statement is made seems to support exploring other possibilities.


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