In Quest of the Historical Adam– Part Thirteen

In Quest of the Historical Adam– Part Thirteen October 13, 2021

Q. I wondered if you had reflected on the fact that patriarchy seems to be a result of the curse on Eve—- ‘your desire will be for your husband and he will lord it over you’ says the text very clearly. Furthermore, Eve was created because of the need of Adam, it was not good for him to be alone so he needed a suitable companion. But most importantly the Hebrew phrase I just translated ‘a suitable companion’, could be translated helper, and implies no subordination of women to men. The phrase is predicate of Yahweh in exactly the same terms as ‘the helper of Israel’.  Comments?


A. It seems to me that the creation of Eve as Adam’s helper is a clear indication, not of the subordination of women to men, but of the proper subordination of a wife to her husband. Of course the word “helper” can be used in other contexts where it does not imply subordination. In interpretation, as you know, it is not dictionary meaning of isolated words that is important but context. In the context of the creation story, the man is created first and the woman is created to be his helper. It would have been inconceivable for ancient Hebrews to have imagined that woman was created first and that man was then created as her helper!

Q.  Final question— what, if anything significant philosophically , is at stake for you, if you are wrong about what the image of God in these creation stories entails?


A.  Not much, I think. The fact is, the image of God is just not defined in Genesis and so is open to interpretation. What is important to insist on is that human beings alone of all creatures are made in God’s image and that no human being fails to be in God’s image. In other words, being in the image of God is necessary and sufficient for being human.




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