Main themes of the story
In many religions in the ancient world, Evil was seen as a powerful force that preyed on mankind. But for the Hebrew people, God was the most powerful force in the universe, more powerful than Evil. Evil could challenge but never conquer God.
There are two creation stories in Genesis:
God creates the Universe
Read Genesis 1:1-31 and 2:1-4a
There is a surprising resemblance to modern theories about the beginnings of the
universe. The story begins with an empty void, then energy appears, the planets
are born, the continents emerge. Finally, vegetation, animals and humans
In the biblical story of creation, God is neither male nor female, but majestically 'I Am'.
At the supreme moment of creation, God conceives a creature
his own image'. What does the phrase 'in his own image' mean?
Theologians suggest that people, like God, have a nature that is
essentially creative. It is natural for them to imagine, invent
and change the world around them, as God does in the Genesis
story. Humans are part of, expressions of, the creative
energy of God.
See Bible text
Genesis 2:4b-25 and
Eve is formed from the rib of Adam. They are of the same flesh and the same bone. From the moment of creation neither man nor woman can be complete without the other. Working together, they form the basic unit of society, the family.
The story recognizes that men's and women's lives interlock so completely in economic and social matters, that neither can survive without the other.
Verse 25 makes a curious observation: neither the man nor the woman are aware of their own nakedness, as animals are unaware of their nakedness. Is this a hint that Adam and Eve are not yet 'human' in the way we understand the word? And that only events in the following chapter will make them human in the way that we are?
Eve and Adam are given a perfect world, but they are also given the power of choosing, making decisions.
One of the creatures in the Garden speaks to Eve, suggesting that God
has duped her. If she eats the fruit that has been forbidden to her
she will gain new understanding and wisdom -- so profound that it will
Because she has no experience of deceit, Eve believes the snake and makes her choice, deciding to seek knowledge of good and evil rather than be obedient. As humans, we continually test boundaries and try new ideas. In the Genesis story woman as 'life-giver' is the one who initiates this process.
It is a dangerous choice, reminding us that the quest for knowledge should always be balanced by wisdom. Eve will soon realize her mistake.
Adam eats the fruit without thinking or arguing. Like Eve, he
misuses his ability to make decisions, never pausing to consider the
consequences. Again, the quest for knowledge should go hand in hand
with careful judgment. For archaeological finds related to this story, see Bible Archaeology: Adam
It was an important image in ancient pagan religions. The goddess Astarte, who represented the fertility of nature, was often portrayed with snakes. People saw the dead skins shed by snakes, and assumed that the snake had in some way died but then come alive again.
They saw the seasons of the year following the same pattern: in winter all things died, but in spring Nature mysteriously sprang back to life. So the image of a snake was used in fertility rituals, especially those relating to the seasonal cycles.
To the Hebrew people, the snake was a symbol of polytheism and paganism, the natural enemy of Jahweh and monotheism.
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Giovanni di Paolo
As the story continues, the original harmony between humanity and nature is disrupted. Both sexes become locked in fixed roles. In a fit of jealousy Cain murders his brother Abel.
In a perfect world, a world without sin, inequality, violence and injustice do not exist.
But the Garden of Eden has been lost.
to use this material?
the Creation of Woman
The Garden of Eden, by Briton Riviere
Eve - Bible Woman - Women of the
Old Testament; Bible Study Resource.