In our seventh reflection on the Darwinian revolution and natural science generally with Christian theology, we began a meditation on Genesis. Basically we want to meditate on the accounts of creation in the Bible, that we have in holy Scripture. We said last time that there are two accounts of creation in the first three chapters of Genesis. The first account is from Genesis 1:1, the very beginning of the Bible, to the third verse of the second chapter, to 2:3. Then the continuation in Genesis, in 2:4, or even 2:4b if you’re technical, over to the end of chapter 3, that would be the second account of creation that you have in the Bible, in Genesis. So we want to see from the beginning that we have two accounts.
I said before very often in holy Scripture you have different traditions getting written down, that get written down in the actual Bible, in the Scripture, and they come from different sources and from different authors and from different traditions, and we believe they’re inspired by God—this is holy Scripture—for different purposes, to make different points, to make different points about what they are speaking about. I used as an example of this last time when we began this meditation on Genesis of the infancy narratives of the birth of Christ in the New Testament. You have one in Matthew and you have one in Luke, and they’re very different. You have two different infancy stories of the birth of Christ in the Scripture. They’re fundamentally the same; they’re essentially about the same realities. They deal with the same historical events, certainly the birth of Christ is a historical event, and certainly the creation of the world is a historical event. It’s the beginning of history; it’s the beginning of time. And certainly if you have theologically inspired account about man and the emergence of humanity, anthrōpos, on the face of the earth, that certainly relates to history.
Here what we have been saying is that the Bible is not mythological at all; it’s de-mythologizing. It’s breaking the mythologies of the Canaanite world and the Babylonian, Egyptian world. It’s a critique of it; it’s a judgment on it, by the word of God himself. And the Bible, however, is not written to tell us about science, about natural theology. It is about natural phenomena, but basically you can actually say that the entire Bible in some sense is a whole record of God’s sovereignty and intervention in natural phenomena, in history, in the cosmos, in natural occurrences that have kind of a life of their own, but then from time to time God Almighty is breaking into them for his own purposes, revealing himself in them and through them.
So the Bible is basically historical. It’s not mythological, it’s not scientific, but it’s historical in the sense of the ancient world’s understanding of history. It’s the history of God’s activity, of God’s intervention, of God’s purposes being done. Certainly there’s a sense in which Genesis 1-11 is a kind of pre-history. In some sense, technically we could say that the actual history of salvation, so to speak, begins with the call of Abraham, what the Germans used to call the Heilsgeschichte, the holy history, the accounts of God’s choosing of Abraham and then Isaac and Jacob and the patriarchs and then Moses in Egypt. Those are all historical events, and the Bible is rooted in those historical events to show their transcendent meaning, their divine meaning and how God interacts with his people, but they are not history as such, certainly not in the modern sense of the term.
But we will reflect on Genesis 1-11. We will do this, probably not finishing today; we may have one more reflection on Genesis. But what we want to reflect on today is the second creation story. The first one, as we heard last time, was the one that has Elohim, the name for God—that’s God’s name in the Bible—creating the heavens and the earth and separating the light from the darkness, and his word and his spirit are over the void and the abyss, and they’re moving over the face of the waters. We mentioned last time that you don’t have a kind of total creation ex nihilo here, because there’s some kind of pre-existent chaos, pre-existent waters and abyss and a void and all that kind of stuff. And that’s of course according to the spirit of the time; that’s how people thought in the time.
As I mentioned last time, probably, technically, philosophically, metaphysically, you don’t really have an accurate distinction between creation out of nothing by divine will and then fashioning things from what already existed or even proceeding from the very being of God, like the word of God and the spirit of God do according to the New Testament, which is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. And even in the Old Testament, the word of God and the spirit of God belong to God’s very being; they’re not creatures in the Bible. But there are creatures, but those creatures are fashioned by God, and God is fashioning them by his word and by his spirit. And that’s what we see from the beginning of the Bible, from the very beginning. The spirit of God, the breath of God is over the void, and then God speaks, and he creates by speaking and by acting. I mentioned that “word” in Hebrew is not only speech, but it’s act. Act and speech are one and the same thing, practically, in the Scripture.
But then we know. We went through that, we reflected upon it, and then we saw that it ends—the first account ends—with the creation of human beings, anthrōpos, human being, where God says, “Let us make human being, anthrōpos”—in English it says, “man,” but that means human being—“in our image, according to our likeness”—and it’s in plural: “let us,” “according to our”—“and let them have dominion.” And then it says, “God created human, anthrōpos, in his own image, according to his own likeness. God created him, male and female he created them.” So you have male and female right in that first story, with the command to be fruitful and multiply, right from the very beginning.
In that story, that first story, which simply ends with God resting on the seventh day, breathing the breath of life into all of the animal creatures including man himself, but making man in his own image and likeness, it doesn’t say much about what that means, and it doesn’t explain it except that it says it’s very different from the animals and the plants and the birds and so on. Here you have God acting directly and taking counsel in that first story. Then of course he sees that all is good, even very good, and then he rests from all of the works which he had done in creation on the seventh day. That is how it ends.
4a, the first verse of 4: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” That might be the last line of the first account, but it also might be the first line of the second account. Then the second account begins:
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when there was no plant of the field was yet in the earth, no herb in the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no human being, no anthrōpos to till the ground, but a watery mist (or a flood or a fountain) was coming up from under the earth.
And don’t forget that in the first story there’s waters under the earth and there’s waters over the earth and they’re separated by a firmament, the earth separates the waters and then above you have this firmament and the waters are on top of the earth. Then it says:
Then the Lord God formed anthrōpos, the human being, of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
Here what we want to see is that the breath of life is already in the animals in the first story, but now God is breathing the breath of life and the man himself becomes empsichin zōon, a kind of ensouled animal. It’s very interesting that in Latin the term “soul” is anima; it’s where you get the word “animal.” Here in the holy Scriptures, and certainly this would be developed by the Church Fathers, that there is such a thing as a vegetative soul and an animal soul, a brute soul; then there is the human soul, and the human soul is a rational soul, a logical soul, a self-conscious soul. This simply means life; it simply means nefesh. So plants are living and animals are living and birds are living and fish are living, and so they are all somehow in scriptural language ensouled. The breath of God is in them all, making them to be alive. This is what we have in the holy Scripture. Therefore, it is saying that however this is happening naturally, so to speak, or whatever science can discover, the Scripture says that God is involved in all of that, that this is the activity of God. It’s created; it begins with God. That term in Hebrew, bara’, it’s an activity which in Hebrew language only God can do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean create out of nothing. When you have “God fashions, God forms, God does, God acts,” that’s bara’, and that’s only a divine act. So we have the activity of God in the creation that he himself calls into being.
In the first story, however, the story where God is called Elohim, it never names Adam and Eve. It just says, “Male and female created he them.” You don’t have Adam and Eve as names in the first story. The names Adam and Eve, for male and female, man and woman, come in the second story. In the first story, the first narrative—and I use “story” here, but I’m not saying this is “story” like a fictional story; I’m just using “story” in the sense of history or narrative or account—in the second account… Maybe I should say “account” or “narrative” or “inspired revelation of God,” because you have these different revelations of God in different forms here, and we believe this is divinely inspired for different purposes, just like the infancy story in Matthew and the infancy story in Luke are inspired for different purposes, or the passion stories about Christ: in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they’re quite different. Matthew, Mark, Luke are similar, but still there’s many differences, and John is very different, but it’s the same basic story; it’s the same basic historical event or happening, phenomenon, whatever you want to call it, but the interpretation and the theological meaning and the purpose of it, which are variable—not variable, but in a variety: they are different—that’s what we find in the holy Scripture.
In this second story, the second narrative here, it’s different from the first. It’s first of all different because God is not simply called “God”; he’s called “Lord God, the Lord God.” Scholars will make a distinction between the passages in Scripture where God is simply called “God” or “Elohim” and the passages where he’s called “Lord God.” “Lord God” in Hebrew would be “Yahweh Elohim,” that Yahweh is God, the Lord is God. In the Greek Scripture, they never wrote this tetragrammaton, this four-lettered word which was the name that Moses had received from God in the burning bush story when Moses asks his name, he says his name is, “Yahweh,” and in the old days it was pronounced, “Jehovah,” but that was the name that God said. He said, “You’ll no longer call me the Most High, El Shaddai, God, or the El, but you’ll call me Yahweh.” So these texts, this second story belongs to those categories of scriptural texts where God is called Yahweh or Adonai Elohim, Lord God.
That’s very important, because this Yahweh means “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be” or “I will do what I will do,” and in Greek it was translated, “Egō eimi,” the “I am.” We know many times on Ancient Faith Radio, certainly on the Names and Titles of Jesus series that I did, how that’s the divine name, the “I am” or the “Ho ōn,” which Orthodox Christians put on their icons: “Ho ōn, the One who is.” The “I am” is the first person; that’s a participial: “he who is” or “I am.”
Here that name was never said. The tradition grew up that it was said even in later Judaism it was said only by the high priest on Yom Kippur, whispered in the sanctuary, where the singing had to be very loud so nobody could hear him say this most sacred of all names. Orthodox Jews to this day do not say that name. Whenever they read the Scripture and that name is written, they say, “Lord.” That’s why in the Greek Scripture and in Slavonic and in English and virtually in all Scriptures that are translated, whenever that four-consonant Hebrew word is there, which we dare to say—Yahweh—that’s how most people think it should be said if you say it—that’s always pronounced “the Lord,” and then it got to be written, “the Lord.”
Here you can say that this second narrative, this second telling of the creation of the world and of man belongs to that particular tradition, and in that tradition, God himself, the Lord God, as distinct from the texts where God is simply Elohim or God or the El Shaddai, the Most High, or other names with El- beginning, it has a little bit of a different flavor. I wouldn’t want to stress this too much, but in the texts when you have “Lord God” being used, it almost always is in conditions where God is really involved in human events, God is really acting, he’s really there, he’s really present, he’s really intimate, he’s really close. You might say that, if you want to use fancy words, you could say the Elohist tradition, where God is called God, it’s more like of the transcendent, sovereign, overarching God, what the Greek would call epouranios Theos, the superheavenly God.
But the Lord God is the active God, and many Church Fathers and in the Study Bible, if you read the Orthodox Study Bible, you’ll see how in those kind of texts, the Church Fathers even interpreted that that was God the Father acting through his Word, and that Word was incarnate as Christ. So these were revelations of Christ acting in the Old Testament as the word of God, as the power of God, as the wisdom of God, that really gets involved in the nitty-gritty of human life and the life of Israel, but even in the pre-history, in the life of Adam, man, right in paradise itself, as we’ll see here.
So it’s the Lord God in this second event. And there’s nothing on the earth, nothing. It hasn’t rained. Water has come up from underneath, but there’s no herbs, there’s no plants in the field, there’s no animals. There’s nothing. So in this story man is formed first; anthrōpos is formed first from the dust of the ground. Now, in the first story, the first narrative, it doesn’t say that he’s made from the dust of the ground, and he’s not called adamach which means earth; that’s only in the second story. But in the second story it says right from the beginning, “The waters were watering the face of the ground, and then the Lord God formed man from that very ground, that very earth, that very dust, from the ground, and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. So he becomes that anima; he becomes a soul; he’s ensouled.
Here it’s very important in the Scripture, because the animals and the plants and then the human beings themselves, they’re not simply material beings. They’re living beings. They have what we came to call in English “soul” within them, nefesh, life. They’re vivified, and certainly man is a living being. It’s going to be said that the first Adam was called a living being, just like the animals [are], and that means that he’s an ensouled ground. He’s earth and matter that’s been ensouled, that is made vivified, that is made living.
The soul is never separated from the matter in the Bible. In fact, the Bible doesn’t even have technical terms for “soul” and “body”—I mean the Old Testament; the New Testament certainly does. But in the Old Testament, you have two main words that are used: basar, which is flesh or matter, and then you have nefesh, which is life. So these creatures are a combination of flesh (material reality) and life (vivified).
I read a book recently about the brain and the relationship of the brain to the body and the brain is being a material thing but how the brain relates to the spirit and to the mind, and the authors had a wonderful formula. They said when you deal with creatures, certainly human beings, but even other creatures, animals, for example, that they are embodied and they are embedded. Embodied meaning that they always have bodies and that their living character is in these bodies, so they are vivified bodies. You can call them incarnate life or vivified flesh. But then they’re also not only embodied, they’re embedded: they’re in situations, they’re with other members of their species, the animals with the animals and other animals and different kinds of animals, and then the human beings are with them all. Then, of course, with human beings—because human beings are made in the image and likeness of God as we will see, as we have already seen and will comment on—that means that they are free. They are self-conscious. They are made to govern everything else, including the animals and the plants and everything that exists, and they have the capability of doing that because they have a mind.
They’re logikos; they’re logical. They’re pnevmatikos; they’re not only psychikos, a soul, but they’re pnevmatikos, they’re spiritual. They have self-consciousness; they have freedom. They can speak, they can act, they can creature culture. They can govern the rest of creation. That’s what makes man unique. Many of the commentators, like the Church Fathers, to begin with, they would say that’s why in the first narrative, the Elohist narrative, that you have God taking counsel, saying, “Let us make”: it’s a break in the activity. You don’t say, “Let the earth bring forth human beings,” and God saw that it was good. No, no! God’s own hands are now fashioning those human beings. You might even say that in the Bible man is a higher animal. He is a radically different animal from the other animals, and we’re going to see this very thing now in the second narrative, the second inspired tradition that we have written down in holy Scripture.
Because when it says that the Lord God formed man, anthrōpos, of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being, it says in the RSV—actually in the King James Version, it says a living soul, epsichin zōon, or an ensouled living being, animal—then it continues: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, to the East.” We don’t know the east of what, just “in the East.” And East, is, of course, a symbolic thing in the Scripture. That’s where the light rises. East is going to be a very important thing. The first Christians are always going to pray toward the East. In the New Testament, the East, Orient, is going to be one of the names of Jesus: Orient is his name, the Dayspring from on high, the Dawn where the Sun of righteousness rises with healing in its wings.
East is a very important part of the symbols of the cosmic world: north, south, east, west. In our churches, Orthodox churches, the altar is always in the east. We’re facing the East. West symbolizes the setting of the sun; East symbolizes the rising of the sun. East symbolizes the coming age; the West symbolizes what is ruled by the devil. That’s why in our churches in baptism you get baptized facing the East, but before you’re baptized you turn and face the West and you spit on the devil, and you reject the devil; then you turn east and you accept the Lord, you accept Christ.
So there’s in the east, it says a garden in Eden. That is called in Greek paradise. It’s called a paradise, a paradise of delight. And Eden itself means paradise. Then it says: “God put”—this Lord God, Yahweh Elohim, this Lord God put—“the anthrōpos, the human being, whom he had formed”—and it’s interesting that it’s “whom he had formed,” not just “made” but “fashioned,” “made the way it had to be.” He puts that man in that paradise. Then it says:
And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the paradise garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So here you have the human being placed in paradise, the garden, the paradisic garden. There’s trees in the garden, and those trees are planted there by God. That’s another de-mythologizing, because in the Canaanite religion, trees were considered sacred. Trees were somehow quasi-divine. They had a divine or a hierophantic function. There were different trees with different realities, and different trees had different senses. The tree were, of course, important, because they were necessary for life. They had the fruit on them and they were used. So trees had a kind of, in any kind of fertility religion or earthly religions, you might say, just like water and air and the sun, that makes things grow, and the moon—well, trees also—and stones, there’s holy stones.
The Bible just smashes through all of this; the Genesis story just smashes through all of this. That’s why it’s so important that it says that God made to grow every tree. God is the source of these trees. These trees are not divine in themselves. The cosmos is not divine in itself. This is not mythology. This is not some kind of—well, I think you could probably call it today—pagan religion, where religion just has to do with the natural phenomena that are then given allegorical and symbolical and mythological meanings. No, these things are just phenomena; they’re made by God. They are what they are.
And that’s very important when we think about natural science, because it means they can be studied. You can study them. You can study the difference between an oak tree and a maple tree, like you can study the difference between different kinds of fish or different kinds of animals, different mammals like whale as opposed to tiger, and we can dare say, too, as opposed to human being, because in the Bible human beings are in that very same category to begin with. They are also living beings, and that’s the very same term that is used for the animals. We’re going to see how this narrative even picks up on that.
Then it says that God planted them: the tree of life in the midst in the garden and also the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then you have four verses that kind of describes what for that author was the whole world. The people who wrote this didn’t know about the round globe. They didn’t know about the existence of continents like North America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Asia. They only knew their own area, and of course they thought it was flat and that that was the whole extent of it. So you have here the story of the four rivers. The river flowed out of the paradise to water the garden, and coming out of paradise—there was only one river in paradise—it divides and becomes four rivers. It’s interesting that the source of life comes out of the paradise garden, and then it goes outside that garden, and then it splits into four. It’s very interesting that outside of the paradise, the rest is not paradise. The rest is not paradise; paradise is a small place in this particular narrative. It’s a particular part where God puts the anthrōpos that he made from the dust. It’s where he puts this Adam.
But it’s interesting that these four rivers… We could make a little commentary on them, that the first is Pishon. It’s the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, and there’s gold and the gold of that land is good and bdellium and onyx. The name of the second is Gihon, which flows around the whole land of Cush. Gihon is a river in Ethiopia, and in the Bible Cush is Ethiopia. Moses is going to marry a Cushite woman, and Aaron and Mariam are not going to like that, his brother and sister, because he takes a Cushite woman for his wife. I assume after Zaphora died; it doesn’t mention Zaphora there. Then the third is the Tigris, that flows east of Assyria, and the fourth is the Euphrates. Of course, that’s modern Iraq, Iran. That’s the desert area.
But that for them was the world, and these four rivers are bringing life to all the world. This whole business of rivers bringing forth life and then crossing these rivers and dealing with the rivers, that’s a huge thing in the Scripture. You have Egypt [which] always has food because it has the Nile. Then you know what happens when Moses is delivering the people from the Nile. Then they have to cross what the Greek Scripture calls the Red Sea; in Hebrew it’s the Reed Sea. Then you have to cross the Jordan, and then you’re in the desert where there is no water, and then they have to make water from a rock.
How many times in the New Testament [do] you have this water symbolism? St. John’s gospel is totally filled with the water symbolisms: the Cana of Galilee, they have water, he makes it wine; then the paralyzed man goes into the water; the Samaritan woman, Jesus speaks about the water, he speaks about the living water; then you have the waters of baptism; you have the baptism in the Noah story. Water is a big thing in holy Scripture, a huge thing, the waters, and God is the Lord over these waters. So you don’t have sacred rivers any more, either, and you don’t have river gods any more. It’s the God who makes all this to happen.
But then this narrative continues and says: “The Lord God took the anthrōpos and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” So anthrōpos, humanity’s job in this story is to till and keep paradise. They’re to cultivate paradise, govern paradise, live within paradise. There are some kind of reflections—you find this, for example, maybe not so explicit a manner, but in people like Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor—where you have the feeling that what they’re teaching about human beings are created to grow always more godly, more powerful, wiser, deeper. You might say that in this particular narrative, at this point you could say that it looks as if God is saying to man, “Your job is to spread paradise. Your [job] is to cultivate and widen paradise, expand paradise to that area outside paradise,” because we’ll see that there is an outside paradise already, and it’s not a pleasant place, that outside paradise. In fact, it’s pretty chaotic out there, when Adam and Eve finally get put out of that paradise, then they have a completely different relationship to the created order.
So there’s a real question here whether the entire creation was paradise from the beginning. In this narrative, it doesn’t seem so. It seems that paradise is only where man is, and it’s only where man is in communion with God, where man is adoring God, obeying God, keeping God’s commandments, and his job is to make all of creation into paradise. I’m even tempted to say nowadays maybe it’s the human vocation to make the hundred thousand billion galaxies with a hundred billion stars into paradise and to do so in the power of the risen Lord and the Holy Spirit in the age to come. That might be it. Who knows? But in the beginning you just have this little garden of Eden, this little paradise spot. And in the beginning, Adam is there all alone. He’s all alone; there’s no woman. He’s just alone, and there’s no animals. There’s just vegetables; there’s just plants. And he’s the one who’s supposed to make those plants that God gave them, and there’s trees in there, and it’s planted as a garden. It’s a garden; that’s why there’s plants.
By the way, in the New Testament, some Fathers think that that’s the reason why the risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene in a garden. She’s in a garden, and she thinks he’s a gardener. This is all connected to Jesus as the original Adam. That’s how our holy Fathers in the ancient Church read the Bible; they made all these connections. We’ll even see further connections in a minute here, but now we want to continue reading. We’re at the 15th verse. Then it says:
The Lord God took the man (anthrōpos, human being), put him in the garden of Eden (that’s paradise) to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.”
And it’s interesting that the Hebraism which is kept in Greek, it actually says, “You will die the death. If you eat of that particular tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die the death. You will no longer be a living soul. You will return to the dust from which you were taken if you eat from that tree.” And we’ll see in a minute, the Lord will say to Eve, “Even if you touch it.”
So you have these two trees. The holy Fathers like to say this isn’t mythology. So you can say, “Well, maybe there were really trees. Who knows?” What it was we don’t know, but it’s certainly dealing with history, where you actually have the human and you have God there and you have the command of God, and when the human is with God it’s paradise, and when it’s paradise the man has to till and govern and take care of that particular part of creation, perhaps even to expand it and spread it and make it grow throughout the whole planet, throughout all this place where these four rivers are flowing.
But then it continues. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ ” Now, that sentence is marvelous, because I like to say that it’s the first no-good in the Bible. In the narrative of the first chapter, God is saying the things are good. Seven times he says good. When he finishes everything, he says very good. He creates male and female: very good. But in the second, he says it’s not good that man is alone. So you have a not-good. I think it’s the first not-good out of the mouth of God in the Bible. It’s the first not-good; all the rest is good. Of course, the first command in the first story is to increase and multiply, and that’s very good, but here it’s not good, because you can’t increase and multiply; you can’t spread paradise if man there should be totally alone.
So then you have this famous sentence: “I will make a”—it says in the RSV—“helper fit for him.” I will make a helper fit for him. In the King James Version and in the Septuagint version, it’s translated, “A helper according to him” or “like him.” It actually in Greek uses both of those expressions, that it’s a helper kat’ afton, that means according to him or after him or in his own image, like him, but then it later says even, “I will make a helper like him”: homoios aftō, like him. This is what we have in the holy Scripture. In Hebrew that is ezer kenegdo, and that would mean the helper similar to him, fitting for him, appropriate for him. Another way of putting it would be: the one who will allow him to be who he is. I like that idea myself.
If I were translating it colloquially or freely, I would say, “We’ve got to make a creature, a being, that would allow this anthrōpos, this human being, to be what he’s supposed to be. He cannot do it by himself. He needs another. There has to be another.” If we wanted to theologize, we could say if that being is made in the image and likeness of God, then he cannot be in God’s image and likeness and do what God wants him to do and be what God wants him to be all alone. He just cannot do it all alone; he’s got to do it with another. And the other has to be like him, it has to be according to him, but it still has to be distinct, and this is what that narrative is going to say.
So out of the ground (it continues, again from the earth), the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would name them, what he would call them. And whatever the man named every living creature (and that’s the same expression used for man himself, a living creature), that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, to the birds of the air, to every beast of the field.
It’s very interesting. When in this particular account, when God wants to make this one that’s necessary for Adam to be what he is, a creature similar to him, like him, according to him, appropriate to him, the one that he needs, the kind without which he cannot be who he is, the animals can’t do it. The cattle, the birds, the beasts of the field—none of them can do it. The birds of the air can’t do it. But man names them, and this naming is incredible important in this account, because to name means to have power over. Even how Moses asked God, “What’s your name?” because Moses wanted to have a kind of a power over God, so he could tell who that God is.
If you read the Bible—we can’t go into this in depth now—think about what the name means in Scripture. You ask in Christ’s name. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. By whose name do you speak? And the name means the reality of the thing. So when Adam—not Adam yet; he’s not Adam yet, he’s only anthrōpos, he’s only human being, he’s not Adam yet in the story; he’s his human creature—he is the one who shows that he is to govern over all things, not only the garden with its plants and till it and make it grow, but the animals, too. God presents the animals, they parade in front of him, and he names them. It even says that he names them in order to show what they would be. It’s a very interesting thing. It says, “He brought them to the man, the human being, to see what he would call them, for whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.” You could even translate that “to show what it would be,” that the being is named by the man, and the man has superiority over these other creatures that God has made.
But then it says: But for the man, there was not found an ezer kenegdo; there was not found a voēthos kat’ afton, a helper according to him, appropriate to him, necessary for him, the one that he would really need to be what God created him to be in his own image and likeness. There was not found such a being, such a creature. So then it says:
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man. In the Greek that’s ecstasy. He put the man into ekstasis, he put him outside himself, he went into a sleep. And he caused that to fall upon the man, the human being. While he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh, and then with that rib, that matter that was in this human being that God took from the man and took it from his side, he made a woman, and he brought her to the man. Then the man looked upon her and said, “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called wo-man, because she was taken out of man.” In Hebrew “she will be called Isha, because she was taken out of Ish.” It’s interesting that in English you have a “man” in both those terms: “man” and “wo-man.”
Then saying, “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” it means she’s exactly what I am. She’s exactly what I am, but she’s distinct, she’s different, she’s other, she’s a real human being. In the first narrative, of course, it says that God created the human beings, male and female, in his own image according to his own likeness, male and female. The theological conclusion of that is: you cannot have human beings who can really be human unless there are male and female. There must be male and female. It is not good for man to be alone. But the male and female must be exactly human; they must be appropriate to each other. They must be like each other, similar to each other. In fact, the holy Fathers will say, they have to be the same nature, when they speak in Greek, the same nature. They’ve got to both have the same human nature, identical. But the distinction within the nature is between man and woman, male and female, arsen and gyne, the male human being and the female human being.
But it’s interesting here that Adam, when he looks upon her, he says, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. She will be called Isha, because she was taken out of Ish.” Then the text continues: “Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother, he cleaves unto his wife, and the two become basar echad, one flesh.” One flesh. So they’re one flesh. In the New Testament, St. Paul is going to say in Athens in the book of Acts that God made from one blood all the peoples of the earth. Of course, the scholars debate whether that one blood was the blood of Adam or the blood of Noah, because we’re going to see that this Genesis account was going to continue, and it’s going to happen that the whole of the human race is going to be destroyed according to Genesis, and you’re going to have Noah. We’ll get to that.
But what we want to do here to finish this particular narrative is to say that the two become one flesh, they cleave together, the man leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife. By the way, it’s important here to see that this term “leave” or “abandon” or “forsake,” that verb is only used one other place in the entire holy Scripture, and it’s even quoted in Hebrew in Aramaic, even though it’s in the New Testament. It’s in Mark and Matthew, when Jesus is hanging on the cross. He screams in a loud voice the first line of Psalm 21 (22): “My God, my God, why have you left me, why have you abandoned me?” We’re going to speak about that, because that’s very important, because Jesus as the new Adam is going to have to cleave unto his wife, which is sinful humanity and become with her one flesh. For that to happen, he’s going to have to leave his Father, he’s got to come on earth, he’s got to become a man, and the Father has to leave him and abandon him, to be with that creature who is his bride that he’s supposed to love, to become one flesh with her.
But here, still in Genesis, because Christians read all of these texts through the eyes of Christ, it will say that the two become one flesh. St. Paul is going to use that same text when he speaks about man and woman, and Christ and the Church, in the letter to the Ephesians, the two become one flesh. By the way, the Church Fathers—and this is not “by the way” at all; this is very important—they even say that “why is it that God puts Adam into a deep sleep and fashions the woman from his side?” and they say, “Well, that’s obvious.” To them it was obvious, Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, the Church Fathers, they say, “Because the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, is born from his side when he’s sleeping, dead on the cross.” Christ goes into an ecstasy of death, into the deep sleep of death. Then from his side comes the blood and the water, according to St. John’s gospel, which means that we are born from the side of Christ on the cross, the new Eve, the new woman, the bride of Christ which is the Church.
It’s very interesting even in the New Testament that in the Old, the Church Fathers point out, that the Eve is fashioned out of the flesh of Adam, the woman out of man, but in the New Testament, Christ is fashioned out of the flesh of woman, that when God becomes incarnate, he takes the flesh of a woman, and God fashions his flesh out of the virgin soil of the flesh of the Virgin Mary’s body. So you have all of these ways of thinking in the ancient Church of how to interpret these texts.
But what we want to see right now is they’re still not even called Adam and Eve. They’re simply called man and woman. This is what we have. But God brings to the human being here—he’s not called Adam in this story, and it’s this man who is cleaving to his wife and they become one flesh. Then it says: “The man and his wife were naked, and they were not ashamed.” That they lived as the holy Fathers would say, they lived within the glory of God, that they were following the will of God. To be fleshly was nothing to be ashamed of. In a word, there was no sin yet. There was no rebellion, there was no apostasy, there was nothing there. It was glorious. They were innocent. You might even say they were like little children, so to speak, created freshly. The man created from the dust of the earth and formed from the dust of the earth, and that’s why he’s called Adam, because that means “earth.” And then the woman formed from his earthly flesh, and then she is called woman.
This is the ending of the second chapter of Genesis. It’s the second creation account, and it has different theological purpose. It’s to show the lordship of humanity over creation. It’s to show that man is put in a paradise of delight. It’s to show that the trees are in God’s power and that God is commanding his creature how to relate to those trees. Then it’s also showing that the whole world was somehow watered by the will of God, but there was a little paradise within that world. Then it tells us that the humanity was in that garden of Eden, in that paradise, to keep it, and that they were to eat from the trees of the garden, but not from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We’ll get to that.
And then the important part of this particular second narrative is that it is simply not good for anthrōpos to be alone. The human being cannot be alone. It’s got to be male and female. There has to be this distinction. Human being has to be disexual. There has to be a gender distinction within the one human nature in order for anthrōpos to really be what God wants it to be. There’s got to be man and woman becoming one flesh and living together, and that one flesh means that they become really, totally intertwined, intimately connected, and they’re naked and they’re not ashamed.
So this is how that second story begins, and we will continue next time to tell about chapter three and to interpret that, which has to do with the so-called Fall of Adam and Eve, the apostasy against God, and what the result of that is.
Here what we want to say, though, is this. Once again, we have de-mythologizing. Once again, the waters and the trees are in God’s power. Once again, the animals and the plants are made by God and they’re under his power. But once again they’re given over to the governance of the human. You don’t have that explicitly in the first narrative, but you have it in the second. The anthrōpos, the humanity is to govern and to take care of all of this, to spread paradise, to be in paradise, to live within the paradise of God and to experience God’s creation as paradise and to partake of all the trees and to name all the animals and to govern all creation. It’s glorious, it’s splendid in this story. This is the potential of man to live in this way forever.
But what we’re going to see is that it never happens. It never happens. That all of this is a potential, all of this is what the human is called to be and do, but right from the beginning there is a rebellion, there’s an apostasy. We’re going to see that that’s what the Scripture wants to say, that wherever you have humanity on the face of the earth, you have tragedy, you have rebellion, you have apostasy, you have disobedience, you have lack of trust and faith, you have lack of love for God, lack of gratitude to God, as St. Paul will say when he interprets this text. But we will leave that for the next time.
For today, we just want to remember there are two accounts, two creation narratives in holy Scripture, and they have different purposes for different ends and different theologies, you might say, that are one theology, but different—perhaps it’s better not to say two theologies, but two theological emphases, two different purposes, two different goals. The exegetes would say “two different didactic intentions, teaching intentions, purposes.” And these exist in Israel and they’re inspired by God and they’re written down next to each other. It can seem, some of the scholars even think that this Yahwist story, where God is called the Lord God, this second one, it’s perhaps even more ancient than the first, that maybe it’s the one that was historically earlier. There’s reasons for that, to show the centrality of man and man’s lordship over creation, but then to insist, to make that point against all the Canaanite religions and all the fertility religions and all the natural religions, that God is sovereign over it all, he makes it all, and it is all good.
And a big point of the second story will be that evil does not come from God. Evil comes from creatures. God does not make things evil. Everything is created good, and as the wisdom of Solomon will say in holy Scripture, God did not create death. Death comes by rebellion against God for human beings. So we will continue to reflect on this the next time.