I came across an interesting forum topic yesterday where someone was asking whether the word “them” in Gen 1:25.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Does the word “them” mean just Adam and Eve, or does it mean many people. I figured there was a question that superseded this one: Is the story of Adam and Eve merely a metaphor for the fall of humanity, or is it an actual historic recounting of events?
It isn’t something I know a lot about, but it is something that interests me (all Christian Theology does to some extent). So I started reading through Genesis to see what I could find.
As I was reading, I found it interesting that there are two separate stories of creation, that of Genesis 1 and that told in Gen 2-3. And there are so many holes in the story if one were to take it literally. Something just didn’t sit right with me thinking that this story was to be read literally.
Who did Cain, Able, and Seth marry? Their sisters? If others were created alongside Adam and Eve, wouldn’t the others still be perfect and in the Garden?
To me, it seems like the story is more of a metaphor, and less of a historical recounting of events. Though I think the Bible is full of metaphorical stories, and not always to be read literally.
I asked the question on my Facebook status whether people thought the story of Adam and Eve was a metaphor, or if it actually happened.
So a friend of mine chimed in with an answer that provided some great insight and knowledge. (And it was cool to have someone with education and knowledge on the subject far superior to mine, validate and support my position. 🙂 )
The following is from my friend Tim who has a Ph.D in Biblical/Theological Studies.
“It is a mythological account intended to represent the universal human condition. There are several textual indicators to point the reader (both ancient and modern in this direction). For example, ‘adam is the Hebrew word for “human” (not even “man” … there is a separate word for gendered human distinctions) and is derivative from the Hebrew word for “ground/dirt” (‘adamah). These are meant to be universal persons so that we can each see ourselves in them. Moreover, the Adam/Eve story is a part of the second creation account (Gen. 2-3) which differs significantly from the first account (Gen. 1). In the first account, the humans are the last creation (after plants/animals) whereas in the second account they are created before the plants/animals. The first account begins creation in a wet, chaotic environment (hovering above the waters) while the second account begins in a dry, barren, desert-like environment. Also, the words used for God (Gen. 1: ‘el and Gen 2: yhwh)are different in the two stories. These stories are intended to communicate different truths about God and creation. Neither is intended to be “historical” in the sense we think of it (a renaissance and enlightenment imposition upon the biblical text). My use of the word “mythological” to describe the Genesis 2 narrative is not intended to say “false” but rather indicate the literary genre through which its truths may be communicated (who is God? and who are we?). By far the majority of both Protestant and Catholic biblical scholars would agree to the basic outlines of what I’ve described above.”