evewasaheroine

Many posts have been made on the subject of the beautiful Genesis myth of Adam and Eden, but it is seldom pointed out that almost all the components of this ancient myth/history pre-date the written Old Testament.  They circulated in Abraham’s country of Mesopotamia in the second millennium BC as part of the famous epic poem of Gilgamesh which forms some of the oldest literature in the world.  This work was once lost to posterity but was re-discovered written on clay tablets in the 19th century.

It incorporates the creation of a fully-adult man fashioned, as was Adam, from damp clay or soil.  He lived naked with the animals – as did Adam – until joined by a naked female.  Here also is the first man to walk in the garden paradise, and mention is made of a serpent with a human head, Lord of the tree of life.  The epic also preserves other stories with startling biblical parallels.  However, none of these records had anything to do with the subsequent Christian exegesis of the origin of sin through Adam and Eve’s disobedience.

One reason is that the ancient stories had root in Mesopotamian polytheism, in which the immoral gods did not encourage human progress.  Consequently human heroes were sometimes obliged to defy the gods in the name of progress.  In Greek myth Prometheus disobeyed Zeus to bring fire to the human race – Zeus punished him for helping the human race.

That philosophy was turned on its head with the revolution of patriarchal monotheism.  Thus when the Eden story is examined in the light of its origins, taking into account the meaning of its important archetypal images of serpent and tree, this myth-history can be seen to record an inspirational anthropological ‘history’ of uplifting value to all human beings.

There is a lot more to discuss.

One Response to evewasaheroine

  1. When I first read a translation of the pre-biblical poem of Gilgamesh I could scarcely believe that it contained stories so similar to those in Genesis. Here was the creation of a fully adult man fashioned, as was Adam, from damp clay. He lived naked with the animals until joined by a naked female. Here too was a record the first man to enter the garden paradise, and mention is made of a serpent with a human head known as ‘lord of the tree of life.’ When the Eden myth-history preserved in Genesis is seen in an older light it becomes clear that this important record is rightly preserved in Genesis, but wrongly interpreted in literal terms and in terms unsympathetic to its archetypal images of serpent and tree.
    In the earlier light the naked woman did not introduce sin into the world, but the story of the naked couple records a unique event in human history of inspirational, and evolutionary importance. Are there any Eve’s out there interested in an older story of our ancestral mother in which she is indeed a heroine?

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