LESSON 11

EVE AND HER TRADUCERS.

82. Did space permit, we might add interesting comments by others besides Dean Payne-Smith as to Eve's belief that Cain was the Coming One, the Messiah. Particularly valuable are the comments of Dr. Peter Lange, of Bonn University, and his editor and translator, Dr. Tayler Lewis. The latter says: "The greatness of Eve's mistake in applying the expression to one who was the type of Antichrist rather than of the Redeemer, should not so shock us as to affect the interpretation of the passage, now that the Covenant God is revealed to us as a being so transcendingly different. The limitation of Eve's knowledge, and perhaps her want of due distinction between the Divine and the human, only sets in a stronger light the intensity of her hope, and the subjective truthfulness of her language. Had her reported words, at such a time, contained no reference to the promised seed of the woman, the rationalist would doubtless have used it as a proof that she could have known nothing of such a prediction, and that, therefore, Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 4:1 must have been written by different authors, ignoring or contradicting each other."

83. It is not Adam, but the Word of God itself, that says Eve was "the mother of all living." Delitzsch remarks here, "The promise purports truly a seed of the woman. In the very face, therefore, of the death with which he is threatened, the wife is for Adam the security for both, as well for the continuance, as for the victory of the race." On the point as to all believers being "the seed of the woman,” Dr. Monroe Gibson asks, “Who are her seed?” and replies, "Many superficial readers think it is all mankind. In a certain sense, of course, all mankind are 'the seed of the woman;’ but suppose you include all mankind, where do the seed of the serpent come in [with whom her seed are at enmity]? Is it not quite obvious that 'the seed of the woman' cannot mean all mankind,—but simply those who are not only literally, but spiritually the 'seed of the woman,' those who are found on the side of good, the side of God and righteousness? Those who are of an opposite spirit are the seed of the serpent, 'the children of the devil.' In the same way, when . . . we are told that 'Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living' [3:20], most readers take it in the sense that she was the mother of all mankind. But why give her a name to indicate a thing so obvious? On the other hand, when you take the 'living' in the spiritual as well as the literal sense as those 'alive unto God', those who are to have the 'life' which God gives through His Son, how beautifully all the references correspond! 'The seed of the woman,' 'the mother of the living,' 'the generation of Adam.' There is, properly speaking, no present tense in Hebrew only the past and future. So when the future is used, it may denote the present, running on into the future. So here, it is not only 'I will put enmity;' but I am putting, and will put enmity between thee and the woman. The work is begun. . . . She is the first type and representative of all the separated ones who constitute the Church of God." (The Ages before Moses, page 122).

84. Now let us compare four passages, out of many that might be chosen. God tells Abraham, Genesis 22:16-18, "By Myself have I sworn . . . in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice." To Isaac He says, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed My voice" (Genesis 26:4, 5). To Jacob He said the same (Genesis 28:14). To David He says, "I will raise up thy seed after thee. . . and I will establish his throne forever" (1 Chronicles 17:11, 12). Then, Galatians 3:29, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise," Was it a special honor to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David to be mentioned as in this stream of blessing which was to descend to humanity? Then it is well for us to remember that the source of this blessing, on the human side, is Eve, of whom God said, to Satan, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman; . . . her seed…shall bruise thy head." The promise honors Eve quite as much as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the honor could not have been conferred upon her but for the same reason as upon them,—namely, because of excellence found in her.

85.  In our next Lesson we will show that the N. T. teaches that Adam, rather than Eve, was the one who brought sin into the world, and death through sin. But how, then, can we account for this slandering of Eve's character? Where did it take its source? We think the answer to these questions is simple enough. Historically speaking, the earliest definite accusation against woman as the source of all evil is the pagan Greek myth of Pandora. According to Hesiod, who lived about 800 B.C., Jupiter was angry because Prometheus ("Forethought") had stolen fire from heaven, and in revenge ordered Vulcan to make a beautiful woman. Minerva adorned her with all gifts, and she was named Pandora ("All-gifted"),—but Mercury gave her a deceitful mind. She was brought to Epimetheus ("Afterthought"), who received her, contrary to warnings, in the absence of Prometheus. When admitted among men, Pandora opened a casket and allowed to escape all the evils of mankind, excepting delusive hope. There are many variations of this myth, but they all teach the one view,—that woman is the source of human ills.

86. The time between the O. T. and the N. T. story has been called in Jewish history "the days of mingling,” because of the effort, on the part of the Jews, to reconcile the teachings of the O. T., and the customs of the Jews, with Greek paganism. Archdeacon Farrar[1] tells us that at this time, "Palestine was surrounded by a cordon of Greek cities in which many Jews mingled freely with the heathen population. In Jerusalem itself we witness the growth of a wealthy and powerful party, in close alliance, alternately, with the Greek kings of Syria and of Egypt.  Fascinated by the attractions of Greek life and literature, they wished to adopt Hiellenistic ideals, and to obliterate the most essential distinctions of Jewish life and religion. This semi-faithless epoch was described as 'the days of mingling.'"

87. It is nothing strange, then, that during this time the attempt should have been made to reconcile the story of Pandora and the account of Eve in Genesis; and the most ancient extant reference to Eve as the source of evil is to be found in that book of the Apocrypha which is known as Ecclesiasticus, or The Wisdom of Ben Sira. This, a Palestinian production of uncertain date, was originally written in Hebrew, probably about 250 B. C., but early translated into Greek, in Egypt, and it contains these words: "From woman a beginning of sin; and because of her all die" (25:24). Tennant tells us that "Ben Sira was the precursor of the Talmudic teaching as to the Fall."[2] We shall presently show what some of that Talmudic teaching was as regards Eve,—so please do not forget this point.

Other Jewish writers, of later date, enlarge upon this culpability of Eve. At Alexandria, particularly, was the effort carried forward of reconciling the Scriptures with Greek pagan teachings. Unfortunately for Christian theology, after the Greek version of the O. T. was made at Alexandria (B. C. 285 saw its beginning), these Jewish, uninspired writings, called The Apocrypha, all written in Greek, not Hebrew, were incorporated with that version, which was used, to the exclusion of the Hebrew Scriptures by the Church; and many of the church fathers quoted the Apocrypha as authoritative; and all were influenced by its teachings. Thus it easily happens that the character of the mythological Pandora is ascribed to Eve. No saying that reflects upon Eve's character can be traced further back than "the days of mingling."

88. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in 177 A. D., following the teaching of Ben Sira and other Jews, says of Eve: "Having become disobedient, she was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race." But Tertullian of Carthage, a few years later, is particularly severe, and visits Eve's sin on all Christian women, in the following language: "Do you not know that you are an Eve? God's verdict on the sex still holds good, and the sex's guilt must still hold also. YOU ARE THE DEVIL'S GATEWAY, you are the avenue to the forbidden tree. You are the first deserter from the law divine. It was you who persuaded him [Adam] whom the devil himself had not strength to assail. So lightly did you esteem God's image. For your deceit, for death, the very Son of God had to perish." But, except for woman, would humanity have ever afforded any entrance of the Son of God into the world, to perish, or for men to preach?

89. Many of the theological views of the present day show the shaping of Tertullian's hand upon them, for, to use the concise statement of Lippincott's Biographical Dictionary, "He acquired great influence among the Christians of his time." Not a few of his literary works remain to this day. With such a view of woman, to start with (shut out by perpetual "guilt" from participation in the merits of Christ's atonement), it is small wonder that the next Scripture verse that we shall consider (Genesis 3:16), has been construed, in accordance with the teaching of the Talmud and Tertullian, as God's perpetual curse upon the entire female sex.

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[1] The Herods, p. 15.

[2] The Talmud contains “not less than forty” citations from Ben Sira,—Lange’s Commentaries, Apocrypha, p. 276.

 

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