Written by O. Palmer Robertson |
Monday, November 6, 2023
In view of the far-reaching consequences of the origin of Eve “out of” the body of Adam, would it be appropriate to conclude that Paul, writing words verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, was following some form of a mythological concept in his report that Eve was made “out of” Adam? Was Paul wrong in his report of Eve’s origin, and consequently did he err by appealing to an improper basis for the headship of the man in relation to the woman? Let us trust that what was reported in the Old Testament and confirmed in the New Testament is truth. Let us bring our thinking and our lives into conformity with the truth as it is found in Scripture.
There is a thinking abroad among some evangelical Christians that questions the historical reality of the biblical record concerning the origin of Adam and Eve. This questioning about the origin of the human race has broad implications.
The biblical record of the origin of Adam is quite straightforward. “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Gen. 2:7). The first man had his origin from the dust of the ground. The point at which the man became a living creature, he was man in all his glory as man, made in the image of God.
But what about Eve? Where did she come from? Adam must have had a startling awakening after his deep sleep. Where did this lovely companion originate?
One view of her origin might suggest that Adam could have sensed that he had a vague recollection of her. For according to this view, Eve had already existed among the female hominids associating with Adam while he was a male hominid. God had selected him from the multiple hominids that had evolved from more primitive forms of living beings. Then God favored him so that he became the first hominid to have a “soul.” In this new status, he became the first “Man” that was then appropriately called “Adam.”
But God noted that it was not good for the Man to be alone. So he brought all the other living creatures for Adam to categorize by giving them appropriate designations. Presumably in this view, Adam must have titled the creatures who were just like him in their bodily form but without souls with a word equivalent to our current “hominid.” But none of these other creatures living on the earth at that time were suitable as a mate for Adam.
What did God do to solve this problem? From this particular viewpoint, it may be supposed God chose one of the female hominids that had evolved from lower forms of animal life and favored her with a soul so that she became the first “woman.” Adam later named her “Eve,” for she became the mother of all the living (Gen. 3:20).
This view represents a current effort to blend the Bible with modern science to make the origin of Adam and Eve more believable. Instead of treating the biblical report as an authentic historical record of how Eve actually originated, this view attempts to accommodate the biblical testimony to what may appear to be a more plausible view of Eve’s origin.
But what does the Bible say about the origin of Eve, and why should its report be believed? When speaking of the Bible’s testimony about any subject, the witness of both the Old Testament and the New Testament Scriptures must be considered. Not only the report in Scripture of what actually happened, but the testimony of the significance of that reported event must be brought under consideration. From this perspective, consider the testimony of the origin of Eve as it appears in both the Old and New Testaments. Review the testimony of three major figures in Scripture: Moses, Jesus and Paul. Jesus the Christ is of course absolutely unique as the Son of God and our one and only Savior. But both Moses and Paul stand high among the servants of the Lord in the Old Testament and the New.
Under the direct inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, Moses wrote two reports of Creation. In Genesis 1, he provided the larger picture of God’s creation of the entire universe in which humanity resides. This great creative work that embraced the starry heavens and the seashore’s sands climaxed with the special counsel of the triune Godhead: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26, 27).
In Genesis 2, Moses records the creation of man in greater detail. Already it has been noted that Scripture records a special act in the creation of the first man. Formed from dust, God breathed into his nostrils, and the well-shaped inanimate being first came to life.
But what about Eve? Where did she come from?
The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and took one of his ribs. “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22).
How does the man respond to the presentation of this utterly amazing being?
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘Woman,’
for she was taken out of ‘Man’”
A bone from the inmost recesses of the man’s body. Almost certainly a bone with sinews and flesh attached, for Adam declares that this is not only “bone of my bones,” but also “flesh of my flesh.” Not a bleached-white skeletal bone, but a bone with living flesh remaining. From that flesh-covered bone the LORD God “built” a woman, and brought her to the man (Gen. 2:22). God “built” the woman—that’s the actual word. Just as a person might “build” a house after much thought and with great care, so the LORD God carefully framed every aspect of the woman.
How does Moses explain the significance of this origin of Eve?
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
The union of a man and a woman is a “great mystery,” one that can hardly be fathomed because of its depth. Body and soul, flesh and spirit become one in a union that exceeds human imagination. Once wed in the intimacies of marriage, they continue by God’s creative design as one. Even when separated across oceans and continents, they still are one.
Why? Because of the origin of Eve. She was not taken from the dust as Adam, though she too is made of dust. She came “out of” the man, from his bone and from his flesh.
That is the testimony of Moses.
Jesus Christ is your Lord, the Son of God, the Savior of sinners. He is the Word who made all things. By him and for him all things exist. Jesus obviously knows the origin of Adam and Eve. He knows where they came from.
Does Jesus say anything about the origin of Eve?
Jesus responds to a query that seeks to find a way to justify the dissolution of the union of a man and a woman who have married. “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason?” (Matt. 19:3; Mark 10:2). To answer the question, Jesus points to Scripture. As the Son of God, he could have made his own pronouncement on the subject. But instead, he lets the written word of God speak. Always it’s the Bible that provides the final answer to the hard questions. “Have you not read,” he says. Have you not read the very first two chapters of the Bible?