Tag Archives: Adam and Eve

They called on his name


I’ve noted in the past how important it is to me that in the Book of Moses, both Adam and Eve call upon the name of the Lord. They worship together, they work together, they teach together, and they mourn together. Once there is a child and a grandchild (in total, 3 generations) which believe the Lord, then these three men call on the name of the Lord together, and a priesthood is born (this is my reading of these events in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price — see 6:4).

But there are other places, of course, where people call on the name of the Lord, or thank God by sacrifice and offering. Individuals do, all of Israel does, etc. But there are a few other interesting scriptures that I want to highlight.

In Alma 12, Alma has just been describing the Garden of Eden story. Then just a few verses later, he is explaining that God had a plan for men to return to him, and “sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name.” If we follow this Moses story, then this might mean men as in a group of men who begin to establish a priesthood, or it might mean “men” as in “humans,” and we might be talking about Adam and Eve.

Genesis has a similar verse in 4:26.

I’m sure there are more (that I want to find and think about!) but the last one I want to mention today is Sariah and Lehi. Even though 1 Nephi 5 is sometimes held up as a time where women are shown as weak and complaining — I have a different reaction to the chapter. She strongly shares her concerns, Lehi or the Lord doesn’t repremand her, and when her children return she knows “of a surety” that God is speaking to Lehi. This is the story of how Sariah gains her unshaken faith. Really, it’s a moment between her and God more than anything else.

But that’s a tangent. What I really want to point out is what happens after they are all reunited, after she feels comfort and knows of a surety. It says, “and it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.” Note that they (Lehi and Sariah) did rejoice, offer sacrifice and offerings, and gave thanks to God. There is a sense in which they are playing out the Adam and Eve story, pre-3-generation priesthood creation. 🙂

(Also, Nephi mentions right away that Adam and Eve are on the plates.)

Warning – for anyone actually reading these, I may possibly rework this post at any point. 🙂  Or, I might possibly totally forget I had posted this.)

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Eve, Adam, and the Priesthood


Moses 5:4 says: “Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord.”

Moses 6:4, 7 says: “And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord … Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.”

I think there is a lot going on here in these three simple verses. What Adam and Eve do (call on the name of the Lord together), is later referred to as “Priesthood” when a group of men do it.

What do we make of that?

Here are some ideas:

1) Here, way back in the book of  Moses, in taking about the first man and woman, I think I see the same situation I’ve wondered about recently: women can do Priesthood-like things without an ordination to the Priesthood (i.e., temple endowment, missions, leadership callings)

2) What Adam and Eve do comes first, and Priesthood comes second.

3) The Priesthood seems to be a matter of generations, while Eve-Adam version isn’t?

4) From #3, could we say that the Priesthood is vertical (multi-generational) while the Eve-Adam version is horizontal (immediate, temporal, lateral)?

5) D&C 128 links Priesthood unmistakably to uniting generations.

6) Why today do we have a presidency consisting of 3 men of any generation or family, whereas with Adam, he needed 3 generations? What could we learn about the priesthood from that?

7) Did that change with Abraham? Are we all considered Abraham’s seed, and so any three men will do?

8) Did Abraham’s covenant change anything for women? Do we still operation with the Eve-Adam version?

9) What about women not married? Eve of course was, so I don’t see what we can learn directly there. However, it’s incredibly important to remember that women, married or not, can receive temple endowments, serve missions, and serve in leadership without Priesthood ordination. (Note that when we had a “Priesthood ban” for black member, they could not receive endowments or sealings. The situation for women is actually quite different.)

10) What other things should I note from these 3 verses?


Adam and Eve: coats of skins as a “mark”?


I was thinking today about cursings and marks in scripture. I think it’s a productive reading to assume that those two things go together but are not equivalent. For example, the Lamanites are cursed not with a skin change but with being cut off from the presence of the the Lord. The mark of skin change sets them off as separate from the Nephites. But this isn’t actually to the Nephite’s advantage in the end. The mark shows that the Lamanites have the blessings of God in the long run, because they weren’t taught about the commandments by their fathers, while the Nephites, without that mark, have no such promises because they did know the commandments. The Lamanites will eventually be restored to the presence of God, but the Nephites don’t have that promise in the long-term.

If the curse and the mark are seen two different things, then the mark seems to serve to preserve a people whose parents had a covenant promise. It shows that God is keeping that promise in the long-run by preserving that seed, even though somewhere along the way someone decided to stop keeping and teaching the commandments. The fact that the mark is something genetic is a great clue here: the mark shows that their parents had a promise but misunderstood or left that promise, but that God is still remembering their seed regardless. The Lamanite’s skin color ought not to signal to the Nephites, or to us, that they are an “unfavored” people, but rather a very “favored” and “remembered” people of the Lord! I think this applies clearly to the Lamanites, but also to other people in scripture. I think that the families of Cain, Ham, and others fall into this category.

This morning I was thinking about Adam and Eve. They were cursed too to be cut off from the presence of the Lord, like the Lamanites. Do they have some sort of mark as well? I have played around with the idea that maybe the “coats of skins” (or garments) is a sort of mark. This morning I’m thinking more about that. (Or would the aprons of fig leaves that they make for themselves are more of a mark?) By looking at Genesis 3, I see that God curses the ground for Adam’s sake, that Eve is told she will sorrow too, and these are collectively sometimes called their “cursings” (although I think there is a lot to talk about still there). But if we go with that for now, at least in a broad sense, or if we at least see this as the moment of them being cut of from the presence of the Lord, then I find it cool that right after this is where God make them coats of skins. Perhaps those are a “mark” on their bodies? I know not all of Adam’s children have worn these coats of skins if we think of them as the temple garments, but perhaps we could read it as clothes generally? If a “mark” communicates that God is preserving a people with a covenant, even though their parents have not always kept the commandments, what in that garment communicates that God is preserving people? (I think there are interesting answers to that question for those who have been to the temple!).

There’s a lot to think about (as always) but I like the idea that the garment is a mark showing that God remembers Adam and Eve’s family, and wants them to return to His presence.


Some thoughts on Adam and Eve today


I don’t have any particular aim or question I want to answer this morning, but I just feel drawn to the stories of Adam and Eve for some reason. So, here are some thoughts as they occur to me this morning.

From Genesis 1:24-26:

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

“Let the earth bring forth” — what an interesting thing to say! Why is the earth doing the action here? And why is God “letting” it do this? Is the earth naturally want to do this? Some have said evolution is obviously true, some say it’s impossible to be true with there being a God. I don’t come down on one side or the other right now — I haven’t done the reading on it, on the one hand, in order to have much to say about it, but on the other hand, as a Mormon I come from a tradition that sees God using laws of science to perform miracles, etc., so there isn’t any immediate, automatic reaction against evolution, either. I suppose the part that I find interesting is whether or not we can go from one species to the next — I think that is the part that worries people, and the part that I wonder if we can line up with the text of Genesis. Granted, each time scripture is given it is given to a particular people with a particular way of thinking, so, it might not much matter if we can or can not line up evolution with the scriptures. But, what I am noticing here is that the earth is the acting figure, and the idea that all life came from the earth is an idea evolution matches up with. Second, there is still a “kind” after which these animals need to be created. And then third, it also says that “God made” these animals. It sounds like the earth, and God, made these animals. Is it possible that evolution is the “natural” way of things (“let the earth do its thing”), but then God steps in and intervenes at certain points to stop evolution of a particular animal, so then from that point the animal will reproduce after its own kind? Does God stabilize what the earth does naturally? I like the idea, though I know there’s one concern of those against evolution that I still wonder about (but can’t know about): how do spirits fit into this? If animals are developing and changing, of what nature are their spirits? The main concern will be at what point do we have people spirits instead of monkey spirits, if indeed our bodies are evolved from them??

All questions I of course can’t answer. But aside from that last (huge and crucial) question, I think I like the rest of it. The earth has a work it does of producing life out of the ground, and God watches over that and intervenes so that we have the right animals he wants to have in the earth. It’s almost like there are “kinds” of animals like there are “forms” for Plato, and God is watching over the work the earth is doing until it matches up with the “kinds” he wants to have on earth and then stabilizes that species. Who knows of course, but I can see that making sense (besides the question of spirits, which I don’t see any way of working on unfortunately). So if I knew more about that, I could get rid of some ideas or theories, but since I don’t, I both can’t throw them out and can’t settle on anything. So I remain wondering and waiting for more knowledge.

I like though the last verse’s way of pointing out that while the earth brought forth animals after their own kinds, humans are made after God’s “kind.” God made us in his own image and likeness. However that happened scientifically, I think poetically it’s important to notice the difference between the earth bringing forth animals after their own, predetermined “kind,” and God creating man and woman not after their own predetermined kind, but after God’s kind.

(Quick note on “dominion” — Joe was explaining to someone recently that the Hebrew behind this word relates to the idea of “lord,” which comes from the old English “loaf warden” or person who is in charge of distributing food so everyone has enough to eat. It is an idea of being a steward over something and making sure it is taken care of appropriately.)

Genesis 2:7-9

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

I have learned along the way that Chapter 1 of Genesis and Chapters 2-3 may have been two different versions of the story originally and whoever is editing is trying to find a way to include both versions of the story. But all the same, I’m going to ask a few questions about these verses in relation to Genesis 1.

Why is Adam made from the dust of the ground? In Genesis 1, God let the earth bring forth animals, and then God made them. But here this isn’t the earth bringing something forth, it sounds like God is using the dust that’s sitting on top to make Adam. Is it just that I think of dust as loose soil, but in Hebrew dust can mean earth generally, so there’s actually not much difference?

Also, it’s hard for me to think of something being created and manipulated and changed and prepared without life in it. How does a body grow without a spirit in it? We see the moment of death as when a spirit leaves. Is that always the case though? Obviously God’s not revealing His science here, just a story to help us sense His purposes and work.

So back to the poetic side of things. Why are some things created from the earth, or letting the earth bring them forth, while here Adam is made from dust?

Also, in the Genesis 2 version, God creates Adam and then God makes trees come out of the ground and grow there. Or, at least, the trees in the garden are created after Adam, but that doesn’t mean that the whole of creation or even of plants was done after Adam was created. Perhaps God wanted Adam to see a little bit of the work he had done before Adam was around.

A few thoughts for this morning — kids are waking up. I’ll just add a thought I had a while ago. Every thing in this story, it seems, is created from the ground except one: Eve. Eve is created from bone, but Adam and everything else is created from ground. Why? What does that signify poetically? Is it that bone is harder than dirt? And what does that say about Eve verses Adam? Was it harder to form Eve? Is Eve  harder to manipulate? Do the differences in color mean anything? Dirt is varying shades of browns and reds, but bone is white? Is the location important – dirt is on the ground, and a rib bone is several feet off of the ground? Is it that Adam comes from dirt and returns to dirt, but Eve comes from life and gives herself to life? Adam tills the ground, Eve bears children? Adam gives his body to Eve and Eve gives her body to children? Is there an idea of passing on of life?

Questions, questions, questions!

 


The posterity promise and prolonging destruction – a curse?


What a nice enigmatic title! This post contains a lot of thoughts but they aren’t developed enough for me to want this post to be found just yet, so I made a nice hard to understand title. 🙂 A summary of the post would go like this: “The reason that there is some sort of mark is to separate them and thereby prolong their days long enough so that the curse can be lifted. Like Adam and Eve, God prolongs days to allow for change. A curse and a mark go together to show the rest of the world that their curse is not their fault but rather the fault of the parents. God intends these curses (of being cut off from God, of being cut off from Priesthood, etc.) to be lifted someday.”

Here are the details:

Continue reading


Genesis 4 and Moses 5/6


Working on Alma 13 has forced me to ask what the Nephites had in their scriptures about Adam and Eve and the time immediately following the fall. For example, Alma says, “I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests.” How would they “remember” this besides having read it? Alma hasn’t mentioned this part of the story in Alma 12, so they wouldn’t be “remembering” it from his discourse.

This led me to read through Genesis 4 again. I’m quite familiar with Moses 4-6, so reading Genesis 4 was a treat. How interesting to notice the differences! It’s really like someone had the Moses text and was abridging it for Genesis. I’m not suggesting this was literally what happened, but it feels that way since I’m so used to Moses. One of the random things I noticed? That after Eve has Seth, the Moses account said Adam glorified God and said God had appointed him another seed, but in the Genesis account, the text attributes this exclamation to Eve! Granted, it’s in italics, but how much more interesting – it was ambiguous in Genesis who was focused on having seed. The editors of the KJV chose to have Eve excited about family (not a bad move) but in Moses, we see that Adam (and Eve too of course) was excited about a special priesthood lineage.

Anyway, just one insight to share while Micah is pressing buttons, whacking a marker around me, and putting toy cars on the computer. 🙂

Bye! 🙂


Thoughts from “Opposition in All Things: Mormon Perspectives on the Fall” (a Mormon Theology Seminar Conference on 2 Nephi 2 and Genesis 2-3)


There was another Mormon Theology Seminar Conference this past weekend. The organization has held 6 of these seminars so far: one on Alma 32, one on 2 Nephi 26-27, one on D&C 42, one on the book of Revelation, and now this double-seminar (one on 2 Nephi 2 and one on Genesis 2-3), with the conferences held back-to-back. This last conference was unique (and very productive!) that way. Friday was dedicated to Genesis 2-3 and Saturday to 2 Nephi 2, but in each session there were respondents and/or questions from those who had studied the other text. The questions brought out connections or complications that generated very interesting and productive conversation. And Micah and I got to be there to see it all! 🙂 (Someday I’ll buy him a copy of the books so he can know what it was he was there listening to and clapping for. 🙂 )

Like I do in many meetings, in this conference I started out mostly let the ideas make me think (and I was also focused on Micah), but I wasn’t taking any notes. I was just letting the ideas change my thinking, or simply just enjoying the experience. Then, for whatever reason, maybe b/c Micah was asleep (or because I was sleepy and needed to do something to stay focused), or maybe it was because some idea thing struck me more than others had and I wanted to remember it… but whatever it was, I started taking notes. And then, as is my habit, once I start taking notes, I keep taking notes and I took notes the rest of the time. So my notes here really start in the afternoon of the first day, but since I thoroughly enjoyed that morning as well, I’ll write a few things from my memory.

The first paper by Julie Smith deconstructed the “Wise Choice Theory” – the idea that Eve knew what she was doing when she ate the fruit and did it completely on purpose for good intentional reasons. It was a good paper with lots of careful reading and good insight. I was trying to keep Micah quite and didn’t write down a thing! But it was very interesting.

The next paper was by Ben Spackman, and he did an excellent job of showing how and when the word “Adam” should be translated not as a proper name. Where it isn’t a proper name, what is it? Dirt, human-kind generally, a member of the human family, etc. He provided a chart as well to show how a dozen different translations over time have handled that question. Very well done, very helpful to someone like me who doesn’t know Hebrew, and very engaging presentation style. Plus, he was skyped in from Spain so that was a novelty too. 🙂

The last paper that morning was by Rosalynde Welch, and I’m going to quote her title since it will tell much more than I could about her topic: “Creation, Localism, and Appetite in the Garden World of Wendell Berry.” Interesting piece with some insights, but mostly I needed to know more about localism and Wendall Berry for me to be able to respond to her thesis. It was great to finally meet Rosalynde, though. She blogs at Patheos and does a fantastic job writing intelligent and faithful posts relating to all sorts of Mormon issues.

Now for a list of some of my insights, mostly – as usually here on this blog! – for me to archive some of my thoughts and use them in future studies.

From Jim Faulconer’s “Chaos and Order, Order and Chaos: The Creation Story as the Story of Human Community,” responded to by Julie Smith:

  • Eve got knowledge individually and not communally
  • She saw tree as good. It was, but she went outside the community.
  • How are the “curses” really grace? (My answer: note Eve still bears children, and Adam still eats food from the earth. Now both are coupled with sorrow, but they still are allowed to live out the life God gave to them in the garden.)
  • leaving garden = creation of community, relying on each other
  • “ashamed” of nakedness. Lots of possible readings. They are now “like God” but not like God. Jim suggested it one reading: they were a priest and a priestess without priestly clothing
  • God creates humans on the Sabbath. That was rest?
  • Julie asked, How do Mormon cultural ideals of self-reliance, independence, and punishment line up with the community theme that Jim as brought up?
  • (Here, but in earlier papers too:) Christ kept scars on His hands. Will the earth have scars from us that it keeps, too?
  • (From comments): There are not many examples in scripture of communities being positive. We usually read all the bad things that a society is doing. But perhaps if we had more details of how Zion was created, with the Nephites for example, we would be tempted to simply take that as a blueprint and try to imitate it, which would be a disaster. I thought, Perhaps this keeps us on our toes, hopefully forcing us to listen to the Spirit, which Brigham Young says is what Zion is all about anyway. 🙂
  • Question from the Hebrew: might Adam be present when the serpent and Eve talk?
  • Jenny: We think of Zion as “inclusive” but was Adam and Eve’s problem that they didn’t cast out Satan? How does that change our image of Zion?

Notes from Candice Wendt’s paper, “Environmental Education in Zion,” responded to by Jenny Webb – one of my favorite people 🙂

  • Eden was Adam’s “ecological education.” He was naming animals, eating fruit, tilling ground
  • Knowledge = fruit. Why?
  • “earth’s flesh becomes our flesh”
  • her general idea is that all fruit brings knowledge. So forbidden fruit could represent that b/c they had already had gained lots of other kinds of knowledge (of the earth, eating, animals, each other, etc) – what made this knowledge – this fruit – so different?wisdom?
  • “Ashamed” – there was already a gap between them and God, but still now ashamed (me: Ether 12:27?)
  • Enoch the place to think about community.
  • Jenny: Marcus Nash recently presented on taking care of the earth but he focused on how we have a responsibility to take care of the earth for future generations. Adam too passes on knowledge of the earth to his children
  • Jenny: think also about Alma 32. Your own tree…
  • I wondered – serpent was most subtle can be translated most naked. Can we translate Adam and Eve of being ashamed of their subtle way of eating the fruit?
  • Kim and I wondered – serpent naked, but in temple Satan has unique clothing?
  • Animal feeds man, shouldn’t man feed animals?
  • clothed with skins means they experience death, and then they wear it!
  • but of course it also teaches about sacrifice and Christ’s atonement. Still, they are wearing death, as it were. A corpse of an animal. They are humans now marked as humans that will someday die. Interesting!

Adam Miller’s paper:

  • Does Christ save us from death or from dying?
  • Adam makes his own garden – he is being/becoming like God
  • bowels remind us that we are bodies of dirt, we produce dirt – earth comes in, earth goes out
  • bodies pass air in and out, light passes into eyes, sound passes into ears
  • passing, repetition – that is living, that is life
  • Book of Mormon – “it came to pass” – events in life come and then go, they came (in order to?) pass
  • Comment: Why biologically repulsed by that which passes from us? Adam: it’s for the earth, for others. We are not self-sufficient creatures on this planet.

Rico:

  • Question: is Adam’s punishment mortality itself, or death in that day?
  • D&C 29 an interesting place to go looking. Spiritual death in that day?
  • Does Lehi use Isaiah 14 to get his understanding of Satan (2 Ne 2:17)
  • Not a tree of knowledge for Lehi – just forbidden fruit. Why use that name? What is he focused on?
  • I wrote down at this point: I wonder if Lehi had any idea that thousands of years later, people would so carefully work to understand every sentence in a discourse he  gave on the fall and atonement.

Jenny:

  • Jacob is Lehi’s first-born in the wilderness. If we read as a whole, could be that Nephi saw Jacob as the spiritual leader for the family.
  • Now map “flesh” discussion (running through all of 2 Nephi 2) onto this – mortal = Jerusalem? resurrection = promised land?
  • Lehi’s words in 2 Nephi call US to listen to Jacob.
  • Adam: flesh = spirit and body oriented to death, soul = spirit and body oriented to eternal life
  • Candace/Jenny: spirit and flesh opposed in 2 Ne 2
  • Sort of a “Last Will and Testament” but of spiritual traces rather than material traces

John Hilton:

  • Alma 42 quotes Geneses 3 (provided a chart – it’s very clear!)
  • Alma 42 quotes 2 Ne 2 (also very clear!)
  • In both Alma 42 and 2 Ne 2 a prophet is teaching a son
  • John charted the pattern in Alma 42:11-23 and 2 Ne 2:10-14 (I didn’t copy it well, but things like: Christ, opposition, God would cease to be God, not the case…)
  • (me:) Why “if no punishment” or misery, then God would cease to be God? Why at that point?
  • (me:) Why is THAT the key part of the list? Makes God a King or Sovereign?
  • (me:) or, b/c justice means not going back on decrees given to Adam and Eve? words always fulfilled, and punishment was one of those decrees?
  • “affixed” shows up 6 times in Book of Mormon: 3 in 2 Nephi 2, and 3 in Alma 42!
  • “affixed” implies not inherent, someone had to affix it.
  • affixed, chosen, given the law (who affixes punishment? no subject given for that)
  • (me:) having punishment and happiness affixed allows us to choose? how agency created? or am I barking up the wrong tree?
  • How did Alma quote 2 Ne 2 (and so seems to have had small plates) but also unsure of timing of Christ’s visit?
  • Could be Lehi’s message in 2 Ne 2 was also on large plates
  • But why then would not the important info of the timing of Christ’s visit also be on those plates?
  • Lots to learn from the way Alma teaches here.
  • (My favorite:) Alma cuts past the behavior, and even scriptures on that behavior, and gets to the misunderstood doctrine (of Christ)
  • Alma carefully reads – no prooftexting! 🙂
  • Note where Alma 12/13 are different (as gods…)
  • (my question in the Q&A:) how often do we use this very discourse to talk about chastity, when Alma himself doesn’t use scripture that way to help teach his son! Are there other examples in scripture where we see someone cut past the behavior to teach about Christ or another fundamental doctrine and then we see how that was really what was needed?

I realize now that I must have been taking care of Micah during Joe’s paper. I thoroughly enjoyed it (and I’d heard it before). But one of the most interesting parts of his presentation was Rosalynde’s creative description of Joe’s general presentation style. How Joe is like someone taking us down a busy road in downtown NYC and pointing out this and that to us. Or a biologist who slices something smaller and smaller and looks at it under a microscope. Etc. It was a complimentary and creative response to Joe.

Also, Deidre gave a paper in the afternoon that I failed to comment on here. I think I remember feeling like I needed to know a lot more about feminism to really appreciate what she was getting at. She did a great job, but I have a lot more to learn about feminist theory and feminist theology.

But a wonderful, wonderful conference! Every paper and every response gave me things to think about. Every lunch or dinner conversation was enlightening and fun. I don’t desire the attention and work that comes with presenting at a conference, but I think I’ve almost talked myself into writing up and submitting papers to these sorts of things (like MSH) just so I can have the excuse to go and be around the people and the conversations during these conferences.

Thanks to Sue, again, who offered to watch our kids so I could go both days! It was a great experience.