February 29, 2020


Eve, Milton's 'Bogey'   (MADELEINE KEARNS, February 29, 2020, National Review)

In the Book of Genesis, the account given of the Fall of Man is, in psychological terms, perplexing. We are told that Eve is approached by a serpent who contradicts God's instructions, promising that she and Adam "shall be as gods" if they eat the forbidden fruit. We are told that the tree appeared, in Eve's mind, "pleasant to the eyes" and desirable in lending her wisdom. We are told that Eve succumbed to temptation, ate the fruit first, and then gave it to Adam, who did the same. We are told that they realized their nakedness, felt shame, and confessed their sins:

And [God] said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

There is an almost comical absurdity in that. The entire fate of human nature thrown off course -- with thousands of years of murder, rape, and war to follow -- and for no discernible reason. [...]

In her essay about women writers, A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf made passing reference to "Milton's bogey." One possible interpretation of this was that she meant that Milton's Eve was not really about a woman at all, but about a man's perception of a woman. Why did Eve take the fruit? Genesis doesn't say. But in Milton's version Eve was either excessively stupid or vain while Adam's only sin was loving his wife too much (i.e., more than he loved God). It's no wonder the feminists don't like it.

Of course it's absurd; had God understood His creation he could not have made such a fundamental mistake.  But Genesis could hardly be more explicit about why we ate of the tree:

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. [...]

22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

No wonder Christians don't like it.

Posted by at February 29, 2020 7:39 AM