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The Fall – The Standard Model

In the last post we looked at bringing to life of an idol and what this means to us. Now its time to begin looking into the foundational myth of the fall of Adam and Eve. Even people with no exposure to religion have a grasp on it. You can see this if you look at some of the ways business has taken the story up. It is highly parodied, and often paints Eve as a seductive temptress and Adam as a childish fool. All this is totally predictable of course, since the myths themselves have so much to teach us that it’s no wonder ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ have conspired to belittle them.

In this post I want to begin with a telling of the “Standard” version. I am grateful to a fellow student who wrote this in an essay entitled “What did Adam and Eve do wrong?” I have only slightly altered it.

adam and eve in adverts

The Standard Model

Adam and Eve have a close relationship with God. They are immortal (or at least they have the chance of immortality). The plot assumes that Adam and Eve are not to seek after divinity (or a higher status) thereby indicating that they are not divine beings. They are creatures who are (ontologically) distinct from God their creator. They are in the garden as God’s servants.

The crafty serpent suggests to Eve that she could become ‘as God’.  Adam and Eve sin because they disobey God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in order to seek the divinity that the snake reveals to them as a possibility. Adam and Eve have to be punished by God for having disobeyed God’s command in seeking to be divine, so are ejected from His presence. They are denied the eternal life (immortality) that the Tree of Life would offer them and are alienated from one another and the natural world. [1]

Leaving Esther’s marvelous, evocative phrase “the crafty serpent” to one side do you recognise this telling of the fall? You might have told it slightly differently, but essentially its strikes me as a good version: what you might hear taught to children. Either way, note that this version doesn’t seek to explain anything. Additionally, how does it paint Adam and Eve? And God? Some people believe the serpent is the hero ~ seriously. Others can’t help seeing God as being dramatically over the top.

I aim in the next few posts to give a fresh reading of text and hopefully dispel some on the nagging doubts that this standard reading evokes.

Next up is the fall part 2 which looks a little more at just what is was that the human race fell from.

If you haven’t already done so, it might be useful to read the four posts on human identity; here is part 1 on representation.


Esther Hardman, ‘What did Adam and Eve do wrong?’, paper, Postgrad Kingdom Theology, Westminster Theological College, 12/2011

About maxelcat

Moderately into just about everything I live in North London where I am run a tutoring physics/science business and drink a lot of coffee.
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  1. Sharon says:

    I have thought that so many conditions and inherited genes come from the mother but then remember Eve was created FROM Adams rib. So it was an equal fall responsibility. I enjoyed the blog.

  2. maxelcat says:

    You may well be right Sharon. I think you could make a case for saying Adam was more at fault, especially since in the narrative we are told that God gave the prohibition to Adam. Then again we only have the shortest version of the account and most likely God does not see it like this anyway.

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