In The Book of Genesis there are a number of mysteries that have always puzzled scholars and vexed religious apologists. One of the most bothersome issues occurs right in the first two chapters. It appears that there are two separate tellings of the creation of the human race!
The first version can be found in Chapter 1, verses 26-31, where on the sixth day of creation, after he created the heavens and the earth, the flora and the fauna, God says:
“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. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
The use of a plural possessive pronoun here by the supposedly singular “God” is telling, and indicates that there was more than one creative being involved. This is another mystery often explained away by Christian apologetics as unimportant, but it tends to corroborate the Gnostic view of creation being a joint process.
Yet that isn’t the only deliberate misinterpretation of the text commonly made by Christian apologetics. A key detail of this first creation story is that the Lord instructs the newly created mankind that all vegetation has been created for their consumption, and they are free to eat whatever they want:
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
So it would appear then that God created man on the sixth day. Furthermore, he apparently created man and woman at the same time. It is unspecified whether there is only one human couple created at first, or several, but let us just assume there was only one. Why, then, does God seem to re-create mankind later in Chapter 2? That chapter starts out with a description of God resting on the seventh day. Then in verses 4-9 we are told:
“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.”
This is the first mention of the Tree of Knowledge and its special fruit. A few verses later (15-17), Adam is given charge of tending the garden. He is also told specifically not to touch the fruit of that particular tree:
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
It is only at this point, in verses 18-25, in this second version of the story of mankind’s creation, that the female is mentioned at all:
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. … And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
So in the first creation, man and woman were created at the same time. They were apparently created the same way, from the dust of the Earth, whereas in the second creation the man was created first, then the female created secondly, out of Adam’s rib. In the first version, God created man “in his own image.” In the second creation, God breathes into Adam “the breath of life”, something not mentioned in the first creation. In the first creation, there is no mention of a garden, and no mention of forbidden fruit. Rather mankind is specifically told to eat whatever they want–that all vegetation had been created for that purpose–and it is all “good” in the Lord’s eyes. Perhaps most importantly, since only the creatures of the second creation are given rules to follow, only they can transgress those rules. The first mankind is blessed and told to “be fruitful and multiply.” It is only the second mankind that experiences the fall from grace after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and it is only after this that they begin to breed, seemingly as a result of the sexual awareness that they gain after the Fall.
The cabalistic interpretation of the two creation stories is much different than, say, your Protestant pastor, who is likely to tell you that it’s just bad writing. He would probably tell you that the compiler of Genesis, while inspired directly by God with every exact word, just sort of “accidentally” repeated himself with the story of man’s creation, and that the slight differences between the two accounts are negligible at best.
Jewish scholars and kabbalists, however, who truly believe every word of the Torah was inspired by God, say that there are a number of legends which explain the two accounts of Adam’s creation. The rabbinical school known as the Pharisees believed that the first creation was of Adam Kadmon, the perfect Primordial Man, a mirror image of the divine Logos (“the Word”), and a hermaphroditic being. Philo wrote that Adam Kadmon, whom he also called “heavenly man” or “original man” was “born in the image of God” with “no participation in any corruptible or earthlike essence; whereas the earthly man is made of loose material, called a lump of clay.” The second creation was when the female half was split apart from the whole, to become Adam and Eve.
The Pharisees actual thought that the Primordial Adam was created and destroyed prior to the actual creation of the universe, and the Zohar says that within his body were contained all of the elements of creation. That text even indicates that God patterned existence after the image of Adam Kadmon, and that perhaps God himself was made in Adam’s image, not the other way around. Or perhaps Adam Kadmon is God, in this view, and the creator of Adam and Eve. As the Zohar says, “The form of man is the image of everything that is above and below; therefore did the Holy Ancient select it for His own form.” This seems to agree with what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:45-47:
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
He refers to Adam Kadmon as the “second man” because Paul thought that, although he was conceived as a spirit prior to the creation of the earthly Adam, he wasn’t created in the flesh until afterwards. This is because Paul believed that Adam Kadmon incarnated for the first time as Jesus Christ. In a similar vein, members of the Judeo-Christian Gnostic sect known as the “Elcesaites” believed that when Adam Kadmon split in two, the male side became the Messiah, and the female part the Holy Ghost.
These interpretations aside, it seems that the splitting apart of Adam Kadmon into male and female, and the fall of Adam and Eve from grace are both metaphors for the same essential concept: the fall of existence from a purely spiritual realm into a material world. It is analogous to the fall of existence into creation described in the Gnostic creation myths, in which Sophia splits apart from her male counterpart, the Serpent Christ, and attempts creation on her own, with disastrous results.
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