Barry Newman's Blog

June 10, 2011

Science and Genesis 3: 1 – 24 (part XXI)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 3:38 am

Genesis 3: 20, 21 – The man names the woman; Yahweh Elohim makes garments

“Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was (NIV reads, “would become”) the mother of all the living. The Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (New American Standard)

The naming of the woman

The vocabulary that is used of the man naming the animals and the birds (Gen 2: 19) is also used here in his naming of the woman.  It was suggesting when considering the former situation that perhaps one of the important aspects of his giving these creatures their names was that it was an indication of his authority over them.  If that is true, and it is a debatable point, the same may apply with respect to his naming of the woman.  However it was also pointed out that the context for his naming of the creatures was one where there was no suitable helper to be found among these creatures.  That is, that context suggested that in his naming of them the man recognised what they were but more to the point what they were not.  In the naming of the woman, “Eve”, the man may have been exercising some authority over her but again the context is one of recognition – he recognises her role as mother – indeed the mother, of all who would come afterwards.  The text does not indicate anything improper about the man naming the woman, “Eve” and his recognition of her role in the world would seem to be the main if not the only point that is being made.  It is true that God does not name the woman, “Eve” but it would seem to go beyond the text to suggest that the man erred in so doing.  Rather than having the sense of exercising authority over, the naming of an entity, in this context, may simply imply that the role or function of that entity is being recognised.

At the very least it would seem to indicate that the man is perceptive.  It could be that in association with his now being aware of his nakedness and being aware of the woman being aware of his nakedness that the man recognises the sexual aspect of their nakedness and the possibility of sexual activity leading to new life.  Of course the text is relevantly silent on such a connection.  Perhaps the author/editor is allowing the hearer/reader to fill out the details that relate the awareness of nakedness to sexual activity and to the production of children.  We should not assume that the hearers/readers were naive about such matters.

The Hebrew word for “living” has already appeared a number of times in the account (e.g. 1: 21, 24; 2: 7, 19) and is commonly associated in these passages with the Hebrew word for “creatures”. However, as in 2: 7, the entity that is referred to as living is that of humankind.  The Hebrew word for “Eve” has the same sound as the first part as the Hebrew word for “living” and the writer makes use of this similarity in his “explanation” as to why she is called, “Eve”.


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