What was Adam's punishment

Adam & Eve: Punishment for disobedience

Take a man, a woman, a snake and a tree: According to US bestselling author Stephen Greenblatt, these ingredients and a few lines in the Book of Genesis of the Bible have evolved into what is probably the “most powerful myth of mankind”. “This story,” writes the Pulitzer Prize winner, who comes from a strictly Jewish family, “has shaped for centuries how we talk about crime and punishment, about morality, death, pain, work, leisure, community, marriage, gender, curiosity and sexuality and think about the essence of being human. "

In his new book “The Story of Adam and Eve”, the Renaissance expert invites you on an exciting journey through theology, philosophy, literature and art. Greenblatt digs deep into the history of myths: The story of the first fall of man originated in the Babylonian exile of the Jews in the sixth century BC, when the enslaved encountered the sacred texts of the Babylonians. A whole sky full of capricious and vengeful gods was set up: gods who created people from clay and destroyed them again in a flood - out of jealousy, or simply because they were too loud for them.

All of this aroused the longing in the Jews for their own myth of origin, for a story that could answer the question of why God had not prevented the enslavement of his people. The difference: the Jewish God was a single, just ruler who did not destroy out of arbitrariness, but punished out of just moral indignation. Adam and Eve had to pay for disobedience and wanting to be like him.

Greenblatt makes you want to read the Genesis again carefully. How can it be that God forbids his creatures to recognize the difference between good and bad? And how could he threaten death to Adam and Eve, who lived in a state of innocence and could not have known what that meant?

Until well into the early modern period, the church claimed that the story of creation was literally true. The interpretation of the Church Father Augustine proved to be particularly influential: Adam and Eve inherited the guilt, according to his interpretation, on the path of sexual desire to all of humanity. “Human sin,” writes Greenblatt, “is a sexually transmitted disease.” The visual arts and literature also made a big impact on history.

But the myth was disenchanted more and more. When Columbus returned home in 1493 with the news that he had discovered people in the West Indies who were walking around without shame and completely naked, the question could not be suppressed: Were these people also descendants of Adam and Eve? And why had God spared her shame?

The French philosopher Voltaire turned his criticism of the story into a general criticism of belief in God: Why did he not want people to recognize good and bad? He asked. The Christian God comes out as a ruler who tries to keep his sheep in ignorance. Since the Enlightenment in the 18th century at the latest, according to the author, history has lost its claim to explain the world again. Christoph Arens, kna

Stephen Greenblatt: The Story of Adam and Eve. Siedler, 448 p., 28 ¤