Adam gave Eve her name. According to the NIV, the word “Eve” might have meant living things. This seems pretty likely, since the text says that Adam gave her this name because she’d be the mother of all living things.
I’m not convinved that everything in Genesis has a niave, surface kind-of meaning. But I am convinced that everything in it has meaning. And so I’m struck by several things about the fact that Adam named Eve.
The most interest thing about Adam’s naming of Eve is that it happens after the fall. According to Genesis, it was Adam’s job to name all the creatures in the garden. Presumably, he eventually would have gotten around to it.
But it’s interesting that he hadn’t already named Eve.
A common understanding of the fall is that both Adam and Eve were decieved by the serpant. The problem with this understanding is that it flies in the face of what Paul tells us in the New Testament. Paul speaks of Eden andsays “Adam, since he was not decieved…”
My friend Garret (who can be found at “outnumbered by 5” on the blog roll) has suggested that Adam’s sin was in allowing this all to happen. Others have suggested similar arguments: Adam was supposed to be protecting Eve, Adam was the one who had directly from God about the expectations in the Garde)
Did Adam basically ignore Eve in the Garden? He should have not just stood idly around, when the serpent was seducing Eve. But on the other hand, Genesis makes it clear that he was physically present; Eve gave him some right after having some herself.
On the other hand, what if Adam was not yet up to the task of naming her. Naming a thing gives us power over a thing. It implies we are understand the fullness of what a thing is.
Eve (along with Adam) was created in God’s image. Perhaps the idea is something like “You know, that thing over there, I can see calling it a tiger. This tiger-thing, it’s pretty cool and interesting… But my help mate– wow. I don’t even have a word to describe her.”
(Yes, I know that he didn’t speak English and wouldn’t have used the word ‘tiger’. Whatever word she used, the point still stands.)
Most of us accept the idea that Adam and Eve were changed after the fall. Perhaps the fullness of who Eve was, perhaps this was much more clear to people before the fall. I wonder if the image of God within us would be much more plain to us, if we could see each other the way Adam and Eve saw each other before the fall.
Perhaps if we could see each other through those nearly perfect, pre-fall eyes, we would say “Wow, there is no way that I can put a word to stand for the glorious image of God that is in you.”
After the fall, Adam names Eve.
Is this because it’s easier now? Because he’s no longer seeing her the same way? There are all kinds of reasons that Adam would no longer see Eve the same way. He can no longer see her as clearly; his eyes have been “broken” by the fall. The image of God within her has been muddied, distorted, hidden, because she has fallen, too. And just a short time before, Adam had already used Eve as an object. He had thrown her under the bus. When God asked why it happened, Adam tried to blame it on Eve.
And so perhaps a deeper truth in all this is that man’s objectification of woman was one of the tragedies that resulted from the fall. Adam treated like Eve as an object when he tried to use her to take the blame for the whole thing. He demonstrated his ability to think of her like an object when he named her.
And at the same time, perhaps mixed up in all this, is a pathetic and woefully inadequate attempt at making up for the sin. Perhaps it’s the first time in all of scripture that people demonstrate legalism in an attempt to make up to God when they should demonstrate a change of heart. Naming Eve is like Adam saying “See, God, I can do what you told me to do. This woman is the only thing still with me that was in Eden… but I’m still doing my job, following my mission, I’m still naming things.”
Many people believe that Adam and Eve were meant to populate the world from the Garden of Eden. Perhaps in the specific choice of the name “Eve”, Adam is holding on to his last little bit of hope. Making new life is still possible. There is still hope in carrying on. At least one aspect of what they were supposed to do, they can still do.