Adam named Eve

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.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “Adam named Eve”

  1. I’m just at the beginning of taking in all that you are expressing in this post, but there will be much that I will not comment on, because it is speculative in a way that I do not find productive.

    I wanted to examine this idea of Adam naming Eve after the fall, so I went to my copy of the Tanach to read what the Hebrew says. Where I first opened Bereshith, my eyes fell on this verse:

    “Vayyomer ha’adham zoth happa’am etzem me’atzami uvasar mibbesari l’zoth yiqqare isshah ki me’ish luqachah-zzoth.” (Bereshith 2:23)

    And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.” (Genesis 2:23)

    From the Hebrew, it seems that Adam named her Isshah (Woman, capital W). That would make sense, because the man’s name was not ‘Adam’ but ‘Ish’. So it was analogous to saying, “Paul named his wife, Paulette.” Ha’adham means the man as a species, derived from red earth, etc. The use of the definite article ‘ha’ with ‘adham’ demonstrates that it is a noun, not a name (at least at this point in scripture; later it becomes a name). The lack of the article with ‘Isshah’ demonstrates that it is a name, not a mere noun. Before their fall, the issue of offspring and how they would be brought forth is not described and may not have been fully understood by our first Forefather and Foremother.

    In Genesis 3:12 where Adam is quoted as saying, “The woman whom You gave to be with me…” now shows the definite article in Hebrew, so something had changed, a name had been downgraded to a noun. Interesting. When God continues speaking to the couple, he is now addressing Adam as ‘Adham’ without the definite article, hence, as a personal name (Bereshith 3:17), but in the previous verse God addresses the woman (even in English translation, now without capital W) as ‘ha-isshah’ or ‘the woman’ now a noun and no longer a personal name. In the same verse God details the woman’s condition, her pain in childbearing would be increased, and ‘her craving for her husband would cause him to lord it over her.’ This second part of the curse, by the way, is by no means unambiguous in Hebrew. It can also be translated as something indicating that the woman would crave to lord it over her husband. Both interpretations have their supporters.

    Finally in verse 20, the word “shem” (name) is finally used explicitly, and the word for woman is reduced to a compound “ishetto” which in English becomes “his wife” but really means “his woman” of course. And the name he gives her “vayyiqra shem” is of course “Eve” or in Hebrew, Chavva, which is related to the last word in the verse “chay” which means life.

    I think I’ve commented enough, and hopefully come to no conclusions, just given some additional data. The story of the Creation of Man and Woman has been considered a mystírion since early Christian times, and that was taken over probably from the Jewish tradition, which to this day has an enormous body of rabbinical speculation on the story. The Church fathers, likewise.

    You might find this website interesting in your pursuit of the topics discussed in this post:
    Be sure to scroll down past the header of this website to the large body of subjects and their respective hyperlinks, among which you will find ones pertinent to the Creation of Man and Woman, especially under THEME 17: Adamic Traditions in Jewish and Syrian Christian Writings.


  2. Very interesting. I look foreward to exploring the link, thank you.
    The information around “woman” being generally a noun and not a name is fascinating. It was the naming in verse 20 which I was mostly focused on. It had somehow escaped me that he initially names her woman, before he seems to rename her Eve. If I’m understanding you correctly, it seems like it’s open to interpretation whether or not that first name, Isshah, is a proper name specific to her or a more general name for all women.
    This, actually leads to an issue I hadn’t considered: was Adam naming specific animals or naming whole species? Or was their only one representative of each, so there would have been no practical difference between naming individuals and whole species?

    I’m curious, Romanós, where you come down on the question of evolution. (In the Darwinian sense) and if you have any thoughts about how this relates to the events described in the first several chapters of Genesis. (perhaps it’d be more fruitful if I hunt around your blog for an answer to this question; I haven’t done so and I imagine your answer would be quite sophisticated on the topic… Feel free to refer me elsewhere rather than repeat yourself.)


  3. Darwinian evolution is a frame of reference that doesn’t concern me or other Orthodox Christians very much. The opposition of Creationism and Evolutionism is a battle we don’t recognize. The Bible is God’s little Book, and the Universe is His big Book, and without our interference, they agree. Though in the details this speculative dichotomy is very different from what Paul warns against in Titus 3:9, essentially it’s the same disruptive, anti-productive spirit. “But avoid pointless speculations, and those genealogies, and the quibbles and disputes about the Law—these are useless and can do no good to anyone”

    If you were to read my blog carefully, yes, you would find examples of how this apparent dichotomy is dealt with, when it has to be confronted at all. The resolution is using the construct, “acts” versus “facts.”

    Physical science and natural philosophy only deals in facts.
    The scriptures deal in both facts and acts, but acts is given priority.
    Example: We know that the stories in Genesis convey actual Truth, that is, what God does (acts), but these stories give rather sparse factual truth, what God makes (facts). The reason for God’s revelation to take this form is a very economical one: He doesn’t want us to despair of having to know too much, so He gives us only what is strictly necessary.

    Back to Adam. How do we know Adam is both actual and factual?
    Because Jesus Christ is the Second Adam, and being closer to us in time and having been witnessed by many, many people, we know He is both actual and factual. Actually He is God, factually He is a man. Do you see where faith comes in to join reason in the discernment of total Truth?


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