CatholicPlanet.Net discussion group  

Go Back   CatholicPlanet.Net discussion group > Catholic Continuing Education > Teaching Series - Bible Study
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 21st August 2012, 02:35 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,564
Default Adam and Eve: literal or figurative

Are the passages on Adam and Eve in Genesis to be interpreted as literal or figurative? My answer is: Both.

We are obliged by faith to believe that Adam and Eve are two literal historical persons, at the origins of the human race. The infallible teachings of the Council of Trent and of the ordinary and universal Magisterium on original sin require that we all be literal descendants of Adam and Eve, of two persons who each committed a grave sin at the origins of the human race.

On the other hand, we are not obligated to believe that the sin was that of eating literal fruit, or that the serpent in the garden is a literal snake. We are not obligated to believe that all elements of the story are literal. A passage from the Bible can combined both literal and figurative elements.

In my view, the fruit is a figure for disobedience to God, specifically for the sin of placing one's own desires above truths about good and evil. The serpent is a figure for Satan, who tempted Adam and Eve to sin.

I do think that the Paradise of Adam and Eve was literally a place, a separate place from the rest of the earth. God miraculously created this place, and miraculously created both Adam and Eve, in order to test humanity at the beginning.

I think that the theory of evolution is a partially correct, partial explanation of the origin of species. But evolution was guided by God's providence, and the creation of life in the earliest days of this planet may have been miraculous. Likewise, God did something discontinuous with the creation of humanity. We are not an accident of evolution. The human race was created, at its beginning, by a unique and miraculous act of God.
__________________
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 22nd August 2012, 03:27 PM
Brother Brother is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,751
Default

I think the “Serpent” and the “Fruit” might have been literal, but they also have a figurative/spiritual significance indeed.

According to The Lowly Life And Bitter Passion Of Our Lord Jesus Christ And His Blessed Mother Together With The Mysteries Of The Old Testament (Visions Of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich), the “serpent” and the “fruit” were literal:


About the animals:
Quote:
SIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
1. THE FALL

animals ran to meet and follow them, but they appeared to be more familiar with Eve than with Adam. Eve was in fact more taken up with the earth and created things.

Regarding the “serpent”:
Quote:
Among the animals was one that followed Eve more closely than the others.
It was a singularly gentle and winning, though artful creature. I know of
none other to which I might compare it. It was slender and glossy, and it
looked as if it had no hones. It walked upright on its short hind feet, its
pointed tail trailing on the ground. Near the head, which was round with a
face exceedingly shrewd, it had little short paws, and its wily tongue was
ever in motion.
The color of the neck, breast, and lower part of the body was pale yellow,
and down the back it was a mottled brown very much the same as an eel.
It was about as tall as a child of ten years. It was constantly around Eve,
and so coaxing and intelligent, so nimble and supple that she took great
delight in it. But to me there was something horrible about it. I can see it
distinctly even now.
I never saw it touch either Adam or Eve. Before the Fall, the distance
between man and the lower animals was great, and I never saw the first
human beings touch any of them. They had, it is true, more confidence in
man, but they kept at a certain distance from him.

Quote:
I saw Eve near the Tree of Knowledge, as if about to pass it,
and with her that same animal more wily and sportive than ever.
Eve was charmed with the serpent; she took great
delight in it. It ran up the Tree of Knowledge until its head was on a line
with hers. Then clinging to the trunk with its hind feet, it moved its head
toward hers and told her that, if she would eat of the fruit of that tree, she
would no longer be in servitude, she would become free, and understand
how the multiplication of the human race was to be effected. Adam and Eve
had already received the command to increase and multiply, but I
understood that they did not know as yet how God willed it to be brought
about.

Regarding the “Fruit”:
Quote:
The yellow fruit had something of the shape of an apple, though more of
the nature of a pear or fig. It had five ribs uniting in a little cavity. It was
pulpy like a fig inside, of the color of brown sugar, and streaked with
blood-red veins. The tree was broader above than below, and its branches
struck deep roots into the ground.

Quote:
The tree was broader above
than below, and its wide, leafy branches drooped to the ground. Just within
Eves reach hung a remarkably fine bunch of fruit.
And now Adam approached. Eve caught him by the arm and pointed to the
talking animal, and he listened to its words. When Eve laid her hand on
Adams arm, she touched him for the first time. He did not touch her, but the
splendor around them grew dim.
I saw the animal pointing to the fruit, but he did not venture to snap it off
for Eve. But when the longing for it arose in her heart, he broke off and
handed her the central and most beautiful piece of the clustering five.
And now I saw Eve draw near to Adam, and offer him the fruit. Had he
refused it, sin would not have been committed. I saw the fruit break, as it
were, in Adams hand. He saw pictures in it, and it was as if he and Eve
were instructed upon what they should not have known. The interior of the
fruit was blood-red and full of veins. I saw Adam and Eve losing their
brilliancy and diminishing in stature.


Regarding the Theory of Evolution, I think it is right in some part, for man and the world continue evolving, and we humans are creative; however when they go as far as saying that man looked like a monkey in the beginning, then, I believe they are totally off and wrong about that. According to this theory, we have evolved for the better since creation after the Fall. On the contrary, I believe God created everything marvelous and beautiful in the beginning and there were no signs of corruption or unattractiveness. I wouldn’t, right away, be directly attracted to a woman who looks more like a monkey, or like a beast, that is ugly, that wouldn't be "Paradise" to me. Now, there is a great gap of time of what could have happened in the sinful world during the years after Cain killed Abel and the Flood, many evil things could have happened during that time that may have caused something that may explain the so called "homosapiens", or those beast looking creatures that have been found and that some believe that were men. Look at now how man want to use human cloning or human cells to do experiments, who knows if they are trying to mix it with animals; but this is just another theory. It remains somewhat a mystery. Another theory, could it be possible that - after the Fall - God punished Adam and Eve so harshly that made them look like monkeys?, I don't think so.



Bl. Emmerich and Ven. Mary of Agreda concord in their visions that Adam and Eve were originally created as more beautiful and higher beings than we look now after the Fall.

Bl. Emmerich,
Quote:
Eve arose before Adam, and he gave her
his hand. They were like two unspeakably noble and beautiful children,
perfectly luminous, and clothed with beams of light as with a veil.
From Adams mouth I saw issuing a broad stream of glittering light, and
upon his forehead was an expression of great majesty. Around his mouth
played a sunbeam, but there was none around Eves. I saw Adams heart
very much the same as in men of the present day, but his breast was
surrounded by rays of light.
In the middle of his heart, I saw a sparkling halo of glory. In it was a tiny
figure as if holding something in its hand. I think it symbolized the Third
Person of the Godhead. From the hands and feet of Adam and Eve, shot
rays of light. Their hair fell in five glittering tresses, two from the temples,
two behind the ears, and one from the back of the head.

During the Fall:
Quote:
I saw Adam and Eve losing their
brilliancy and diminishing in stature. It was as if the sun went down.


Our hair were so better before the Fall that we might not need shampoo! if we have not fallen (seriously):
Quote:
The glittering beams on Adams head denoted his abundant fruitfulness,
his glory, his connection with other radiations. And all this shining beauty
is restored to glorified souls and bodies. Our hair is the ruined, the extinct
glory; and as is this hair of ours to rays of light, so is our present flesh to
that of Adam before the Fall. The sunbeams around Adams mouth bore
reference to a holy posterity from God, which, had it not been for the Fall,
would have been effectuated by the spoken word.

Vern. Mary of Agreda goes as far as saying that Adam looked physically like Jesus and Eve like Mary:
Quote:
Mystical City of God: CREATION AND FALL OF MAN

On the sixth day he formed and created Adam, as it were of the age of thirty-three years. This was the age in which Christ was to suffer death, and Adam with regard to his body was so like unto Christ, that scarcely any difference existed. Also according to the soul Adam was similar to Christ. From Adam God formed Eve so similar to the Blessed Virgin, that she was like unto Her in personal appearance and in figure. God looked upon these two images of the great Originals with the highest pleasure and benevolence, and on account of the Originals He heaped many blessings upon them..

Quote:
From Adam God formed Eve so similar to the Blessed Virgin, that she was like unto Her in personal appearance and in figure.

Quote:
But when the demon saw the admirable composition of the human nature, perfect beyond that of any creature, the beauty of the souls and also of the bodies of Adam and Eve; when he saw the paternal love with which the Lord regarded them, and how He made them the lords of all creation, and that He gave them hope of eternal life: the wrath of the dragon was lashed to fury, and no tongue can describe the rage with which that beast was filled,

Quote:
He first approached the woman, and not the man, because he knew her to be by nature more frail and weak, and because in tempting her he would be more certain that it was not Christ whom he was encountering

Last edited by Brother : 22nd August 2012 at 03:32 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 22nd August 2012, 05:10 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,564
Default

The visions of Bl. Emmerich often contain symbols and figures. For example, she saw a giant tree, made of crystal, with a wonderful cathedral formed within its roots just above ground -- this was a figure for the Church. So when she saw the serpent and the fruit, we could also say that she was seeing the figures, rather than the literal event.

I don't think that the universe was perfect prior to the Fall of Adam and Eve. Scripture says that Adam and Eve were in Paradise, and that Paradise had a particular location within the world, thus indicating that the whole universe was not Paradise.

When did the universe become fallen? I think that this event occurred when some of the angels fell from grace. The angels have, as one of their many roles, the role of providential care over Creation. So when some angels fell, God permitted the fitting consequence that the material universe became fallen.

As concerns evolution, we are obliged to hold that God did something discontinuous. He intervened miraculously to create humanity. Perhaps he chose to pattern humanity after the pre-human species that had evolved by His providence. But mankind is not the simple result of evolution.
__________________
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 22nd August 2012, 05:55 PM
Brother Brother is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,751
Default

Quote:
The visions of Bl. Emmerich often contain symbols and figures. For example, she saw a giant tree, made of crystal, with a wonderful cathedral formed within its roots just above ground -- this was a figure for the Church. So when she saw the serpent and the fruit, we could also say that she was seeing the figures, rather than the literal event.

This would then leave to our own personal interpretation of her visions for we can also say that some of the rest of the animals she saw were also figurative, or that her visions about Mary’s conception, or the nativity scenes descriptions are also figurative.

“…, Anne was shining with light. The room was full of glory, and over
Anne hovered Jacobs ladder. The women around her were amazed,
entranced. I think they too saw the ladder.”
- 5. Eve Of Mary's Birth

“ He [Joseph] saw the cave filled with the light that streamed from Mary, for she was entirely enveloped as if by flames. It was as if he were, like Moses, looking into the burning bush.”
- 8. Birth Of The Child Jesus

St. Bridget of Sweden has a similar account of these events. I particularly think that these details in fact happened.

Also, even though some angels are fallen, they retain their given abilities, for Angels can take any form (Gen 19) and fallen angels can take possession of animals (Matt 8: 28 – 32) (Mark 11: 5 – 2). So the creature that spoke to Eve may have been literal.


Quote:
I don't think that the universe was perfect prior to the Fall of Adam and Eve. Scripture says that Adam and Eve were in Paradise, and that Paradise had a particular location within the world, thus indicating that the whole universe was not Paradise.

When did the universe become fallen? I think that this event occurred when some of the angels fell from grace. The angels have, as one of their many roles, the role of providential care over Creation. So when some angels fell, God permitted the fitting consequence that the material universe became fallen.

Adam and Eve were created inside Paradise (not outside), they have not fallen, nor sinned yet, they have not been punished yet; therefore, everything was beautiful there, including themselves. I don't believe they were first created as ugly looking creatures in Paradise.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 22nd August 2012, 06:29 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,564
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brother View Post
Adam and Eve were created inside Paradise (not outside), they have not fallen, nor sinned yet, they have not been punished yet; therefore, everything was beautiful there, including themselves. I don't believe they were first created as ugly looking creatures in Paradise.

Of course they were not ugly looking creatures in Paradise.

All in Paradise was not fallen, until Adam and Eve fell from grace and were expelled. Some believe that Paradise still exists, unfallen, as a pledge of the future of Creation. For God will one day restore all of Creation to an unfallen state.
__________________
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 22nd August 2012, 07:16 PM
Brother Brother is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,751
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
Of course they were not ugly looking creatures in Paradise.

All in Paradise was not fallen, until Adam and Eve fell from grace and were expelled. Some believe that Paradise still exists, unfallen, as a pledge of the future of Creation. For God will one day restore all of Creation to an unfallen state.

Yes, we are now in, as we call it, "a Vale of tears", until God restores things.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:48 AM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.0
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.