December 10, 2009

Gender and Number in 1 Tim 2 - Part 3

At the end of post two, we were trying to hone in on the transition from singular to plural in the language of 1 Tim 2:15. While those questions continue to simmer, let's back up a bit. As it so happens, Paul left unstated a big part of the Genesis story.

Before Eve birthed all her children, and thus indirectly birthed all of our ancestors, Eve's transgression first reproduced itself into Adam. According to Genesis, she gave him the fruit (of knowledge, fwiw) and he ate. Adam took it and ate. Period. So, according to Genesis, Eve was deceived by the serpent. Adam just did what Eve wanted. Now, let's stop and ask what might be a new question about this familiar story.

Whose failure is worse, there?

To the point, Eve fell because she was tricked. Adam fell because... well, we don't really know why. Without inventing details, it's probably safest to consider that Adam fell mainly because of their intimacy. Eve gave him the fruit. He ate. And why should he not have? According to an old joke, Eve did all three things a wife can do to please her husband. She came naked. She brought food. She didn't block the TV. (Laugh, y'all. My mom once told that joke to my wife! I don't care who you are, that's funny right there!)

In all seriousness, one of the most misogynistic things about the ancient world is that women often got blamed for men's lust. 'Don't dress that way, girls. You know we can't control ourselves.' As often as this still goes on it's simply unacceptable male domination, and shameful to blame women for what is only our struggle. On the other hand, it's also natural and obvious that a healthy degree of modesty can be helpfully prudent for everyone's sake.

Of course, I bring this up partly to note that such themes were on Paul's mind earlier in the passage at hand (v.9-10).

In the real world, immodesty is relative, but abusive overreactions to any particular breach of standards are inexcusable. Whatever strikes the right balance in addressing practical issues of modesty, it's equally true to say one-on-one situations require a similar degree of wisdom and prudence. I don't care how liberated we get, nobody in any culture or age should mentor an individual of the opposite sex in an intimate context! It just shouldn't be done.

In all this, we're trying to find the connections between real life, Genesis, and whatever Paul said. A key point, I'm suggesting, may be that Adam's fall was essentially brought about by extreme intimacy. Therefore, even though Paul doesn't seem to spread blame very evenly in his rhetoric, the point may be implicit. After all (as with debates over modesty) it is common for double standards to be couched in blaming language, isn't it? But however unacknowledged in polite company, the true facts are usually common knowledge. In this case, it seems likely that such a subtext might have been especially obvious to men and women of a patriarchal culture.

Paul's likely implication: The fact that Eve's deception led Adam astray was the failure of Adam, and the partial result of intense one-on-one intimacy. Update: I've been challenged to rephrase this without using "lead/led". I didn't mean anything hierarchical by it anyway, so here goes.

Paul's likely implication: The fact that Eve's disobedience spread to Adam was the failure of Adam, and the partial result of intense one-on-one intimacy.

To be continued...

20 comments:

Gary said...

I would agree that Adam's mistake is ultimately his own fault. I also am not sold that there is indeed "blame language" in either Genesis or Timothy.
The five dialogues of God in Genesis 3 are:
A demand accounting from man
B demand accounting from woman
C judgment on snake
B judgment on woman
A' judgment on man

God gives both man and woman exemption from being directly cursed, and allows them an opportunity to explain their actions. As such, both man and woman are special to God and in His image.

I think the order also reinforces the idea that Adam's transgression is his own to account for.

Bill, I find your ideas interesting. Keep digging! I look forward to seeing more.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

You said: "Paul's likely implication: The fact that Eve's deception led Adam astray was the failure of Adam, and the partial result of intense one-on-one intimacy."

I don't think that Adam was led astray by Eve for Adam knew the truth and was not deceived by either the serpent or by Eve. (1 Tim. 2:14)

1 Tim 2:14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

I also don't think that Adam was led astray by his intimacy with Eve for Hosea 6:7 describes Adam's sin as treachery.

Hosea 6:7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.

Why was Adam's sin considered as treachery while Eve's sin was considered as her falling into sin through deception? I believe the answer is shown in God's words to Adam:

Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.

The first thing that God says is that Adam "listened to the voice" of his wife. When did Adam do that? No words are recorded when Eve gave the fruit to Adam, but her words are recorded as she dialoged with the serpent. Think of it this way...Adam knew the truth that what the serpent was saying was a lie. Adam was not deceived but he listened to his wife being deceived and said nothing.

Adam was given the mandate to "guard" the garden (Gen 2:15) and he failed to protect his wife from the enemy. He was a silent watchman and God considers silent watchmen as traitors. God requires an accounting from the traitors:

Ezek 33:6 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'

Adam was guilty of treachery for in God's eyes he failed to warn the innocent one. Then he took the fruit from the hand of the one who had been deceived because of his silence...and he ate.

Bill said...

Leaving aside alternate theories for the moment, Cheryl, it sounds like you're mainly against my use of the word "astray". Granted, I've misunderstood you before, but personally, I don't see much of anything in your comment that conflicts with what I was trying to say.

If I'd just said "Adam followed Eve into sin", would you still have a problem?

Bill said...

Gary, I don't mean to categorize "blame language" too sharply, because I'm honestly not sure what all else that implies for some readers, but here's what I see.

Adam's immediate response to God is no different than most school kids when they're caught. They point.

Likewise, Paul says, "And Adam was not deceived..." The rest of that verse sounds at first as if Paul is putting the blame on Eve, but the implication of those first few words begs the question. So why DID Adam fall?

Paul leaves the cause of Adam's failure unstated. My point in the post is that he couches this unstated bit (whatever it was) in language that was more culturally acceptable. This seems to me typical communication of a double standard.

We may only be confused because Paul expected Timothy (and Ephesus) to read between the lines.

Bill said...

Cheryl again - I'm not talking about why God considered Adam's actions as sin. I'm talking about what led Adam to actually eat the fruit.

Does that help?

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

You said:
If I'd just said "Adam followed Eve into sin", would you still have a problem?

If one commits treason by failing on his watch as the watchman of the garden and then participates with the one who has been spiritually "killed" by his treason is considered "following" one into sin, then I suppose technically this is true. But in reality Adam was not "following" anyone. He did not "follow" Eve but acted on his own in a treacherous way against God while she ate believing she had the truth.

The reason I object to "follow" is because so many attach a sin to Eve for taking a "leadership" role. She was not condemned by God for giving the fruit to Adam. She was brought to task for her eating of the fruit. She gave because she was sharing her good fortune (or so she thought).

What I would say it instead is that Eve ate the fruit after being deceived and Adam ate with full knowledge of what he was doing. That way you are not touching the issue of "leadership" which is a hot button to many.

Bill said...

Cheryl replied elsewhere (and I'm copying it here):

***QUOTE***
Cheryl again - I'm not talking about why God considered Adam's actions as sin. I'm talking about what led Adam to actually eat the fruit.

In that case you can say that he ate the fruit because Eve gave it to him. You don't have to use the word "follow". Perhaps some day we will know exactly why he did that. What on earth was that man thinking?
***ENDQUOTE***

Cheryl, now we understand each other. At least on this point. ;-)

Please understand, it never occurred to me that the terms "lead" or "follow" implied anything other than sequential activity. In the world I came from, we all took opportunities to suggest things. We all "followed" one another, at times. Those house church years weren't perfect, but they were truly marked by a plurality of initiative-taking.

In my opinion, "leadership" is not something to shy away from, but it is something to be shared. No corporate human activity takes place unless someone instigates and some other(s) participate.

You've given me a good lesson on sensitivity in using language, but I don't want to give up those words completely. To "lead" and "follow" should always a situational matter. It ought not necessarily imply permanent hierarchial organization.

Even though, for many, it often does.

Agreed?

Bill said...

On a different note, Cheryl, I think you're combining parts of those OT verses to reconstruct something those verses don't say. Whether or not I'm correct about that, you might at least want to be very cautious before using that reconstruction as the foundation of understanding Adam in Genesis. It's not exactly a slam dunk argument. FYI. :-)

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

You've given me a good lesson on sensitivity in using language, but I don't want to give up those words completely. To "lead" and "follow" should always a situational matter. It ought not necessarily imply permanent hierarchial organization.

If it is just you and I then I have no problem with it. But many will read "follow" to mean that Eve took the lead and it now becomes a sin. I have had years of experience with those who think this way and so I try not to push their buttons if I can help it.

Okay, then carry on.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

I think you're combining parts of those OT verses to reconstruct something those verses don't say.

I am just taking the verses at face value. I think that it is important to try to understand why Adam is blamed for bringing sin into the world and Eve has no Scriptural blame for bringing sin into the world.

I think your statement was too generic for me to comment further.

Bill said...

Just changed the last line. Hope that's helpful. Thanks again. :-)

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

It is nice to see when people actually listen to the concerns of others. Too many have their minds made up and never listen.

One question, what does this mean to you "the partial result of intense one-on-one intimacy"?

Bill said...

Absolutely. Listening is two-thirds of communicating. :-)

To be more blunt, I might say that Adam was - what the less couth of my High School buddies used to call - "whipped". I don't mean it was all physical, though. Intense personal intimacy in all it's respects has a particular toll on a man. I won't generalize or contrast that against the experience of women; I'll just speak what I know.

I'll have more thoughts on Adam & intimacy when part 4 posts in about 60 minutes...

So glad to continue this conversation, come what may.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

You said: To be more blunt, I might say that Adam was - what the less couth of my High School buddies used to call - "whipped".

I would be interested to know how the being "whipped" measures up in your mind when Adam didn't say anything to protect his wife while she was being deceived?

If you deal with this in the new post, you can disregard the question or you can answer it as a comment on the next post.

Bill said...

"Adam didn't say anything to protect his wife while she was being deceived"

There you go speculating again! ;-)

In all seriousness, Cheryl, I don't know what Adam did or didn't do to protect Eve. We could ask a hundred questions. Why were they apart? What had Eve been told about the forbidden tree? Did she hear it from God or from Adam? Were Adam & Eve supposed to stay together? Did Adam have any real options, after Eve had partaken of the fruit? If so, did Adam have any idea what those options were or how to implement them? Was it a choice between sinning or losing Eve? Was Adam even aware of which fruit it was that Eve was handing him? Should he have been aware? What would have happened if the serpent encountered the man? Was it enough to have heard God's instructions directly or would Adam's human forgetfulness and the serpent's superior cleverness have overcome Adam just as easily as they did Eve?

In all, Cheryl, just what exactly do you suppose it is that Adam should have done?

We. Don't. Know.

All I'm arguing is that, in the absence of other specifics, the most basic impression I get from the passage is that their mutual bond had something to do with Adam's decision to join her in eating the fruit. That conclusion, I suggest, remains a core aspect of any other situation we might imagine.

Your speculation might be as much fun to explore as John Milton's. Or we might dredge up the alleged Jewish myth of Adam's first wife, Lilith. (I've never gotten a source on that and I don't know if it's apocryphal or merely a tradition.)

The OT verses you quoted may or may not tell us what God expected of Adam, and how God viewed Adam's transgression, but that transgression was eating the fruit. Those OT verses do not tell us a thing about what other events we might 'read in' to the story.

For as much as Genesis tells us, it is not impossible that Adam did try to talk sense into Eve and she wouldn't listen, so he gave in. That's not my theory. I'm just making a point. In this scenario, Adam would still be guilty of failing to protect her, but we couldn't say he "didn't say anything" to protect her.

Do you see what I'm saying?

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

You asked: We could ask a hundred questions. Why were they apart?

They weren't. Adam was right there with Eve (she gave to her husband with her - Gen. 3:6).

What had Eve been told about the forbidden tree? She was told where the tree was and that she couldn't eat the fruit or touch it (Gen. 3:3)

Did she hear it from God or from Adam? Eve's testimony is that "God said" and she quotes Him saying "you" (plural) which could only be a quote from God not from Adam because Adam would say "we" may not eat.

Were Adam & Eve supposed to stay together? Adam and Eve had freedom of choice.

Did Adam have any real options, after Eve had partaken of the fruit? He certainly had real options before she ate. After she ate he still had one last chance to obey God.

If so, did Adam have any idea what those options were or how to implement them? You mean like trying to pump her stomach?

Was it a choice between sinning or losing Eve? You mean that it was an act of love that he ate? I think not. If he was acting out of love for his wife when he ate why did he put the blame on her instead of taking the fall himself? Wouldn't that have been an act of love?

Was Adam even aware of which fruit it was that Eve was handing him? He was there when God grew that tree and when Eve was being deceived so the chances that he acted ignorantly (and in self deception) are zero.

What would have happened if the serpent encountered the man? Ah, now that is unknown and requires speculation.

Was it enough to have heard God's instructions directly or would Adam's human forgetfulness and the serpent's superior cleverness have overcome Adam just as easily as they did Eve? Adam heard the conversation and Adam was not deceived. Adam didn't have those old age moments as we do. There was no brain decay before the fall.

In all, Cheryl, just what exactly do you suppose it is that Adam should have done?

He should have told Eve what he knew about God before she was created. He saw God as the creator and He saw that animals, plants and humans were the work of His hands. Eve saw no direct creation of God as everything was done by the time she was created.

Cheryl Schatz said...

All I'm arguing is that, in the absence of other specifics, the most basic impression I get from the passage is that their mutual bond had something to do with Adam's decision to join her in eating the fruit

This sounds like "she" was to blame. Yet Adam did not "take the fall" for Eve so their mutual bond at least didn't account for the "accounting" of Eve before God. Instead he blames God and Eve for his sin. What would cause a man to be silent while his wife is being deceived and he knows the truth? Love doesn't appear to be a reasonable solution to why he was silent so how could love be a reason why he would eat after he allowed her to spiritually die? Perhaps he ate from guilt but I don't know how you can get love out of it.

That conclusion, I suggest, remains a core aspect of any other situation we might imagine.

So what it appears to me that you are saying is that although Adam knew the truth (but he didn't stop Eve from being deceived and thus dying) after the fact he felt a love for her so that he chose to die with her? The fact that Adam does not try to cover over Eve's sin or plead with God for Eve after the fall is a serious flaw in your reasoning. How would "eating for love" look like when you got caught? I think it would reflect the love in some way, wouldn't you think?

Your speculation might be as much fun to explore as John Milton's. Or we might dredge up the alleged Jewish myth of Adam's first wife, Lilith. (I've never gotten a source on that and I don't know if it's apocryphal or merely a tradition.) I don't think that paying attention to the facts requires speculation. And Lilith is a Jewish myth found in the Talmud.

The OT verses you quoted may or may not tell us what God expected of Adam, and how God viewed Adam's transgression, but that transgression was eating the fruit. If the transgression was only eating the fruit then God made a mistake because He identified two reasons for cursing the earth not one.

Those OT verses do not tell us a thing about what other events we might 'read in' to the story. We don't need to 'read into' the events when we have the inspired words and the inspired grammar to tell us what did or didn't happen.

For example, is it "reading into" the story that the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had no seeds? Or is the conclusion that the fruit from this one tree didn't have seeds a result of the necessary conclusion according to the details provided?

Cheryl Schatz said...

For as much as Genesis tells us, it is not impossible that Adam did try to talk sense into Eve and she wouldn't listen, so he gave in. That's not my theory. I'm just making a point. In this scenario, Adam would still be guilty of failing to protect her, but we couldn't say he "didn't say anything" to protect her.

Adam was not expected to make Eve's decision for her as they were free moral agents, but he was expected to protect her by exposing the lie. A silent watchman is guilty of the blood of the one he has failed to protect. If Adam had warned her that the serpent was lying to her and if he had told her that he knew that they could not be God as they were only God's creative works, and she ate anyway, he would not be guilty of her blood.

A watchman is guilty if he doesn't warn:

Ezek 33:6 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'

...but a watchman is not guilty if he sounds the warning and the person refuses to listen to the warning. The watchman has done his part and he will not be charged with the person's blood:

Ezek 33:9 "But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.

Adam is responsible for sharing the saving knowledge that he had because God has said that to him who has been given much, much is required:

Luk 12:48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

Do you see what I'm saying? I understand what you are saying, but the text doesn't support you. If you had support from the text and could show it to me, I would consider the evidence.

Bill said...

Cheryl, I still think you're the one who's adding many details that aren't necessarily in the text.

Where oh where is our interpreter? ;-)

Cheryl Schatz said...

Bill,

Such as? If you give me details on what I have added, I can respond. Without details I have no idea of what you think I have added.

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