Adam and Eve

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Adam and Eve of Maarten van Heemskerck (1498-1574) - the sex difference is achieved by using different colored incarnate highlighted
From the Creation of Adam and Eve to the Fall, stained glass in Notre-Dame de Chartres (1205–1215)
Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (copper engraving, 1507)
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (around 1518)
The creation of Eve by Michelangelo (around 1512) in the Sistine Chapel
The Fall of Man and Expulsion from Paradise by Michelangelo (around 1512) in the Sistine Chapel
Sculpture Adam and Eve by Bjørn Nørgaard (1989) at Germaniahafen in Kiel
Adam and Eve by Gustav Klimt (around 1917)

According to the biblical story in Genesis, Adam and Eve were the first human couple and the first parents of all human beings (Book of Genesis, Chapters 2 to 5). The Koran also mentions Adam and Eve. Adam was thus formed from earth by God , after which the breath of life was breathed into him. Adam gave the animals names, but found no partner . Then God let Adam fall into a deep sleep , took a rib or “side” from him and created his counterpart Eve from it . While in the story up to this point “man” (Adam) is always spoken of, Adam now recognizes himself as a man in the encounter with the new being and Eve as woman towards him .


The word "Adam" ( Hebrew אָדָם ādām ), which is used as a proper name in the creation story, means "man" (in contrast to other living beings, especially animals). The similar-sounding word Adamah ( Hebrew אֲדָמָה ădāmāh "earth, earth") is referred to through the act of creation.

The name "Eva" ( Hebrew חַוָּה, ḥawwāh or cḥawwah ; [ħaˈva] or [χaˈva] ) is combined with the verbחיה chajah (live, stay alive) and therefore means "the animate one". This name is only mentioned in two places in the Old Testament, namely in Gen 3.20  EU and 4.1 EU . Before that, she was always referred to as "wife" of Adam. The Hebrew words for woman ( Hebrew אִשָּׁה iššāh ) and man ( Hebrew איִשׁ īš ) are very similar to one another, although they are not related to one another. It is a play on words: just as man ( ādām ) emerges from earth ( ădāmāh ), so woman ( iššāh ) emerges from man ( īš ).

In the Septuagint , the name Adam is given as a proper name αδαμ adam , while the name Eva is translated as Ζωἠ Zoë "life". In the New Testament, where Eve is only mentioned in two places ( 2 Cor 11.3  EU and 1 Tim 2.13  EU ), the name Eva is paraphrased in Greek Εὕα Heúa . In the Biblia Vulgata of the Middle Ages, her name is finally Hava , Heva or then Eva .

Textual traditions

Biblical account of creation

The first biblical account of creation ( Gen 1.27  EU ) says: “And God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, and he created them male and female.” Adam and Eve initially live in the garden of Eden . There Eve is persuaded by the serpent to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad despite God's prohibition . This serpent is often referred to in the Christian tradition as the devil ; this equation can already be found in the New Testament in Rev 12,9  EU . Since Adam and Eve clothe themselves with fig leaves after eating the fruit, the forbidden fruit could mean a fig, which is the 4th fruit in the biblical system of fruits (compare Dt 8,8  EU ) and refers to the number four which symbolizes the material world. The common image of the apple as a forbidden fruit of paradise is not based on a translation error in the Latin Bible, the Vulgate, but on the fact that in the Latin language the word malus can mean “apple tree”, but also “bad, bad”, just like malum “apple” "Can mean or" the evil, the bad, the evil ". This resulted in an obvious play on words, especially since the Vulgate translated the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” from the original Hebrew text as lignum scientiae boni et mali. The turning away from God's commandments expressed in eating the forbidden fruit is considered disobedience to God in both the Jewish and Christian religions, as is the rebellion of the devil against him. Here as a transfer from the devil to the human being, who changed the human being in his mental and physical condition. Christianity speaks of the Fall .

As a result of the rebellion, the Bible describes that Adam and Eve recognize their nakedness, whereupon they make clothes out of fig leaves . They try to hide from God. For the first time there is something in paradise that was not known before: the violation of shame . God confronts her, whereupon Adam blames Eve and Eve the serpent. Both will be driven out of the Garden of Eden. From then on, Eve had to give birth to children in pain, and Adam was subjected to hard and laborious farming. The classic words from Gen 3:19  EU : “For you are dust and you return to dust” initially refer to the rite of burial and, according to Christian interpretation, express that death has now entered the world. There will be enmity between Eve, the serpent and their respective offspring.

In the biblical story, Adam testifies with Eve after the expulsion from Paradise to Cain , Abel and Set . The biblical book Genesis 5: 4 also mentions unnamed daughters and other sons whom Adam conceived after Set was born. Adam's entire age is given as 930 years.

Other reports

In 2014, the Dutch scholars Marjo CA Korpel and Johannes de Moor from the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam published the results of their investigation of clay tablets from Ugarit from the 13th century BC. BC, which contained an early version of the myth of Adam and Eve. About 800 years older than the version in Genesis , this text , written in Ugaritic in cuneiform , tells of a battle between the creator god El , the highest of gods, and an adversary named Horon who wants to overthrow El: The gods live in a heavenly garden in which the immortal tree of life also grows. Horon is banished from there, whereupon he takes the form of a great serpent, poisons the tree of life and turns it into a tree of death, which threatens all life on earth. The gods choose one among their number to fight the apostate. But the chosen one, Adam, fails when Horon in the form of the snake bites him and thus robs him of his immortality. The remaining gods succeed in forcing Horon to uproot the poisoned tree. So immortality remains lost, but life can go on. The sun goddess creates a "good woman" as a partner for the now mortal Adam. You and Adam attain a new form of immortality by fathering offspring.

There are also ideas about a first parent couple in other accounts of creation. This is how the story of Ask and Embla can be found in Germanic mythology .


Jewish interpretations

From the verse Gen 2.18  EU : "It is not good that the person should be alone", according to rabbinical interpretation, the obligation of the person to enter into marriage is derived.

In the view of the Hellenistic-Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria , the rebellion has the following meaning: There are two creations, that of the heavenly and that of the earthly man made of dust and subject to perishability. Adam stands for reason , Eve for sensuality , the snake for pleasure . The revolt against God arises from a disturbance of the contemplative reason, with the serpent serving as a vehicle of temptation .

Christian views

The Latin Church develops the concept of original sin from the biblical story ; it understands Adam as the type and main figure of humanity. As such, as the apostle Paul writes in Romans ( Rom 5,12-21  EU ), it can be the cause of the death of all people. This "old (human type) Adam" is contrasted with Jesus Christ as the one "new Adam", whose death on the cross in obedience to the will of the Father ( Phil 2.8  EU ) and whose resurrection enable a life in victory over the powers of death (cf. 1 Cor 15.24–28.55–57  EU , see also the fall of man ). This interpretation is not accepted by the Eastern Church , where original sin is unknown; it only means that death was brought into the world through Adam and Eve and that in the resurrection of Jesus paradise was opened up again (cf. the Anastasis icons, where Adam and Eve are led out of the death grave by the hand of the risen Christ, see below).

The contrast between “spirit” and “flesh”, which is fundamental for Paul and which also stands behind the contrast between the “new Adam” Jesus and the “old Adam” (cf. Rom 5 : 12-21  EU , Rom 8,1–17  EU , Gal 5,13–26  EU ), can already be found in the first chapters of Genesis. “All who belong to Jesus Christ crucified the flesh and with it their passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, then we also want to follow the Spirit ”( Gal 5 : 24-25  EU ). The "crucifixion" does not mean to kill, but to subject it to the determination by the spirit in the sense of the inner circumcision of the heart by the spirit (cf. Rom 2.29  EU ; Col 2.11  EU ; cf. Dtn 30.6  EU ). The thus circumcised heart has access again to the grace and the sight of the “hope in the glory of God” ( Rom 5,2  EU ) and immortality ( 1 Cor 15,53-57  EU ), which distinguishes Adam paradisus in the state of grace of paradise (cf. Weish 1.13-15  EU , Weish 2.13-14  EU , Weish 9.2-3  EU ). The two trees in one center of paradise can also be traced back to this contrast between spirit (tree of life) and flesh (tree of knowledge).

In Mormon theology , Adam is the embodiment of the Archangel Michael .

Esoteric analogies

The view of Philos of Alexandria was also taken up and further developed by Paul and the Church Fathers. According to this, Adam and Eve or the masculine and feminine embody the two sides of human reality: the inner and the reminding of the spirit (Hebrew sachar means "male" and "remembering") as well as the outer, appearing or enveloping of the flesh, which is then in the covenant circumcision is pushed back.

The open "side" of Adam, from which God forms the woman, is closed with "flesh" ( Gen 2.21  EU ). The "rib" symbolizes the crescent moon. Hebrew zela translates Othmar Schilling as "the crooked"; Reference should also be made to zelem ("image") and zel ("shadow"). In ancient cultures, Luna was considered to be the “source of all birth” ( Johannes Lydos ) or “mother of earthly life” (cf. Gen 3,20  EU ), whose monthly cycle determines the woman's menstruation.

The numerical value 19 of Eva, Hebrew Chewa (h) (like Chaja for "animal"), in numbers 8-6-5, in the sum 19. The lunar year can also refer to the moon because of the difference to the solar year of almost eleven Days cannot simply be divided into twelve equal parts, but must be repeatedly adjusted to the solar year by switching on a 13th month. The difference is exactly seven lunar months in 19 years. These 19 years are called “a 'mechasor', a repetition, a return, and thus also a circle or cycle.” In the image type of Maria Immaculata, the mother of Jesus appears as the “new Eve” standing on the crescent moon and the serpent (only temporally - earthly becoming and passing) crushing the head (according to Rev 12,1.7  EU ; Gen 3,15  EU ).

The early Christian bishop Theophilus of Antioch says in his interpretation of the creation of the sun and moon on the 4th day of creation: "The sun is the image of God, the moon that of man"; In the monthly “dying” and then reappearing moon he sees “a symbol of man” and at the same time “a model of our future resurrection” (An Autolykus II, 15). This is another reason why Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the spring full moon. Bonaventure (13th century) then interprets the sun and moon in the same way as symbols for the being in one of God and humanity in Jesus Christ: “The light of the Lamb gives him [Jerusalem] beauty and splendor, his deity shines Place the sun, his humanity in place of the moon [...] "

In depictions of the creation of women from men, both are often flanked by the sun and moon (cf. for example the sound cover of the pulpit of the monastery church of the former Cistercian abbey of Bebenhausen near Tübingen).

Importance of Adam and Eve in the Mandaean faith

For the Mandaeans , Adam and Eve are the first people. Mandaeism, however, does not describe the birth of Eve as arising from Adam's rib, but as a gift of the world of light to Adam. The women in the Mandaean communities and in a spiritual sense are seen as completely equal to the men. There were also priestesses in Mandaean history.

Representation in the Koran

The Koran also knows the story of Adam and Eve. Iblis plays an important role in this. Out of arrogance, he is the only one who opposes God's command to prostrate himself before Adam. Thereupon he is expelled from paradise by God, but asks for a postponement until the day of the Last Judgment in order to now try to have the people also beg - which he should succeed. In Islam, this is considered an earthly test (Koran: Sura 15 Al-Hidschr , verses 34–40). God warns people against this tempter, but they allow themselves to be bewitched and deceived (sura 7 al-A'raf , verse 22). In contrast to Christian tradition, according to Islamic teachings, Adam and Eve share the blame for consuming the forbidden fruit. (Sura 7, verse 22)

According to the Qur'an, Adam's sin is a misstep (sura 2 al-Baqara , verse 36), but not apostasy from God and destruction of the relationship with him. That is why the consequence is not as serious as in the biblical report: Instead of the announcement: “... otherwise you will die” ( Gen 2.17  EU ), God warns people about Satan: “That he just doesn't drive you out of Paradise and you makes unhappy! ”(Sura 20 Tā-Hā , verse 117). Through sin man only harms himself: "Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves." (Sura 7, verse 23)

“Then his Lord chose him and he turned to him again and guided him rightly.” (Sura 20, verse 122) Adam and Eve are indeed driven out of Paradise, but they are told: “If then I would give you guidance come, then those who follow my guidance have nothing to fear and they will not be sad. "(Sura 2, verse 38f)

Adam and Eve are explicitly forgiven by God in the Koran (sura 2, verse 37, at the end of the narration of the Adam story): “Then Adam received words (supplications) from his master. And he turned to him. He is the one who forgives, who turns to himself again, and who is merciful ”. This passage is in contrast to a belief in an " original sin ". Everyone is born with a “blank sheet”, says the prophet Mohammed as confirmation. Thus, according to Islamic teaching, every human being is born free of sin.

Memorial days

Adam and Eve in art

Fall of Man in Paradise - detail of the painted wooden ceiling of the Michaeliskirche in Hildesheim
Creation of Eve, wall relief in Orvieto Cathedral (unknown artist, around 1320)
Adam digs with the chopping stick, while Eva breasts Cain and Abel ( Schedelsche Weltchronik 1493)

The artistic representations of the myth of Adam and Eve are extraordinarily numerous and have been varied and changed over and over again over the centuries. The representations move between different poles of the theological interpretation of the event:

In some works Adam and Eve appear in their paradisiacal closeness to God. The German historian of philosophy Kurt Flasch refers, for example, to a ceiling painting from around 1200 in the monastery church of St. Michael in Hildesheim , which shows "Eve and Adam as a ruling couple in paradisiacal glory", Eve appears to many artists as the mighty primordial mother of humanity, as a gift from God to Adam, time and human history only grow out of their deeds.

In corresponding depictions of the creation scene, in which God lets Eve arise from Adam's side, the strong Eve appears as a link between Adam and God, for example in the depicted relief of the Orvieto Cathedral or a terracotta relief in the Cathedral Museum in Florence attributed to the early Donatello .

On the other hand, assigning the main guilt for the Fall to Eve is a subject of art. The fall of man becomes the starting point of man's rule over woman, Eve becomes the counter-figure of the virgin Mary and the source of all misery in human history .

Also around 1200 an unknown artist designed the expulsion from paradise on a capital of the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand .

“The cherubim closes the gate of paradise; he pulls Adam out by the hair. Eve and Adam are both punished, chased away, thrown out, but how different is their situation: Adam is standing, Eve is kneeling or lying on the ground; she fell; her position is now under him, and he demonstrates this: he pulls her head of hair as the angel has grabbed him. He continues the punishment; he gives his wife a kick. "

But despite the theological legitimation of this negative view of Eve over centuries, a variety of accentuations and motifs between the poles of sin / punishment and the positive view of the first humans opened up in art.

The icon tradition knows a “positive completion” of the story of Adam and Eve. The resurrection icon (anastasis), a common motif, does not (like Western art) depict the resurrection of Jesus himself or the empty tomb, but the illustration of a sentence from the Apostles' Creed : ... descended into the realm of death. The risen Christ enters the doors of (often personified) Hades and draws Adam and Eve as the first of men out of the realm of death.

A completely different subject area of ​​the artistic creation of Adam and Eve is the representation of the work. With the expulsion from paradise, the compulsion to work begins, which offers artists the opportunity to depict everyday human activities. Both traditional female and male fields of activity are the subject, as well as new areas of work of the respective time.

In the early Renaissance, the depiction of Adam and Eve also offered artists a first opportunity to practice nude painting at a time when the depiction of human nudity was still largely frowned upon.

Heraldically both are shown along with a snake and a tree in the coat of arms of Baja (German Franconian town ).

See also:


  • Peter Hacks wrote his play Adam and Eve in 1972 , in which, following Hegel's interpretation of the Fall, he worked out this material into a general view of the world.
  • Eva & Adam by Patrizia Barbuiani , a comic play without words that tells the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise, their life in a modern world, their death and finally their return to paradise. Markus Zohner Theater Compagnie / Lugano , 2007

See also


New edition 1992, under the title: Adam also had a mother. Bible Correction I - Old Testament. Book on Demand, Norderstedt 2012, ISBN 3-8311-1148-0 .
Second part: Joseph thought about leaving Mary. Bible Correction II - New Testament. Book on Demand, Norderstedt 2012, ISBN 3-8311-1149-9 .
  • Andrea Imig: Lucifer as a woman? On the iconography of the female snake in depictions of the Fall of Man from the 13th to 16th centuries . In: Writings on Art History, Volume 25 . Kovač, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8300-4464-2 (doctoral thesis Cologne 2008).
  • Stephen Greenblatt : The Story of Adam and Eve: The Mightiest Myth of Humankind. Siedler, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-8275-0041-0 .
  • Katharina Siefert: Adam and Eve representations of the German Renaissance. Doctoral thesis, Philosophical Faculty of the University of Karlsruhe, 1994 ( OCLC 70701067 ).
  • Marie Luise Kaschnitz: polar bears . Selected stories. Insel, Frankfurt 1982, ISBN 978-3-458-31704-3 , p. 19–26 (story “Adam and Eve, 1949”).

Web links

Commons : Adam and Eve  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Carol Meyers: Eve: Bible.
Alice Ogden Bellis: Eve: Apocrypha.
Tamar Kadari: Eve: Midrash and Aggadah.
  • Uzi Dornay: 98 Images of Adam And Eve. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 9, 2010 (English, private homepage without year or location, many classic paintings).;

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Gesenius : Hebrew and Aramaic concise dictionary on the Old Testament . Edited by Herbert Donner. 18th edition. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 1995, pp. 10/11.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Gesenius : Hebrew and Aramaic concise dictionary on the Old Testament . Edited by Herbert Donner. 18th edition. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 1995, pp. 217-226.
  3. Acoustically, iššāh sounds like the grammatical feminization of īš , but etymologically the words are constructed from two different consonant roots : īš from ʔ-y-š ( Hebrew א-י-שׁ) with the meaning field “person”, “personality”, and iššāh from ʔ-n-š (א-נ-שׁ) with the meaning field “human”, “vulnerable”. As a result of an earlier total assimilation , the consonant / n / in the word iššāh (אִשָּׁה) into a gemination of the consonant š , represented by the strong Dagesch in the letter ש; however, the / n / exists in related words like ănāšīm / anaˈʃim / אֲנָשִׁים 'People' or ĕnōšūt / enoˈʃut / אֱנוֹשׁוּת 'Humanity' .
  4. Compare also Apophis : The ancient Egyptian god who worked in the Middle Kingdom is the embodiment of dissolution, darkness and chaos and at the same time the great adversary of the sun god Re - the sun bark of Re is every night during the journey through the underworld (Egyptian Duat ) attacked by the snake deity.
  5. See e.g. B. Adolf Pohl in the Wuppertal study bible on Rev 12,9 (page 326): "In our place we find an express equation with the paradise snake from 1 Mo 3: the ancient snake".
  6. alternative to the fig, it could be at this idea a pomegranate ( Punica granatum ) have acted, whose distribution area in Western to Central Asia and the Mediterranean lies. Whereas originally the apple ( malum ) can be found more in the northern temperate zones of Europe, Asia and North America.
  7. Malus, mali = apple tree; Malum, Mali = the apple (singular); malus = evil is adjective, malum = evil is noun. Karl Ernst Georges, comprehensive concise Latin-German dictionary. Reprint 1995. Vol. II Col. 783-787.
  8. ^ Hans Zimmermann: Source texts in 12 languages: Genesis. Private website, as of 2012, accessed on May 9, 2019.
  9. ^ Daniel Burston: Freud, the Serpent and the Sexual Enlightenment of Children. ( Memento of October 15, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) In: International Forum of Psychoanalysis. Volume 3, 1994, pp. 205-219 (English).
  10. ^ Marjo CA Korpel, Johannes C. de Moor: Adam, Eve, and the Devil: A New Beginning. Phoenix Pr Ltd, Sheffield 2014, ISBN 978-1-909697-52-2 , pp. ??.
  11. Message: Eva was not to blame: Researchers decipher clay tablets. In: The press . May 18, 2014, accessed May 9, 2019.
  12. Press release : Press Release: Oldest story about Adam and Eve discovered. ( Memento of March 29, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam / Groningen, May 27, 2014, accessed on May 9, 2019.
  13. ORF -Science: Religious Studies: Adam and Eve: 800 years older than the Bible? , May 19, 2014.
  14. Adam's Religion., December 21, 2015, accessed on August 26, 2017 .
  15. "Adam-God" - Brigham Young's Theory or Divine Doctrine?, 2017, accessed on August 26, 2017 .
  16. Othmar Schilling: The Mysterium lunae and the creation of women according to Gn 2.21f (lecture at the beginning of the rectorate), Paderborn 1963.
  17. Friedrich Weinreb : The biblical calendar. The month of Nissan, Munich 1984, p. 51f.
  18. Quoted from Hans Urs von Balthasar: Herrlichkeit. A theological aesthetic. Vol. II / 1, Einsiedeln ² 1969, pp. 265-361 (Bonaventura), here p. 333.
  19. Qais Saidi : The Mandaeans. Relatives of John the Baptist. General Association of Mandaeans Germany ( [1] on www.religion.inf)
  20. Kurt Flasch : Eve and Adam: Changes in a Myth. Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52763-9 , p. 12 ( side view in the Google book search).
  21. Kurt Flasch: Eve and Adam: Changes in a Myth. Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52763-9 , foreword; Flasch points out that the creation of Eve "was interpreted as a portent of the emergence of the church from the wound on the side of the crucified".
  22. Kurt Flasch: Eve and Adam: Changes in a Myth. Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52763-9 , p. 12/13 ( page views in the Google book search).
  23. cf. Flasch, Eva and Adam, p. 11ff.
  24. Compare, for example, the traditional division of agriculture / child nutrition in Schedelsche Weltchronik from 1493 or agriculture / distaff in the representation of the Grabower Altar, right inner wing, outside of the Bertram von Minden ( image view ).
  25. ^ Kunstmuseum Basel : Presentation in the online collection catalog ; compare Stefan Hess , Tomas Lochman (eds.): Classical beauty and patriotic heroism: the Basel sculptor Ferdinand Schlöth (1818–1891). Catalog for the exhibition of the same name in the Skulpturhalle Basel. Basel 2004, ISBN 3-905057-20-4 , pp. 61, 76, 112, 158, no.20.