Over the centuries, there have been innumerable interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve. This week on the Daily, Stephen Greenblatt, the author of The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, retells some of these legends in modern idiom, and invents a few of his own.
The first humans were perfectly beautiful and very wise, but they lacked one of the five senses on which fallen humanity most depends: sight. In their original state, Adam and Eve were completely blind (Clem. Hom 3:42, in Evans 95). They had no need to see, since they were in a world designed to meet their every need. If they wanted something to eat or drink, it was always within grasp. And when God brought the animals to Adam for him to name, Adam simply reached out and touched each of them, knowing from the touch what name to assign. Perhaps their happy blindness—happy, of course, because they did not know that they could not see—helps to explain their transgression, since it might have been difficult for them to distinguish the forbidden fruit from all others, particularly if the enemy were bent on deceiving them. In any case, their condition helps to explain their complete absence of shame, for it was only after their fall that God removed the coating that had blinded their eyes. As soon as they could see, in the wake of their disobedience, they hastened to cover themselves: “And the eyes of the two were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.” Read More