I see indications of male leadership in the language of Genesis 3

Yesterday’s post focused on the use of singular and plural in Genesis 3. I asked for your thoughts upon reading through the text. Here are some of mine:

  • It’s interesting to note that Satan discusses God’s command as a plural (directed to Eve and Adam) while God talks about the command in the singular. Just a style difference? A reflection of the personal nature of commands vs. impersonal? Indication that God saw Adam as ultimately responsible for the command being observed?
  • When God seeks out the sinning couple, He calls to Adam. Singular.
  • God first queries Adam as to his sin, then follows the chain to Eve and to the serpent.
  • The punishments given out are both personal for the serpent and for Eve (indirectly to all women), while Adam’s punishment falls on creation itself and brings death to all humanity (stated in singular, yet understood to affect all).

In the next post we’ll talk about the language of verse 3:16. That verse often comes up in discussions of men and women in the church. It’s deserving of its own post.

When I read Genesis 3, I see God holding Adam accountable in a special way. This fits with my understanding of the biblical teaching of male leadership. I would not build an entire theology around this one passage (nor any one passage); I’m merely saying that it fits.

7 thoughts on “I see indications of male leadership in the language of Genesis 3

  1. Nick Gill

    There is a possibility that Gen 3 is shaped as it is for rhetorical purposes – to put the focus in particular places. You know we’ve talked about this before, and I find this position powerful.

    This is the response I got in another place talking about it:

    “I think Genesis 3 has this order:
    – Serpent, Eve, Adam,
    – then is reversed Adam, Eve, then Serpent when God begins to announce the future:
    – Serpent, Eve, and Adam.

    Serpent is the middle term between the structure in God’s response (seeking the couple and then announcing to the couple). This is a literary structure that reflects the sequence of events. I don’t think there is any inherent sense of responsibility or order of one over another in Genesis 3. All are responsible.”

  2. Paul Smith

    Hey Tim, don’t know if you will ultimately discuss this or not, but Paul’s discussion of the fall has fascinated me. Paul points to Eve as the first to sin in a physical sense (1 Tim.), yet in a theological sense he always points to Adam as the counter-point to Christ (Romans) and the one responsible for mankind’s situation. Do you see a connection here with Gen. 3?

  3. Tim Archer Post author

    The order of the players is interesting and worthy of consideration. Yet, why separate Adam and Eve? In the discussion you presented, I don’t see any consideration of why Adam and Eve are presented as separate characters.

    Curious to see the expression “seeking the couple.” That’s not what Genesis 3 presents. It’s where are “you,” not where are “y’all.” I do believe God was interested in both, but if we’re going to deal with the literary structure we have, we need to talk about God seeking Adam.

    I also note that this structural analysis only goes through verse 19. Is that intentional? Because verses 20-24 don’t fit within that arrangement. The focus goes to the couple, then back to Adam at the end of the chapter. If Adam is especially being held responsible, that makes sense. If it’s as you say… I’m not sure how to make that fit.

  4. Tim Archer Post author

    Paul, the idea of sin/death entering through Adam fits the language of Genesis 3. I definitely see a connection.

    I’ve never felt comfortable with my understanding of Paul’s arguments in 1 Timothy 2. It’s always been in a state of flux, to be honest.

  5. Nick Gill

    Paul doesn’t say that Eve was the first “to sin.” He says Eve “was deceived.”

    That fits thoroughly with both points Paul makes (one in 1 Tim and one in Romans):
    — in 1 Tim, he’s making the point that women need to be permitted to learn (because Eve was deceived)
    — in Romans, he’s making the point that sin entered through Adam (because Adam was NOT deceived – Adam ate the fruit without being deceived – he rebelled with eyes wide open).

  6. Nick Gill

    Paul doesn’t say in 1 Tim that Eve was the first “to sin.” He says Eve was deceived, and so she ate, setting her apart from Adam who “was there with her” according to Gen 3 and was not deceived.

    This fits well with both the point in 1 Tim and the point in the “Adam” passages in Romans:

    — in 1 Tim, the imperative is for women to be allowed to learn, precisely as an antidote to the deception of Eve
    — in Romans, Paul asserts that sin entered through Adam, which makes sense if Adam ate the fruit undeceived – if the rebellion of Adam was with eyes wide open.

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