The Elusive Eve: In the Garden
I’ve said somewhere before, I’m on a journey of rediscovery. Lately, I’ve felt impressed to stir up the art gift from God and to study Genesis 1-3 again. I’ve begun to combine the artwork exploration with the study exploration and boy am I discovering some very odd notions I’ve thought and were probably taught, about Genesis 1-3. In fact, I’ve been grappling with the story of Adam and Eve illustratively and biblically.
You know, we know so little from the text itself about either of them. As I sat down to move to illustration for a much larger project that is coming soon to The Cultural Ayin (The Genesis Project), I realized that all I could do was imagine with God. We used some open licensed photographs as inspiration from unsplash.com. I have to tell you, just looking through photographs of men and women separately and together I began to realize something a bit pervasive. I had some ideas of what they looked liked but my ideas were incredibly absent from the text.
We don’t know what they looked like at all, yet, when there is a discussion about men and women in terms of character and leadership in Genesis, some assumptions do get made. Those assumptions usually have mental images in play. Setting aside Genesis as myth or evolution (i.e. It’s not a made up story and they were not monkeys or primordial slime in the beginning…) the question I found myself pondering was if they had brown hair, blonde hair, red, or some combination with a few salon highlights (har, har har.). I realized, both humorously and depressingly, that my notions of Adam and Eve fit a Disneyland invention - Tarzan and Jane stereotypes of a big and buff Adam and this soft, little demure Eve. That changed when I was examining some models of women that worked out and heard, “why couldn’t it be?” These photographers pictured women who were muscular and in shape like a buff Adam. I realized my Tarzan and Jane notions may have been foolhardy once they had been exposed. [See me blush.]
The other thing I wondered openly about was skin color. Now, some may say because of geographic location they were dark complexioned (inevitably leading to dark hair for me) but I found myself wondering about other possibilities. Where they an interracial couple? I mean if we, as Christians, believe in the fact that all humanity sprung from these two people, humanity is rather diverse looking. What if Eve was Asian with slender shaped eyes and Adam more African? What if my exceptionally fair skin comes from ancestry that hung out indoors all the time?
Dropping skin color I found myself also stuck with body type. Yea, there is the buff and brawny male and the voluptuous babe female stereotype of Tarzan and Jane but there is such a thing as a figure. Was Eve big boned, small boned? Was she tall or petite? Was she wide hipped or narrow? Perhaps she was apple, pear, or hour glassed shaped? Who the heck knows! It doesn’t say. This makes drawing a little bit, um, COMPLICATED!
Over some grief and some Genesis politics I began to notice new things I’d never seen before in these first few chapters. It seems to be a rather good idea to pray for help from the Holy Spirit because I had NEVER seen this little timeline thing about Eve and Adam. Did you know there is a little timeline in there? It straddles Genesis 1 and 2 [no not the big picture of Genesis 1 and the detailed picture of Genesis 2] and I write about it in my upcoming article on Adam and Eve for the Genesis Project. What I discovered was Eve knew she had authority and she knew she was blessed. There wasn’t any of this political mumbo jumbo about Eve being ignorant and Eden’s “second class citizen” because she was female and came on the scene second. But I digress from my wondering what they looked like.
At any rate, I’ve found digitally painting Adam and Eve that this couple continues to remain quite elusive, especially Eve in many ways. I’ve found I need to let some things go to see them as the text describes their story. There is something freeing about seeing them in just a plain ole reading of the account. It has been like a breath of fresh air.
One thing is for certain - they were both healthy and had no shame. Maybe that is the thing to focus on - God is good and in His goodness they found life in Him and each other? In His company and design, we find health and no shame. Food for thought, yes?
Citations & Notations:
 Unsplash is a fabulous open sourced license photography place I discovered some time back. I’ve used it for art inspiration and to learn to see again. Shout out to Jake Davies as “Elusive Eve” was inspired by one of his photos [see photo at right]. Click on the photograph and check out his Unsplash gallery.
 By Genesis politics I mean the use of Genesis to create stereotypes and subsequently legislation and law around these sparse chapters about the beginning. There is quite a bit of silliness - sometimes rather sad and offensive versions of silliness - about Genesis 1-3 that have come through the ages and are often automatically assumed. A fresh reading has begun to help me not only heal from the foolishness of Genesis stereotypes, but it has helped me see Adam and Eve through a different set of eyes - His.
***Blog header Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash.