Sunday, September 10, 2006

Higgaion Blog Has Picked Up the Eden Discussion!

I’m delighted to report that Prof. Christopher Heard has just blogged about my recent posts on the Garden of Eden. His comments are really worth reading, so please take a moment to visit his blog (click here). Thanks, Chris! One thing Chris does is voice a different opinion on sex in Eden from what I suggested. He defends the more traditional assumption that Eden was most likely “chaste.” He provides at least three worthy arguments, perhaps the most compelling of which is that Adam and Eve were just kids, at least in their behaviors.

Well done; Chris may well be right that Adam and Eve were like kids. But…, what if Adam and Eve were just kids in the same way that the lovers in the Song of Songs were just kids (see especially Michael V. Fox’s reading of Canticles). If so, Eve might cross her arms and respond to Chris’s blog along the very same lines that the woman in Canticles responds to her older brothers’ teasing about her immaturity: “My breasts are full—And when my lover sees me, he knows he'll soon be satisfied” (Song of Songs 8:10)!

Chris also notes the fact that “sexual intercourse resulting in procreation is the very first thing narrated after the expulsion from Eden.” Quite true, indeed, but this may be exactly to the point. What we may well have in Eden (as we in fact do have in the Song of Songs) is sexual intimacy for intimacy’s sake alone, without any felt need to interconnect sexuality with marriage, procreation, family-building, and so on. James Barr has another way of responding to Chris’ objection. Barr notes an instructive parallel between Genesis 4:1 and 1 Samuel 1:19, “Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife.” Sex between Elkanah and Hannah is only first mentioned in this verse, where it results in procreation, but we know for a fact that Elkanah and Hannah had been having sex intensively for years.

What do you think?

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