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Part II: ‘Annunciations’ in the Hebrew Bible

7.1. ‘Where are you?’: The Temptation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3)

Margaret McKerron

© 2019 Margaret McKerron, CC BY 4.0

Commenting on Adam and Eve’s temptation (Genesis [Gen] 3), biblical scholar George Knight bids his readers consider, ‘Have any 24 verses in all literature had quite such an impact on human thought everywhere as has this chapter?’1 From art and advertising to justice and gender relations, few narratives have arguably influenced Western culture so pervasively. Even in a secular age, the narrative’s three movements are relatively well-known: Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2.7-25), they are tempted by the serpent and the forbidden fruit (Gen 3.1-13), and God expels them from Eden as punishment (Gen 3.14-24). Despite how familiar the story is — or perhaps because of how familiar it is — two ‘conventional’ interpretations govern much of the theological and cultural imagination. Whereas the first interpretation fixates on the temptation-judgment dialectic, the second interpretation views Adam and Eve’s action as commendable self-determination. This chapter maps these two conventional interpretations of Gen 3 before considering how artistic, imaginative, and exegetical responses to a text reveal new avenues of understanding — even challenging received cultural wisdom about a text. Finally, I explore a response that germinated into ‘Hinneni’, a choral work by Belfast composer Anselm McDonnell that reflects on God’s agency and provision in the Gen 3 narrative.

I. Genesis 3 in the Theological and Cultural Imagination

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, Adam and Eve Tempted and Expelled from Paradise (c. 1509–1510), illustrates the two dramatic moments that have typically preoccupied artists’ imagination of the Gen 3 narrative: the couple’s temptation and their expulsion. In this fresco, Eve grasps an apple offered to her by a human-looking serpent in Adam’s company. In the next scene, the grief-stricken couple are then expelled from Eden at sword-point. Albrecht Dürer similarly suspends the narrative where husband and wife are balancing precariously on the precipice of transgression in Adam and Eve (1504). With four animals in the background representing the humours in harmonious equilibrium, the couple’s foregrounded moment of temptation ripens with disordering potential.2 Jan Brueghel the Elder reverses the composition in his Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (1615), but achieves a similar dramatic escalation. With flora and fauna commanding the immediate context and the couple just perceptible in the distance, Brueghel suggests that Adam and Eve’s small act of sinfulness will have cosmic ramifications. Masaccio, on the other hand, uses his fresco in the Brancacci Chapel, Florence (1424–1425) to arrest the husband and wife in the midst of their anguish: perceiving the price of their actions, an angel expels the couple from Eden as they weep with despair. Depicting the same episode, Gustave Doré’s Adam and Eve Driven out of Eden (1865) evokes the couple’s profound isolation.

Fig. 7.1.1 (Left to Right) Details of: (2.4-24) Jan Brueghal the Elder, The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (c. 1613); (3.1-13) Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve (1526); (3.14-24) Michelangelo, The Fall and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1509–1510). Many people can describe the basic contours of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. First, Adam and Eve live a paradisiac life in Eden. Then, the serpent tempts Eve to eat of the only fruit forbidden in the garden. Finally, when she shares it with her husband, God expels them from Eden. While this model captures three plot ‘landscapes,’ it obscures God’s role by focusing on creaturely (not divine) actions and their consequences.

Although such artistic concentration upon Adam and Eve’s temptation and expulsion invites us to contemplate their grave transgression, it also privileges what Denis Danielson calls the ‘maximizing position’ of the doctrine of the Fall of Man: an interpretation that ‘exalts Adam’s original perfection and righteousness in Eden [and also] maximizes the physical and spiritual consequences of Adam’s sin.’3 St Paul writes, ‘sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned’ (Romans [Rom] 5.122); ‘by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners’ (Rom 5.18a).4 From the maximizing perspective, the couple’s ‘original sin’ rends a deep chasm between pre-Fall paradise and post-Fall corruption.

In self-conscious contradistinction to these theological preoccupations, modern cultural narratives reframe Adam and Eve’s temptation in terms of self-determination, and their Edenic expulsion in terms of liberation. Theatrically, George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah (1921) adopts Adam and Eve’s story as the setting for a plot depicting ‘a benevolent “force” directing evolution towards a future perfection’, while Archibald MacLeish’s Songs for Eve (1954) portrays the couple’s sin as emancipatory.5 By reconceptualising Adam and Eve’s disobedience as a daring act of progress, these narratives imply that Eden is a counterfeit of genuine paradise. If a person only has the courage and fortitude to reach out and take it, a paradise of one’s own design is within grasp here and now.

A similar approach undergirds the modern marketing industry’s appropriations of the Gen 3 narrative. Katie B. Edwards, author of Admen and Eve, shows that messages focused on individuals’ exercise of personal freedom or self-determination subvert consumers’ apprehension of self-indulgence — even when that act means a temporary lapse from more collective or relational ideals.6 The temptress archetype, in particular, encourages grasping one’s own bliss — whether to emulate her or to possess her. Highly sexualised images of ‘Eve the temptress’ are not a new phenomenon. She is provocative in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (Fig. 7.1.1), alluring in Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Adam and Eve (1538), and even dominant in Tintoretto’s Adam and Eve (1550). Yet, unlike Renaissance depictions of the temptress archetype, modern marketing campaigns conflate sin with paradise. Paradise is found in sin: the tacit message is that a simple act of consumerism is all that bars individuals from their own, self-constructed paradise. Consequently, interpretations of Gen 3 tend to be polarised: there are those people who understand Adam and Eve’s act of disobedience as regressive, and those who understand it as progressive. The question, then, is whether other modes of engaging with the narrative can be used constructively to move beyond this interpretive dichotomy.

If two scenes — temptation and expulsion — form a diptych visual representation of Gen 3, then what does subsequent scholarly discourse reveal? Biblical and theological commentators have largely been engrossed by questions regarding the nature of sin and divine judgement. R. R. Reno, in his theological commentary Genesis, skips from considering the couple’s awareness of sin after their temptation (Gen 3.7) to their judgement (Gen 3.14).7 Iain Provan, in Discovering Genesis, divides his analysis between doctrinal interpretations of sin and theological interpretations of sin’s consequences.8 John Day, although arguing against importing ‘the full-blown Augustinian concept of original sin’ into the narrative, nevertheless asserts that ‘it is difficult to see why the Garden of Eden story should not be understood as one of sin and judgment comparable to others which follow in Genesis 4-11’.9 These commentaries shed valuable light upon on-going cultural and theological dialogues about the nature of sin and God’s judgement. Yet, in highlighting these discussions, other vital parts of the narrative are overshadowed.

Bruce Waltke is one of the few biblical commentators to note the chiasm unifying Gen 2.4-3.24 into one coherent narrative unit (or pericope) — a significant, structural observation, which challenges the view that the human act of sin and the divine act of judgement represent the imaginative dialectic through which the story of Adam and Eve’s temptation should be interpreted.10 In the Hebrew scriptures, chiasms focus attention on a central assertion or idea. Often, they are patterned by a sequence of subjects or concepts (A, B, C), followed by a focal or pivot assertion to which the author wishes to draw attention (X), and then the opening subjects or concepts repeated in reverse order (C’, B’, A’).11 In the Gen 2.4-3.24 pericope, the ABC structure consists of the creation of man (Gen 2.4-17), creation of woman (Gen 2.18-25), and serpent conversing with the woman (3.1-5). The C’B’A’ structure is the judgment of the serpent (Gen 3.14-15), the woman (Gen 3.16), and the man (Gen 3.17-19). The focal point, then, is not only Adam and Eve’s sinful act but also God’s striking response in the moments that follow: moments in which, through a series of queries, he invites Adam and Eve to reveal themselves and reestablish their relationship (Gen 3.6-13).12

Waltke, however, only partially develops the implications of this insight. Uncovering this chiastic structure, he claims, ‘exposes the crucial moment as Adam and Eve’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit’.13 This moment is significant: even the textual pronunciation bears witness to its gravity. In English, we read that Eve ‘took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate’ (Gen 3.6b). In Hebrew, only eight words are needed to convey the same message; however, as Victor Hamilton observes, ‘the first four words […] contain six instances of doubled consonants,’14 thus demanding ‘merciless concentration on each word’.15 Understandably, then, commentators dwell upon this significant moment of human sin. Still, Waltke neglects to follow his reasoning to its full conclusion: if the chiastic structure dictates that the moment of Adam and Eve’s sin is important (Gen 3.6), then it also dictates that the developments involved in its uncovering (Gen 3.7-14) must be crucial too.

Fig. 7.1.2 Details of: (2.4-17) Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling: 4th Bay (1508–1512); (2.18-25) Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, Creation of Eve (c. 1662); (3.1-5) Unknown artist, Drawing, Adam and Eve, The Temptation, Early 19th century (19th c.); (3.6-13) Gerard Hoet, Figures de la Bible illustration (1728); (3.14-15) Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve (1526); (3.16) John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, The Expulsion from Eden (1900); (3.17-19) Domenichino, The Rebuke of Adam and Eve (1626).

Compared to temptation, sin, and judgement, the moments after God uncovers Adam and Eve’s sin, and before he presents his judgement, are underrepresented in artistic, cultural, and scholarly engagement.16 According to the narrative, sometime after the couple eats the forbidden fruit, the evening breeze stirs marking the hour customary for taking a stroll.17 God walks through the garden but no one is in sight (Gen 3.8). Adam and Eve, suddenly conscious of their nakedness, conceal themselves, first sewing clothes out of leaves to hide from one another (Gen 3.7) and then camouflaging themselves among the trees of the forest to hide from God (Gen 3.8). As Hamilton remarks, the ‘silliness, stupidity, and futility of the couple’s attempt to hide’ from an omniscient God is on full display.18 However, so too is the gracious character of God’s response.

Rather than coming in ‘guns blazing’ or posing a question laden with interpretive baggage (e.g., that Adam and Eve are, indeed, hiding), God calls out, ‘Where are you?’ It might have been expected for Adam to respond ‘Hinneni’ — the response Abraham (Gen 22.1), Moses (Exodus [Exod] 3.4), and Samuel (1 Samuel 3.4; 6-8) give to God’s calling. Roughly translated ‘Here I am’, ‘hinneni’ connotes presenting one’s whole self to God for service or commission. Adam, though, does not answer God’s ‘Where are you?’ with ‘Hinneni’. Instead, Adam pre-emptively answers the question God did not ask (i.e., why are you hiding?): ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself’ (Gen 3.10).

In the verses that follow, God continues to encourage Adam and Eve to reveal themselves, and to interpret their sinfulness within this relational context: ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ (Gen 3.11). First, Adam turns away from the opening God offers. Placing the blame at the feet of his wife and of God, he hides his own responsibility: ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate’ (Gen 3.12). Next, God asks Eve, ‘What is this you have done?’ She also passes on the responsibility to another, saying ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate’ (Gen 3.13b). Through these questions, God offers three spurned openings for the couple to turn to him, confess, and repent. When he judges, therefore, he does so as one who is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’ (Exod 34.6b) — as one committed to genuine relationship with human beings and the whole of creation.

In some respects, attending to these neglected moments magnifies Adam and Eve’s sin. It suggests that the original act of eating the forbidden fruit may be a prelude to the greater betrayal of refusing God’s invitation to turn back to Him. What envenoms a child’s disobedience is their concerted effort to cover it up. Whilst acknowledging the greater magnitude of Adam and Eve’s sin is significant and insightful, therefore, it is nevertheless but part of the emerging story: God’s agency and God’s continued grace are the other (often neglected) part of the story. When one engages the wider pericope (Gen 2.4-3.24) with an imaginative hermeneutic, God’s agency and continued commitment to a responsive relationship with the whole of creation comes into clearer focus.

II. Fruits of an Imaginative Hermeneutic Response

When certain ‘conventional’ interpretations of a text such as Gen 3 dominate the theological and cultural imagination, approaching the text with an imaginative hermeneutic often reveals overlooked (or forgotten) avenues of interpretation. Drawing from practices of lectio divina, Ignatian contemplation, and a theatre workshop entitled ‘Word by Heart’, reveal three significant structural elements uncommon in biblical and theological scholarship: a repeated ‘call-and-response’ pattern that stresses divine agency, three rebuffed overtures that focus the narrative on divine grace, and the reassurance signified in Adam and Eve’s re-clothing. Together, these three elements reframe Adam and Eve’s encounter with God and signify God’s continued presence and provision for creation even after the fall and judgement.

Lectio divina is the oldest of the three practices. It refers to a practice of deep reading that involves ‘chewing’ upon a passage of scripture: reading it or hearing it read aloud, repeating it to oneself, listening meditatively for certain words or images that strike the heart and mind, and contemplating them in prayer.19 As a contemplative response to scriptural text, lectio divina invites readers to become more receptive to the manifold meanings existing in a passage of scripture. Drawing from this practice, I listened to the larger pericope (Gen 2.4-3.24) repeatedly over several days. A distinctive pattern in the narration emerged: God recognises a need in creation (‘call’) and God supplies an appropriate response (‘response’). For instance, the narrator notes that the growing of crops calls for ‘rain upon the earth’ and someone to ‘till the ground’ (Gen 2.5). God responds by causing a stream to ‘rise up’ (Gen 2.6) and creates man to live ‘in the garden of Eden to till and keep it’ (Gen 2.15). Next, God observes ‘it is not good for man to be alone’, so God creates animals (Gen 2.19) and forms woman (Gen 2.20-22). The recurring call-and-response pattern reinforces the image of an active, responsive God. Therefore, when we hear creaturely agency abruptly displacing divine agency (Gen 3.1-6), it is arresting. Not only does the serpent dictate the imperative (the tree is ‘to be desired to make one wise’, Gen 3.6a), but the serpent also implies that Eve will only get what she needs if she provides it for herself (Gen 3.5).20 Despite God’s evident care and consistent commitment to the flourishing of creation, Adam and Eve choose creaturely agency over divine agency. Appreciating God’s divine care magnifies the couple’s subsequent desolation, but it also underscores the grace in God’s choice to seek the young couple out afterwards. It is a grace that can be appreciated further using two related imaginative, hermeneutic practices.

Fig. 7.1.3 (Left to right) Details of: (2.5-17) Étienne Colaud, The Creation of the Animals and the Birds (Minature, Book of Hours, Rome, Early Morning) (c. 1525); (2.18-25) Raphael Coxie, The Creation of Eve (c. 1601–1610); (3.1-7) Károly Patkó, Adam and Eve (c. 1920); (3.8-13) Johann Elias Ridinger, Adam and Eve Cover Their Nakedness as God Makes His Wrath Felt in the Garden of Eden (c. 1750); (3.14-19) Master Bertram, Fall of Man (1375–1383); (3.20-21) William de Brailes, God Clothing Adam and Eve, from a Book of Bible Pictures, illumination on vellum (c. 1250); (3.22-24) William Wailes of Newcastle, St Mary de Castro Nave Window 4 (1866). The ‘Call-and-Response’ model focuses on the theme of ‘Who provides?’ In Gen 2, God is the provider. God recognises the needs of creation—whether it is a spring, or a gardener, or a partner—and takes it upon himself to address those needs. The serpent questions God’s trustworthiness as provider, suggesting that the human beings should look to their own best interests. Once Adam and Eve decide to ‘be like God’ though, a cascade of new problems emerge. They become aware of their vulnerability and fashion makeshift clothes from fig leaves. They become afraid of God’s punishment, first hiding behind bushes and then blaming each other. Remarkably, before the couple are expelled from Eden—and after his judgement—God again confirms his role as their provider, by endowing them with more substantial clothing. In the end, the narrative shows God addressing Adam and Eve’s needs in ways that go beyond what they are able to do for themselves.

Jesuit founder, Ignatius of Loyola, suggests readers of scripture attempt to walk prayerfully ‘in the shoes’ of different characters in the biblical narrative to open up new questions and horizons of meaning within a given biblical narrative.21 It is illuminating to try to imagine the story from the divine perspective. After Adam and Eve’s sinful act, God calls, ‘Where are you?’ Does he demand to know where the couple is, as if haranguing two people who have failed to materialise at an appointed time? Does his tone command them to reveal themselves, as a parent might in calling a child whose disobedience has been discovered? When God calls ‘Where are you?’ is his query coloured with concern or regret? Might it be said with sadness, as one whose foresight appreciates the full cost of their actions? Ignatian contemplation does not lead us to any hard or fast conclusions, but its empathetic approach does open more interpretive possibilities to be investigated and evaluated.

Similarly interested in imaginative and empathetic responses to the text, Broadway actor Bruce Kuhn teaches workshops entitled ‘Word by Heart’, which retell biblical stories as if the participants were present — guided by a facilitator versed in historical-cultural and biblical background for accuracy.22 Reading the Gen 3 narrative line-by-line, pausing to imagine the experience from the characters’ perspective, two often-overlooked events within the narrative surface are considered: Adam and Eve’s clothing of themselves and God’s re-clothing of Adam and Eve. First, having grasped their naked vulnerability, the narrator relates that the couple ‘sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves’ (Gen 3.7b). It is possible to appreciate the discomfort Adam and Eve would have felt: hyper-vigilant lest leaves rip unexpectedly, unprotected against a cool evening breeze, and irritated with insects and stems. Acknowledging God’s substantial provision of clothing later in the narrative, the difference in experience is palpable. We can envision how Adam and Eve were comforted and reassured as they were tenderly dressed and protected by God’s own hand — notably, after they had received his judgement. In this action, God’s role in the call-and-response motif is re-established: while divine judgement is not lessened, re-clothing Adam and Eve with the garments they will need for life outside Eden is an intimate act that reaffirms God’s care and commitment to creation even in the midst of their sinfulness.

Together, these three imaginative, hermeneutic responses to the text challenge conventional interpretations of Gen 3 that tend to distil the ‘moral of the story’ into a rumination on human agency: either God is feared (sovereign judge) or forgotten (oppressor). Instead, an imaginative hermeneutic reveals the central place of God’s agency and mercy in the narrative, as well as the deep tragedy and profound cost of sin. God is intimately and actively involved in recognising and providing for creation — both before and after human sinfulness and divine judgement. Indeed, as Belfast composer Anselm McDonnell portrays in his choral arrangement ‘Hinneni’, it is God Himself — on behalf of creation — who freely and finally provides the only sufficient answer to sin. Only the divine, self-emptying agency of Jesus Christ in the incarnation, passion, and resurrection makes possible God’s redemptive purposes.

III. Fruits of an Artistic Collaboration

Collaborating with someone whose background, commitments, and interests are unknown to you is a daunting proposition — especially when the narrative with which you are engaging has attracted so much theological, artistic, and cultural attention historically. How do you grapple with the cultural imagination of a person you have never met? And how do you balance presenting background information with creating space for the other’s own imaginative engagement? While wrestling with these concerns in preparation for the first TheoArtistry workshop, I decided that how I presented the information I uncovered in my research would be as important as what I uncovered.

In the end, my approach was simple. Mapping out the theological and emotional topography of the larger pericope for McDonnell, I observed the more challenging theological terrain (e.g., doctrine of original sin) and how others have navigated such areas historically (e.g., maximizing and minimizing positions). As well as well-worn paths of cultural and artistic interpretation, I documented the less-explored expanses within the narrative: particularly, the interval between Adam and Eve’s first sin (Gen 3.6) and their judgement (Gen 3.14), in which God’s three overtures to Adam and Eve are rebuffed. At the first TheoArtistry workshop, I invited McDonnell — with ‘map’ in hand — to encounter the text imaginatively, using much the same exercises that I had myself used to open up new horizons of meaning within the text.

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave him the name that is above every name.23

Unlike Adam and Eve who sought to become ‘like God’, Jesus was in the form of God. Whereas they disobeyed and filled themselves with forbidden fruit, Christ emptied himself, becoming obedient to the point of death. When Adam and Eve sought to exalt themselves, God humbled them; when Christ humbled himself, God exalted him. These parallels and contrasts between Adam and Christ provide ample inspiration.

In ‘Hinneni’, McDonnell weaves together the threads of divine grace that bind Eden to Golgotha. Whereas two scenes — temptation and expulsion — tend to dominate the imaginative fabric of Gen 3, McDonnell roots his choral composition in the moments of divine grace after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and before God pronounces their judgement. With Hebrew pronouncing the sin in the hushed background, the libretto recounts God’s encounter with Adam and Eve through his queries: ‘Where are you? […] / Who told you you were naked, / Have you eaten from the tree, / Of knowledge of good and evil?’ As the questions continue, the choir’s initial unison becomes fragmented, mirroring the division that sin precipitates. Using vocal unison, volume, and staccato rhythm, the tension mounts to God’s climactic demand: ‘What is this you’ve done…my son?’ In the stillness between the staccatos, listeners sense the profound weight of Adam’s disobedience — a weight made heavier when Adam’s sonship is reflected (‘my son’).

Perhaps in homage to the reversal motifs recurring in our research — i.e., the structural reversal in the chiasm and the typological reversal of Adam and Christ — the climactic moment is followed by a role reversal in the libretto: encountering Jesus on the cross, Adam and Eve are confronted with the true cost of their sinfulness. Struck by the self-sacrifice of Christ’s incarnation and passion, the couple marvels:

For whom are you naked?

Hanging cursed from the tree,

Of death, of wrath, and sorrow?

What is this you have done…

…for me?

Thus, the ‘Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’ becomes the tree of the cross, while the grasping disobedience of the first Adam is interwoven with the self-sacrificial obedience of Christ, the second Adam. The refrain, ‘Hinneni’, provides the warp and weft of Anselm’s choral tapestry: the consistent thread holding together the whole composition and the frame against which the parallels and divergences of Adam, Eve, and Christ are drawn out. With God’s unanswered questionings echoing in the background, the choir’s first cries of ‘Hinneni’ are dissonant and pathos-filled — an uncomfortable reminder of the response Adam and Eve failed to give God when he sought them in the garden. As the piece turns and the couple encounters Christ, however, ‘Hinneni’ takes on reassuring overtones: this is a God who declares ‘Here I am’ to his creation, even in the midst of sin and judgement, and on the cross. By interweaving the couple’s story with the gift of the Son, McDonnell’s piece suggests that God himself answers ‘Hinneni’ to human sinfulness — showing the lengths to which Love will go to pursue the restoration and reconciliation of the world to Himself and to one another.

List of Illustrations


Details of: (2.4-24) Jan Brueghal the Elder, The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (c. 1613), oil on copper, Wikimedia,, public domain; (3.1-13) Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve (1526), oil on maple wood, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, United Kingdom, Wikimedia,, public domain; (3.14-24) Michelangelo, The Fall and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1509–1510), fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Wikimedia,,_Fall_and_Expulsion_from_Garden_of_Eden_00.jpg, public domain.



Details of: (2.4-17) Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling: 4th Bay (1508–1512), fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Wikimedia,, public domain; (2.18-25) Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, Creation of Eve (c. 1662), oil on canvas, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, United Kingdom, Wikimedia,,_Carlo_Francesco_-_Creation_of_Eve_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg, public domain; (3.1-5) Unknown artist, Drawing, Adam and Eve, The Temptation, Early 19th century (19th c.), pen and ink, brush and watercolor, black chalk on paper, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Manhatten, USA, Wikimedia,,_Adam_and_Eve,_The_Temptation,_early_19th_century_(CH_18121969).jpg, public domain, museum purchase through various donors; (3.6-13) Gerard Hoet, Figures de la Bible illustration (1728), engraving, Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries, USA, Wikimedia,,_Where_are_you.jpg, public domain; (3.14-15) Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve (1526), oil on maple wood, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, United Kingdom, Wikimedia,, public domain; (3.16) John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, The Expulsion from Eden (1900), tempera on canvas, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, United Kingdom, Wikimedia,

102,_1900.jpg, public domain; (3.17-19) Domenichino, The Rebuke of Adam and Eve (1626), oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA, Wikimedia,, public domain, Patrons’ Permanent Fund.


Details of: (2.5-17) Étienne Colaud, The Creation of the Animals and the Birds (Minature, Book of Hours, Rome, Early Morning) (c. 1525), illumination on parchment, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France, Wikimedia,, public domain; (2.18-25) Raphael Coxie, The Creation of Eve (c. 1601–1610), oil on panel, Galerij Bernaerts, Antwerp, Belgium, Wikimedia,, public domain; (3.1-7) Károly Patkó, Adam and Eve (c. 1920), oil on canvas, private collection, Wikimedia,, public domain; (3.8-13) Johann Elias Ridinger, Adam and Eve Cover Their Nakedness as God Makes His Wrath Felt in the Garden of Eden (c. 1750), etching, Wellcome Collection, United Kingdom, Wikimedia,, CCA 4.0. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom; (3.14-19) Master Bertram, Fall of Man (1375–1383), tempora on wood, Kuntshalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, Wikimedia,, public domain; (3.20-21) William de Brailes, God Clothing Adam and Eve, from a Book of Bible Pictures, illumination on vellum (c. 1250), Collezione Naya-Bohm, Venice, Italy, public domain; (3.22-24) William Wailes of Newcastle, St Mary de Castro Nave Window 4 (1866), stained glass window, Leicester, United Kingdom, Wikimedia,, CCA-SA 2.0.


1 George Knight, Theology in Pictures: A Commentary on Genesis Chapters One to Eleven (Edinburgh: Handsel, 1981), p. 35.

2 Bruce Cole and Adelheid Gehalt, with an introduction by Michael Wood, Art of the Western World: From Ancient Greece to Post-Modernism (London: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1989), p. 130.

3 Denis Danielson, ‘Fall’, in A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, ed. by David Lyle Jeffrey (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), pp. 271–73 (p. 272).

4 Unless otherwise noted, all biblical quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Holy Bible.

5 These two examples are discussed by Iain Provan in his Discovering Genesis: Content, Interpretation, Reception (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015), p. 85.

6 Katie B. Edwards, Admen and Eve: The Bible in Contemporary Advertising (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012), p. 11. See also Chapter 3, ‘Bad Girls Sell Well’, in ibid., pp. 64–126.

7 R. R. Reno, Genesis, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: BrazosPress, 2010).

8 Provan, Discovering Genesis, pp. 82–83.

9 John Day, From Creation to Babel: Studies in Genesis 1-11 (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013), p. 45.

10 Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), p. 81. Waltke credits David. A. Dorsey for this insight. See David A. Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A Commentary on Genesis — Malachi (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999), p. 50.

11 Ibid., p. 36. See also, R. L. Pratt Jr., He Gave us Stories (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1990), pp. 179–230.

12 Ibid., p. 81.

13 Ibid.

14 Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1–17, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), p. 190.

15 J. T. Walsh, ‘Genesis 2:4b-3:23: A Synchronic Approach’, Journal of Biblical Literature, 96 (1977), 161–77 (p. 166), cited in Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, p. 190.

16 For artistic exceptions, see also the mosaic of Gen 2-3 in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily (12th c.); and William Blake’s The Angel of the Divine Presence Clothing Adam and Eve with Coats of Skins (1803). For exceptions in biblical scholarship, cf. Knight, Theology in Pictures, pp. 41–43; and Donald E. Gowan, From Eden to Babel: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis 1-11, International Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), pp. 55–57.

17 Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, p. 192.

18 Ibid., p. 193.

19 Christine Valters Paintner and Lucy Wynkoop, Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening and Awareness (New York: Paulist Press, 2008), pp. 2–3.

20 Bruce Waltke with Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 262.

21 For more information on practices of imaginative prayer, see, for example, the chapter entitled ‘Pray with Your Imagination’, in David L. Fleming, What is Ignatian Spirituality? (Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2008), pp. 55–60.

22 I am grateful to Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson for an introduction to Bruce Kuhn’s methodology during the 2016 Linlathen Lectures (‘InActing Word: Theology & Theatre’) held in Carleton Place, ON, Canada. See Linlathen, Past Conferences and Retreats (, 2016),; and Bruce Kuhn, Word by Heart: Truth by Story (, 2015),

23 Philippians 2.7-9a.