I posted earlier today the beginning of my response to an article on CNN’s religion blog by Jennifer Wright Knust (who claims to be “a Bible scholar and pastor) called “The Bible’s Surprisingly Mixed Messages on Sexuality”. I imagine, because I’m so incredibly long-winded and full of myself, that this response will be in at least 3 parts. This is the second.
Knust goes on to write:
Ancient Christians and Jews explained this two-step creation by imagining that the first human person possessed the genitalia of both sexes. Then, when the androgynous, dually-sexed person was placed in the garden, s/he was divided in two.
According to this account, the man “clings to the woman” in an attempt to regain half his flesh, which God took from him once he was placed in Eden. As third century Rabbi Samuel bar Nahman explained, when God created the first man, God created him with two faces. “Then he split the androgyne and made two bodies, one on each side, and turned them about.”
When the apostle Paul envisioned the bodies that would be given to humanity at the end of time, he imagined that they would be androgynous, “not male and female.” The third-century non-canonical Gospel of Philip, meanwhile, lamented that sexual difference had been created at all: “If the female had not separated from the male, she and the male would not die. That being’s separation became the source of death.”
Rabbi Samuel bar Nahman’s quote comes from a document called Midrash Beresihit. Here is the full quote (from http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/MidrashBereishit2.html)
Rabbi Jeremiah ben Eleazar said: When the Holy One created Adam, He created him hermaphrodite [bisexual], as is said, “Male and female created He them . . . and called their name Adam.”(Bereishit 5:2)
Rabbi Samuel bar Nachman said: When the Holy One created Adam, He made him with two fronts; then He sawed him in half and thus gave him two backs, a back for one part and a back for the other part.
I find it difficult to believe that Rabbi Samuel speaks for all ancient Judaism when he says these things. This is, after all, the same text in which we find the following statement:
Rabbi Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh?”
This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Chavah [Eve].
So not only do we find in this Midrash the claim that Adam & Eve were a single person until God sawed them in half, but now we come to find out that Adam committed bestiality with every living creature on the face of the earth! (I wonder what Eve was thinking when he did this, since she was obviously still connected to the back of him.) I find it hard to believe that this teaching would gain a firm hearing in the 3rd or 4th century after Christ, much less in the Judaism of his time. Knust implies that all ancient Jews believed this way, which I find very hard to believe.
She also claims that ancient Christians believed this, as well. Paul, she says, imagined that humans would, at the end of all things, be androgynous, and she quotes a text: “not male or female”. This is a snippet from Galatians 3. Here is the full verse: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Of course you can see from reading the text plainly that Knust takes this passage wildly out of context. Paul is not talking about the way things will be at the resurrection; he is talking about the way things are now because of what Christ has done.
Knust then goes on to quote from “the third-century non-canonical Gospel of Philip” as though it represented a fairly typical Christian perspective. What she fails to disclose is that this is a Gnostic Gospel. In other words, it is heretical, and does not coincide with orthodox church teaching nor represent the beliefs of “ancient Christians”.
Well, I’ve been droning on and on for long enough now. I suppose I’ll have to continue this in another post.