Editor's Note: The original title of this article, "Is Saying Adam and Eve Were 'Cast Out' Scriptural?" misrepresented the author's intent in focusing on the biblical accounts of the story of Eve and Adam. While the excerpt was accurate, the podcast guest intended to focus on ancient scripture. While the words "cast out" do not appear in the Bible or in the Pearl of Great Price, the words "cast out" are used in Doctrine and Covenants 29:41 which reads, "Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden."
It has often been described that God was "casting Adam and Eve out" when He "drove out the man" from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23–24).
And yet, author Melinda Wheelwright Brown wants to make it clear that this "casting out" is not found in ancient scripture. Instead, she has come to think of the words "drove out" very differently, comparing the idea of God "driving" out Adam and Eve to something many parents have experienced: driving kids to the airport—a sweet last moment of love and connection.
"And that's how I picture our Heavenly Parents kind of saying goodbye to them as they leave the garden, as this very tender scene. No fire and brimstone, sort of casting out, which is often portrayed," Brown says.
There are many interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve. Eve's choice to partake of the fruit oftentimes makes her the scapegoat of the fall from grace. Brown intends to correct society's perception of Eve in her new book Eve and Adam: Discovering the Beautiful Balance. In this week’s episode, All In host Morgan Jones talks with Brown about the cost of misunderstanding Eve's choice in the garden and its influence on all of mankind.
Read an excerpt from their conversation below or click here to listen to the whole episode. You can also read a full transcript of the podcast here.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: You quote Dr. Camille Fronk Olson in the book, who says, "Our interpretation of Eve's role in the Fall likely influences the manner in which we regard women in general." And in another spot, after talking about lost truths from the Bible, you say, "Perhaps nowhere are lost truths more troubling than throughout the account of Eve's life story because of the damaging effects they have had on women's well being."
This part of your book kind of blew my mind a little bit just because I don't think that we think about . . . the way that society has perceived Eve and her decision to partake of the fruit, that that could potentially have had detrimental effects on women as a whole. What would you say, Mindy, are the costs of misunderstanding Eve's choice?
Melinda Brown: Well, there's obviously a lot we can talk about on that—that's a really big question.
Morgan Jones: That's a loaded question.
Melinda Brown: That is a very big question. But I think there are two halves of this equation. There's the effect it [has] had on men, and the way they have been subtly influenced to perceive women and think of women. And then there's the effect that it's had on women. And I would say and this—and forgive these broad generalizations, I understand they're going to feel like there's some stereotypes in here—but just as kind of a starting point, I think some men have felt justified treating women poorly, because if they cling at all to this so-called origin myth, and they believe that she blew it—it's her fault—we're living in this hard, mortal, fallen world—then it's just this insidious, perpetuated notion that when life gets hard, it's her fault—a woman was the cause of that.
And that's a terrible place to start out gender relations. That's so unhealthy and unhelpful. And then, really, equally pervasive is this idea with women that if they feel like somehow we're less than, that if we are being repeatedly treated as inferior to men, then that sinks in and we start to feel less valuable, less needed, less important, and that obviously has huge repercussions. So, both sides of this equation then kind of doubly affect women—that we're not living up to our privileges, our rights, and there's this serious loss for everybody.
And I think what we find if we start really digging into the story, and the way that I present it in the book, is I start with looking at the fruit and looking at those two trees. Because right off the bat . . .if we were to go out, you know, and do a very unscientific sort of, on-the-street, every person sort of interview, they would say, "Oh, well, she ate the apple, and she made a mistake, and that was evil." And the roots of that go so deep.
And so, one of the really fascinating bits, I think, is the idea of an apple—there's no apple mentioned in the biblical account. And when I say the biblical account, I include Genesis and the Moses version that we are blessed with in the Pearl of Great Price. There's no apple. There are figs mentioned, there's other fruit in general, but this apple idea is just something that has crept into culture, really over centuries, you know, even thousands of years. And when we look at where that came from, the Latin word for "apple" is malum. And that word has a homonym, which is evil.
And so I think, way back in time when the Bible was being canonized and we were having all these translations and multiple translations, those scribes really enjoyed wordplay. And we see that in lots of places in the Bible. There's lots of wordplay if we dig into the Hebrew, or the Latin, or the Greek, we can see multiple meanings of the words that they choose to use in different translations. And this one is just huge—the repercussions of this are huge. If you look at almost any classical artwork depicting Adam and Eve, you will see an apple, and it's clearly an apple. It's more recently that we see depictions that look like some mysterious fruit that maybe we don't recognize immediately. But the apple is what has stuck.
Another term that I think is really sticky and that really gets me—I don't like to hear it referred to this way—is we talked about them being "cast out" of the garden. And that's not a biblical phrase. That's not in Genesis or Moses. That's something that culture has attached to this. And obviously, there's a really negative connotation with the idea of casting someone out and it sounds so awful. But what's actually in the scriptures is the phrase, "God sent them forth from the garden," and that He drove them out. And "drove" you could look at in different ways.
There are different connotations there. But the way that I always think of this is an experience I've had way too many times for my liking—and I know lots of other people have, too—and that's driving my college students to the airport when they're going to leave to go back to school. And what that driving them out kind of feels like. Those are some of the most tender moments. I always feel like those 45 minutes in the car to the Salt Lake airport from our home—it's my last chance before the next span that they're going to be away. I’ve got to think of all the important things I haven't told them, and any great advice I have for the next couple of months that they're going to be away from me. And those are sweet, sweet times. And that's how I picture our Heavenly Parents kind of saying goodbye to [Adam and Eve] as they leave the garden, as this very tender scene. No fire-and-brimstone sort of casting out, which is often portrayed. So that's one example of that stickiness of culture.
Listen to Brown's comments on her new book here.
Eve and Adam: Discovering the Beautiful Balance : As the first who chose to cross the threshold into mortality, Eve, as her Hebrew name implies, is truly the personification of Life. Together with Adam, Eve ushered in mortality and the chance for eternal progress. Her experiences cannot be separated from Adam's, but to understand their mission, we must first restore Eve to her proper, elevated place—a noble position beside Adam. Examining truths about Eve allows us to better understand Eve and Adam's mission and their beautiful, balanced interdependence. Understanding their mission provides meaning, encouragement, and direction for each of us along our complex and sometimes thorny paths home. Eve and Adam offers a fresh and insightful perspective into the perfect plan of happiness. With clarity and careful thought, it presents a solid case for the necessity of a firm understanding of the honor due to our glorious Mother Eve as well as Father Adam. Simultaneously, Eve and Adam provides an opportunity for deep pondering and reflection on how our mortal experiences, coupled with our Savior's support, can facilitate the progress and learning needed to exalt each of us day by day, one step at a time. Eve's and Adam's story, then, deeply matters to ours.
Available at Deseret Book stores and at deseretbook.com.