What sin­gles can learn from a bite of the ap­ple

Saturday Star - - SPICE - RACHEL RACZKA

WHAT do we re­ally k n ow ab o u t Adam and Eve? There’s be­trayal! Nu­dity! Sex! A snake! But was this a love story or just a bib­li­cal fa­ble that set the tone for gen­der roles for thou­sands of years?

Au­thor Bruce Feiler’s new book, The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us, aims to clear up any doubts. Adam and Eve were def­i­nitely in love, Feiler says.

“Ev­ery great artist and cre­ative thinker has wres­tled with the story,” Feiler, a New York Times colum­nist and PBS host, said in an in­ter­view. “So as some­one who spends a lot of time study­ing the an­cient worlds, I thought: ‘Is there any time­less wis­dom to bear here?’ “

Feiler trav­elled to six coun­tries across four con­ti­nents to meet lead­ing ex­perts on Adam and Eve, ques­tion­ing how they re­late to mod­ern re­li­gion, gen­der and sex­u­al­ity.

What might sin­gles learn from the world’s most fa­mous cou­ple? Ac­cord­ing to Feiler, there’s a lot in their story that is rel­e­vant to present day. It’s nor­mal not to want to be alone. In the Bible, be­fore Adam and Eve grace the Earth, God pro­claims: “It’s not good for the man to be alone.” Whether or not you be­lieve in the Judeo-Chris­tian God, it’s hu­man na­ture to crave com­pan­ion­ship and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Ex­pect love to chal­lenge you and don’t be sur­prised when it does. People of­ten mis­in­ter­pret the ro­mance be­tween Adam and Eve, be­cause their story is widely con­sid­ered to be over af­ter they’re kicked out of Eden. But it’s not un­til the lat­ter por­tions of Ge­n­e­sis that we learn the cou­ple’s prob­lems are big­ger than some for­bid­den fruit. Yet they per­se­vere, to­gether. “Love is a longterm process of read­just­ing and get­ting over chal­lenges.” Meet-cutes can hap­pen, but some­times they re­quire perspective first. “They were the first meet­cute,” Feiler says with a laugh. “Adam falls asleep, he’s lonely, then God takes a part of his body and makes Eve. He took one look at Eve and says: ‘This is the one.’ ”

He also notes that as cute as a first meet­ing might be, the “when you know, you know” prin­ci­ple didn’t im­me­di­ately ap­ply to Eve, even when Adam was the only other man on Earth. Het­eronor­ma­tive gen­der roles have been com­pli­cat­ing ex­pec­ta­tions for­ever. Feiler cites so­cial sci­en­tists who say men and women fall in love dif­fer­ently and that ex­tends to the tale of our friends in the gar­den of Eden.

Even though Adam was lonely and long­ing, Eve didn’t re­cip­ro­cate just be­cause she lit­er­ally had no other op­tions. “Adam was driven by im­pulse, but for women like Eve, it takes longer. That’s some­thing the Bible gets right,” Feiler says. Healthy relationships can sur­vive doubt. The Cliff Notes ver­sion of Adam and Eve: “Don’t eat the for­bid­den fruit.” But what drives Eve to ini­ti­ate the down­fall of man?

“Each per­son (in a re­la­tion­ship) needs to feel like them­selves; it’s a bal­ance of de­pen­dence and in­ter­de­pen­dence,” Feiler ex­plains.

“When (Eve) re­alises she’s not happy, (it’s) be­cause she doesn’t want to be a sub­set of Adam. That prompts her go­ing into the gar­den alone, and eat­ing the fruit.

She thinks: ‘If I am just an ap­pendage of him, this re­la­tion­ship is not go­ing to work. I need to have a voice and knowl­edge.’” Don’t mis­take code­pen­dency for com­pro­mise. On the flip side, the beauty of Adam and Eve’s long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship (they re­mained to­gether un­til Adam died at the ripe age of 930), is their cho­sen i nterde pen­dence, Feiler says.

Af­ter Eve gets the fruit, “she could be like ‘I can keep it all to my­self ’, but she doesn’t want to be en­tirely alone. In­stead she goes back to Adam,” Feiler ex­plains.

“And Adam knows it’s wrong (to eat the fruit), but he asks him­self: ‘Do I choose obli­ga­tion and duty? Or do I choose com­pan­ion­ship?’ For me, that’s the most ro­man­tic mo­ment of the story, when Adam eats the fruit, too.” Love sto­ries are writ­ten by two people Not only does Feiler call Adam and Eve the first love story, he dubs them the “first joint by­line”. “The No 1 thing I lear nt my­self is that love is sto­ry­telling, but par­tic­u­larly love is a story that we tell with an­other per­son,” Feiler says. – The Wash­ing­ton Post

The First Love Story – Adam, Eve, and Us Au­dio book, R472, from Loot.co.za

Adam and Eve – love story or just a bib­li­cal fa­ble?

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