Joanna, who is the mom of two littles, has had a pet peeve for years about how baby Bibles and kids’ Bibles mess up the story of Adam and Eve.
I asked on Facebook last week for some pictures of how your baby/children’s Bible handled the story, and HUNDREDS of you sent in pictures. Wow! (And click through to see all the pictures in the comments.)
But before we take a look, let’s re-read the Genesis account:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
See that little bit that we highlighted? Adam was there the whole time. The Hebrew tense is that this happened all at once. It’s not like she ate it, and then Adam showed up and didn’t realize what was going on. He was fully culpable. And as the serpent is talking, he is using the plural form of the word for “you”–something more obvious in other languages, and why the same mistake is not as often made in children’s Bibles in other languages.
But throughout history, the fact that Adam was there is conveniently forgotten. In the epic poem Paradise Lost by Milton, Eve is depicted on her own. And our understanding of the fall is more influenced by Paradise Lost, it seems, than by the actual biblical account. Here’s how Emerson Eggerichs mistakenly describes the scene in Love & Respect:
Note how he implies that Adam wasn’t with Eve–even though Scripture reports he was.
Now let’s see how our children are being taught this story.
There were so many pictures of Bibles left on the Facebook Page I don’t have time to put them all in a spreadsheet and look at which ones are bestsellers or anything. I’m just going to pick the first 15 that are the nicest pictures that I can find.
We’ll start with Phil Vischer’s Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids, which did it well!
They’re both there–and bonus! Not everyone is white. Now let’s move on:
The Beginner’s Bible
Here’s a really popular toddler/kids’ Bible:
Note how Eve is alone and she goes to a different place to give it to Adam.
5 Minute Bible Stories
Here, Adam isn’t even depicted sinning–only getting tossed out of the garden with Eve.
The Brick Builders Illustrated Bible
See anyone missing?
The Little Girls’ Story Bible
This one had a multi-page spread with only Eve there, and it’s directed just at girls, too!
The Family Time Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible
The Spark Story Bible
The graphic novels can be even worse–
The Action Bible
The Picture Bible
This one mimics Emerson Eggerichs when Eve actually goes looking for Adam and calls him over:
Focus on the Family One Sentence Storybooks
How does Focus on the Family portray it?
Even the Bearanstain Bears get in on it!
There are many, many more Bibles that do it wrong. I could have pasted dozens of more pictures, but I don’t want this page to load super slowly! Again, please look at the original Facebook post to get the fuller picture.
Now, there are some baby Bibles or children’s Bibles that do it right–they’re just the exception.
I had to hunt through all the Facebook comments to find some, but here are a few:
The Bible App Storybook
Desmund Tutu’s Children of God
I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God
They even did it better in the 1970s, with this Children’s Bible:
Why does how we teach kids about Adam and Eve and The Fall matter?
Well, what do you think is the result on both boys and girls growing up hearing that it was Eve who sinned, and sin came to the world through Eve? That everything was ultimately her fault? (Even though the New Testament blames it on Adam–see, for instance, Romans 5:12-19).
And this idea that Eve was ultimately to blame, and Adam wasn’t quite to blame (or his sin was simply failing to provide leadership to her or failing to be her head) has been the source of men claiming power over women for ages. See how Eggerichs frames his misrepresentation of the Genesis scene:
Adam had the insight to realize that he shouldn’t eat the fruit, but he went ahead and did so anyway. Was this the first case of a husband being led by his wife with a ring in his nose? Or did Adam simply not want to let Eve get ahead of him by having knowledge that he would not have? No one can say for sure. Paul sums it up in 1 Timothy 2:14 when he discusses the role of women in the church: “It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
Apparently, Eve concluded that she knew far more about what was best for her and her husband, and she influenced him to follow her lead. Adam “listened to the voice of [his] wife” and was cursed (see Genesis 3:14–19).
Note the derogatory way in which Eggerichs refers to women, and characterizes them as trying to lead their husbands around by the nose.
In Eggerichs’ conception, too, Adam’s sin was not disobeying God. It was allowing Eve to lead him. Imagine the effect of that belief on a marriage–that is a sin to allow your wife to influence you! And, indeed, Eggerichs is arguing in his chapter that women need to listen to their husband’s intuition rather than to their own (aka, ignore the Holy Spirit in their lives), directly contravening 1 Timothy 2:5, which says: “For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.”
Women are not supposed to elevate their husband’s voices over the Holy Spirit in their lives but Eggerichs is saying that Eve’s greatest sin was trying to lead Adam, and she must now listen to him and obey him and let him have authority, no matter what she may think.
I won’t argue all of this here; I merely want to show why how we depict Genesis 3 matters. For more on this, please see:
- My submission series
- Marg Mowczko’s great work on what Eve being deceived meant, and on the significance of Eve not being alone
- Bruce Fleming on Genesis 3
Can we please start telling the Bible story right, for all of our sakes?
This would make a great research project, thesis, or academic paper!
If you’re in school and you’re looking for something to base a project on, or if you’re in academia and wanting to publish a paper, this might make a great subject!
And if you’d like to publish a paper, I’m sure Joanna would love to help and be a co-author.
Let’s talk about this more and then maybe publishers will start reflecting the actual Bible story!
Did you know that Adam was there the whole time? What does your baby/children’s Bible say? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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