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Eve Is King (or David Is Eve)

Posted in Literature, Music, and Theology

1. “Brueggemann” Is a Good Name

While reading his article, “David and His Theologian” (The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 30

[1968], 156–81), I realized Walter Brueggemann had missed something.

There’s a debate about when the book of Genesis was written. Most Bible scholars now believe it was written way, way later than us normals think. Brueggemann is one of “those scholars,” and argues that Genesis 2–11 was written to parallel the story of David in Samuel and Kings.

In other words, Brueggemann thinks someone wrote David’s life story, and then someone (else) used the structure of that story as the basis for most of the “pre-history” part of Genesis. (Kind of like all movie writers use the “three-act structure” nowadays.)

Now, I don’t happen to buy the current story that you’ll hear in college about the timing of the writing of the Old Testament books, but that doesn’t really matter here. What matters is that either Genesis 2 & Co. were written first (and then 1 and 2 Sam), or 1 and 2 Sam were written first (and then Genesis 2 & Co.).

And that means that whoever wrote one probably had the other available as an example she or he could have used while writing.

2. Adam Learns a Lesson about Eve

In Genesis 2, God recognizes that Adam has a problem. Perhaps Adam doesn’t realize it, however, so God has to teach Adam that he needs a partner. To help him see both his need for a partner, and with whom it would be good to partner, God presents Adam with a series of animals, asking him to name each.

(People always say at this point: “And for the Hebrews, naming a thing was a way of identifying or bringing out its essence,” or something to that effect. I don’t know where they get their information from, but it works with my argument here. So, I’m going to remind you that this is a thing you always hear in hopes that it will encourage you to believe me.)

Adam sees the animals (and probably sees that they tend to come in pairs), names each (seeing what it is at heart — and thereby seeing that what it is at heart is not what he is at heart), and realizes both that he needs a partner too and that no animal could be a partner to him.

Then God puts him to sleep, creates Eve from one of his ribs, and wakes him up. Upon seeing Eve, Adam sees immediately that she is what he has been looking for. The contrast with the animals makes it obvious. She is the same at heart as he is at heart. Thus, Adam has learned the lesson God was trying to teach him, and names Eve “Woman,” because he now sees who she is.

Notice the structure of the story: (1) God sees something, (2) wants to teach Adam to see the same thing, (3) presents Adam with a series of options that are all wrong, in order to help him see the correct choice by contrast, (4) after reaching the end of the “wrongs” list, there is a timeout while the “right” person is produced, (5) Adam learns his lesson, now sees in the same way God sees, and can appropriately name someone as a consequence.

3. What Brueggemann Missed about Samuel and David

In 1 Samuel 16, God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as Israel’s next king. God doesn’t tell Samuel who, however. Samuel will have to find out.

Jesse makes his sons “pass before Samuel” one-by-one. God tells Samuel that each one was the wrong choice. God even warns Samuel that humans see people differently from God. God sees “the heart”–who people really are (remember the naming thing, above?)–while humans only see how people look.

Having reached the end of the procession of sons, there is a pause while the final son is produced (in the sense of being “fetched” and “brought forward,” rather than created), and God identifies him as the true future king. Having seen at last who God had chosen (and learned a lesson about seeing what God sees), Samuel can then anoint David–effectively naming him “king.”

In 1 Sam 16, in other words, Samuel’s role parallel’s Adam’s, and David’s role parallels Eve’s. The Genesis 2/1 Samuel 16 parallel places Eve in parallel with the most important king in Israelite history, the father of the Messiah. The parallel effectively presents Eve as the king of Earth.

4. Nicki Minaj and Beyonce Were Right

Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life” was not the first text to refer to a woman as king, therefore, and Beyonce’s claims about who runs the world are Biblical.

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Stallard
    Jeff Stallard

    This smells faintly of politics. I hope I’m wrong, because I’ve enjoyed reading you over the years.

    It seems like an awfully large leap to conclude that, because the architecture is the same, the content is the same, or even complimentary. After all, the Sesame Street “Alligator King” cartoon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg71djeZfos) also uses the same architecture.

    June 15, 2015
    |Reply
  2. Hey Jeff, thanks for reading! I’ve come to loathe politics, so I hope that isn’t what this post is about.

    You make an excellent point about the difference between form and content. I like it. However, it’s not just the structure that’s the same. The structure of the two stories is the same in part because they share content. The theme of learning to see how God sees is central to both, for example.

    Furthermore, Jesus thought he could genuinely inform people of what the Kingdom of Heaven was like (a matter of content) by using parallels/parables (a matter of form). (See also Matthew’s use of OT “prophecies” about the life of Jesus, or the book of Hebrews’ portrayal of OT sacrifices and Melchisedec as an image/metaphor/foreshadowing of Jesus.)

    That’s what I’m claiming is happening here, between Genesis 2 and 1 Samuel (though I think Samuel is the “parable” for Genesis 2, while Brueggemann thinks it’s the other way around). After all, “scripture interprets itself” (that is, we are supposed to read scripture though the lens of scripture).

    Also, I’ve laid out the structure of the two stories above (end of section 2), and “The Alligator King” doesn’t fit (in addition to not being scripture, and thus having no role to play in the “scripture interprets scripture” principle). I *do* feel more cultured after watching the video, though, since I had never seen it and am generally unfamiliar with that era of Sesame Street. Thanks for helping me make up for what I missed! 🙂

    June 15, 2015
    |Reply

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