Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Was Eve made from Adam's penis-bone?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Adam and Eve Story: Eve Came From Where? Somehow I missed this one when it came out last September. It seems that Professor Ziony Zevit published an article then in Biblical Archaeology Review asking “Was Eve Made from Adam’s Rib—or His Baculum?” (i.e., his penis-bone - which human males do not have). At the moment I don't have access to the BAR article, which is behind a subscription wall, but the BHD article summarizes it. The case also seems to have been argued in his 2013 book, What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden? (Yale University Press). For some reason the BAR article and the theory seem suddenly to be getting a lot of attention in the media. The Daily Mail reports in detail and notes the predictable outrage the notion is receiving from some BAR readers. And in Haaretz, Elon Gilad expresses considerable skepticism. (As noted here, he has already done some research on the general subject.)

I haven't seen the full argument, so I won't offer a view. I will say, first, that it seems to depend on the assumption that a removal of Adam's rib would have been taken as a etiological change such that all men subsequently would have been missing a rib. That's a reasonable reading, but it is open to debate. The story could have assumed that a rib was removed from Adam without it having any effect on his descendants, in which case his odd number of ribs would not have been an exegetical problem. Second, as Gilad observes at the end of his article, it is not clear how closely ancient Israelites attended to details of skeletal anatomy. Details of human anatomy only began to be studied systematically by the Alexandrian anatomists. But I concede that counting up how many ribs people have seems like an obvious thing to do.