Guest Post: Depictions of Eve

Adam and Eve by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel

Adam and Eve from the 2011 LDS Gospel Principles Manual

by Barbara

Over the last few years I’ve been studying and searching out Heavenly Mother.  In doing so, I’ve been very moved to learn about Eve since she clearly is modeled after our Mother. I greatly appreciate the insights of Beverly Campbell in her book entitled Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, yet i have a handful of disagreements with her points on Heavenly Mother. One major point being that I believe it is perfectly acceptable to pray to Heavenly Mother.  Most other points being related to the omission of Her in the story of Eden. I find it absurd to think that our Mother wasn’t in the garden as well as our Father. Personally, I believe that Heavenly Mother MUST have been there before and after the fall to teach Eve and help her understand her physical body.

Adam and Eve, by Masolino, fresco in 1425

In my recent travels I have felt very inspired by renaissance art depicting Adam and Eve. I have felt the Spirit stronger in quiet museums than in famous basilicas. I’ve gathered the following images of depictions of Adam and Eve being portrayed as equal in strength and stature, in contrast to the image of them printed in the 2011 Gospel Principles manual. I think this is so important, especially for our young women, to view Eve more accurately. If we view Eve as smaller and more frail than Adam, how does this reflect on how we view our gender as a whole?
(Barbara is an LDS woman who is single in her 30s, and she detests the made up term “midsingle.”  She is a hair color and texture specialist in the Chicago area who loves to study history and psychology.)

Adam and Eve by Jan Gosseart

Adam and Eve by Michelangelo

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13 Responses

  1. Hydrangea says:

    I’ve always thought that the L.D.S. temple portrayal of Eve makes The Fall seem like a ‘blonde moment.’ In the temple video she also is not participating in any of the ordinances and seems totally clingy and clueless. Too often in Christianity she’s seen as either the one who was duped and the silent side-kick. In my mind Eve, is a powerful, deliberate, force, the way I would like all women to be viewed.

    • Robert Rey Black says:

      In reality, she receives every ordinance, power, and priesthood keys that a man does. She even wears the same Priesthood garment. In addition, she does not need to qualify for the endowment by first being ordained an elder. She has her own inherent priesthood.

  2. Holly says:

    I do hope you’ll add the depiction of Eve and Mother in Heaven that G did for the March 2012 cover of Sunstone. I can’t upload a picture of it here, but I imagine G could. Of all the things you could call either Eve or Mother God in that painting, “frail” is not one of them.

  3. Diane says:

    I love the artwork you posted, though the one that was depicted in the Gospel Doctrine manual Adam kind of looks like he’s holding Eve back. I’ve never viewed Eve as smaller or more frail than Adam, particularly because she knew what her purpose was for being there. In my mind, that takes a lot of strength to be willing to be hated by generations after to take the blame for the “fall” of your husband.

  4. Miri says:

    That’s such an interesting question. When I first read this post, the picture from the Gospel Principles manual wouldn’t load, so I assumed it was the Farrah Fawcett one (I haven’t seen a church manual in a few years, so I didn’t know there was a new picture). I googled it, though, and found the new one pretty surprising. Eve is much smaller in comparison to Adam than she was in the earlier one, which I find interesting. And the colors and overall mood of the picture are so very different—so gloomy and almost distraught. That doesn’t seem to fit very well with what I was always taught about the fall being a necessary part of the plan of salvation.

    I had never realized that there were such differences, that there were depictions of Eve as being the same size as Adam. It does make me feel like the choice to depict her as physically smaller reflects and reinforces the idea of Eve—and women, and Heavenly Mother—being secondary. Supplementary. Add-ons. You have Adam, mankind, the human race. And then you have Eve, the mini version. Like Adam’s the heading, and Eve is the first bullet point. Human, and Human 2.0.

    • Robert Rey Black says:

      Eve is not a mini version. In reality, she is smaller than the man. But, the word “Eve” in Hebrew means “Life”. What does “Adam” mean? Man or Mankind. Which is the greater office. Think about it. Don’t deprecate Eve by calling her a mini version. Also, don’t gorgonize her by making her bigger or stronger. She is what she is.

      • Spunky says:

        Miri wasn’t calling Eve a “mini version,” she was reflecting on the fact that most depictions of Eve are significantly smaller than the partnered depictions of Adam.

        What’s more, we don’t know “in reality” that Eve was physically smaller than Adam. I know a number of couples where the female is physically larger, taller and likely stronger than the male, and find it ludicrous that you would assume a physically larger woman somehow gorgonizes a woman or her relationship.

  5. How much of this is due to the difference in preferred female body types between now and then? Michaelangelos models would be considred too big to be “plus sized” models in the 19th-21st centuries.

    • Barbara says:

      This is exactly my point. Shouldn’t we be more focused on truth and accuracy over cultural norms and preferences? I believe that Adam and Eve were equals in every way. The Renaissance period simply found the idea of equal stature to not be objectionable. If you follow history, women’s bodies have been “supposed” to be all sorts of things… Larger to show family wealth and status when food is scarce. Thin and waif like when food is plentiful.

      • Robert Rey Black says:

        Equals? Who ever heard of the Fall of Eve? Why does the man need to be cleansed of the Blood and Sins of the World and the woman doesn’t?

      • Barbara says:

        You’re single handedly proving why I wrote this post.

  6. Emily U says:

    I agree, it seems like a silly modern invention that bodies need to be small and relatively weak to be feminine. In the Gosseart painting Eve is clearly feminine – she has narrower shoulders, breasts, and maybe fuller hips – even though she’s as tall and strong-looking as Adam.

    The Gospel Principles artwork really supports the man-as-protector idea. But that idea is not in the creation story as found in the scriptures (at least not explicitly). God cast them both out of the Garden and gave Eve the multiple sorrows of child bearing and Adam the ground to toil over, but I think humans have gone beyond that and put the protecting role solely in the hands of men. How is nurturing children not also protecting them? How is providing for them not also nurturing?

  7. gordie says:

    Barbara–

    You may only know me parenthetically, as I am the childhood friend of your mother. Journey welll, dear friend, for you are of greater substance than the stars. You are of infinite worth–not confined to the precepts of that which we were once taught. As your mom and your dad held you in their arms for the first time, it is inconceivable that they could have ever been “an enemy to God” as we were taught within what we called holy writ…as they held you and looked within your eyes for that first time…for at least that moment–they knew that they could NEVER be an enemy to God. Please, dear sister…never forget…you are a natural woman–and as such–how could you EVER be an enemy to God? Your mom isn’t–nor is your dad. They are simply: hunan beings–homo sapiens–“beings of vast powers of mind.” [the literal tanslation of the Latin] . So are you. A decent human being–one who is equally aligned with Eve in the highest sense.

    My hugs to you–and to your mom as well. [P.S. I still have the picture of you and yer mama at the hockey game.

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