Stephen Greenblatt’s new book blames everything on Adam and Eve, but not in a religious wayThe Baffler
By Jessa Crispin
'For Greenblatt, a secularist who believes in progress, Adam and Eve’s is a story whose best version is secular, with all religious meaning stripped away from it. It is not fundamentally a story that helps us deal with the mystery of our origins, Greenblatt tells us; it’s a way to “think about innocence, temptation, and moral choice, about cleaving to a beloved partner, about work and sex and death.” But in the beginning, according to Greenblatt, the religious literally believed the world began with a dude named Adam and a chick named Eve. It was only through the progress of science and reason that allowed people to understand the story first as allegory and now as literature.
Greenblatt, who cannot seriously be considered to be much of a thinker, is the worst kind of historian.
It was Claude Levi Strauss who pointed out there is no direct correlation between the myths of a culture and how that culture behaves. A polytheistic culture with many stories of important feminine deities is not necessarily more likely to be more egalitarian than a monotheistic patriarchal one. A culture will hear in a story what it wants to hear, which is why the same story of Adam and Eve has been used by different sects as a justification both for sacred sexual freedom within a marriage, and for chaste marriages devoid of all sexual contact even for procreation.'