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Genesis Man Before Earth

I just had a very meaningful conversation with one that has been an active participant at Unity Spiritual Center for many years. Our conversation, while it was about other things drifted into the nature of Adam and Eve. Adam was a 'son of God', a spiritual being like all of us, not simply a part of a physical creation. To confirm that detail we read Genesis 5: 1-2 which says:

"In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created."

We notice that Adam is both male and female, which means that Adam was not the first man - the start of humanity. Adam was both male and female. We could suggest that the word "Adam" is a general term, not a name, like "man" and refers to the whole human race – both men and women. It is obviously not referring to the creation of one single specific male human being. It is dealing with the spiritual creation of humankind, not the evolution of his physical body. Let us look again at that text: "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam... "

Yes, this means simply that Adam is both male and female. But this is not the end of the story. Most of chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis are about this spiritual being, called Adam. That raises some questions:

  • If Adam is both male and female, what is "Eve"?

  • Was Adam and Eve in paradise, a spiritual realm, not somewhere on Earth?

  • Why was Eve said to have been made from one of Adam's ribs?

To answer these questions, we find that Adam and Eve represent the spiritual nature of every individual, rather than a physical man and woman.This story is an allegory. An allegory contains a message - a whole string of truths, one truth leading to another, and this is what we find here. We also find these allegories in other parts of Genesis.

Hebrew dictionaries list many different meanings for the word 'Adam'. These include: "ground", "red", "ruddy", "man", "parson", "man of low degree", and "generic man".

In the Jerusalem Bible[1] 'mankind' is the interpretation and refers to both male and female of the human species, but the meaning of the word 'Adam' goes far deeper than anything pertaining to a ‘physical man' or ‘mankind.' This allegory in Genesis is not about the physical world. 'The garden eastward in Eden' is usually identified with paradise, which is described as a spiritual realm in II Corinthians.[2]

Genesis, chapters 2 and 3, is a narrative describing Adam or Man in the spiritual state before entering earth-life. The concept of Adam and Eve as the first man and woman in an earthly paradise is a more recent invention. It began to find its way into Jewish thought about the time of Alexander the Great, along with other Hellenistic influences. Many of the early Greek converts to Christianity knew the idea. There are references to it in some of their religious writings and these converts brought the interpretation with them as they converted to Christianity.

In original Christianity, to Jesus and his Apostles, who abhorred the Hellenization of Jewish thought, this was a foreign idea, quite incompatible with their teachings. Origen, a Christian scholar of the early third century wrote:

"Who would be so childish as to think that God was like a human gardener and planted a paradise in Eden facing the east, and in it made a real visible tree, so that one could acquire life by eating its fruit with real teeth or, again, could participate in good and evil by eating what he took from the other tree? And if the text says that God walked in the garden in the evening, or Adam hid himself under the tree, I cannot think that anyone would dispute that these things are said in the figurative sense, to reveal certain mysteries by means of an apparent historical tale and not by something that actually took place... [3]"

The story of creation ends with a summation in Genesis 2:4: "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth..." The word translated 'generations' is 'toledath' in Hebrew and means the "origins of"' so that a better interpretation is "This is the book of the origins of the heavens and the earth..."

Before the Bible was divided into chapters and verses, the last words of Genesis 2:4 begin a new allegory. We can see that it contains a change in the name of God. No longer is God 'God' but 'the Lord God' or Yahweh Elohim (sometimes rendered The Ever-living Godhead) This indicates a change of narrative. This next section of the book of Genesis is not about the physical creation but about the spiritual creation of humankind. This is confirmed when we read verses 4b and 5 together; "…

"in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew . . . "

The narrative lets us know that we are considering things that are not of the physical plane. We are told that God created 'every plant of the field before it was a part of the physical earth.’ God created 'every plant’ before it first came into existence in the physical world - even before it was a mere seed. This is known in our Unity teachings as creation out of substance: God thought or God essence

Each plant has its spiritual counterpart or blueprint that is brought into existence before it enters the physical plane. As this is the case with plants, then how much more so it applies to animals and human beings? Each physical lifeform exists in the spiritual realms before it comes into being on the physical earth. The second part of the verse emphasizes this: "for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."[4]

The writer is emphasizing that this is not about the physical world as we know it. It is about that stage in the physical creation of the world which scientists tell us, took place before the formation of the oceans. It was when the surface of the world was still so hot than any water, which might fall, would immediately boiled away again. The next verse is often thought to refer to the same period: "There went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground…."[5]

The context is quite clear: this is a spiritual creation. The spirit world interpenetrates everything physical. In the spirit world, plants do not grow through the instrumentality of rain, but through the spiritual life-force, which surrounds and is the substance of them. The same spiritual life-force is in humanity. In the next verse[6] we come to the reference to both the physical and spiritual creation of humankind:

"And the Lord God formed Man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul."

We could note that the phrase 'living soul' not only applied to mankind, but to all other mammals[7] and even to the reptiles.[8] The importance of this is that it supports a belief in spiritual evolution for it means that the animal kingdom contains "living souls". Those souls too, are encased in flesh, just like the human souls within human bodies.

Again, in this passage, we are exploring the spiritual creation rather than the physical one. This is stressed again in the next verse: "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden;"[9]

In ancient rituals East is the symbolic gate of birth. It is from this paradise that the Adam-Eve entity eventually emerges into physical life, through that gate of birth, clothed, as the Bible says, in a "coat of skins".[10] Then there are the words: "He put there the Man He had formed."[11]

This is about the spiritual realms in a paradise where the human soul does not have a physical body. It does have a "form". That means that though the soul contains within it a spark of God, it has yet much to learn, for it has yet to find the answers concerning the purpose of life; a purpose that it has yet to discover on an earthly journey.

More next time…

Rev Jim

[1] Genesis 5:1,2

[2] II Corinthians 12:2-4

[3] First Principles 4:16 – Origin of Alexandria

[4] Genesis 2:5b

[5] Verse 6

[6] Verse 7

[7] Genesis 1:24

[8] Genesis 1:20

[9] Verse 2:8a

[10] Genesis 3:21

[11] Verse 2:8b

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