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Title : The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781847922724
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve Reviews

  • Darwin8u
    2019-05-06 20:39

    "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."- GenesisGreenblatt traces the story/myth of Adam and Eve from its origins (a Jewish reaction to Babylonian rule and myths) down to a post-Darwin world. He focuses a lot of time on the literature (Milton), philosophy (Lucretius), doctrine (Augustine), and art (Dürer) while maintaining a rough chronology of time ( from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts*.).It was fascinating and moved quickly. I don't think it was as good as The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, but still worth the time and energy; comparable to Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. The big negative for me was its unevenness. Some chapters made me want to eat the fruit myself. Others made me pray for banishment. OK, that is probably a tad dramatic. I thoroughly enjoyed the sections on Milton, Durer, Augustine, and the first chapters that looked at Babylon and Gilgamesh: A New English Version in relationship to the Jewish people and the story of Adam and Eve. I also appreciated the discussion that the story of Adam and Eve invariably brings up concerning sex, guilt, marriage, gender, power, faith, science, and our need to tell each other stories and understand where we came from and where we will eventually end up. * Moroni 10: 3

  • Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
    2019-05-13 22:28

    A sweeping review of biblical interpretation and the scientific take on creation myths. The author devoted considerable time, appropriately, to stuff (like Darwin and literary biblical criticism) that makes the literal read of Genesis troubling to say the least. However, I take issue with the scope (really, the lack of scope) Greenblatt presented with regard to the Genesis story’s theological interpretation. True, Augustine and Milton and innumerable antique and Middle Ages scholars and poets interpreted the story in ways that had, and continue to have, lasting effect— including effects that are overtly hostile to women and people of color. But the author here makes no mention AT ALL of modern theological interpretations. What of Bonhoeffer’s Creation and Fall? What of the theologians of race, James Cone, Willie Jennings, and J Kameron Carter, and the liberation theologians? What of modern feminist theologians who are doing fabulous theology of Eve? It seems an unfair characterization to write only of antiquity’s and medieval times’ opinions, leaving readers with the distinct impression that theology has not evolved. PUN INTENDED. Just like science and ethics, which have throughout history supported great injustices and human rights offenses, so too has theology evolved. I’m frankly offended that this evolution was overlooked. 4/5 stars, except for that oversight, which knocks it down to 3/5 for me.

  • Michael
    2019-04-23 21:47

    I received this book through a Good Reads "First Reads" Give-away. Fascinating book that is a "life-history" (Dr. Greenblatt's words) of the story of the biblical Adam and Eve. I am not quite sure how to best describe this book - basically, the author examines how this fantastical story the of the first man and woman's creation and banishment from the Garden of Eden has influenced our thinking about humankind's origins (who we are and where we came from) over the course of time. But it is also a reflection on the power of story telling - how a few verses in an ancient book can so powerfully resonate with and speak to (in very different ways) so many people on what it means to be human, why we love, and why we suffer. Greenblatt's writing is engaging and approachable and his breadth of knowledge is remarkable (history, literature, science, theology, etc., I could go on and on). I would definitely recommend this book to others.

  • Jan Rice
    2019-05-16 19:31

    I read an excerpt in The New Yorker that made me want to rush out and buy this book: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... . But its publication date was still in the future.I'd read part of his book about Shakespeare a long time ago and quit because his hypothesizing that Shakespeare was a homosexual annoyed me. I wouldn't mind if Shakespeare was, but speculating on the basis of how he closed his letters seemed trite to me--or maybe that was Lincoln. But now some Goodreads friends were raving about The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, plus I soon read an even more impressive essay by Greenblatt on another subject. I was taken by storm and willing to consider I'd misjudged him over Will in the World. The MP3 audio version was available for cheap so I immediately snatched it up sight unseen word unheard, even before the September 2017 release date. The audio did help me get to the book fast but the reader turns out to be unfortunate. I have a hypothesis that any audiobook with even a hint of religion will get a narrator with a preacherly cadence. This book is read in a sometimes sanctimonious but chiefly supercilious manner, as though the reader is curling his lip at particular passages as he goes along.Sadly, turning to the book in hopes of dissipating the offending tone failed to eliminate the emerging difficulties. Even the portion The New Yorker had excerpted was adisappointment, in part because, it turns out, it wasn't an excerpt but the author's adaptation. I've now read the adaptation three times, and it's superior--more concise, and precise. The chapters in the book are padded in comparison, and some of the extraneous material may be tendentious or an attempt to hint at things without coming right out and saying them.The New Yorker piece is called "The Invention of Sex -- St. Augustine's Carnal Knowledge." I was thinking the book would be about sexual guilt in Western civilization, but it was not. Then I was thinking he was using the lens of the Adam and Eve story as an angle to examine Western civilization. Sort of. But the title itself is a better description of what the book is about.The book is about too many things, amid which the point gets lost.In the early chapters he questions the Genesis story, asking why it makes people feel guilty and responsible, which was not necessarily the case in earlier civilizations. I was struck by his attitude that religions turning bad situations upside down and maybe even finding salvation in them is bizarre and practically unbelievable, when that would seem to be the point. Pharoah's deported you? No! You've been redeemed. Your leader is crucified? No--you've been saved. Life is not easy, especially for a conquered or subordinate group, and thus the redemptive stories. So, is Greenblatt clueless about religion? Or looking for understanding but failing to recognize it when he gets there?He says the story is polemical toward the Babylonians and their critically-different origin story. That's a reasonable hypothesis, as scripture is written by those hoping to be the winners--and that's everybody--with frequently ugly portrayals of group(s) they've left behind or are hoping to. But he doesn't convince me here. The Genesis foundational story's being different doesn't mean it's polemical, although that would make sense. He just didn't support his contention convincingly--which is a pattern of sorts.Sometimes it's a matter of being one dimensional, as when he reduces Christianity's retention of the Hebrew Bible to one reason alone: "No Adam, no Jesus"....Next comes what I think is the best part (Augustine), of neurotic moms and original sin...Then misogyny. Does he seek to blame Christianity in particular? Judaism and Islam soon enough became patriarchal in their own right. Something in the water....Milton! I had Paradise Lost in English Lit in college, with underlined text to prove it, but may as well not have. ...Something from Greenblatt here on how making Adam and Eve so real in poetry and in art eventually brought the story down...Here's Marilynne Robinson's review of The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve (probably assigned to her since she has a book of her own on Adam). https://nyti.ms/2yMZFXj She takes him to task particularly on Milton, since, she says, he's ignorant of the various reforming movements in Christianity impacting Milton's thought at the time. From her book review, I learned a useful new word, merism, a characteristic of Hebrew (which Milton knew) in which two contrasting terms convey an entirety and not a polarity. We have merisms in English, too, for example, if I say I looked "high and low" for my missing keys, I mean I looked everywhere for them.So, she says, Stephen Greenblatt's book is cursory...out of ignorance. For her critique she may pick the low-hanging fruit. She doesn't take on the Adam-Jesus contrast. She doesn't take on Augustine and original sin. She does flare up at his seeming lack of appreciation of Genesis as compared to the Babylonian narratives."Cursory" isn't a bad word for The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, but "ignorant" doesn't seem exactly right, even if it does fit re Milton's times. It's more of a failure of vision: of where he wanted to go with his critique and what he wanted people to know. He could have stuck with the great essay in The New Yorker. He bit off more than he could chew. He tried to tack on too much. Was he being anti-Christian? Anti-Western civilization? Was he struggling to figure something out for himself but didn't quite get there? Was he submerged in some dominant stream of intellectual thought and unable to get his head out-from-under enough for an unobstructed view? Or feeling pressured to publish a follow-up to his award-winning The Swerve?The New Yorker online published one more piece of this book; in this case it is an excerpt, the final chapter: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-... . It's the section Robinson calls "disheartening." I'm not sure about that. He does make a point that when a male chimpanzee beats the female, she may scream, but she doesn't think she's been immorally treated: she has not eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She hasn't "fallen." She's part of nature, submerged, and can't get above it. But aren't we ourselves part of a living merism, a continuity? Two hundred years ago--or 500--did women everywhere think they were being treated immorally if they were beaten or raped? (Did the concept of sexual harassment even exist yet?) Didn't many women (and their society) think it was just the nature of things? (Fifty years ago--or thirty--for some of it!)Without a certain level of social order and a certain degree of technological development, the salience of our concept of gender equality could collapse. We could revert. I'm not looking forward to it....One more thing. In his final section, Greenblatt says something that may distinguish him from Steven Pinker or from multitudes of secular Jews, public or private:“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” It is this transgression—a deliberate action, not an impersonal, mechanistic process of random genetic mutation and natural selection—that determined the shape of our lives. The Adam and Eve story insists that our fate, at least at the beginning of time, was our own responsibility. Millions of people in the world, including many who grasp the underlying assumptions of modern science, continue to cling to the peculiar satisfaction that the ancient story provides. I do. (My italics)He does not elaborate.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-08 21:37

    I found great enjoyment in reading The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt. He examines the stories humans have created of our first parents, from prehistory's myths to the challenge of scientific evidence shaking a literal reading of the Bible. Adam and Eve is one of the great stories in Western literature, a tale that has morphed from folklore to Christian canon to inspiration for artistic and literary masterworks and finally become relegated again to myth--a story with meaning--it's historic veracity disproved by science.In the beginning we humans created stories to explain the world and our place in it. Stories from societies immemorial have come down to us via clay tablets, the Enuma Elish and the epic Gilgamesh. These known four thousand year-old tales are but 'later' contributions in human history.In the Western world, the biblical story of Adam and Eve had its roots in the earlier myths but soon displaced them with the spread of Christianity. Early theologian St. Augustine insisted on a literal reading of the story. Renaissance art focused on Biblical stories, bringing Adam and Eve come to life as real people. John Milton, a radical in many ways, wrote his masterpiece Paradise Lost, which consolidated Christian's vision of the 'real' Adam and Eve.Greenblatt contends that this very elevation of the story of Adam and Eve from a story with meaning to 'historic truth' was in fact it's downfall. There are too many questions that arise. I recall, back in the early 1980s, when a man asked, "Where did Cain get a wife? " He told me he figured that Cain took an ape as wife and that is where black people come from. This is the awful kind problem that literalism leads to!Darwin's observations during his time on the HMS Beagle led to his life's work proving and testing the theory of evolution. Theologians scrambled to reconcile science and the literal reading of the Bible.I was taught (auditing a seminary class) that a myth is a story with meaning, humanity's endeavor to put into words the unknowable. It is not diminished because it is not literally true. Evolution is a theory, the best understanding that scientific evidence and observation and testing can offer us at this time. Oddly, DNA evidence offers us an "Eve"-- a common first human ancestor. I enjoyed how Greenblatt brought everything together into a rich narrative.I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Linda Robinson
    2019-04-26 19:53

    Did we need one more book that describes how humans can justify misogyny, patriarchy and the general cussedness of religiously motivated literacy since somebody picked up a stylus and began writing stories? Adam and Eve. "You hear it at five or six years old and you never forget it." Not sure that's accurate. A talking snake was immediately out of my head. Greenblatt makes a good case for how the story of Christ picks up on the much older story of the first humans, including a tree. Mary redeems the maligned Eve. The first half of the book is intellectually interesting. Then we get to Augustine, Jerome, Peter Damain, and all those beatified writers who made the place of woman in the world - real, imagined or otherwise - an ongoing way-behind second. (Thank goodness, there's a little Wife of Bath Chaucer cheekiness in the mix here.) It's difficult to miss the relationship Augustine had with his mother and his sexuality, not that these occupied the same place in his psyche - except that, did these? And we finish with Milton, who in my mind resides in the same patriarchical, pious special realm of the afterlife that John Donne occupies, bent on piety while enslaving their wives in endless childbirth until it kills them. Sexuality is the problem, chastity is the solution, unless, of course, you happen to marry four times as Milton did. Educate boys with languages by the rod, except for your daughters because one language is enough for women. I suppose we can be grateful the girls missed the educational beatings at least. Until page 267 we spend our time examining literature before the 17th century, Then we skip to Darwin in the 19th century. Paradise was not only lost, maybe it never existed. The epilogue, notes and acknowledgements begin on page 285: less than 20 pages of where we are now. What's the take on Adam and Eve in the modern world? Does it matter as much as it did to those who lost their lives accused of heresy? Do we have a good understanding of how this origin story impacts the way supposedly pious legislators continuously regulate the bodies of women? While I understand that the history of this particular origin story is important, I also understand that it is important in the context of devout religion. Which is assuredly not the same animal as humanity. Not sure how important it is to the wider world and a better understanding of the human condition. It is intriguing to me as well that there are only a couple of women mentioned; that the reviewers on the book jacket are all men, that no woman except one disgruntled nun is named. (Actually, two, if we include Augustine's mom.) And a bright spot Sister Tarabotti is! Author of Paternal Tyranny, published in 1654, 2 years after she'd fled this mortal coil, Arcangela Tarabotti wrote that Eve was the superior human: Adam was born outside of Eden, of mere clay, while Eve was formed in Paradise itself: a masterpiece. "'Truly,' God tells Eve, 'the devil stands for the male, who from now on will cast on to you the blame for his failings and will have no other purpose than deceiving you, betraying you, and removing all your rights of dominion granted by my omnipotence.'" Arcangela was already dead when the book was published, which exempted her from being put to death surely. Everything in this book is undoubtedly true - Greenblatt's scholarship is exemplary and his appendices thorough - I would have preferred a less relentless reminder of how this one and a half page story impacts the lives of all of us, whether we believe the story or not.

  • Jenny
    2019-05-04 22:52

    For a while now, I've been wondering how I am going to write this review. It's difficult for me to put into words how I feel about this book. The best way to write about it will probably be to split my thoughts into two veins.One will be about the actual writing, the content, the structure, all the big components that make this a book. In that respect, the book deserves four stars. Greenblatt is a great writer--that much is obvious and well-known. He knows how to turn a phrase, and when he studies a subject, he studies it completely. Oh, yes, there are the hyperboles, as there are in The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (and there are even a couple references to Poggio and Lucretius). There is some repetition (you don't have to use the same noun over and over--that's what pronouns are for!). Overall, the writing flows and is a pleasure to read aloud (although I've never in my life said "sexual," "intercourse," "erection," "penis," and other such words so many times in a sitting essentially to my dad, to whom I read this book aloud; I tried to power through it--I'm thirty-one, for goodness' sake--but, at one point, I did stop and say, "Okay, this is really weird"). The book is structured loosely, but I noticed the move forward through time. Greenblatt establishes the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis 1-3, he talks about various rabbinical, Islamic, and Christian interpretations (heavier on the first and third, of course--everyone leaves the Muslims out of stories the three religions share), and he sets the stage for the rise of belief in the story. Then, he discusses Origen, Augustine, Milton, and other major players in the rise of the story. Essentially, belief switched back and forth between an allegorical interpretation and a literal one until people like Milton brought Adam and Eve so much to life that the other elements of the creation story seemed too impossible to believe in. Then, Greenblatt brings Darwin to the party, establishing the background for the fall of Adam and Eve. The structure makes sense. He includes an Epilogue, wherein he recounts his visit to a chimpanzee colony in Uganda, a colony he associates with paradise because the chimps have no shame and live in a manner suggestive of the first humans--an easy, carefree life with no worries, no regrets, and no concept of good and evil (or so we all think...). The Appendices are very interesting. They include various interpretations of the Adam and Eve story and origin stories from around the world. Greenblatt essentially ends the book with the idea that Adam and Eve can no longer be accepted as our ancestors, but their story makes great literature because it sticks with us, and Greenblatt sees no reason why the story shouldn't still resonate with us and even help us to understand the human condition.Okay, moving on to my second vein of thought, which connects to the end of the first point. I'm a Christian, and I've never hidden that in my reviews. I went into reading this book, knowing that Greenblatt was taking a humanistic, secular viewpoint. I appreciate other perspectives and like taking what I learn from other people to add to my understanding of God and the Bible. I'm not going to critique Greenblatt for any lack of religious perspective on the Adam and Eve story (although he does begin his book with an episode from temple that essentially shook his faith in God), even on the way he concludes his journey through their rise and fall. That would be stupid of me. What I do want to critique is a misapplication of religious dogma, doctrine, and interpretation to a discussion of the Biblical narrative. There are aspects of the story that Greenblatt discusses (and eventually shoots down) that aren't even in the Genesis story. Not just Greenblatt, but the people whose perspectives he discusses, analyzes, and supports, include components of the story that aren't in the Bible. Therefore, the whole section on Darwin and how his findings negate the Biblical origin story was extremely frustrating to read. Those of you who have read the Genesis story know that it's sparse. If the whole Christian Bible is 1,000 pages, the Adam and Eve story is maybe a page or two ? It's so brief that any details we know as part of that story are likely to be interpretations and inventions that society and culture have integrated into retellings rather than from the original itself. I expect more from Greenblatt as a scholar. When I'm analyzing texts, I have to stick to what's there. I can't write a paper about The Sun Also Rises and include references to other scholars' work as if their opinions are actually part of the original novel. That makes no sense. I have to recognize that those opinions are other people's opinions about the text. I know Christians and non-Christians alike will argue this, but there's nothing in the few chapters discussing Adam and Eve that contradicts evolution. The Bible doesn't even say that Adam and Eve were the first humans! Basically, my point is that if you're going to contradict something and flat out say it's not truth and state your opinion of a sacred text as if it's fact (while simultaneously and paradoxically stating that Darwinism isn't proven beyond a shadow of a doubt), then you should probably stick to facts about the text and use your secondary sources as that--secondary sources. For this completely frustrating lack of discretion when using other people's opinions as somehow the text itself, Greenblatt gets two stars.How do I rate the book as a whole, then? Well, I wish he spent less time on Augustine and Milton and more time on the Classical period. I wish he spent more time on Darwin and the after effects of his theories. I wish he actually discussed how the idea of Adam and Eve led to excuses for slavery, which he mentions but never proves (it's so fascinating--I want more!). But I also enjoyed the discussion, the information, the conversation with my dad while we read. I like the book, and the cover (the jacket and the actual front and back of the book) is gorgeous. I recommend this book to people who want an approach towards Adam and Eve that is part exploratory, part explanatory, and part scholarly. It's a fascinating read, but it relies heavily on analysis of literature (that's Greenblatt's thing, of course), and it also has a limited scope (Westerners, as usual). In summation (to sound like a bore), I guess a three-star rating (average of my two "veins of thought") is fair.

  • Meg
    2019-04-27 21:26

    Stephen Greenblatt gives us the full history of the ancient story of Adam and Eve. Somehow with this biography of a story (okay, not just any story. Let's just say it's THE foundational origin story of Judaism, Islam & Christianity) he has us looking backwards and gets us to look forward at the same time. So, as he did with The Swerve, he takes this massive subject and deftly weaves it into a tight canvas.Prof. Greenblatt tracks the creation & expulsion stories back to epic of Gilgamesh and the enuma elish. He shows that starting as mythical, Adam & Eve became literal, and then real, as they were transformed by Augustine and John Milton. The Milton section is especially strong. Then, he tells the story of the Enlightenment itself with this wonderful sense of freshness. And then… Darwin… And somehow by the end we end up back with the apes.You've simply got to read this. It's guaranteed to make you smarter!

  • Kevin
    2019-04-26 01:39

    As a disclaimer, I received a copy of "The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve" from the publisher. As a further disclaimer, I'm Agnostic. I think the story of Adam and Eve is just as likely to have happened as the story of the Easter Bunny. That being said, I appreciated the level of research that went into "The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve" from a historical perspective. The author doesn't try to persuade the reader one way or another as to the validity of the story but rather its context throughout history and possible influences. There are enough footnotes in the bibliography for an individual to be able to conduct their own further research and decide for themselves. Or not.

  • Mark
    2019-04-27 18:47

    Like the last work of Greenblatt's I read (The Swerve) I was struck by his clear prose and narrative sense as well as his extensive historical knowledge and command of the interconnectedness of a wide range of elements. This work takes a look at one of the central myths of christianity, namely the story of Adam and Eve, and examines its staying power, how and why in spite of centuries of, essentially, debunking the story tenaciously clings to our collective psyche. As allegory, this is no mystery---it's a compelling story---but the fact that so many people still assert its factual reality leads us into the murkiness of our ability to deceive ourselves and ignore evidence.He also does a good job showing how that myth became the source of a millennia-long embrace of studied misogyny, begun primarily by St. Augustine, who somehow could not come to terms with his own erotic obsessions and his desire to become (in my view, not Greenblatt's) Other Than Human for the glory of his newfound faith after his dramatic conversion to Catholicism. The details Greenblatt offers give us ample evidence of someone who was working out personal issues at the expense of half the human population.There are surprising turns of history, of intellectual adventurism, of the human capacity to master the irrational and accept the changes demanded by reason and evidence combined into reconceptualizations of things thought long settled. And then there are the artists and, finally, Milton. Highly recommended.

  • David Powell
    2019-05-10 22:44

    I bought this book because I felt Greenblatt’s Will of the World the best Shakespeare “biography” for general consumption. It remains one of my favorite books on Shakespeare. The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve follows the same level of scholarship and easy-to-read style, and it should be read by anyone with an open mind about one of the most sensitive issues in Christian society—the symbolic versus the literal interpretation and acceptance of The Bible. It is a exploration of the origin, the emergence, the changing interpretations, and the ever evolving implications of a remarkably simple story of Adam and Eve and their transgression in The Garden of Eden. Greenblatt tells of the origin of an allegorical story with much older roots in Mesopotamia, how early Hebrews regarded it rather loosely, how Saint Augustine reversed this trend by fiercely believing the story to be literally true and dedicating his life to make others feel the same way, how John Milton further intrenched the “truth” of the story, and how the emergence of the sciences brought the understanding of the story back to its allegorical take. All the while Greenblatt explains the immense impact of this tiny story on Western culture, especially art. While he is clearly in the allegorical camp, he remains deeply respectful of the story and to those who have taken it as gospel. Some of my best friends and family may find it disturbing to their long-held beliefs but they, nonetheless, need to give the book careful consideration.

  • Lee Underwood
    2019-04-24 19:29

    I read Marilynn Robinson's review of this book, and although the argument, "it is a tendentious reading of any ancient text that would apply modern standards of plausibility to myth", is true, it was not myth to those who ordered entire civilizations around it. That included the horrifying ways humans were treated, and unfortunately, continue to be treated today. Perhaps Greenblatt didn't give the holy text the academic or scholarly treatment a pious religious monk would, but we live with the consequences of those readings now, and it's nice to have a modern rationalist reading of it. If anything it makes those of us who feel that Genesis is akin to a story parents tell children so they will behave a bit more comfortable in our critique of it. I do find the Allegory beautiful and the art and literature emerging from it reflective of the human condition embedded in it. But there's a deep flaw in allowing humans to organize hate from it. Anyway, I loved Swerve, and I know Shakespeare scholars have similar issues with Will in the World, but I also know how to balance academic research with popular storytelling. I consume his books, and as a teacher, I also have the benefit of bringing some interesting tidbits back to the classroom!

  • verbava
    2019-05-03 20:49

    усе, що стівен ґрінблатт розповідає про адама і єву (а він ретельний, починає з добіблійних історій і завершує дарвіном) здається насамперед велетенським бароковим обрамленням для трьох розділів про мільтона.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2019-05-02 00:32

    History of the biblical creation story and its meaning and interpretation over the centuries. Also depictions of Adam and Eve, the garden and the fall in literature, Theology, its conflict with modernity. Covers the major movers and shakers who lent a lot of thought to the way we look at the story.

  • Stephanie
    2019-05-15 21:39

    DNFYou say evo psych, I'm NOT there

  • Jim Robles
    2019-05-01 00:56

    Five stars! Another great book by Stephen Greenblatt."And most threatening of all they had begun to intermarry" (p. 34)."You would spend eternity in hell, and justly so, because of the taint you inherited from the sin of Adam and Eve" (p. 104)."For sex as we know it is not natural and not healthy" (p. 107)."The truly serious issue was that the Messiah himself, citing the story of Adam and Eve, seemed explicitly to prohibit divorce, except on grounds of adultery" (p. 179)."But on a foggy mid-June morning in 1645, at the Battle of Naseby, the Parliament's New Model Army, under the command of Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, crushed the king's forces in what proved to be the decisive battle of the Civil War" (p. 186)."Milton believed deeply that at the center of marriage was an intimate conversation between husband and wife, but to imagine and depict such intimacy was largely uncharted territory, not for him alone but for all of the literary culture in which he had steeped himself" (p. 210).Bummer!!!!"What do you think of me? God asked Adam; I am alone for all eternity without equal" (p. 214).Precisely!!! See also p. 220 (8:583-84).". . . . Milton wrote, adding a line that has become notorious for its complacent, self-congratulatory sexism, "He for God only, she for God in him" (4:297-99)" (p. 218)."Like Adam, Eve believed that the truest love must be between equals" (p. 224).See Aristotle on friendship. "If these tragic victims resembled the Edenic innocence of Adam and Eve, what did that make the Spanish?" (p. 236)."The archaic Greek poet Hesiod offered a vision of a golden age, along with the myth of Pandora, so oddly reminiscent of Eve" (p. 239)."What happens instead is simply that a significant number of people cease t believe that the story convincingly depicts reality" (p. 251)."Surely, the all-knowing Creator knew in advance that his creatures would fall and, in doing so, would bring down pestilence, war, famine, and unspeakable pain on all of their progeny" (p. 256).That is the one that always leaps out at me. Add that time does not pass for the Christian God: in the words of Jonathan Edwards, God sees "all of Eternity in a single glance." How could the Christian God be "surprised?""Lucretius's observations from the natural world strikingly anticipated what Darwin brought in such massive detail to support his overarching theory of naural selection: . . ." (p. 274).Lucretius also anticipated significant aspects of modern physics."Now, largely thanks to us, the chimpanzees are an endangered species" (p. 288)."Females, Melissa told me, go out of their way to copulate with the males who have been the most aggre ssive towards them" (p. 291).Judah Abravanel (c. 1464- c. 1523), on p. 309) is reminiscent of Plato's Symposium. "God not only knew that Adam and Eve would violate the prohibition; He also actively and deliberately impelled them to do so. . . . . [John CalVin (1509 - 1564)]" (p. 309 - 310).I have never been able to make any sense of the Christian view that we have free will (as opposed to autonomy).

  • David Steele
    2019-05-14 18:26

    Outstanding and very readable. I grew up in a Protestant home where Adam and Eve where treated as real people along with Noah, Jonah, etc. And of course I had many questions and today I have even more.Just as Adam was molded out of clay, the story of Adam and Eve can, and has been molded by many people and groups to meet their needs. And that is the way that it will always be. Great research, well told. I am glad that I read this book.(goodreads winner)

  • Ronald
    2019-04-27 21:27

    The story of Adam and Eve is universally known in Christendom and beyond. It’s a simple story taking up only a few pages of the Bible, yet it has a universal appeal. It is a story about the origin of man was no doubt included in the Bible to give context to man’s struggles in life. Most of us accept the story allegorically, but that understanding was not always condoned by the Christian Church. Indeed, our current view was considered heresy for over one and a half thousand years. Many philosophers and writers questioned the story’s accepted interpretation over the centuries. The author of The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, Stephen Greenblatt, examines the opinions of these individuals in his book. Greenblatt does not argue for or against historical opinions but simply states their position and talks about how their thoughts were received at the time they were put forth. The author has done extensive research. There is a lengthy bibliography at the end of the book as well as an anecdotal comments section based on tidbits of information gleaned from his study. Greenblatt’s own opinion on Adam and Eve is only stated in the last chapter. Although the book is not an argument leading to his final conclusion, the history of the story of Adam and Eve in itself leads the reader to Greenblatt’s opinion; one shared by most modern thinkers.When I picked up this book, I was concerned that it would be a rant for a certain position on the story of Adam and Eve. It was not! Also, this book is not what some book reviewers would categorize as a ‘page turner’. But then, it did keep me engaged. Even though The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve is a book written by a scholar, it is written in a language that is easy to follow and understand. The book consists of stories, including the background of the individuals whose philosophies were mentioned. This helps today’s reader appreciate the personal and cultural context of the individual. After all, philosophers of old were people just like us with desires, prejudices, and fears.I rated this book highly and knew that I would be doing so by the time I got only one-third of the way through it. If you’re a lover of history, were taught the story of Adam and Eve when young, and had any doubts about how their lives could have been possible, you will feel an affinity with the early philosophers mentioned in this book as they had the same questions. I think that this personal appeal is what gives the book its greatest reader value.

  • Anna Bates
    2019-05-06 23:54

    My father told my brother and me the story of Adam and Eva. He was a traditional Ashkenazi Jew from Poland. Is that true, Daddy? No, it is a story to explain why life is hard. We cannot remain children. We need to understand good and evil so we can choose the good. That was simple. We already knew that our parents worked hard and provided for us but not forever. When I heard about “original sin” as a cornerstone of some Christian theology I did not realize that this was supposed to be literally an actual event. I learned much more about the history of Christian theology and philosophy through reading this book but very little about Jewish theological interpretation through the ages.

  • Eugenea Pollock
    2019-05-01 23:34

    Meticulously researched, this book is based on the art, literature, theology, psychology, ancient history, etc., inspired by the classical origin story familiar to readers around the world. Having read “Will in the World”, I was familiar with Greenblatt’s style; and he did not disappoint. My Sunday School class chose this, and we read it chapter by chapter over about four months. It sparked a number of quite interesting discussions.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-22 18:26

    Greenblatt traces the Biblical story of Adam and Eve through religion, art, literature, and evolutionary science. The book is well-written and well-documented, but those who take the Bible literally would probably have some problems with Greenblatt's point of view.

  • Kevin
    2019-05-04 19:40

    This is an extremely well-written and researched book. It made me think about long-held beliefs and cherished childhood stories. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

  • Kyle
    2019-04-24 22:44

    Beautiful book. Enjoyed understanding how the story of Adam and Eve has affected different aspects of Western culture and history. In addition, it was great learning more about individuals such as Augustine, Milton, and Darwin who played important roles in shaping how this origin story was/is viewed.

  • Joan Porte
    2019-05-16 21:41

    Excellent review of the history of one of the most bizarre stories ever told.

  • Marks54
    2019-05-15 20:36

    So ... what is the deal with Adam and Eve? This book is what resulted when Stephen Greenblatt - a top literary scholar - took up that question. After his book, "The Swerve", Greenblatt became one of the few authors for whom I would drop what I was doing to read their latest book. He is a scholar who writes well and possesses a sense of history, along with the skills needed to pursue interesting historical questions wherever they may lead.The book covers virtually the entirety of recorded history, from the earliest antecedents of the Biblical story up through its life in the Middle Ages and the Reformation, and ending with the treatment of Adam and Eve at the hands of the Enlightenment, Darwin, and contemporary anthropologists and primate researchers. (I do not want to give anything away, but the story does not enjoy the full and enthusiastic support among the public that it once did.)As he did in his book on Lucretius, Greenblatt presents a lively intellectual history of the West through a consistent focus on perhaps the primary origin story of Western Civilization. For me, the central parts of the argument concern what St. Augustine did with the Adam and Eve story in his Confessions and what Milton did with the story in Paradise Lost. There are lots of references to how the story has been treated in the visual arts and readers should have their computers handy to examine the various masterpieces referenced in the book, from Durer to Michelangelo.This is a fine book that is a fairly quick read and provides a lot of value in return for the time spent.

  • Alexandra Ferretti
    2019-04-28 00:52

    The usual Greenblatt mix of personal anecdote, widely varying subject matter, and ridiculous claims--with an occasional interesting point.

  • Nicole DiStasio
    2019-05-07 21:40

    Firstly, I just love Stephen Greenblatt's prose -- even to say nothing of his analytic vigor and well-researched scholarship -- the beauty of his prose alone would be enough to bring me to his texts. That said, The Rise is also a fascinating journey through the story, interpretations, and crisis of the most popular Genesis story and characters! Greenblatt deftly weaves philosophical treatise with Renaissance art with history and literature. And it left me with an urge to re-read Milton! Great book, 4.5 stars.

  • Socraticgadfly
    2019-05-21 01:53

    As iffy and up and down as "The Swerve" or more soThere's several reasons I say that. I'm going to talk about Greenblatt's down sides and even plain errors first.First, he seems to assume that the entirety of the southern kingdome of Judah was exiled in 586 BCE. At the least, he writes in a way the average reader would infer that. And he's simply wrong. Most the "common folk" were left there. That, in turn, relates to how Israelite religion grew into proto-Judaism after the exiles returned.Second, re Yahweh allegedly not having a consort, he is either ignorant of, or ignores, the ostracon of Yahweh and his Asherah at Kuntillet Ajrud. The fact that Yahweh WAS believed to have an Asherah at the time of the "J" section of the Torah, which includes Genesis 2-3, is a matter of importance in looking at the Eden background in the J context.Third, also from J, he is either ignorant of, or ignores, that Yahweh had a "divine counsel," and other usage of the word "gods" in J and outside.Fourth, he's wrong that the Garden story of Genesis 2-3 can be separated from the J tradition, and his hints at fusing it with the P tradition of Genesis 1 show that his wrestling with biblical criticism is superficial.That said, he's right that Ezra is overlooked on skill level as editor of the Torah. Sure, there's doublets, contradictions and more. But, picture not only working without printed books, but with scrolls and not codexes to boot.He's right on Augustine's sexual hang-ups, whatever the deepest of them were, in influencing his idea of original sin.He's ignorant of the fact, or ignores the fact, that Orthodoxy, within Christianity, considers Augustine only a minor saint and rejects his idea of original sin.And, "shockingly," but actually not at all, given problems in The Swerve, he's pretty well wrong that Augustine was responding to Epicureanism. Epicureanism as a philosophical school was just about dead by this time.Finally, it's "interesting" that almost all of his critique was from Christian-based viewpoints. Now, both Jews and Muslims may be a small minority in the US, but Muslims certainly are not, worldwide. A more accurate title would have been "The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve in the Western Christian and post-Christian Tradition."

  • Amanda Crumley
    2019-05-13 22:46

    Did not like it too much !! Nobody knows the story of Adam and Eve , so what makes this person think so ?? Received this book from Goodreads for an honest review .

  • Doctor Moss
    2019-05-07 00:39

    I was a little surprised by this book. I expected a discussion of the story of Adam and Eve, its historical interpretations, and the significance it still has on western thinking about our origins and our morality. And there is that, although Greenblatt discusses the hold that aspects of the story — original sin, the relationship between men and women, the dangers of pride, etc. — still have on western culture and morals less than I anticipated.What turned out to be more interesting was Greenblatt’s treatment of the story as an historical idea, especially its uneasy status between mythology and literal fact with the faiths that adhere to it.Greenblatt starts with historical context. I learned a lot here. The story as told in the Torah dates to the 5th century BCE. The Enuma Elish, from as early as the 18th century BCE, and the Epic of Gilgamesh, going back as far as 2100 BCE, not only predate Adam and Eve in some respects, they also provide a base to which the story responds.For example, in the Epic of Gilgamesh (the Sumerian creation story), man, once created, truly becomes man by joining the city of Uruk. Enikidu, the first man, becomes human by leaving the garden and joining the city — only by doing so does he become other than another wild animal.Somewhat similarly, in the Enuma Elish, the role of the city is emphasized as Marduk, the creator, approves the creation of the city of Babylon.By contrast, the story of Eden turns the relation between the garden and the city on its head — it is in the garden that Adam and Eve are their purist selves. It is only in their fallen state that they leave the garden, with their son, Cain eventually founding the city of Enoch. And of course, God punishes the city of Babylon with a proliferation of mutually unintelligible languages.There are other apparently deliberate positions or decisions taken by the story of Adam and Eve that respond to cultural and historical context — an insistence on strict obedience to God, pridefulness as sin, a hierarchical relationship between man and woman, the moral prominence of shame, and the status of labor as a punishment (although it does appear that Adam and Eve may have tilled the soil of Eden).Greenblatt discusses some of these aspects in depth, in historical interpretations given to them. He provides extended discussions of Augustine’s notion of “original sin” and of the historical treatment of Eve as primarily responsible for the fall.But it is his discussion of attempts at literal interpretation of the story that most engaged my interest, especially as attempted by Augustine and Milton, and aided by the artists of the Renaissance.There appears always to have been a spirit of interpretation of the story, and of Genesis in general, as allegorical or mythological, rather than literally true. But the pressure to strengthen the faith of believers such as Augustine and Milton produced successive attempts to articulate and defend the story as literally true. And these attempts figure critically in an historical decline in the significance of the story.Greenblatt believes that the story of Adam and Eve may be a victim of its own success — that is, it became vulnerable as it became believed in that literal sense. Through the efforts of Augustine, the artists of the Renaissance, and Milton, the story was pushed toward a modern kind of realism — literal factuality. Greenblatt writes, “The collective success of all of these efforts by believers — the triumphant fulfillment of the old Augustinian dream of a literal interpretation — had an unintended and devastating consequence: the story began to die.”It became subject to the same kinds of questioning that any factual account is subject. What evidence stands for or against its truth? What about the internal consistency of the story?Then, in this context, skepticism could grow roots. Where did Cain’s wife come from, if Adam and Eve bore only two children, he and Abel? Where did the inhabitants of the city that Cain founded come from? How could Adam have named all the animals of the world in half a day? What should we make of the newly discovered peoples of the New World, who apparently did not participate in the shame of nakedness that was the consequence for all humans of Adam and Eve’s transgression? What of the apparent age of the world as implied by ancient documents of Greece and the Aztec artifacts discovered in the New World?I suspect that Greenblatt is tracing also an increasing split in general between the mythical and the factual, a distinction that if not peculiar to the post-Enlightenment world, is at least more sharply drawn from that point forward. Those questions were always available to any literal interpretation of Genesis, but they were not asked in the same spirit in which they required reduction to fact. Pre-Enlightenment, Augustine had certainly wondered about some of those same questions, and about the very idea of a talking snake, a magical tree, etc., but he took belief and faith as a challenge to be met. His literal interpretation of the story seems an aggressive expression of faith, rather than, in a later post-Enlightenment spirit, a sorting out of the facts.Greenblatt is clear that he thinks something is lost with the demise of the story’s standing, and I found his position at least somewhat persuasive. The story of Adam and Eve gave us a framework, if not always answers (or acceptable answers), to questions about freedom, knowledge, choice, innocence and guilt, responsibility, and much more. By contrast, the modern story of our descent from extinct hominins leaves those things largely untouched.Some do draw social Darwinism from the ironically mythologized version of evolution — “survival of the fittest” in Herbert Spencer’s words. Others look for the origin of human morality in our ancestors and closest relatives, the apes. But the former is cynical, reminiscent of Thrasymachus’s ill-fated version of justice in Plato’s Republic — “the advantage of the stronger”. And the latter is, at best, unfinished business and seemingly a very messy story from which to draw guidance for moral thought.It’s one thing to talk in generalities of an age of realism and fact. It’s another to show in some detail the evolution of one core component of western culture toward that age. By doing so, Greenblatt enables us to see, for better and for worse, how the role the story of Adam and Eve plays for us has changed.