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Topic 31: Is the woman the one responsible for the fall?


Is the woman the one responsible for the fall into sin?  Older Lutheran texts speak of woman’s “amenability to sin” and “that she sinned first.”

Genesis 3: [5] “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.  [7] Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

The Genesis text holds both man and woman equally responsible for the Fall, and the text does not argue that Eve should be subordinate because “she is first responsible for sin.”

(A) “Did God say, ‘You [plural] shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).  Compare also Genesis 2:16-17: “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not die…”  God puts the responsibility on both.

(B) “The text of the Hebrew Bible, as well as its Greek translation, the Septuagint, states that Adam was with Eve when she partook of the forbidden fruit [Gen. 3:6].  Though many translations lack the statement, the Hebrew literally says, ‘She gave to her husband, who was with her.’  Furthermore, the Hebrew text indicates that the serpent is speaking to both the man and the woman, for the plural form of the second person is used.  The account infers that Adam and Eve were equally responsible” (Kroeger, I Suffer Not A Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence, pg. 20).  Compare the NIV translation of Genesis 3:6.

(C) “The man silently participates in her act of wrongdoing.  He, too, has heard about knowledge and becoming wise, for he is present with his wife” (Quell, TDNT, I, 282).

(D) The man, who stands by and says nothing to stop the process, himself decides to eat the fruit handed to him.  The text does not indicate the woman “tempted” or “seduced” him.

(E) “Moreover, the fact that Adam was so willing to follow Eve in eating the fruit suggests that they had not been accustomed to functioning along lines of male authority and female subordination” (Groothius, Good News For Women, pg. 142).

(F) “…there is also another thing missing, something quite conspicuous by its absence, that God would have said if Adam had been left in charge of Eve.  To illustrate, parents are in charge of their children, and if they passively watch a child drink poison, they are guilty of neglecting their duty.  Similarly, Adam was with Eve, and he did not try to stop her as she ate the forbidden fruit: ‘She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.’ (Gen. 3:6) Look closely at God’s words of chastisement: “because you listened to your wife and ate …” (Gen. 3:17)   Had Adam been left in charge of Eve – been given authority over her – he would have become guilty of neglecting his duty while he passively watched her eat of the forbidden fruit.  Yet, God specifically faulted Adam for a sin of commission; not one word was breathed by God about a sin of omission: failure to exercise authoritative command! [sic]” (Lepper, “A Fresh Vision Of A Woman’s Glorious Heritage in Christ,” pgs. 3-4).