It's Not about eve: looking at wm. paul young's "eve"

By Marcia Montenegro
First written September 23, 2015; modified June, 2016 (page 2 of 2)

The Turning, a Fall from Scripture

Before Eve is created, Adam has encounters with the wily serpent in the Garden. Lilly is told that Adam was created outside the Garden and then brought to the Garden. Lilly witnesses conversations between Adam and the serpent prior to the creation of Eve. 

Lilly hears the serpent flatter Adam and plant the idea in Adam that he is alone (122-125). Adam's conviction that he is alone becomes "the turning" and leads to a breach between him and God. Also, the serpent gives Adam the knife (called Machiara) that was used to cut the umbilical cord when Adam was born and Adam cuts himself on it, and once again, there is blood in the Garden (125). [Machiara is a Greek word for a knife used for killing animals or cutting up flesh, or is a sword or dagger, and is found in the New Testament. See http://goo.gl/F1v4kl].

This turning away leads to Adam conspiring with the serpent to deceive Eve (194-195, 226, 234). Eve was created to draw Adam back to God (196). But due to the conspiracy between the serpent and Adam, Eve was seduced into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree while Adam stands by in silence (225-227).

Afterward, Adam tries to clothe himself and Eve with branches from the tree (228), but he also kills some animals to try to atone for what he has done (229, 237). God then clothes Adam and Eve with the skins of these animals slaughtered by Adam! This is contrary to the biblical account that it was God who clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of an animal slain by God (Genesis 3:21), the first biblical record of death in the Garden, and an act which symbolizes the covering of sins through the blood of Christ.

Young's recounting of events undermines the biblical account of God, who, out of his grace, slew an animal to cover the first man and woman's nakedness. Their collusion in sin had undone them but God mercifully clothed them. Young's chronicle presents a God who uses the skin of animals killed by Adam, so Adam is the source of the clothing. This entirely undermines the truth that it is God who, out of grace, provides the way of redemption. 

Throughout this section, Young presents Eve as a victim who disagrees with Adam and is essentially innocent. In fact, as God drives Adam from Eden, Eve remains behind.

God's details on the Fall have been changed by Young so that Adam actually sins (by turning away from God and conspiring with the serpent) before eating from the forbidden tree. Thus, eating from the forbidden tree becomes a secondary act of rebellion in Young's story. Not only that, but Eve is an innocent and is not driven out of Eden, contrary to the biblical account. (Later in the book, Eve reveals that she decided to join Adam, and that this was her "turning," 282, 284).

Lilith/Lilly

Lilly, now calling herself Lilith, is in the Garden when Adam is sent out of Eden. Lilith is there with Eve and Han-el as Adam continues to call to Eve across the boundary set by God to join him.

Lilith decides to "save" Eve by leaving Eden and joining Adam to be his companion, but Adam rejects her. This becomes a crisis to Lilly/Lilith, since in real life, Lilly was a victim of an abusive mother and of sex trafficking, and had become a broken, lost girl. The guise of Lilith was a deception perpetuated by Simon and a magical mirror that exacerbated Lilly"s already deep sense of unworthiness.

In the Refuge, Lilly is dying from a poison injected by the mirror and also from self-loathing, so her companions there pray for her. Outside Eden, Adonai finds Lilly and comforts her, telling her of his love for her, and she trusts him. This heals her and she awakens.

A woman at The Refuge, Letty (Leticia), reveals herself to be Lilly's guardian angel, and she takes her to see Eve who is dwelling in a large tent with other women. These women are introduced by Eve as her "daughters," and Lilly is also Eve's daughter (this was also said at the beginning of the book).

However, biblically speaking, there are no female angels; angels are always presented as male in the Bible. So there can be no female guardian angel (moreover, whether there are guardian angels is itself disputed).

The Three

In the tent, Eve reveals to Lilly that there are "three women who would frame human history" (285). The three are Eve, Mary (who is in the tent and introduced to Lilly) and, no surprise, the third is Lilly, "the Bride, the one to whom the promised seed will forever be united" (287). This implies that Lilly represents the universal Church. 

Lilly is presented with a Betrothal ring (a ring given to her earlier in the story by friends at The Refuge). Eve admonishes the doubting Lilly that "God keeps Their promises" (words repeated by the angel Letty two pages later) and Lilly responds, "Today, I trust Them" (288).

Given a key to go through a door, Lilly leaves The Refuge and finds herself back on earth in a health facility where apparently she actually was during the story, the Refuge being a parallel to the facility. The Refuge companions mirror people at the facility, including the angel Letty, the facility's night custodian. But Lilly still wears the ring given her in the tent by Eve and remembers its significance.

So is Lilly the church? How can this be since she is an individual? And although the church is the bride in Scripture, the church is not anymore truly female than the men who also comprise the church. One must assume Young is using Lilly as a metaphor for the church, broken but healing and trusting God. 

Final Remarks

The tale of Lilly is actually the strongest element of this book, and if Young had made this only a story on the healing of a girl wounded in spirit, body, and mind, it could have been a good one. But instead, Young chose to make Lilly part of a larger story centered on, but contrary to, God's description of the Fall. Not only is creation and the Fall into sin changed by Young, but even more crucially, God's nature and the Trinity are changed and treated with distorted and sometimes distressing imagery.

In efforts to communicate God's love, as he did in The Shack, Young perverts who God is. He twists the Trinitarian God into a group; the Creator into one who is mingled with his creation, physically birthing and nursing Adam and Eve; man's sin of disobedience into a "turning" away from God (for Eve, it is her decision to leave Eden to be with Adam, a tale sharply departing from the biblical narrative); and skews how God provides redemption through his own actions without aid from men.

A strong caution must be issued for anyone thinking of reading this book as it presents significant theological views opposed to God's word.

ADDENDUM

In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, Young was asked about possible reactions to Eve (before the book's release), and he said this:

    =="There are also some who will read it and won't 'see' her, sometimes because the timing isn't right and their life's journey has not granted the gifts inherent in suffering, or because their assumptions are too overwhelming and powerful to allow them to hear.

    So yes, similar drama to The Shack, and perhaps even more intense [reactions] from some quarters. Human beings have much invested in the status quo, and some of us would rather [have] a quick apocalyptic fiery end of the universe than embrace change." From http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/67962-william-paul-young-on-the-controversies-of-reimagining-eve.html 

As he did with critics of The Shack, Young makes unfair assumptions about possible criticisms of the book. He also disparages anyone who may disagree. Statements such as "not granted the gifts inherent in suffering," "assumptions too overwhelming," "invested in the status quo," and other such comments about would-be critics are nothing but hubris on his part. This is condescending and uncharitable. He allows no room for reasonable or theological disagreement with his view. His remarks seem to be made to bias anyone against disagreement with the book's ideas. 

 

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