“The Voice of Your Wife”: Why an Ancient Interpreter Chose to Voice Eve with a Testament

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Cynthia R. Chapman Oberlin College Oberlin, OH USA

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Eve’s Testament (Greek Life of Adam and Eve 15–30) contains an expansive first-person retelling of the Eden narrative in which an elder Eve remembers her younger self calling to Adam “with a loud voice” and saying, “listen to me!” She then admits that when she opened her mouth, “the Devil was speaking,” and she was able to quickly persuade her husband to eat of the forbidden fruit. The unparalleled decision of an ancient author to voice the primordial woman with a testament builds exegetically on a textual problem in Gen 3:17 where YHWH Elohim punishes the man for “listening to the voice of his wife” when the woman never spoke to the man in Gen 2–3. Eve’s Testament provides the missing voice of Adam’s wife, and through it, we learn how the devil used her voice to get Adam “cast out of Paradise.”

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