The American Scholar for Autumn 2017 has a review by Sarah Ruden of a new book by Stephen Greenblatt, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, Norton, 432 pp/ $27.95. She says “For the New Historicism, which stresses context over text, the reception of this tale is the ultimate playground.” She stresses that Greenblatt notes how “Milton was to have three wives in all, and enshrined marriage as hard work in a great poem: the erotic and companionable love of couples was fraught and permeated with tragedy”
For more detail see: https://theamericanscholar.org/feast-of-eden/?utm_source=email#
From THE TRUTH AND FICTION OF ADAM AND EVE: Sample Comments
By Marilynne Robinson New York Times 10/6/17
THE RISE AND FALL OF ADAM AND EVE By Stephen Greenblatt
419 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $27.95.
Stephen Greenblatt follows Adam and Eve through a long arc of Western history. He begins at the beginning, with paleoanthropology, then moves on to the Babylonian epics, which influenced the early chapters of Genesis, . . . From there, he arrives at the Renaissance and its depictions of the first and perfect man and woman, then Milton, of course, the age of discovery and the rationalist rejection of Adamic creation. . .. Then Darwin emerges, upending everything all over again. And Greenblatt finally lands in his last pages at a fairly disheartening account of mating among the chimpanzees. There is, however, a complicating factor here, having to do with the question of truth. Greenblatt . . . frames his inquiry in terms of truth or fiction. For him truth means plausibility, and by that measure the story of Adam and Eve is no more than a miracle of storytelling. But science tells us that Homo sapiens does indeed roughly share a single lineage, in some sense a common origin, just as ancient Genesis says it does. . . . Greenblatt respects his subject, and still he assumes that the rationalist reading offers up the true meaning of the story. Greenblatt imposes this kind of reasoning on John Milton, no less. He writes that Milton “was convinced that everything had to spring from and return to the literal truth of the Bible’s words. In the absence of that truth, Milton’s Christian faith and all the positions he had taken on the basis of that faith would be robbed of their meaning.” There is a special problem with the phrase “literal truth.” Milton knew Hebrew. A serious student of Scripture is aware that neither English nor Latin versions can be described as “literal.”. . . An awareness of the religious movement that Milton identified with and championed would have also helped Greenblatt.
For full review see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/books/review/rise-and-fall-of-adam-an...