Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adam and Eve and The First Language: The Bible Got It Wrong

This is going to be a pretty short post since there's not much to say on the topic. I just thought it'd be fun to cover this because of how simple it seems. That said, don't read this if you're easily offended on religious grounds. This won't be a soul-crushing debunking, but it'll definitely give room for suspicion in other areas.

"Sorry we fucked up your names," said Jesus, brow furrowed.
So, the first man and woman according to most creationists in America were named "Adam" and Eve." Adam was given his name because his name in Hebrew (אָדָם) means "man," and therefore Adam was the origin of man, or man himself. It is not until Adam directly called Eve by name (חַוָּה) that we learn her name; elsewhere, she is just referred to as Woman. She was granted the name Eve because she was the mother of all living. She was originally referred to as Woman because she was taken from Man.

Many people know this much, since it doesn't take much to Google what the names "Adam" and "Eve" mean, or even look up a biblical resource for the meanings of their names in Genesis. It makes sense too given the etymology... Except one thing.

It doesn't.

It doesn't make any sense whatsoever that they were called Adam and Eve, and this is one of the many reasons why I think creationists (mainly Christians) need to seriously and critically analyze the contents of their holy books in the modern age of inquiry and skepticism. Perhaps this would fly for Hebrew-speaking populations during the time of the Bible's writing, since they were surely very ethnocentric, but it doesn't work that way anymore. Why? Because the Bible is written in Hebrew, specifically the liturgical form Biblical Hebrew.

Okay, who cares? Why does that matter? Well because in Genesis, the Bible is referring to the creation of all living things; and for Adam to have been named Adam, they would have had to have been speaking/writing in Hebrew. The reason for this is since we know why Adam was named Adam (because he was Man), then the name "Adam" has to occur as a Hebrew term, otherwise "Adam" would not mean "Man" as it does in the Biblical text. In other words, Genesis presupposes that the first man and woman were speaking or writing in Hebrew. This isn't surprising since I doubt the individuals who wrote the Bible had the historical and linguistic self-awareness to realize that their language wouldn't have been the language written/spoken by the first man and woman. But why wouldn't it have been?

According to the linked article, all humans spoke one language until the rise of The Tower of Babel in (as it estimates) ~4000 BCE. It was at this time that the Sumerians arrived speaking a different language. This places Biblical Hebrew, according to the Bible, as an older language than Sumerian.

We know this is wrong. Sumerian was first attested in 2600-2500 BCE from cuneiform texts from Shuruppak and Abu Salabikh. Hebrew, specifically Biblical Hebrew, was not attested until ~1500 years later in the 10th century BCE. The fact that the Bible specifies that the Sumerians were the first ones to speak a different language than the language of Adam and Eve, Hebrew, is just factually incorrect. On that note, there are multiple languages written before Biblical Hebrew, including Egyptian and Greek. It simply couldn't have been that Hebrew was the first language as the Bible implies; therefore, we know that Adam and Eve simply couldn't have been the names of the first humans.

But wait, says the separate opinion, why couldn't it have just been taken from the real first language? Well the reason for this is that, for example, "Adam" does not mean "Man" in Egyptian or Sumerian. The closest thing in Egyptian is Atum (or Atem) which derives from the word meaning "complete" or "to finish." The closest thing in Sumerian/Akkadian is adammu, meaning red. "Adam" simply does not mean the same thing in older languages as it does in Hebrew; therefore, it wouldn't have made any sense for Adam to be called Adam if they were speaking an older language such as Sumerian.

But wait again that same opinion voices, what if the original names were not Adam and Eve, but were (for example) the Sumerian words for "man" and "mother of all living?" What if they were then translated into Hebrew for the Bible?

Well then, you'd be conceding two things:

1: The first language was not Hebrew, as the Bible claims.
2: The first humans were not named Adam and Eve.

Thanks for playing! See you next time!


  1. Gah this was so stupid it made me cringe. I never really thought much on any of that, but I did find it strange for the first man and woman to be speaking Hebrew. I just never realized how many implications it has... Sheesh.

  2. Lol this was so simply debunked, it's pathetic XD. Nice work ;P


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