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Book of Moses Essays
#67: Moses Witnesses the Fall: (Moses 4)
Was Eve Beguiled?
(Moses 4:5–12)

This series is cross-posted with the permission of Book of Mormon Central
from their website at Pearl of Great Price Central


James C. Christensen, 1942-: Pandora 2, 2005

Figure 1. James C. Christensen, 1942-: Pandora 2, 2005

The scriptures say that Eve was “beguiled” by Satan when she partook of the forbidden fruit. But Latter-day Saints believe she made the right choice. How can both statements be true? The purpose of this essay is to harmonize these seemingly contradictory statements and, along the way, to dispel some common misconceptions.

Eve Was Not a Pandora

Whether earnestly promoted as Christian theology or merely mentioned in tasteless jest, Eve is too often painted in the colors of Pandora,[1] a mythological figure whose unbridled curiosity unleashed a long train of potent ills against mankind. This is not the view of the Latter-day Saints.

In light of the Latter-day Saint understanding that the Fall was a necessary prerequisite for humankind’s further progression and our rejection of the generally negative portrayals of Eve in historical Christianity, Latter-day Saint authors typically emphasize her perceptiveness and interpret her role as ultimately constructive. A few have, however, taken this view to what seems to be an untenable extreme, not only rightfully exonerating her from full accountability for her transgression and honoring her lifelong faithfulness, but in addition arguing that, for various reasons, she was not actually “beguiled” by Satan in her decision to take of the forbidden fruit.[2]

Such a view goes well beyond the settled Latter-day Saint doctrines that the Fall was an essential part of the divine plan from the beginning and that Adam and Eve did not commit a sinful or otherwise blameworthy act. Though it is easy to see how such views might arise from honest misunderstanding, a careful analysis will show that they should be no more a part of the beliefs of well-informed Latter-day Saints than the opposite notion that Eve was a prototype of Pandora.

Differences in perspective with the well-intentioned Latter-day Saint authors who make such arguments are, of course, far outweighed by common beliefs and sympathies. In presenting what might be seen as necessary correctives to certain aspects of these views, no personal offense is intended. In hopes of eliminating any misrepresentation, drafts of an earlier version of this essay were sent to two of the authors referenced, Alonzo Gaskill and James T. Summerhays, who confirmed the interpretation of their views presented here. The authors graciously responded with some welcome suggestions.

After a review of the “standard” view of the Fall, this essay will examine two of the questions raised by the writings of Gaskill and Summerhays: “Was Satan entirely truthful?” and “Was Eve actually beguiled (deceived) by him?” We will then return to the story of the Fall, showing how Eve wisely took the initiative to counteract Satan’s efforts to rupture her unity with Adam. In conclusion, we will examine why the story of the Fall cannot be fully appreciated when presented as a laundry list of isolated symbols, but instead must be understood as a harmonious whole.

The Standard View of the Fall

Before examining the contention that Eve was not beguiled in her encounter with Satan, it seems important to outline a brief summary of the “standard” view of the Fall, meaning the one that is most frequently encountered in Church settings over the years:

  1. We do not believe that the Fall was a surprise to God, since it was foreseen and planned for from the beginning.[3]
  2. We do not believe that the Fall was something to be regretted, since it constituted the appointed means by which mortality, an essential step in mankind’s progression, would be afforded to Adam and Eve and their posterity.[4]
  3. We do not blame Adam and Eve, but rather are grateful for their roles in the Fall. Eve was deceived by Satan, and thus did not act with full understanding. Adam, in light of Eve’s honest and logical explanation, and knowing that it was essential that he and Eve not be separated, wisely chose to partake of the fruit.[5] The only blameworthy party in the story is the serpent.
  4. Because Adam and Eve did no wrong, we label their actions as “transgressions” rather than “sins.”[6] What is important, of course, is not the dictionary definitions of these two words—which are, after all, quite similar in meaning—but rather the effort in Latter-day Saint scripture and prophetic teachings to preserve a careful conceptual distinction between what happened in the Garden of Eden and the kind of trouble all of us get ourselves into when we yield to temptation.[7]

Elder James E. Talmage has written what might be taken as the closest thing we currently have to an “official” statement about the specifics of the Fall. As part of a manuscript that was “read… and approved by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve” and “published by the Church,”[8] his Jesus the Christ affirmed that Adam and Eve were “pure” and “noble.” Noting that, of course, “when we pass through the veil we shall perhaps learn something of their high estate, more than we know now,”[9] Elder Talmage wrote:

The woman was deceived, and in direct violation of the counsel and commandment partook of the food that had been forbidden. … Note in this matter the words of Paul the apostle: “Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived was in the transgression, ”[10] … The arch-tempter through whose sophistries, half-truths and infamous falsehoods, Eve had been beguiled, was none other than Satan.[11]

Elder Talmage’s book The Articles of Faith—the lectures on which it was based having been “prepared in accordance with the request and appointment of the First Presidency” and subsequently “published by the Church”[12]—further elaborates. Following a description of how “Satan… sought to beguile the woman,” we read:

The woman was captivated by these representations; and, being eager to possess the advantages pictured by Satan, she disobeyed the command of the Lord, and partook of the fruit forbidden. She feared no evil, for she knew it not.[13]

Later, Elder Talmage summarized:

Eve was fulfilling the foreseen purposes of God by the part she took in the great drama of the Fall; yet she did not partake of the forbidden fruit with that object in view, but with intent to act contrary to the divine command, being deceived by the sophistries of Satan, who also, for that matter, furthered the purposes of the Creator by tempting Eve; yet his design was to thwart the Lord’s plan. … Adam’s part in the great event was essentially different from that of his wife; he was not deceived; on the contrary he deliberately decided to do as Eve desired, that he might carry out the purposes of his Maker.[14]

Elder Talmage states the situation persuasively. Although he recognized that Satan beguiled Eve, he in no way implies that Eve chose evil—because “she knew it not.” He rightfully portrays Adam and Eve as “pure” and “noble,” having played their parts perfectly in accordance with the Father’s original plan.

Was Satan Entirely Truthful?

According to the “standard” view described above, Satan mixed truth with falsehood in his assertions to Eve. On the one hand, Satan is seen to have told a part-truth in his assertion that Adam and Eve’s eyes would “be opened, and [they would] be as gods, knowing good and evil”[15]; on the other hand, his claim that they would “not surely die”[16] as the result of eating is taken to be deception pure and simple.

In a thoughtful book entitled The Savior and the Serpent, Alonzo Gaskill questions this picture of Satan’s deceptiveness,[17] arguing that he was “actually quite accurate”[18] in his statement about both matters. To fully appreciate Gaskill’s perspective, it must be understood that he takes the unusual position of interpreting the entire story of the Fall as being only about you and I, the “metaphorical” Adam and Eve, and not at all about our first parents, the “historical” Adam and Eve. Thus, according to Gaskill, any attempt to use the biblical text or modern temple teachings to prove that the “historical” Eve was deceived—or to assert anything else about our first parents—is futile, as he sees the account as applying only to ourselves and not to them.[19]

To make the position of the present essay on this question clear, it should be affirmed that we have much to learn about our own lives in studying the scriptural accounts of the Fall, especially given that each of us have, in a sense, “sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.”[20] However, it is one thing to say that everything our first parents did in the story of the Fall applies in some way to us, and quite another to say that nothing in that admittedly highly figurative scriptural account applies exclusively to them. Neither in scripture, nor in the writings of Church authorities, can be found an advocate for the idea that the “historical” Adam and Eve are completely absent from the Genesis and Book of Moses accounts. Moreover, with respect to temple teachings, Elder Talmage confirmed in a summary of the endowment published by the Church[21] that “our first parents,”[22] the “historical” Adam and Eve, are the subjects of the figurative story told within the experience of that temple ordinance. Now, let us examine Gaskill’s arguments more closely.

In Moses 4:10-11, Satan makes two claims to Eve in order to convince her to eat the forbidden fruit: 1. “ye shall not surely die”; and 2. “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Since, in Moses 4:28, God agrees with Satan’s second claim by saying that after taking of the fruit Adam and Eve have “become as one of us to know good and evil,” its truthfulness is not in question. However, some have erroneously argued that Satan’s first claim was also true.

There is no doubt that the literal word-by-word translation of the Hebrew given in a footnote of the Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible (“Dying, ye shall not die”) can be confusing. For example, in an otherwise insightful commentary on the story of Adam and Eve, Gaskill has argued mistakenly that Satan’s meaning was that in “physically dying you will not die (i.e., permanently die).”[23] In this erroneous interpretation of the Hebrew, Satan was entirely truthful in telling Eve that if she ate the consequence of death would only be temporary. However, in Hebrew the repetition of the verb in a phrase like “Dying, ye shall not die” is always used as a way of making the negation (“not”) stronger. In other words, it changes the meaning “you shall not die” to something like “you shall surely not die” or “you shall absolutely not die.”[24] For this reason, Satan’s statement is nothing more than deception pure and simple.

Satan mixed truth with falsehood, as he is often wont to do. This is consistent with Brigham Young’s conclusion that Satan told Eve “many truths and some lies”[25] or, as Hyrum Andrus expressed it: “a big lie and … a half-truth.”[26] The Book of Mormon more than once prefaces discussions of Adam and Eve’s transgression by the statement that the Devil is “the father of all lies”[27]—implying that the two concepts are closely linked. Perhaps the most telling of these passages is 2 Nephi 2:18. Here the word “wherefore” seems to function as an explicit logical connective between the first clause that describes who Satan is and the second clause that tells what he said: “the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore [for this reason] he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”[28]

Was Eve Actually Beguiled (Deceived) By Satan?

James T. Summerhays[29] has summarized the thoughtful views of Vivian McConkie Adams — and, indirectly, those of Beverly Campbell.[30] While none of these authors disagree with the statement of scripture that Satan “sought… to beguile Eve,”[31] all three argue that the Adversary did not succeed in deceiving her.[32] More specifically, they conclude, mistakenly, that in Eve’s statement that she was beguiled she “is not saying she was tricked.” Unfortunately, none of the four mistaken reasons given for this conclusion stand up under closer scrutiny:

  • Mistaken Reason 1: Unsophisticated Bible translators have missed the richness of the meaning of “beguile” in Hebrew. It is claimed that the Hebrew word translated “beguiled” suggests “a deep internal process; [Eve] weighed, pondered, and reflected upon the ramifications of partaking of the fruit before she did so.”[33] That much seems possible. Indeed, the multifaceted nature of Eve’s experience is witnessed by the text of Moses 4:12 itself.[34] However, the suggestion that Satan’s words led Eve to reflect carefully does not by itself do away with the fact that his deception ultimately influenced her choice. Not only the King James Version but also virtually all modern Bible translations accept “deceived” the primary meaning of the Hebrew word translated within the King James Version phrase as “The serpent beguiled me.” Whatever else might have gone through the mind of Eve while she made her decision, she herself realized and admitted with admirable honesty that the reason she had eaten the forbidden fruit was because she had been deceived by Satan’s falsehood.
  • Mistaken Reason 2: According to the prophet Lehi, Eve was “enticed,” [35] which means, it is claimed, “she wanted [the forbidden fruit]; she chose it over the other.” However, this argument fails to make the point — it is just as easy to be enticed by evil as by good, which is exactly the point Lehi is making (“enticed by the one or the other”). We cannot take the fact that Eve chose to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge as proof that she was not, at least in part, deceived by Satan in the reasons for her choice. Indeed, the word “entice” is sometimes used in the Book of Mormon to describe Satan’s general role as a tempter.[36]
  • Mistaken Reason 3: Citing Moses 4:12, it is mistakenly argued that the Tree of Knowledge “was a good tree. … Eve saw, the record says, not merely wondered or believed or hoped that the tree was good.” In contrast to this view, Bible scholar Nahum Sarna recognizes that Eve’s evaluation of the tree is not a simple statement of truth. To the contrary, he sees “irony in the formulation that she ‘saw that it was good.”[37] Note also that nothing is said in scripture about Eve having weighed the valid considerations that might have come to bear on her choice (such as the importance of the experience of mortality and the joy of having children) had she completely understood the situation before she took of the forbidden fruit. Instead, we are told in the Book of Moses that, upon hearing Satan’s enticing and deceitful words, Eve looked and “the tree … became pleasant to the eyes.”[38] According to the eminent Bible scholars Robert Alter and Nahum Sarna, the corresponding Hebrew words in Genesis describe a strong intensity of desire fueled by appetite.[39] This ultimately resulted in the subordination of God’s law to the appeal of the senses. Elder James E. Talmage agreed, teaching that Eve “was captivated by” [40] the “sophistries, half-truths and infamous falsehoods”[41] of Satan and, “being eager to possess the advantages pictured by [him], she disobeyed the command of the Lord.”[42] Of course, although Elder Talmage recognized that Satan beguiled Eve, he in no way implied that Eve chose evil — because “she knew it not.”[43] He rightfully portrays Adam and Eve as having played their parts perfectly in accordance with the Father’s original plan.
  • Mistaken Reason 4: The Hebrew word for “saw” has a direct relationship to the “Hebrew word ro’eh, which means seer or vision. Thus, it is suggested that Eve “may have received seeric revelation from God as part of her tutoring in the garden.” To make this argument is to suggest, by way of analogy, that because “see” and “seer” are related in English, any statements about “seeing” can be taken as evidence for divine vision. But this is clearly false — everyone that “sees” is not a “seer”! In addition, if Eve had actually seen a vision before she made her choice, it seems likely that a better Hebrew root than ro’eh — the one that is used exclusively in the Old Testament for “seer” and “seeing in vision” — would have been used. Of greatest importance is that one of the main points of the story is to contrast Adam and Eve’s limited view of things before the Fall to the greater discernment they manifested afterward — for example, recognizing Satan for who he is.[44] Of course, it is possible that Eve may have had some degree of prior insight into the positive consequences of her choice.[45] And it is evident that her understanding was relatively complete after she had eaten.[46] However, to argue that she received a complete understanding of the situation through “seeric revelation” on the basis of what is available in the Hebrew text of Genesis is not persuasive.

The explicit declaration of scripture is that “Satan … sought to beguile Eve.”[47] Ancient and modern Hebrew scholars agree that the primary meaning of “beguile” is to “deceive.” The actions of Adam and Eve in making the fig leaf aprons and hiding from God witness their doubtful state of mind following the transgression. Why not accept Eve’s own straightforward explanation of what happened? In the admirable candor and simplicity of her confession, she both admitted the deception and rightfully laid blame on Satan — the only one who actually deserved it: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

Brian Kershisnik, 1962-: Holy Woman, 2001

Figure 2. Brian Kershisnik, 1962-: Holy Woman, 2001


Eve Restores the Broken Harmony

We return to the story of Adam and Eve. Hugh Nibley observes that the “perfect and beautiful union of Adam and Eve [had] excited the envy and jealousy of the Evil One, who made it his prime objective to break it up.”[48] Shon Hopkin notes “the serpent’s success in getting Eve to partake of the fruit while alone, separate from Adam.” Of course, he also observes that Eve “is not the only culpable party in her aloneness; this reading of the story also implies that Adam was alone elsewhere in the Garden, making him complicit in the situation.”[49]

Jolene Edmunds Rockwood’s summary makes clear the extent to which the Adversary initially succeeded in increasing the separation of Adam and Eve:[50]

Until the woman and the man actually partake of the fruit, … the language of the text indicates a union in their actions. … [However, after their transgression,] the unity of the man and woman becomes sudden separateness. They use the first-person singular for the first time in the narrative as the Lord confronts them: “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked; and I hid myself[51] explains Adam, speaking only for himself. The man’s comments are even more interesting when we realize that both the man and the woman heard God’s voice, both were afraid, and both of them hid. Though performing the same actions, their unity is ruptured. The woman also uses the first-person singular to answer the Lord’s question: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”[52]

In view of the ruptured unity with Adam, and having been empowered by newly acquired insight, Eve had already wisely, heroically, and compassionately taken the initiative to approach her companion. Though Eve had been the one deceived, Nibley observes that she also became the first to understand what must be done to prevent a separation from Adam and to secure the future of their family:[53]

After Eve had eaten the fruit and Satan had won his round, the two were now drastically separated, for they were of different natures. But Eve, who in ancient lore is the one who outwits the serpent and trips him up with his own smartness, defeated this trick by a clever argument. First, she asked Adam if he intended to keep all of God’s commandments. Of course he did! All of them? Naturally! And what, pray, was the first and foremost of those commandments? Was it not to multiply and replenish the earth, the universal commandment given to all God’s creatures? And how could they keep that commandment if they were separated? It had undeniable priority over the commandment not to eat the fruit. So Adam could only admit that she was right and go along: “I see that it must be so,” he said, but it was she who made him see it. This is much more than a smart way of winning her point, however. It is the clear declaration that man and woman were put on the earth to stay together and have a family—that is their first obligation and must supersede everything else.

The Symbolism of the Fall in Context

Rockwood gives a beautiful summary of the three episodes of the Fall. At the same time, she demonstrates why the story cannot be fully appreciated when presented as a laundry list of isolated symbols. Instead, the account must be understood as a harmonious whole:[54]

In the first episode, unity and perfection characterize all of the orders of creation. In the second episode, all orders of creation participate in their own fall,[55] which brings separateness and conflict in episode three. Yet the author introduces the story with a statement that celebrates the fall from immortality to mortality and ends it in the same way.

The symmetry of the story is, in fact, one of contrasts. In episode one there is unity and perfection but there is no joy, for they know neither good nor evil. They have no knowledge. Their very innocence leaves them defenseless. In episode two, they gain knowledge, realize they are naked, and attempt to conceal their guilt from God. Their very guilt, however, means they have gained knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil. With [correct] knowledge they can cover their “nakedness,” thus acquiring a defense against evil. The experience is compounded of both bitter and sweet. Episode three presents a final contrast. Because they are mortal, they will now experience pain and hardship. They will be separated from Deity. Yet, paradoxically, they will only now be able to know joy. They are sent away from the Garden, but it is for their own good, for they are imperfect and could no longer live in the presence of perfection. Nor could they gain experience in an environment where their needs are automatically supplied. The Lord provides them with clothing (shields of knowledge) to cover their nakedness (defenselessness). They can now defend themselves against evil. His final response is thus an act of compassion, not punishment.

Reading the entire account as a poetical unit thus resolves many of the individual elements; they are symbols, symmetrically paired to reveal the layers of contrast in the story as a whole.


Latter-day Saints should rightfully honor Eve while also recognizing Satan as the cunning Tempter that he is. Though she was once deceived, Eve’s innate perceptiveness, augmented by her experience, is recognized by a diversity of traditions that associate her with Wisdom itself (Sophia). While briefly successful, Satan’s strategy to destroy the couple’s happiness was no match for the greatness of God’s wisdom and love. Eve’s forthright and intelligent initiative was a decisive blow to the Adversary.

This essay is adapted from Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2014. English: ; Spanish:, pp. 137–148.


Notes on Figures

Figure 1. © James C. Christensen, courtesy of The Greenwich Workshop, Inc., with the assistance of Wendy Wentworth and Scott Usher.

Figure 2. © Brian Kershisnik, #01074.



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Young, Brigham. 1855. "Consecration (Discourse delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, 3 June 1855)." In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 2, 298-308. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.

———. 1862. "The love of truth and righteousness implanted in the natural man; kindness and firmness in governments (Remarks made by President Brigham Young, Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, June 15, 1862)." In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 9, 305-08. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.



[1] As retold by Katerina Servi, the Greek myth of Pandora runs as follows: “When Zeus discovered that Prometheus had stolen fire, he was extremely angry. In order to punish mankind, he told Hephaestus to make a woman out of earth and water. To this woman each of the gods gave a gift—some beauty, some skill, and so on—and for this reason the woman was called Pandora (‘All Gifts’). Hermes, however, on the orders of Zeus, put wickedness into the soul of Pandora and took her to Epipmetheus[, the brother of Prometheus], supposedly as a gift from the gods. One day, Pandora, out of curiosity, opened a storage jar which the gods had entrusted to her, whereupon all the ills and disasters which torment mankind leapt out. Last, at the bottom of the jar, only Elpis—Hope—remained” (K. Servi, Greek Mythology, p. 23).
[2] See, e.g., V. M. Adams, Eve; V. M. Adams, Eve (2010); B. Campbell, Eve; C. F. Olson, Women; A. L. Gaskill, Savior and Serpent; J. T. Summerhays, Wisdom; V. H. Cassler, Two Trees.
[3] See, e.g., B. Young, December 1844, reported in E. England, Laub, p. 28. See also B. Young, 3 June 1855, p. 302.
[4] T. G. Madsen, LDS View, pp. 99-100.
[5] Rockwood succinctly explains the situation: “If we take the view that [Adam and Eve] were separated at the time of the temptation, implied in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, then we can say that the woman was presented with a set of deceptive and incomplete facts and concluded through her own perception what the results of her actions would be. Thus, she made a more difficult choice. She then presented the situation to the man in a clear and rational manner which enabled him to perceive his alternatives accurately and, hence, the course he should take… There is no tempting or coercing on the part of the woman and apparently no hesitation on the part of the man. They became mutually responsible for the transgression” (J. E. Rockwood, Redemption of Eve, p. 19).
[6] E.g., Article of Faith 2; J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, 9 February 1841, p. 63; D. H. Oaks, Plan, p. 73; R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 231.
[7] Stephen T. Whitlock gives the personal opinion that what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden “cannot be compared to our concepts of sin, transgression, repentance and forgiveness in the telestial world we live in. I believe the rules were different and there was great care to balance agency and life. … Eve’s action was a choice made outside the boundaries of our earthly existence, prior to the initiation of the sin/repentance process. Our LDS ‘definition’ of and application of the word ‘transgression’ is an imprecise attempt to state this” (S. T. Whitlock, 8 February 2010).
[8] J. E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Preface, p. 5. See J. E. Talmage, Essential, pp. 163-170; J. R. Talmage, Talmage Story, pp. 181-187.
[9] J. E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 29.
[10] 1 Timothy 2:14. Verse 15 says: “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” The Joseph Smith Translation changes “she” to “they,” highlighting the joint responsibility of husband and wife in their family responsibilities.
[11] J. E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 18.
[12] From the author’s preface, 3 April 1899. See J. E. Talmage, Essential, pp. 44-62; J. R. Talmage, Talmage Story, pp. 154-159. Harvard S. Heath writes:

To this day, Articles of Faith is one of the few books the church recognizes as reflecting Mormon theology. It is interesting to note that this book, at the behest of the First Presidency, was published under the church’s name and not by the author as an individual. The book has undergone numerous editions and remains one of the definitive words on Mormon principles and practices. (cited in the Foreword to J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1998), p. vi).

[13] J. E. Talmage, Articles (1984), p. 59.
[14] Ibid., p. 63.
[15] Moses 4:11.
[16] Moses 4:10.
[17] A. L. Gaskill, Savior and Serpent, p. 79.
[18] Ibid., p. 79.
[19] In my initial reading of Gaskill’s book, it was immediately apparent that he intended to emphasize the value of the account of the Fall as a metaphor for our own lives. However, it was only through his much-appreciated email replies to my questions as I prepared this chapter that it was made clear that he saw no part of the story in scripture or in the temple as applying to the “historical” Adam and Eve.

Gaskill’s arguments are sometimes very subtle. It was in my seeking to disentangle the “historical” and the “metaphorical” Eve in various passages he had written, that Gaskill wrote back to make it clear that none of his conclusions, apart from some of his statements made in the first chapter of the book, concerned the “historical” Eve. It should be understood that he has no issue with Adam and Eve existing as historical figures—he just doesn’t think the story in Genesis was designed to teach us about them.

One of the objections I made in my book of Moses commentary about Gaskill’s view of the Fall was based on a mistaken assumption that he was making a distinction between the two Eves in the passage about Satan’s efforts to beguile (J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 595). This error was corrected in subsequent editions of the book.

[20] Romans 5:14. The entire verse reads: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” The thrust of Paul’s argument here is to show that sin and its consequences were in the world long before the law of Moses was given, and one proof is that all mortals are subject to death because of the transgression of Adam. Even those who “‘had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,’ never sinned in their own persons as Adam did—which is to be understood of infants, that were never guilty of actual sin, and yet died” because they experienced the effects of the Fall (M. Henry, Commentary, Romans 5:6-21, p. 2205). For Paul, “Adam is a type, a prefiguring or foreshadowing of Christ as the head of humanity. As the first man, Adam caused death to reign in the human race. As the new and perfect Man, Christ brings eternal life to humanity” (J. N. Sparks et al., Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 5:14n., p. 1530).

To single out those who had “not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” however, is to imply that others had done so. Spiritual death has continued to reign “because man overwhelmingly continued to sin in rebellion against God” (ibid., Romans 5:14n., p. 1530). In this sense, as 2 Baruch concludes, “Adam is… not the cause [of unrighteousness], except only for himself, but each of us has become our own Adam” (A. F. J. Klijn, 2 Baruch, 54:19, p. 640).

The degree to which the premortal, mortal, and postmortal phases of the story of Adam and Eve parallel the experience of every one of God’s children raises the question about whether, before taking upon themselves mortality, there would have been an opportunity for these spirits to have disobeyed God’s commandment “after the similitude of Adam’s transgression”—in effect experiencing a kind of personal “fall.” Though the rebellion of Satan and his hosts clearly demonstrates that sin was possible in the premortal life, it is a matter of conjecture whether sin and repentance were part of the general experience of all who lived in the spirit world.

The only scripture that seems to bear directly on this question is D&C 93:38, which reads: “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God, having redeemed man from the fall, men become again, in their infant state, innocent before God.” Brent Top interprets the verse as follows: “The key word is ‘again.’ This seems to indicate that men had lost innocence in the premortal world through sin and disobedience, but were once again, through the great plan of Redemption, made innocent before God upon entering mortality ‘in their infant state’” (B. L. Top, Life Before, p. 95; cf. Moses 6:53). Another possibility is that the comma between “again” and “in” was inserted erroneously. Without this comma, the scripture would simply imply that the Redemption of Christ (accomplished through the ordinances) brings men again to an infant state, in other words, innocent before God.

Regarding the question of sin in premortal life, Elder Orson Pratt offered his opinion that:

… among the two-third [of God’s spirit children] who remained [after Satan’s rebellion], it is highly probably that, there were many who were not valiant…, but whose sins were of such a nature that they could be forgiven through faith in the future sufferings of the Only Begotten of the Father, and through their sincere repentance and reformation. We see no impropriety in Jesus offering Himself as an acceptable offering and sacrifice before the Father to atone for the sins of His brethren, committed not only in the second, but also in the first estate (O. Pratt, The Seer, 1:4, p. 54, punctuation standardized, cited in A. C. Skinner, Temple Worship, pp. 51-52).

[21] J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1998), Preface, pp. x, xii; J. R. Talmage, Talmage Story, p. 172. The description of Elder Talmage is still reused frequently in Church publications today.
[22] J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1998), p. 54.
[23] A. L. Gaskill, Savior and Serpent, p. 79. Gaskill cites the literal rendering of Hebrew into English given in a footnote of the LDS edition of the Bible at Genesis 3:4a (“Dying, ye shall not die”), a Gnostic account (“With death you shall not die, ” from The Reality of the Rulers, 90:4-5, as cited in E. Pagels, Adam, p. 67), and Irenaeus (“Ye shall not die by death,” from Irenaeus, Heresies, 5:23:1, p. 551), among others, to support the phrasing of his translation. However, while it is true that the literal wording of each of these sources parallels the Hebrew of Genesis, the crucial point is that none of them support the meaning that Gaskill attempts to read into the phrase. In Hebrew, the kind of repetition that occurs within these phrases always signals intensification.
[24] See, e.g., B. L. Bandstra, Genesis 1-11, pp. 174-175; U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, pp. 143-144.
[25] Brigham Young, December 1844, reported in E. England, Laub, p. 28.
[26] H. L. Andrus, Doctrinal (Rev.), p. 156-157.
[27] 2 Nephi 2:18; Ether 8:25. See also 2 Nephi 9:9: “the father of lies.”
[28] See also 2 Nephi 9:9 (“the father of lies… who beguiled our first parents”); Ether 8:25 (“the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents”). Additional references to the incident include Mosiah 16:3 (“that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall”); and D&C 29:41 (“the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment”).
[29] J. T. Summerhays, Wisdom.
[30] V. M. Adams, Eve; V. M. Adams, Eve (2010); B. Campbell, Eve, pp. 71-73; B. Campbell, Eve.
[31] Moses 4:6.
[32] In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul speaks of how “the serpent beguiled Eve through his craftiness.” The following is a sampling of LDS sources that conclude that Eve was deceived: B. Young, 15 June 1862, p. 305; O. Pratt, 18 July 1880, p. 288; G. Q. Cannon, Truth, 1:24; B. H. Roberts, The Truth, p. 350; J. B. Wirthlin, Without Guile, p. 80; B. R. McConkie, Eve, p. 63; J. F. McConkie et al., Revelations, p. 221; B. R. McConkie, New Witness, p. 86; S. E. Robinson, Book of Adam, p. 133; J. E. Talmage, Articles (1984), pp. 59, 63; O. Pratt, 18 July 1880, pp. 288-289; O. F. Whitney, Thoughts, 12, pp. 284-285. This same view is not uncommonly held by non-LDS exegetes (e.g., V. P. Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, pp. 182-184). Thanks to Matthew B. Brown for assistance in locating references.
[33] N. Aschkenasy, Woman, p. 127. Compare B. Campbell, Eve, p. 71.
[34] See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 255-256.
[35] 2 Nephi 2:15–16. Note that the use of the term “beguile” would have been impossible here, since phrasing of the verse required the same word to be used for good and evil desire.
[36] 2 Nephi 9:39 (“the enticings of that cunning one”); Helaman 7:16 (“the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls”); Moroni 7:12 (“the devil… inviteth and enticeth to sin”). The sole exception is Helaman 6:26 (“that same being who did entice our first parents”).
[37] N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 25; cf. J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, pp. 26-27.
[38] Moses 4:12. Compare R. Alter, Five Books, p. 28 n. 2 comely.
[39] Ibid., p. 24; N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 25.
[40] J. E. Talmage, Articles (1984), p. 59.
[41] J. E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 18.
[42] J. E. Talmage, Articles (1984), p. 59.
[43] Ibid., p. 59.
[44] See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 257-258.
[45] See, e.g., J. R. Holland, Christ, pp. 202-205; J. A. Widtsoe, Evidences, pp. 193-194; B. H. Roberts, The Truth, p. 343, see also pp. lxii-lxiv; E. W. Tullidge, Women, pp. 198-199. While each of these sources imply that Eve had some insight into the ultimately positive consequences of her choice, none of them directly take issue with the idea that Eve was also, to a greater or lesser degree, “beguiled” or “deceived.”
[46] See, e.g., D. H. Oaks, Plan, p. 73. Note that the ellipsis in the excerpt of Elder Oaks’ talk included in C. F. Olson, Women, p. 12 might give the erroneous impression to a reader that Elder Oaks was affirming Eve’s understanding of the necessity of the Fall prior to rather than after the transgression in Eden. In doing research for this chapter, I have encountered other instances where the textual ambiguity or failure to provide appropriate context may similarly mislead. Olson rightfully warns of the widespread, and too often deliberate, tactic of “taking out of context something a believer has said [and] looking at the selected phrase from a different perspective than the speaker intended” (ibid., pp. 11, 13).
[47] Moses 4:6.
[48] H. W. Nibley, Patriarchy, p. 88.
[49] S. D. Hopkin, Women, Eve, and the Mosaic covenant: A Latter-day Saint theological reading, pp. 177–178.
[50] J. E. Rockwood, Redemption of Eve, pp. 19, 20. See also J. E. Rockwood, Eve’s Role, p. 55.
[51] Moses 4:16. In the original, Rockwood cites the Genesis version of this verse.
[52] Moses 4:19.
[53] H. W. Nibley, Patriarchy, pp. 88-89.
[54] J. E. Rockwood, Redemption of Eve, p. 22.
[55] Rockwood is here asserting that the plant, animal, and human orders of Creation each participated in the Fall: the Tree of Knowledge through its fruit, the animal kingdom through the serpent, and humans through Adam and Eve.

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