READ Genesis 1-2 from the Bible AND Ken Stone, “The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract” from the attachment. 
This homework assignment will help ensure a dynamic classroom experience, and it will aid in progress on the course learning outcomes:

Understand key questions and issues with respect to the application of the Bible to modern justice issues
Critically analyze ways in which the Bible has, is, or could be used to address modern injustices
Recognize the complexity in any attempt to apply ancient biblical texts to justice concerns in the modern world
Think critically about one’s own fundamental views with respect to the Bible and contemporary justice issues

Include the following

Identify the main ideas of the assigned reading.
Identify two things you found interesting and want to discuss in class.
Identify at least one question you have upon completion of the reading. This should not be a “google question” (i.e., What are “Euroamericans”?). (You may include more than one question.)Take Back
The Word
a queer reading
of the Bible
Robert E. Goss and Mona West, editors
Cleveland, Ohio
The Garden of Eden and
the Heterosexual Contract
Queer cultural criticism has impacted a number of humanities disciplines: literature, history, music, art, political science, and religion. It has also impacted the
academic reading of biblical texts. Ken Stone, a seminary professor of the Hebrew
Bible, applies queer criticism to the so-called heterosexual contract in the Garden
of Eden story. He does not try to read the text as queer affirming; rather he presents
a strategy that emphasizes the contradictions and the tensions within the text. He
troubles or problematizes a heterosexual reading of the garden story. Stone’s essay
represents a queer strategy for deconstructing the heterosexual privilegizing of the
biblical texts.
Queer interactions with the Bible often focus on a handful of passages that
refer to, or can be interpreted as referring to, same-sex sexual contact.
Because these passages are frequently used as proof-texts to condemn homosexuality, careful attention to them is both easily understood and justifiable. 1
Yet such a focus also carries with it certain risks. For example, by working
continually over texts that seem actually to refer to homoeroticism, queer
readers may ignore other texts that simply presuppose that sexual relations
between women and men are socially normative and divinely ordained.
Consider, in this context, the frequency with which one hears such statements as “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Although it is
tempting to dismiss this sort of statement with scorn, the appeal to such an
“argument” underscores the need for reflection on the ways in which biblical texts that do not refer to same-sex sexual activity at all are nevertheless
characterized by what we might call, borrowing a phrase from Teresa de
Lauretis, “heterosexual presumption.” 2 I use this term, “heterosexual,” with
Ken Stone
some hesitation here since the term often carries with it certain assumptions about identity that should not be imposed anachronistically upon the
ancient world. 3 Nevertheless, there is plenty of evidence that many cultures
and societies (including those that produced the Bible) have valorized the
sexual relation between women and men, especially in terms of its reproductive potential, and have stigmatized to varying degrees other forms of
sexual contact.
In a series of provocative essays, Monique Wittig has argued that this
valorization of heterosexual relations and sexual reproduction is in fact already implicit in the binary sexual differentiation of humankind. According
to Wittig, the division of the human species into male and female is a historical and social phenomenon accomplished through language rather than
a self-evident biological fact, but it is often mistaken for the latter. ”And although it has been accepted in recent years,” she adds, “that there is no such
thing as nature, that everything is culture, there remains within that culture
a core of nature which resists examination, a relationship excluded from
the social in the analysis … which is the heterosexual relationship. I will
call it the obligatory social relationship between ‘man’ and ‘woman.’ “4 Wittig insists that “the categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’ … are political categories
and not natural givens.” 5 As her use of the adjective “political” indicates,
such categories are, in Wittig’s estimation, not innocent. Rather, the binary
categories of sex are defended with such vehemence precisely because they
constitute the foundation upon which the heterosexualization of society and
the imperative of sexual reproduction rest. In Wittig’s words, “[t]he category
of sex is the political category that founds society as heterosexual.” 6
Wittig’s discussion suggests that binary sexual differentiation works to the
disadvantage of those whose lives do not conform to conventional expectations about sex, gender, and sexual behavior-for example, lesbians, gay
men, bisexuals, and transgendered persons. Indeed, careful attention to the
lives of transgendered persons in particular reveals the inadequacies of the
rigid binary systems of sexual categorizing that Wittig attacks. 7 But Wittig
also argues that the category of “sex” is detrimental to all women inasmuch as it “conceals the political fact of the subjugation of one sex by the
other” while grounding heterosexual relationships in the order of nature itself.8 Building upon Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s notion of the “social contract,”
Wittig goes on to refer to the system of assumptions and institutions that
rests upon binary sexual division as “the heterosexual contract.”9
In the wake of Wittig’s argument, the attraction of such statements as
“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” becomes more apparent. Once the binary sexual division of humanity is attributed to God
and located at the moment of the creation of humankind, endless arguments over the explicit biblical attitude toward homoeroticism can appear
The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract
to be somewhat beside the point. The emphasis can now fall, not so much
upon the occasional biblical condemnation of same-sex sexual activity, but
rather upon the divine imperative to have sexual relations with the opposite
sex. And since the binary sexual differentiation upon which this imperative
rests does appear to be presupposed throughout the Bible, the fact that the
Bible has so few explicit references to same-sex sexual contact becomes less
problematic for the proponents of the heterosexual contract. What is important is that the Bible does promote, naturalize, and sanctify a particular
“obligatory social relationship between ‘man’ and ‘woman.'”
The present essay considers certain aspects of this problem in relation to
the Genesis creation accounts. I will argue that the structure and content
of these accounts makes them especially attractive as rhetorical supports
for the heterosexual contract. After a brief discussion of the first biblical
creation account (Gen. 1: 1-2:4a} and its reception, a discussion that underscores some of the problems raised for queer readers by this text, I will
turn to the second biblical creation account (Gen. 2:4b-3:24). Although
this text, too, can be (and often has been) read as a foundation for compulsory heterosexuality, I will argue for the importance of a reading that focuses
upon the instability and incoherence of this textual foundation. While such
a rereading can never turn Genesis into a queer manifesto, it may reveal
potential openings for queer contestation of the heterosexual contract or,
in any case, of biblical justifications given for that contract.
The creation account in Genesis 1: 1-2:4a (generally referred to as the
“priestly” creation account) moves, as has often been noted, in an orderly
and progressive fashion. From its beginning in a time of watery chaos to its
conclusion on the day of God’s rest, the narrative constructs a picture of
the process whereby God creates the ordered structures of the cosmos. Although it incorporates mythological themes that appeared throughout the
ancient Near East, the story was probably written to foster confidence in
Israel’s God in the wake of the Babylonian Exile. 10 By representing Israel’s
God as the creator of an orderly cosmos, the priestly writers hoped to encourage trust in the power and might of that God at a time when such
power and might seemed to have been called into question by the events
of history.
At a crucial point in this story, God creates humankind. The priestly creation account notes at the first appearance of humanity its twofold sexual
division: “So God created humankind (‘adam) in his image, in the image
of God he created it, male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27) .u
The binary sexual differentiation of humankind seems, therefore, to be
Ken Stone
part of God’s orderly cosmos from the beginning. While this initial statement says nothing about sexual relations, such relations are implied in the
verse that follows. There we find God’s first commandment to the new
human beings: “Bear fruit, and increase in number, and fill the earth” (Gen.
1:28). The commandment is concerned with procreation and not with sexual ethics, but sexual intercourse between males and females is obviously
Now there is a great deal of historical and comparative evidence indicating that readers should proceed with caution when interpreting this
commandment. Sexual relations with members of the opposite sex were not
always understood to be exclusive of same-sex sexual contact in the ancient world, as studies of Greek and Roman attitudes and practices reveal. 12
Thus, we cannot simply assume that an ancient imperative to produce offspring (and, hence, to participate in opposite-sex sexual intercourse) was
necessarily understood to imply a prohibition on all forms of same-sex sexual
On the other hand, neither should we underestimate the effects of this
representation of the creation of humanity or ignore the possible relations
between that representation and a hostility toward homoeroticism. Because
the linguistic structure of Genesis 1:27 does underscore a binary division of
humankind (“male and female he created them”) and moves immediately to
an emphasis upon reproduction, the text easily lends itself to interpretations
that valorize the relation between woman and man and make that relation
key to the understanding of human ontology and vocation. Indeed, it is
not difficult to find such interpretations. Karl Barth, for example, made the
following comments in his discussion of creation in the influential Church
Men [sic] are simply male and female. Whatever else they may be, it
is only in this differentiation and relationship. This is the particular
dignity ascribed to the sex relationship …. [A]s the only real principle
of differentiation and relationship, as the original form not only of
man’s confrontation of God but also of all intercourse between man
and man, it is the true humanum and therefore the true creaturely
image of God. Man can and will always be man before God and among
his fellows only as he is man in relationship to woman and woman in
relationship to man …. The fact that he was created man and woman
will be the great paradigm of everything that is to take place between
him and God, and also of everything that is to take place between him
and his fellows …. In all His future utterances and actions God will
acknowledge that He has created man male and female, and in this
way in His own image and likeness. 13
The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract
Notice the rhetorical drift of this passage. Barth seizes upon the fact
that human binary sexual division is juxtaposed in Genesis 1:27 with an
affirmation that human beings are created in the image of God. Thus,
within the course of a few sentences, Barth can imply a direct link between these two, arguably distinct, phenomena: sexual dimorphism and the
image of God. The “image and likeness” of God in humankind seems in
fact to consist in Barth’s discussion, at least in part, in humanity’s having been created male and female. And, just in case Barth’s reader has
not read Monique Wittig (and so remains oblivious to the possibility that
an emphasis upon binary sexual difference underwrites the heterosexual
contract), Barth returns to this theological interpretation of humanity in
a later volume of the Church Dogmatics. Raising the specter of “the malady called homosexuality … the physical, psychological and social sickness,
the phenomenon of perversion, decadence and decay,” Barth reminds his
reader once again that “humanity … is to be understood in its root as the
togetherness of man and woman.” 14
I will leave it for others to decide whether any of the theological points
that Barth wished to make with such statements can be redeemed for a
nonheterosexist theological project. 15 In the present context, I am more
interested in noting how the structure of Genesis 1:27-with its juxtaposition of a reference to binary sexual division, on the one hand, and a
reference to the “image of God” in humankind, on the other-encouraged
such a reading. Indeed, this juxtaposition has led other sorts of readers,
working on very different types of projects, to make remarkably similar
Consider, for example, the influential feminist study by Phyllis Trible. Trible also suggests, on the basis of a close literary analysis, that ” ‘male and
female’ correspond structurally to ‘the image of God'” in Genesis 1:27. 16
Humankind, Trible argues, “is the original unity that is at the same time
the original differentiation.” The differentiation to which Trible refers is,
of course, binary sexual differentiation: “From the beginning, the word
‘humankind’ is synonymous with the phrase ‘male and female.’ ” 17 And, by
taking her reader through a consideration of parallelism, tenor, and metaphor, Trible can conclude from Genesis 1:27 that” ‘male and female’ is the
finger pointing to the ‘image of God.’ ” 18 The binary division of humankind
into two sexes, male and female, thus becomes for Trible as for Barth an
indicator of what it means to be created in “the image of God.” Trible, of
course, in distinction from Barth, deploys this argument strategically toward
the goal of constructing nonpatriarchal communities of faith, a goal that I
share. Yet it has to be recognized that her argument veers perilously close
to the rhetoric of “gender complementarity” that is so often used in support
of heterosexist positions.
Ken Stone
The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract
It is worth pointing out here that the readings put forward by Trible and
Barth have not always been accepted within biblical scholarship. On the
contrary, a number of biblical scholars have argued that the phrase “image
of God” in Genesis 1:27 probably does not refer to binary sexual division
(which is apparently shared by humans with the animals, which are also
commanded to “be fruitful and multiply” [Gen. 1:22]). 19 The primary point
I wish to make, however, is that whatever the original authorial intentions
behind Genesis 1:27 might have been, the structure and content of the text
as it stands do seem to encourage interpretations that grant a foundational
status to binary sexual division as a crucial defining feature of humankind.
Thus, when we compare the interpretations of Barth and Trible with Wittig’s
argument, we become aware of the extent to which Genesis 1:2 7 lends itself
to readings that buttress the heterosexual contract.
Butler’s work encourages us to focus upon instabilities and ambiguities in
those texts, instabilities and ambiguities that might represent weak spots in
the biblical foundation of the heterosexual contract and, hence, openings
for a queer contestation.
With that encouragement in mind, let us turn to the second or “Yahwist”
creation account. This text, generally considered older than the priestly
account, can also be seen as serving the interests of hegemonic heterosexuality-it is here, after all, that we find Adam and Eve rather than
Adam and Steve. The text serves in fact as a sort of explanation for the
origins of opposite-sex marriage, an attempt to explain and perhaps justify that institution by narrating the way in which it came into existence.
Hence, after recounting an operation on the original human being that
results in two humans, one male and one female, the narrator is careful to note that “therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and
clings to his woman [or “wife”], and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) .
At a later point in the story, God’s response to the transgressions of the
human pair in the Garden of Eden includes decrees that-particularly in
the case of the woman–consolidate the reproductive imperative. From now
on, God insists, the woman will desire her man (or “husband”) in spite of
the fact that the pain associated with childbirth has been increased. Thus,
the story as a whole seems not only to insist upon binary sexual difference
but also to underscore the inevitability of sexual reproduction (with particular consequences for the woman), to affirm the subordination of women to
men, and to highlight the importance of desire (at least in the case of the
woman) for the opposite-sex partner. In all of these respects, the Yahwist
creation account serves as a paradigmatic example of Wittig’s heterosexual
Yet there are certain features of this text that make its support for the
heterosexual contract somewhat more problematic. It is interesting, for example, that the text needs to specify in 3: 16b that the woman’s “desire” or
“longing” will be directed toward her husband and that this specification
of heterosexual desire occurs in a list of those features of human existence
that result from the pair’s transgressions. What are we to make of this surprising and often-ignored statement? A reader might very well conclude
that heterosexual desire on the part of the woman is a consequence of-r
even a punishment for-the woman’s misdeeds rather than an original component of her nature. Perhaps it is true, as some scholars have suggested,
that the writer of this story simply assumed that Adam and Eve had sexual
relations with one another already in the Garden of Eden. 23 But it is nevertheless striking that the text seems to display a certain amount of insecurity
about the woman’s desire for the man, having to insist upon that desire as
something that God ordains while also recognizing that it is a consequence
Wittig’s response to the problems presented by the heterosexual contract
seems to involve some sort of movement beyond such categories as “sex”
and “gender” altogether. As she puts it, “[t]he refusal to become (or toremain) heterosexual always meant to refuse to become a man or a woman,
consciously or not.” 20 Since compulsory heterosexuality and patriarchy establish themselves through the continued inscription, by way of language
and ideology, of binary sexual difference, it is important in Wittig’s opinion
to refuse the categories “woman” and “man” upon and through which the
heterosexual contract is constructed.
Judith Butler, however, in an important study that is greatly indebted to
Wittig’s analysis, argues nevertheless that Wittig grants too much success
to the role of sex and gender categories in establishing compulsory heterosexuality and patriarchy. Butler agrees with Wittig that the naturalization of
sex and gender categories needs to be exposed as an attempt to ground the
heterosexual contract, but in Butler’s view it is not sufficient to reject the
categories of sex and gender altogether in hopes of moving beyond them to
some utopian space. Even when categories of sex and gender are deployed,
they seldom succeed in reaffirming what Butler calls the “heterosexual matrix” of society in quite so total a fashion as Wittig seems to imply. Hence,
Butler emphasizes the instability of the norms and categories of sex and gender, an instability that allows them to be contested in a fashion “that robs
compulsory heterosexuality of its claims to naturalness and originality.” 21 It
is this instability, of course, that leads to Butler’s influential “performative”
theory of gender.22 Transposing this philosophical discussion into the present
context, however, we might say that if Wittig’s work encourages us to look
with suspicion at biblical texts that undergird the heterosexual contract,
Ken Stone
The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract
of her rebellion, a consequence that might not have been any more certain
than such other consequences as, for example, the woman’s increased pain
in childbirth, the man’s having to toil and labor as he works a recalcitrant
earth, or the snake’s having to crawl upon its belly. Moreover, this statement about the woman’s heterosexual desire is followed immediately by the
infamous recognition that, from now on, her husband will “rule” over her.
The conjunction of these two statements almost makes it sound as if the
text recognizes, with Wittig, that women might have good reasons for refusing to submit to the terms of the heterosexual contract, so the text has
to insist upon the installation of heterosexual desire as a guarantee of such
Moreover, the Yahwist creation account, in distinction from the priestly
text that precedes it, makes no reference to sexual division at the initial
creation of humankind. Rather, the text simply states that “Yahweh God
formed ‘adam from the dust of the ground ‘adamah), and breathed into its
nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7). A single creature is produced here
rather than a pair, a creature referred to as ‘adam. To be sure, Genesis 2:7
has often been read as a reference to the creation of a specifically male
creature named Adam. It is therefore frequently said that God created man
before woman, and this interpretation has sometimes been given (e.g., in
1 Tim. 2: 13) as a justification for the subordination of women to men. In
recent years, however, the obviousness of this interpretation of Genesis 2:7
has been called into question, especially by feminist literary analyses of the
Bible. 24 Such readings point out that the word ‘adam functions within the
Hebrew Bible not only as a proper name but also as a generic term for
humanity. The word is in fact used in precisely this sense in the previous
priestly creation account (Gen. 1:27) . The sexually differentiated terms ‘ish
(man) and ‘ishah (woman), on the other hand, do not appear in the Yahwist text until Genesis 2:23, after the creation of the second creature. Is it
legitimate, then, to read binary sexual difference into the text prior to this
There are, in fact, some logical difficulties raised by any interpretation
that would argue that ‘adam is male prior to the appearance of the woman.
Just what exactly does it mean to have a single “male” creature prior to the
creation of a female one? Is he “male” by virtue of his genitalia? If so, what
functions might we imagine to have been served by these genitalia at a time
when sexual reproduction or sexual contact with any other human creature
was impossible? And if we close off this uncomfortable question (to which
I return below) by arguing (though without textual support) that specific
biological and anatomical features associated with sexual reproduction were
not yet present, then we have to ask ourselves whether there is any sense
in which it remains meaningful to speak of the first creature as male.
Such feminist readers as Trible and Mieke Bal suggest, therefore, that it is
preferable to think, not of God’s having created Eve out of Adam, but rather
of God’s having created Adam and Eve by dividing a single androgynous
being, ‘adam, into two creatures, ‘ish (man) and ‘ishah (woman) . Since the
word ‘adam is clearly used in Genesis 2 in the context of wordplay with
‘adamah, “ground” or “earth,” from which ‘adam is taken, Trible offers the
translation “earth creature” for ‘adam and notes that this creature is not
yet sexually differentiated. 25 This understanding coheres in certain respects
with the interpretations of early Jewish readers who, by reading the second
creation account in light of the references to sexual difference that already
appear in the first account, also concluded that ‘adam was an androgynous
creature. 26
Now there are obviously some attractive features of this reading of ‘adam
as an androgynous “earth creature” rather than a man. From a feminist
point of view, it gives the reader a biblical text with which to combat the
attempt to ground male supremacy in the secondary creation of the first
woman. In the context of the present article, it also presents us with a
countertext to the priestly creation narrative, a countertext in which it is
not self-evident that binary sexual division is assumed from the beginning
of human existence.
On the other hand this interpretation, too, runs into problems that make
it difficult to accept without qualification. For example, the term ‘adam
continues to be used with reference to the male character even after the
creation of the woman, implying perhaps that ‘adam was already understood
to be male prior to that time. Moreover, the speech of ‘adam in 2:23 does
seem to indicate a continuity of identity between ‘adam and the “man”
(‘ish) when it notes that “woman” was taken “from man” just after verse
21 has specified that God caused ‘adam to fall asleep and then took “one
from his ribs” in order to create the second human. Furthermore, the man
who is punished in 3: 17-19 is assigned agricultural tasks, just as ‘adam was
assigned agricultural tasks by God in 2: 17, prior to the creation of the second
So in spite of the literary and linguistic features that lead some readers
to argue that the first creature is androgynous or sexually undifferentiated,
there are other features of the text that lead other readers–even other
feminist readers-to reject this interpretation and identify the first creature,
‘adam, as already a male creatureY Hence, as several perceptive commentators have noted, the Yahwist creation account as it now stands is riven with
tensions and contradictions, problems of logic that cannot be completely
resolved but that the story attempts to paper over in an attempt to account
for human existence as experienced and understood by the story’s male
authors. 28 Such a conclusion underlies the argument of David Jobling, for
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The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract
example, who–reflecting upon the implications of his structuralist reading for feminist analyses-resists the conclusion that “‘positive’ features”
of the story’s female character result from a nonpatriarchal consciousness
underlying the text:
Adam and Steve, but simply Adam, who stands alone in the garden with no
one but God. For whom, then, are the man’s sexual components intended?
God is only then represented as noticing the lack of a partner or “helper”
and as searching for one, first of all by assuming naively that the animals
will serve this role and only then by creating a second creature out of the
first one. What is striking is that God’s search implies a recognition that
God alone is not a sufficient companion for the man. 31
At precisely this point in the text it might be productive to read Genesis in
dialogue with the recent work of Howard Eilberg-Schwartz. In a fascinating
(if somewhat speculative) interpretation indebted to psychoanalysis, EilbergSchwartz argues that the discourse of the Hebrew Bible is overdetermined by
an attempt to deny the implications of an unconscious homoerotic relation
between Israel’s male deity and that deity’s male worshiper. 32 Is it possible
that the representation of God’s searching for an appropriate partner for
Adam is a reflex of a felt need, on the part of the text’s writer, to preclude the
possibility of this sort of homoerotic relationship? That such relations were
imaginable within ancient Israel is clear from the sixth chapter of Genesis,
where sexual relations between divine and human beings (albeit female
human beings) are both acknowledged and condemned (Gen. 6:1-4).
I hasten to add that I am not trying to argue here that such a repressed divine-human homosociality can serve as the foundation for a
gay-affirmative reading of the Bible. As feminist critics have noted, a certain
sort of homosocial relation is implicated in, and may even help to establish,
the domination of women by men. 33 My intention is simply to raise the
possibility that the discomfort with potential homoerotic relations between
male Israelites and their male deity that Eilberg-Schwartz emphasizes might
motivate the ambiguity of ‘adam’s gender assignment in the Yahwist creation
account. The writer refuses to specify that ‘adam is a “man” (‘ish) until the
creation of the “woman” in order to prevent unwanted interpretive speculations. But this refusal enables, perhaps against the author’s intentions, the
feminist reading of ‘adam as a sexually undifferentiated “earth creature,” a
reading that-however contested–opens a textual space from which the
heterosexual contract might begin to be unraveled.
I would like to suggest in conclusion that an appropriate “queer” response
to this text is, not to resolve the tensions and contradictions that I have
highlighted, but rather to emphasize them. Indeed, it should be obvious
by now that my goal in these “intertextual meanderings” 34 has not been to
argue that the Yahwist creation account is really a queer-positive text. What
I am trying to argue is that the biblical contributions to the heterosexual
contract, though clearly present and certainly visible in the Genesis creation
accounts, are less secure than many contemporary readers wish to admit.
One legitimate and important strategy of queer “resistance reading” 35 of
Rather, they are the effects of the patriarchal mind-set tying itself in
knots trying to account for woman and femaleness in a way which both
makes sense and supports patriarchal assumptions. Given that there
must be two sexes, why cannot they be really one …. In the face of
the irreducible twoness, the text strives for a false unity by making
maleness the norm, and accounting for human experience by making
“humanity as male” its protagonist; but it fails in this, for “humanity
as male and female” inevitably reasserts itself as the true protagonist. 29
Now I agree with Jobling that the text as it stands is characterized by tensions and contradictions related to sex and gender and that these tensions
and contradictions result from the social ideology that generated the text. I
would like to suggest, however, that the situation is even more complex than
Jobling’s analysis indicates and that what we find “tying itself in knots” in
this text is not simply “the patriarchal mind-set” but, rather, the heterosexual
contract upon which patriarchy relies. Instead of suggesting that “humanity
as male and female” has to “reassert” itself here, I propose that it is precisely the goal of this text-as it is also the goal of the priestly creation
account-to buttress the heterosexual contract by sketching the etiology of
“humanity as male and female.” In order to do this, the Yahwist text-in
distinction from the priestly account-attempts to speak about a moment
prior to the establishment of binary sexual difference, but it does so from
an ideological position (inhabited also by most of the subsequent readers of
this text) that both presupposes and promotes compulsory heterosexuality
and patriarchy. It is this difficult project of trying to imagine a moment before the establishment of an institution-the heterosexual contract-which
is nevertheless everywhere presupposed, that leads the Yahwist to formulate a text with interpretive problems that continue to vex readers to the
present day.
Let us think further about the bind in which this text consequently finds
itsel£ Given the fact that the Yahwist text was certainly written (as Jobling
recognizes) in a thoroughly, if not uniformly, patriarchal society, 30 it is possible that the author of the text actually does wish to assert the temporal
priority of male over female, and perhaps also the closer (because prior)
relationship between the male creature and the God who creates him. This
wish, however, leads to an uncomfortable situation: the man is, by virtue
of being a man, presumably sexed but without an appropriate partner prior
to the creation of the woman. God has created neither Adam and Eve, nor
Ken Stone
the Bible (though not, of course, the only one) is therefore to expose this
insecurity in Genesis and elsewhere. Such exposure will never in itself be
a sufficient condition for the elimination of religious heterosexism, but it
may prove to be a productive contribution to such elimination. If we are
able to contest what Butler calls “the regulatory fiction of heterosexual
coherence” 36 by showing that the rhetorical foundations of this fictionincluding the supposed biblical foundations-are never quite so coherent
as we have been led to believe, we may open up spaces for the production
of alternative, queer subjects of religious and theological discourse. 37
1. Helpful studies of such passages include Saul M. Olyan, “~nd with a Male You
Shall Not Lie the Lying Down of a Woman’: On the Meaning and Significance of Leviticus
18:22 and 20: 13,” Journal of 1M History of Sexuality 5, no. 2 (1994): 179-206; Bernadette J.
Brooten, Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1996); Dale B. Martin, “Heterosexism and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32,” Biblical Interpretation 3, no. 3 (1995): 332-55; Deirdre Good,
“Reading Strategies for Biblical Passages on Same-Sex Relations,” Theology and Sexuality
7 (1997): 70-82. For my own comments on some of the issues, see Stone, “Gender and
Homosexuality in Judges 19: Subject-Honor, Object-Shame?” Journal for the Study of the
Old Testament 67 (1995) : 87-107; idem, “The Hermeneutics of Abomination: On Gay
Men, Canaanites, and Biblical Interpretation,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 27, no. 2 (summer
1997): 36-41.
2. Teresa de Lauretis, “The Female Body and Heterosexual Presumption,” Semiotica
67, nos. 3/4 (1987): 259-79.
3. See Jonathan Ned Katz, The In11ention of Heterosexuality (New York: Dutton, 1995).
Cf. David M. Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love
(New York: Routledge, 1990), esp. 15-40; Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of
Heterosexuality and the In11ention of the Jewish Man (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1997), esp. 13-23.
4. Monique Wittig, The Straight Mind and Other Essays (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992),
5. Ibid., 14.
6. Ibid.
7. Cf. Michel Foucault, Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Disc011ered Memoirs of a
Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite, trans. Richard McDougall (New York: Pantheon
Books, 1980).
8. Wittig, Straight Mind, 5.
9. Ibid., 32; cf. 33-45.
10. Cf. Bernard E Batto, Slaying the Dragon: Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), esp. 73-101; Jon D. Levenson, Creation and
the Persistence of E11il: The Jewish Drama of Di11ine Omnipotence (San Francisco: Harper and
~~w, 198~); Robert B. Coote and David Robert Ord, In the Beginning: Creation and the
nestly Hrstory (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991) .
The Garden of Eden and the Heterosexual Contract
11 . The reader will no doubt notice the use of masculine pronouns in my translation.
Such usage does not reflect a resistance to inclusive language but rather recognizes the
need to uncover patriarchal and androcentric assumptions when they appear in the text.
For a helpful discussion of the issues, see Phyllis Bird, “Translating Sexist Language as a
Theological and Cultural Problem,” in her Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities: Women
and Gender in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 239-47.
12. See, e.g., Kenneth Dover, Greek Homosexuality, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989); Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality; John J. Winkler, The
Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (New York:
Routledge, 1990); Paul Veyne, “Homosexuality in Ancient Rome,” in ~stem Sexuality:
Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, ed. Philippe Aries and Andre Bejin, trans.
Anthony Forster (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985); Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure,
trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Random House, 1985) .
13. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/1, The Doctrine of Creation, trans. J. W. Edwards,
0. Bussey, and Harold Knight, ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. R Torrance (Edinburgh: T. & T.
Clark, 1958), 186-87.
14. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/4, The Doctrine of Creation, trans. A. T. Mackay
et al., ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. R Torrance (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1961), 166.
15. Cf. Graham Ward, “The Erotics of Redemption-After Karl Barth,” Theology and
Sexuality 8 (1998): 52-72.
16. Phyllis Trible, God and 1M Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978) ,
17. Ibid., 18.
18. Ibid., 20.
19. See, e.g., Phyllis Bird,” ‘Male and Female He Created Them’: Genesis 1:27b in the
Context of the Priestly Creation Account,” in her Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities,
123-54; James Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993),
159-73; Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of E11il, 111- 17.
20. Wittig, Straight Mind, 13.
21. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subl!ersion of Identity (New York:
Routledge, 1990), 124.
22. For an important consideration of the relevance of Buder’s theory for theological
discourse, see Mary McClintock Fulkerson, “Gender-Being It or Doing It? The Church,
Homosexuality, and the Politics of Identity,” in Que(e)rying Religion: A Critical Anthology,
ed. Gary David Comstock and Susan E. Henlc:ing (New York: Continuum, 1997), 188-201.
23 . See, e.g., James Barr, The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality (Minneapolis:
Fortress Press, 1992), esp. 66-69.
24. See, e.g., the otherwise very different feminist literary interpretations of this story
by Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, 72-143; and Mieke Bal, Lethal Love: Feminist
Uterary Readings of Biblical Love Stories (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987) ,
25. Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, 80; cf. Bal, Lethal Love, 113-14.
26. See Daniel Boyarin, Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1993), esp. 35-46.
27. See, e.g., Susan S. Lanser, “(Feminist) Criticism in the Garden: Inferring Genesis
2-3,” Semeia 41 (1988) : 67-84; Beverly J. Stratton, Out of Eden: Reading, Rhetoric, and
Ideology in Genesis 2-3 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), esp. 102- 4.
Ken Stone
28. See, e.g., David Jobling, The Sense of Biblical Narrative: Structural Analyses in the
Hebrew Bible II (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1987), 17-43; Danna Nolan Fewell
and David M. Gunn, Gender, Power, and Promise: The Subject of the Bible’s First Story
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 22-38; Pamela J. Milne, “The Patriarchal Stamp of
Scripture: The Implications of Structural Analyses for Feminist Hermeneutics,” reprinted
with a new afterword in Athalya Brenner, ed., A Feminist Companion to Genesis (Sheffield:
Sheffield Academic Press, 1993). The original version of Milne’s article appeared in]oumal
of Feminist Studies in Religion 5, no. 1 (1989): 17-34.
29. Jobling, Sense of Biblical Narrative, 43 (italics in original) .
30. I realize that some readers will not wish to grant the predominantly patriarchal
nature of both Israelite society and biblical discourse, but I see no way around such a conclusion. Cf. Milne, “The Patriarchal Stamp of Scripture”; Bird, Missing Persons and Mistaken
Identities; Fewell and Gunn, Gender, Power, and Promise; J. Cheryl Exum, Fragmented Women:
Feminist (Sub) Versions of Biblical Narratives (Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity Press International,
1993); idem, Plotted, Shot, and Painted: Cultural Representations of Biblical Women, Journal
for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement Series 215 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic
Press, 1996); Athalya Brenner, The Intercourse of Knowledge: On Gendering Desire and “Sexuality” in the Hebrew Bible (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997) ; and the various contributions to
Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, eds., The Women’s Bible Commentary (Louisville:
Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992) .
31. C£ Fewell and Gunn, Gender, Power, and Promise, 27.
32. Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, God’s Phallus: And Other Problems for Men and Monotheism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994) .
33. See, e.g., Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Uterature and Male
Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), esp. 1-20.
34. I owe this term to Teresa de Lauretis, “Eccentric Subjects: Feminist Theory and
Historical Consciousness,” Feminist Studies 16, no. 1 (spring 1990) : 139.
35. The term is offered by the Bible and Culture Collective to refer to “different readings that resist the oppressive use of power in discourse” in their The Postmodem Bible
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 302. I would argue that the strategies outlined
in this volume are crucial for a queer reading of the Bible.
36. Butler, Gender Trouble, 136.
37. For my argument in favor of the production of queer theological subjects through
alternative practices of biblical interpretation, see my “Biblical Interpretation as a Technology of the Self: Gay Men and the Ethics of Reading,” in Bible and Ethics of Reading,
Semeia 77, ed. Donna Nolan Fewell and Gary Phillips (1977): 139-55.
What Does Manzanar Have to Do with Eden?
Various interpretations of the Bible are done and related to different contexts in the
world. Yamada is one of the scholars who make such interpretations, arguing that the setting of
the Garden of Eden has some relationships with the world war. His support for this argument
shows that both the world war and life at the Garden of Eden had an authority who exercised
power for self-preservation. He also indicates that they are common in that they have an aspect
of survival in times of adversity and a lack of obedience.
In his interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3, it is interesting to note his argument that these
two chapters are a myth trying to explain various things, such as why a woman hates a snake,
why women experience pain during birth, or why it is hard to work on the ground. While many
die-hard Christians have set all their belief in these Biblical explanations and hardly encourage
joking around with God’s word, some “mediocre” guys are arguing that this explanation is a
myth; just a story that is given to explain why things are the way they are. It is a wonder how a
firm Christian would perceive and react to such an argument.
The perspective from which the author sees Yahweh is also interesting. The author tries
to imagine that Yahweh made a creature – human beings – and later turned to threaten to be
more powerful than He is. Out of the fear of this threat, God removed them from the Garden of
Eden. He also prevents them from accessing knowledge and life, and those who try to seek
wisdom are punished. This explanation is a weird revelation of the Bible to true Christians.
While only positive revelations of the bible are made, this argument makes a negative and an
unusual revelation. Such negative revelations are not likely to be encouraged by firm believers of
the word.
a question comes to my mind on whether the founders, supporters, and followers of
Christianity should welcome criticisms concerning different explanations from the Bible. Can
some true Christians be influenced and drawn away from the beliefs they firmly hold?

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