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Reclaiming Eve  

By Suzanne Burden

If Eve is the "type" for every woman-the first female made to reflect God-what do we as women see when we look in the mirror? A beautiful image-bearer of God (Genesis 1:27-28), created as an agent of rescue and a strong power to rescue others from isolation (Genesis 2:18)? Or a woman living forever in the shadow of her sin?

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What's a girl to do with the problem of Eve?


 1. Recognize where we went wrong.


God created male and female (Genesis 1-2) with a mutual, interdependent relationship. He didn't specify strict roles, but a shared responsibility to care for the earth and its creatures as he would. Sadly, the Fall in Genesis 3 brought difficulty into our relationships, and God predicted that the woman's counterpart would rule over her. Park your thoughts about women in Genesis 3, and women will be forever subordinate to men.


Elements of Greek thought, which spread throughout the Roman Empire and affect us even today, taught that women were given to man as a curse and that they were the greatest of all evils. If these thinkers were right, a woman loses her agency: what Webster's describes as being "empowered to act for another." As followers of Christ, we might describe it as the ability to fully represent God's interests as his image-bearer.


2. Recognize how Jesus sets women free.


Now contrast the thoughts of some ancient Greek writers with how Jesus interacts with women in the gospels. As Jesus ushered in his Kingdom, the old way of doing things was done away with; the new had come. So it is that we find Jesus traveling with women and being supported by them; teaching them as he would his male disciples, and engaging marginalized females like the Samaritan woman in deep theological conversation. When an unclean, bleeding woman touched him, she was instantly made whole-rather than Jesus becoming unclean. And in a shocking reversal of convention, Jesus sent out Mary Magdalene as the first witness to the Resurrection. As Scot McKnight writes, "The implications of the fall are being undone for those who are in Christ."


So what's a girl to do with the problem of Eve? First, we recognize that both Adam and Eve sinned. Second, we affirm that their sin did not cancel God's intentions. And, finally, we affirm that in Christ, we are called to restore relationships tragically broken by sin. God's full interests can only be represented by his original intentions: male and female designed to freely serve him together, side-by-side. To that end, followers of Jesus should work to restore agency to every female God has created-all for the Kingdom's sake.

Reclaiming Eve
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Suzanne Burden holds an MA in Theological Studies and blogs at suzanneburden.com. She recently coauthored the book Reclaiming Eve: the Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God (Beacon Hill Press, March 2014), available online with the Reclaiming Eve Small Group DVD (July 2014). View her videos on women of the New Testament set free through the power of the gospel.