[Note: This is a commentary on the book Eve, by Wm. Paul Young. It is not a full review but rather aims to address issues with theological and biblical themes in the book. As with Young’s book, The Shack, although Eve is fictional, it is a story by a professing Christian that features God, creation, and man’s fall into sin. These are foundational doctrines of the faith as given by God. Once that is on the table, a reader has valid grounds to examine what the writer has presented in light of God’s word. Page numbers are put in parenthesis after quotes or references; edition, Howard Books, 2015.]
A teen girl, Lilly, is found in a place called the Refuge by some of its inhabitants. We learn that Lilly is a chosen “witness” to creation. The reader does not know who Lilly really is, nor why she is able to have visits with Eve (as in Adam and Eve of Genesis). There are other “witnesses,” too, and apparently they are able to change what happened in order to change the future. Lilly is a teenage contemporary character, but is taken back to the beginning of time through what seem to be visions, but are also actual transports back into time. The plot swings between scenes with Lilly in the Refuge and her visions of/visits with Eve and witnessing creation.
Adam, a Baby Birthed by God
Lilly witnesses Adam being born as a baby (34), which is not how the creation of Adam is described in Genesis 1 or 2. Moreover, this birth is bloody (34, 42, 125). An Archangel uses a knife to sever Adam’s umbilical cord (from God?) and while God holds baby Adam to his breast, “tiny threads of bloody flesh” hang from the knife. Adonai’s garments are now “soiled with dirt and blood and water” (43).
Consequently, blood appears before any sin, before Adam is even able to act. Not only that, but Adonai is bloodied through the birth of Adam. Even as metaphor, this conflicts with the biblical teaching that God is unsullied by any stain or flaw. Also, the first blood recorded in Scripture is when God slays an animal to provide skins to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (Gen. 3). This first blood is important because it foreshadows the shed blood of Christ for sins. Later in the book, even this act of God is altered and undermined by Young.
Amazingly, and distressingly, after this birth, Adonai states: “They are bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” (43). This phrase “bone of my bone and flesh and of my flesh” is in the Bible, but where? It is in Genesis 2:23, uttered by Adam upon seeing Eve for the first time. It is disturbing that Young has God say this of Adam as though Adam literally came out of God and is the same as God. Anne Voskamp also uses this phrase wrongly in her book, One Thousand Gifts, saying that Jesus is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” This is false because she cannot literally be a part of Jesus as Eve was of Adam. And here is Young’s God claiming Adam has the relationship to God that Eve has to Adam.
Lilly later witnesses Adam appearing pregnant, and Eve being born from him (187). As disturbing as this is, Lilly sees Jesus, called “Eternal Man,” nursing Adam at his breast, and later, nursing Eve.
Eternal man proclaims: “Here in my arms and nursing at my breast is the highest expression of my creation” (42).
Later, it is explained to Lilly that
“Adonai nursed him. If God could birth a baby, you think They couldn’t feed him?”
and Lilly’s caretaker, John, tells her
“Of course They have breasts, and full of milk according to the Scriptures. Mother’s milk.”
The Hebrew term “El Shaddai” used for God may come from the word “Shad,” meaning “breast.” This is perhaps what Young is referring to. However, there are other explanations for El Shaddai. (See a discussion of this at http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/El/el.html).
Error on the Trinity
Young refers to God as “They” and “Them” as well as using the possessive “Their” (124, 186, 194). This confirms Young’s confused and erroneous view of the Trinitarian God which was seen in his book, The Shack.
Although the Trinity is three distinct Persons in the Godhead, God is one; God is not a “They.”
The Holy Spirit, Ruach (which means “spirit” and “wind” in Hebrew) is called “she” by Young (237). Although Ruach is a feminine noun, that in no way indicates that the Holy Spirit is to be viewed as feminine! Languages using masculine and feminine nouns are not always giving indications as to the gender of such words. La maison is French for “house” and is feminine, but this does not mean that a house is somehow related to the female gender.
Creation in God: The Russian Nest Doll?
Lilly is told by John that “creation was crafted inside God” and man was made inside Eternal Man, “created and birthed” (141, also 157). This action of being made inside God is referred to several times.
The people at the Refuge laugh at Lilly when she says she thought Adam was created as an adult (141).
Eve was “within Adam” (157, 187) for nine months during which “God fashioned the feminine side of Adam’s humanity” (187).
So it seems that all creation was not created from nothing but rather was made inside God and Adam was birthed and nursed by God. Eve was inside Adam and birthed by God outside of Adam.
God Not God Apart from Man?
One of Lilly’s friends tells her that although God needs nothing, “God will not be God apart from us. To live inside God’s life is to explore this mystery of participation” (100).
To say that God cannot be God apart from man or apart from creation is to express Panentheism, a view that God is contained in creation though He also transcends it. The principle is that it is necessary for God to have His nature in some manner intermingled with creation. This is a heretical view of God. God has always been God apart from creation; none of God’s being or essence is ever dependent on or a part of creation.
Han-el, Mythical Archangel
One of the characters is an angel named Han-el. New Age angel “expert” Doreen Virtue states:
In the Kabbalah, Haniel presides over the seventh, or Netzach, Sephirah (emanation of God’s will). This sphere is related to victory and represents our inner world of intuition, imagination, and emotions, from http://bit.ly/1NL5IyY.
A search will turn up numerous New Age and occult sites discussing Haniel. The Bible, however, only names two angels: Michael and Gabriel. Satan is not a proper name but rather a title meaning “adversary,” so we do not know his true name. Haniel is a name from lore and non-biblical beliefs:
Haniel (Hebrew for “Joy of God” or “Grace of God”), also known as Anael, Hanael or Aniel, is an angel in Jewish lore and angelology, and is often included in lists as being one of the seven archangels. Haniel is generally associated with the planet Venus, he is also the archangel of the Sephirah Netzach. The name Haniel probably derives from Hebrew hana’ah, “joy”, “pleasure” (qualities associated with Venus) + the suffix -el, “God”. Haniel is one of the archangels encrypted in the Sigillum Dei Aemeth of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly; from http://bit.ly/1WhjKvb
Please note that John Dee and Edward Kelly were involved in a type of ritual magic that calls upon (fallen) angels.
Han-el visits Lilly and is her guide in the Garden after Eve has been created (prior to that, Eve had been Lilly’s guide).
When I first saw that the main character is named Lilly, I immediately wondered if Young was referring to Lilith. Lilith is a character of Jewish and Gnostic lore and was, according to some accounts, the first wife of Adam. However, she was independent and would not obey him. In fact, Lilith is the Hebrew word for “night creatures” or “night hag” and became the name for a demon in mythological tales. From the NET Bible:
The precise meaning of lilit is unclear, though in this context the word certainly refers to some type of wild animal or bird. The word appears to be related to laylah, (“night”). Some interpret it as the name of a female night demon, on the basis of an apparent Akkadian cognate used as the name of a demon. Later Jewish legends also identified Lilith as a demon, from http://bit.ly/1gLOPan.
A mysterious character, Simon, calls Lilly “Lilith” early on in the story and Lilly does not understand why. Later, he tells her that maybe being Lilith makes her more than just a Witness (198). Eventually, she embraces the name and decides to call herself “Lilith” while at the same time feeling more and more unworthy (210).
The Turning, a Fall from Scripture
Before Eve is created, Adam has encounters with the wily serpent in the Garden. Lilly is told that Adam was created outside the Garden and then brought to the Garden. Lilly witnesses conversations between Adam and the serpent prior to the creation of Eve.
Lilly hears the serpent flatter Adam and plant the idea in Adam that he is alone (122-125). Adam’s conviction that he is alone becomes “the turning” and leads to a breach between him and God. Also, the serpent gives Adam the knife (called Machiara) that was used to cut the umbilical cord when Adam was born and Adam cuts himself on it, and once again, there is blood in the Garden (125). [Machiara is a Greek word for a knife used for killing animals or cutting up flesh, or is a sword or dagger, and is found in the New Testament. See http://goo.gl/F1v4kl].
This turning away leads to Adam conspiring with the serpent to deceive Eve (194-195, 226, 234). Eve was created to draw Adam back to God (196). But due to the conspiracy between the serpent and Adam, Eve was seduced into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree while Adam stands by in silence (225-227).
Afterward, Adam tries to clothe himself and Eve with branches from the tree (228), but he also kills some animals to try to atone for what he has done (229, 237). God then clothes Adam and Eve with the skins of these animals slaughtered by Adam! This is contrary to the biblical account that it was God who clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of an animal slain by God (Genesis 3:21), the first biblical record of death in the Garden, and an act which symbolizes the covering of sins through the blood of Christ.
Young’s recounting of events undermines the biblical account of God, who, out of his grace, slew an animal to cover the first man and woman’s nakedness. Their collusion in sin had undone them but God mercifully clothed them. Young’s chronicle presents a God who uses the skin of animals killed by Adam, so Adam is the source of the clothing. This entirely undermines the truth that it is God who, out of grace, provides the way of redemption.
Throughout this section, Young presents Eve as a victim who disagrees with Adam and is essentially innocent. In fact, as God drives Adam from Eden, Eve remains behind.
God’s details on the Fall have been changed by Young so that Adam actually sins (by turning away from God and conspiring with the serpent) before eating from the forbidden tree. Thus, eating from the forbidden tree becomes a secondary act of rebellion in Young’s story. Not only that, but Eve is an innocent and is not driven out of Eden, contrary to the biblical account. (Later in the book, Eve reveals that she decided to join Adam, and that this was her “turning,” 282, 284).
Lilly, now calling herself Lilith, is in the Garden when Adam is sent out of Eden. Lilith is there with Eve and Han-el as Adam continues to call to Eve across the boundary set by God to join him.
Lilith decides to “save” Eve by leaving Eden and joining Adam to be his companion, but Adam rejects her. This becomes a crisis to Lilly/Lilith, since in real life, Lilly was a victim of an abusive mother and of sex trafficking, and had become a broken, lost girl. The guise of Lilith was a deception perpetuated by Simon and a magical mirror that exacerbated Lilly”s already deep sense of unworthiness.
In the Refuge, Lilly is dying from a poison injected by the mirror and also from self-loathing, so her companions there pray for her. Outside Eden, Adonai finds Lilly and comforts her, telling her of his love for her, and she trusts him. This heals her and she awakens.
A woman at The Refuge, Letty (Leticia), reveals herself to be Lilly’s guardian angel, and she takes her to see Eve who is dwelling in a large tent with other women. These women are introduced by Eve as her “daughters,” and Lilly is also Eve’s daughter (this was also said at the beginning of the book).
However, biblically speaking, there are no female angels; angels are always presented as male in the Bible. So there can be no female guardian angel (moreover, whether there are guardian angels is itself disputed).
In the tent, Eve reveals to Lilly that there are “three women who would frame human history” (285). The three are Eve, Mary (who is in the tent and introduced to Lilly) and, no surprise, the third is Lilly, “the Bride, the one to whom the promised seed will forever be united” (287). This implies that Lilly represents the universal Church.
Lilly is presented with a Betrothal ring (a ring given to her earlier in the story by friends at The Refuge). Eve admonishes the doubting Lilly that “God keeps Their promises” (words repeated by the angel Letty two pages later) and Lilly responds, “Today, I trust Them” (288).
Given a key to go through a door, Lilly leaves The Refuge and finds herself back on earth in a health facility where apparently she actually was during the story, the Refuge being a parallel to the facility. The Refuge companions mirror people at the facility, including the angel Letty, the facility’s night custodian. But Lilly still wears the ring given her in the tent by Eve and remembers its significance.
So is Lilly the church? How can this be since she is an individual? And although the church is the bride in Scripture, the church is not anymore truly female than the men who also comprise the church. One must assume Young is using Lilly as a metaphor for the church, broken but healing and trusting God.
The tale of Lilly is actually the strongest element of this book, and if Young had made this only a story on the healing of a girl wounded in spirit, body, and mind, it could have been a good one. But instead, Young chose to make Lilly part of a larger story centered on, but contrary to, God’s description of the Fall. Not only is creation and the Fall into sin changed by Young, but even more crucially, God’s nature and the Trinity are changed and treated with distorted and sometimes distressing imagery.
In efforts to communicate God’s love, as he did in The Shack, Young perverts who God is. He twists the Trinitarian God into a group; the Creator into one who is mingled with his creation, physically birthing and nursing Adam and Eve; man’s sin of disobedience into a “turning” away from God (for Eve, it is her decision to leave Eden to be with Adam, a tale sharply departing from the biblical narrative); and skews how God provides redemption through his own actions without aid from men.
A strong caution must be issued for anyone thinking of reading this book as it presents significant theological views opposed to God’s word.
In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Young was asked about possible reactions to Eve (before the book’s release), and he said this:
==”There are also some who will read it and won’t ‘see’ her, sometimes because the timing isn’t right and their life’s journey has not granted the gifts inherent in suffering, or because their assumptions are too overwhelming and powerful to allow them to hear.
So yes, similar drama to The Shack, and perhaps even more intense [reactions] from some quarters. Human beings have much invested in the status quo, and some of us would rather [have] a quick apocalyptic fiery end of the universe than embrace change.” From http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/67962-william-paul-young-on-the-controversies-of-reimagining-eve.html
As he did with critics of The Shack, Young makes unfair assumptions about possible criticisms of the book. He also disparages anyone who may disagree. Statements such as “not granted the gifts inherent in suffering,” “assumptions too overwhelming,” “invested in the status quo,” and other such comments about would-be critics are nothing but hubris on his part. This is condescending and uncharitable. He allows no room for reasonable or theological disagreement with his view. His remarks seem to be made to bias anyone against disagreement with the book’s ideas.