Kingdom Women: Eve, a Mother to All by Suzanne Burden

Throughout the this year I will post an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor.  We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark  ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus.  Suzanne takes us back to the very beginning with a fresh look at Eve.

“I read that Adam and Eve story in Genesis,” she said. “And what happened with Eve wasn’t cool.”

I had to agree with new friend Ann, who had recently started reading the Bible.

Eve, the one that Jews and Christians claim as the mother to all humans, is most often defined by her sin—her infamous fall from grace:

“With the possible exception of Mary, Eve is the most misunderstood woman of the Bible. She has been wrenched from the actual words of the text, then shoved and pounded into various shapes to fit whatever void a culture feels in the collective psyche. So many alterations has she undergone, so many cultural reconstructions has she suffered, so many private purposes has she served, that it is next to impossible to get past this most symbolic of all females to examine the “real” woman. . . From the apostle Paul to C.S. Lewis, writers have used her to make theological points about human nature. This was inevitable, of course . . . And, according to which theologian one reads, Eve’s story is proof of women’s inferior reason, their innate feminine guile, or their superior daring and courage.” [1]

Our conflicted picture of who Eve was explains why one woman, when invited to hear a webinar about what it means to reclaim Eve, said: “Why in the world would I want to hear about Eve?”

Why, indeed.

Yet what woman in all the Bible can show us more clearly who we as women are designed to be? How can we ignore her if we want to know ourselves? How can we dismiss her if we wish for every girl and woman created to live out of her true identity as a daughter of God?In the book Reclaiming Eve, I explain it this way: “The way you feel about Eve reflects the way you feel about yourself.” [2]

But all is not lost. Though cultural forces have often painted Eve as a temptress rather than as God’s image-bearer, the Genesis account paints a different—even brilliant— portrait of Grandmother Eve.Rather than believing that the shadow of sin overtakes Eve’s story, we are challenged to believe some stunning truth about Eve, described in words written into a patriarchal Near Eastern culture, words that defy convention and stereotypes:

  1. God says she was his image-bearer as a female, fully representing and reflecting him and his interests. (Genesis 1:27-28).

  2. God says she was a strong power or strong helper, as indicated through the Hebrew word ezer, a word used 16 times for God himself in the Old Testament. (Genesis 2:18) Eve was neither superior nor inferior; instead, she was created as a powerful ally to join with Adam.

Sin would enter the world through both Adam and Eve, but sin would not have the final word. As Scot McKnight writes in the book The Blue Parakeet: “The good news story of the Bible is that the fall eventually gives way to new creation . . . the implications of the fall are being undone for those who are in Christ.” [3]

How else can we explain the redemption and restoration of so many daughters of Eve who interacted with Jesus himself? From Mary of Bethany to Mary Magdalene, from the Samaritan Woman to the Woman with the issue of blood, no woman was left behind.Instead, each woman Jesus encounters is given a new script. Through Jesus, the effects of sin are being undone! All is in the process of being set right again.

So we reclaim Eve’s first and truest identity: each of us is a strong power or ezer and each of us as women represents God’s interests as his image-bearer. And that, my friends, is God’s first intention for Eve and every woman after her. It’s her legacy to us: a legacy worth leaving.

[1] Owens, Virginia Stem. Daughters of Eve: Seeing Ourselves in Women of the Bible. (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2007), 19.

[2] Burden, Suzanne, Carla Sunberg, and Jamie Wright. Reclaiming Eve: the Identity & Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2014),18.

[3] McKnight, Scot. The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible(Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2008), 166.Do you believe Eve is the most misunderstood woman in the Bible? How does her story influence the story you are telling through your life?

Suzanne Burden lives in the Indiana heartland with her husband, David, where she serves as a part-time chaplain, writer and speaker. She is the coauthor of the book Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God, and confesses to regularly making paleo chocolate cake in the microwave. Check out her video shorts on eight women in the New Testament.   You can read more at her website, friend her on Facebook and follower her on Twitter @suzanneburden.