Lecture: “ Creating Adam and Eve: Body, Soul and Gender in Sixteenth-century Germany,” Kathleen Crowther-Heyck
June 13, 12:00 Noon (LJ-119, Thomas Jefferson Building) [view map]
This talk explores the meanings and uses of the story of Adam and Eve in 16th-century Germany. It focuses on two sets of stories about what happened to Adam and Eve after the fall: "Adam legends" from the Middle Ages and "catechism legends" from the 16th-century.
The Adam legends were a very popular set of stories about the lives of Adam and Eve after the fall. The legends provide extra-biblical embellishments such as how Adam and Eve tried to do penance in order to be readmitted to Paradise, how angels served as midwives at the birth of Cain and taught Eve to breast-feed, and how Adam learned the arts of agriculture. The catechism legends were also stories about the lives of Adam, Eve and their children after the fall, but they were produced by Lutheran writers in the second half of the16th-century. These stories tell how God came down from heaven to test Cain, Abel, Seth and other offspring of Adam and Eve on their catechism, and how He rewarded the children who could recite their catechism with wealth, honor and power, and punished those who could not with poverty, shame and servile status.
Dr. Crowther-Heyck argues that these very different stories about life after the fall reflect different theological understandings of original sin and its consequences. She also uses analysis of these stories to explore continuities in the ways people approached the Bible and used biblical history to make meaning out of their own experiences.
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