Havah: The Story of Eve (2010), by Tosca Lee, is the most recent fictional account of Adam and Eve. Creating a full-length story about one character from four chapters of biblical material is an achievement. Likewise, using Hebrew words for proper names is a refreshing innovation. Still, a novella would have sufficed.
Yet I like only three things about Lee’s novel: Adam’s reaction to meeting Eve, the hard tasks of sowing and reaping, and Eve’s feelings of rejection after leaving Eden. The rest was bizarre fiction, almost fantasy. This novel also has little respect for the Bible, its only source. Lee said in the conclusion that we are all Christians, whether or not we believe the story of Adam and Eve is real. However, those who do not take the Bible literally, as a real but compressed history of real people, are not believers. Lee’s statement might explain her distortion of the biblical account.
The first distortion is creation. In Lee’s novel, God creates Eve weeks or months after Adam. This is nonsense. The pair was created on the same day, day six. The Bible says that God created “man in his own image, male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Then he told them to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28). Afterward, “the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (1:31). The creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 is a detailed explanation of the events of that day. After he symbolically rested on day seven, God did not create anything else. He was done.
God also gave no hint in his curses that Adam and Eve would ever return to the garden. They could not because of the tree of life, even if their sons had bruised the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). They could not eat from that tree “and live forever” (3:22). Thanks to Jesus Christ, death is no longer a curse. We will be resurrected with a new body. Death is also rest. No one wants to be old and feeble forever. In Lee’s novel, however, from the moment they leave Eden Eve looks forward to the day they will return. The real Eve probably never entertained this possibility. She surely missed sweet communion with God in the luscious garden, but that was it.
Finally, Lee depicts Eve as having produced dozens of sons and daughters. God said he would multiply her “conception,” i.e. many children (Genesis 3:16). However, we do not know how many children Adam and Eve had. We only know of their sons Cain, Abel, and Seth. The first and last had to marry a sister to continue the human race, so Eve had at least two daughters. But with Abel dead and Cain cursed to wander the earth, it seemed as though the promise of Eve’s seed crushing the serpent’s head had also died. This is why the unexpected birth of Seth was vital, “another seed … instead of Abel” (3:25). The real Eve had at least five children. Beyond that is pure conjecture.
Still, Lee is right about one thing. God’s curse on the earth did produce changes. First was the atmosphere. Lee depicts Adam and Eve leaving Eden during a thunderstorm. Some Christians think it never rained until Noah’s flood because, before the curse, God “had not caused it to rain on the earth” (Genesis 2:5). “A mist went up from the earth and watered … the ground” instead (2:6). Yet the curse must have changed the weather. God told Noah he would destroy the earth with a flood (6:17, 7:4). People did not take Noah seriously because they knew nothing about floods. But surely they knew rain. The concept of no rain falling on the earth for fifteen hundred years is preposterous. Nothing would grow. Likewise, fire and brimstone falling from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah was new, but not fire itself (19:24).
The second change Lee depicts is carnivorous animals. Although God told Adam and Eve that animals would eat only herbs and fruit from trees, the curse must have changed this fact (Genesis 1:29-30). Yes, God told Noah to gather “all food that is eaten” for his family and the animals on the ark so they would not starve (6:21). He also did not give people permission to eat “every moving thing” – animals, sea creatures, and birds – until after the flood (9:3). However, this mandate must have been an exception. Unless animals ate more than grass, herbs, and fruit, even with human hunting the animal population would have overrun the earth after fifteen hundred years.
Facts are one thing. Character is another. I dislike Lee’s portrayal of Eve, someone who is selfish and cruel to Adam but wants more for her descendants than being a stay-at-home wife and mother. Lee’s Eve is also ungrateful, wanting Adam to stay at home all day when he needs to find food and shelter. She is even angry about Adam’s betrayal in Eden, blaming everyone except herself for her disobedience. The real Eve was the first to sin and she led her husband to do so. But she was also probably kinder, or at least less brash, than Lee’s portrayal. I do not think Lee knows what it is to feel rejected by God, spiritually, and male authority figures, emotionally. Nor does she know the fruit of that behavior. A study of “the father syndrome” might help Lee professionally.
As a fictionalized account of the story of Adam and Eve, Tosca Lee’s Havah is an accomplishment. However, the novel falls short as a faithful representation of Eve. Until one is written and published, readers should adhere to the Bible.
 New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted