Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Genesis Notes: Masculine Genius and Feminine Genius

Adam and Eve after Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (c.1818), Johann Anton Ramboux
You know, you read commentaries and studies and you think that you've picked all the meaning out of Adam and Eve in the Bible ... and then something completely new comes along and knocks you off your feet.

I'd heard the phrase "feminine genius" before but had never really thought about it Certainly I wasn't aware it came from John Paul II's 1988 Apostolic Letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women. Then recently a friend gave me a copy of a piece exploring the masculine genius (and the feminine too, never fear) based on what we can see in the text of chapter 2 of Genesis.

I've rarely seen something that so well illustrated men's and women's true nature and their complementarity. It is so insightful.
... But in the first instance, man is surrounded by the “things” God has made - and then tasked with naming all the creatures God brings him as they search for a suitable partner for him. It is in naming them that he takes dominion over them. ... It is here that we find the source and proper context of man’s well documented (and often ridiculed) natural tendency to attend to things. It is found in the Scriptural account of the first man. And it is his special genius.

Even more revealing, it is man who, at Genesis 2:15, is put in the garden to “till it,” well before the fall puts him at odds with creation. This is his work. And his knowledge of “things” serves him well as he goes about his work there.

Thus to this genius, we can credit the survival of the human species, the building up of civilizations, and the preservation of families throughout the history of mankind. The radical feminist movement would have you believe otherwise, but the truth is, if it weren’t for men, we would still be living in grass huts. ...

But this should not be taken to mean that man is oriented only toward things. When the woman is brought to him, though he also names her, he knows immediately that she is not an object; she is a person. For upon encountering her, he says “This at last is bones of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” Through his encounter with the woman, the Lord God reveals to him the nature of the reciprocal relationship of the gift of self. ...

A brief word concerning the source of the feminine genius is necessary here ... it is found when we recognize that woman’s first contact with reality is of a horizon that, from the beginning, includes man, that is, it includes persons. Upon seeing Adam, Eve recognizes another like her, an equal, while the other creatures and things around her appear only on the periphery of her gaze. Thus, in addition to her capacity to conceive and nurture human life, indeed prior to it, woman’s place in the order of creation reveals that, from the beginning, the horizon of all womankind includes persons, includes the other. The genius of woman is found here. While man’s first experience of his own existence is of loneliness, woman’s horizon is different, right from the start. From the first moment of her own reality, woman sees herself in relation to the other. ...
Dr. Deborah Savage, The Masculine Genius
This is just a bit. Be sure to click through on the link for the whole piece.

This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

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