Adam, Eve, the Devil, and our Fall from Grace

Featured Image Source

PART 1: Lesson Background

Target Group
This lesson would be taught to high-schoolers in either a comparative religion class, literature class, or a religion class for a faith-based school. The text requires some analysis, contextualization, and critical reading, so I would lean toward teaching this to later grades

Lesson Context and Construction
This lesson could be taught in a number of different contexts depending on the class. I think it fits best into an unit constructed around how the Bible was written, or how sacred books are written. In this case I would place this lesson midway or toward the end of a unit designed around the writing and canonization of Biblical texts.

The lesson would be centered around an essential question: What can non-canonical texts tell us about the lessons readers of the Bible are meant to understand? Students will perform close reading of three texts (the book of Genesis and two pseudepigraphal texts), and compare their stories as a group using prompts and a collaborative board. Finally, after comparisons are made, students will provide a two-paragraph written response to the questions:
– Based on our readings and comparisons, why do you think the pseudepigraphal texts were left out of the Bible? What lessons did they teach, or themes did they have that orthodox Christians didn’t like?

Students are given three texts, all relating to the fall of Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden as told from three different religious texts. They should perform a close reading of each text (either as pre-class homework as an asynchronous lesson before class time) and think about the following questions as they do so:

  1. What is the “lesson” of this passage?
  2. What does this passage tell us about the role of Adam and Eve?
  3. What does this passage tell us about the role of Satan?
  4. What causes the main character(s) to lose favor with God?

Students will hopefully see some stark differences in the way each passage answers these questions.

PART 2: Asynchronous Readings

Reading 1: Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, Verses 1 – 24
Excerpt Source

Reading 2: Vita Adae et Evae, Verses 12.1 – 21.3
Excerpt Source

Reading 3: The Apocalypsis Mosis, Verses XV 1 – XXX 1
Excerpt Source

PART 3: Group Discussion and Analysis

Next Steps
The class should discuss as a whole the different aspects of the texts that stood out while reading. As a class, fill out the chart provided below in order to both facilitate discussion and check for understanding.

Example Biblical Texts Chart

Finally, pose students the final two questions as a 2 paragraph short response they can work on during class, so that they have access to the chart. The short response could also be provided as homework, with the chart shared (or not, depending on the desired level of difficulty).

6 Replies to “Adam, Eve, the Devil, and our Fall from Grace”

  1. Hi Tyler,
    I think this is a really cool idea – I feel like the two pseudepigraphal excerpts are something that the students will have never been exposed to before and might surprise them, which will peak their interest. I like that you had them answer the same questions for all the documents so that you could compare and contrast, I had mine answer different questions for the different documents which I also think works, but for your lesson I think the way you set it up works really well.

    1. Thanks Maggie!

      Yeah, I like the surprise element of hearing this super familiar tale in a new way. I debated looking at different questions for each, but I think the comparison is easier just sticking to the same questions. It’d be interesting to see how your class turned out!

  2. After I stopped laughing at the title and Googled pseudepigraphal, I explored the lesson. Very interesting close read of the three texts. I like the simplicity of the comparison chart. Really opens up options for students to make novel observations and then defend their thinking with peers.

    I’m not much of a student of the bible, but it’s fascinating to think about the storytelling side of it. Especially when the stories vary. Years ago I read i journal piece about the Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. Thought it was fascinating.

    And I got hooked on Joseph Campbell and still have his series of lavishly illustrated large format books.

  3. Hi Tyler,

    This is a very cool lesson! I first like how you combined religion and literature together. Just a quick question, when you said, “This lesson could be taught in a number of different contexts depending on the class. I think it fits best into an unit constructed around how the Bible was written, or how sacred books are written,” did you also mean the translation as well? There are different translations in the Bible where some words aren’t present in other ones.

    1. Dude, super good point. My plan was to talk about how the cannon came to be, why some books aren’t included, and why some are. I think a good link to the present for students would be to also talk about translation. Maybe that could be included in this lesson, although it could probably even be it’s own. Great question.

  4. I love how well you laid out this lesson. I feel like you could even break out the lesson over a few days depending on how much time you want to give students to read the passages.

    I think the biblical text chart looks like a great tool for students to understand the overall lessons of each passage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.