An Academic Essay: ‘The Human Apology: Debunking Lanier’s Biblical Incrimination’

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This post is an academic essay which explores and attempts to analyze the Renaissance poem of Amelia Lanyer, (1611): “Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women.” This poem has been the subject of political and religious arguments since it was penned. No matter where you stand in the spectrum of politics, we must defend free speech as writers. We must be willing to tolerate speech that we find repugnant or completely wrong.

The only two things I will not publish on this blog are (as our guidelines point out) romance and politically partisan rants. Political and religious philosophy are fair game, and I will publish works whether I agree with them or not based on the merits of the writing (like all other decisions I make concerning publication on this site).

Finally, we have published Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and atheists. That is the true manner in which all “Literary blogs/magazines” should operate, in my humble opinion.


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By Samuel J. Horstmeier

Amelia Lanier’s literary ultimatum, “Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women” successfully influenced feminist theology and protested common misogynistic assertions of the sixteenth century. However noble the cause, Lanier’s groundbreaking work in favor of equality fails to account for orthodox Christian theology, resulting in fruitless denunciation of men. Her argument revolves around the Biblical passage of Adam and Eve, who both eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, resulting in several things including the eventual physical death of all men and women. There are specific accounts throughout Lanier’s piece that place the blame of original sin in the hands of Adam, and additional statements rightfully expelling blame from the hands of poor Eve. However, I believe the sound argument is found in placing the misdeed of this original sin within the flesh of the serpent; the serpent is the root of the temptation that all humankind will endure.

Lanier claims that the evil occurrences throughout the fall of man, found in chapter three of the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible, are exclusively the result of Adam’s sinful heart. Adam did have a sinful heart, but Eve’s biblical actions and thoughts are not consistent with the arguments made in Lanier’s text. In Eves Apology, Lanier’s first defense of Eve reads,

“For had she known of what we were bereaved,

To his request she had not condescended” (Lines 27, 28)[1]

The argument that Eve would have felt subject to God’s request if she had known the consequence of worldly death, is errant. Genesis 3:3, the same biblical text, of course, that Lanier was using to rightfully promote feminism in religion and literature, reads “but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”[2] These are, in fact, Eve’s words to the serpent. Therefore, she did know the punishment before eating the apple but had been tempted by the devil who was regularly cited as the serpent in this biblical story of creation.

Though this conflict appears to place the blame back into the hands of Eve, one of the most thought-provoking arguments in this entire text puts a blanket justification overall sins of Eve, and inherently women. Lanier writes,

“If any evil did in her remain,

Being made of him, he was ground of all.” (Lines 65, 66)[3]

The justification of this idea is in Genesis 2:22, “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman…”[4] Lanier is making the claim that because Eve was made partly out of the original body of Adam, he is still to blame for all sins that she commits.

The good news for Lanier is that her writing, an arguably reckless yet just attempt to defend women from their persecution due to sin’s presence in the world, is unneeded. The accurate way to understand the flesh men and women were created with is to expel the gender-oriented arguments about humans, who were never made with the ability to choose God before flesh without a divine intervention. There is no way Eve, nor Adam, could have resisted the temptation put before them by the serpent. Though they could not have rejected original sin (eating the apple, no matter who bit first) because of the desires of their flesh, they were not justified in their actions. This argument that the serpent is to blame over Adam or Eve, which Lanier misses throughout the text, only helps to understand that the enemies are not necessarily the men nor women who mutually engage in or repent of sin, it’s that the enemy is the driving force behind all that separates humans from the creator.

Lanier’s attempt to step into the scholarly religious and literary worlds, dominated almost entirely by men throughout her life, is profound and revolutionary. Her desire to rip societal standards from the hands of misogynistic leadership and provoke initiative into the women in her audience, even at the expense of making clearly controversial biblical arguments, is trailblazing. This criticism of her work is consequential of a modern era in which millennials will come to redefine gender standards and equality, as well as further examine our standards of evangelical Christianity


[1] Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar, eds. The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1985. (Found on: http://faculty.fairfield.edu/repstein/apology.pdf )

[2] Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Book of Genesis

[3] Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar, eds. The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1985. (Found on: http://faculty.fairfield.edu/repstein/apology.pdf )

[4] Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Book of Genesis


Author’s Bio:

sam

Samuel is an award winning opinions writer for The Legacy newspaper, where he has published over a dozen contributions regarding religion, politics, and his community. He is an honors college student in St. Charles, Missouri, completing a degree in Political Science and Public Administration at Lindenwood University. Samuel enjoys reading and writing works that discuss matters of his Christian faith, and engaging political readers through thought-provoking articles regarding contemporary partisan issues.


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S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~

9 comments

  1. The question was “Did God really say…?” It was smooth from a silken tongue. He still asks the question today, to BOTH genders. And we still allow the temptation, disguised as a question, to slip its way into our thoughts. Once there, it tumbles into our beliefs and we soon embrace the idea that God might not be for us after all. He might not be good, and he might be holding back on us. There might be more and we are missing it. God’s very character is questioned. In blaming one another, we are actually laying the blame on God himself instead of where it truly belongs, upon the silken tongue of the enemy and our inability to plug our own ears. Thank you for this piece Sam. Welcome to Two Drops.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Samuel! I found your essay thought provoking. I am not familiar with Lanier at all, but I did look into some of her work. You indeed my friend, are a smart man! Welcome to Two drops of ink. I hope to see more of your essays. John.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, John! I’ve explored the page a bit before submitting this, and I thought the fact that other authors were so engaging made a huge contribution to this literary blog. I also enjoyed exploring your ThinkerMe site!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have downloaded a copy of the text of ‘Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women’ to review at my leisure. It seems worthy of further investigation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lanier wrote a fascinating piece; my challenge for her in the above analysis is to remove the gender oriented blame of original sin. Hope you enjoy the historic read!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Two people will see the same piece in different ways, it is what makes such historic reads interesting. We each draw out if it something different, often something that validates out own thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

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