Who Told You That You Were Naked?

On Self-Awareness in Genesis

To be afforded a cognizance so concrete as to be a player in the very first instance of the human awareness of Self in the history of our existence is to exceed communion with the divine, it is to be of the divine. The godhead is all-seeing and all-knowing—of oneself; itself—and that end is applicable not merely to the possession of or creation of facts, but to be able to perceive such things (Revised Standard Version, Job 38.2; 40.2). Since awareness encompasses each of these facets, it is a holy gem and one obtained by mankind in the original sin. That the Serpent deceived Eve into partaking of the very pill, in a sense—the antidote of ignorance, that dependency of external discernment—so to speak, which would nourish her soul with the ability to commune with her own human divinity is the quintessential example of the impact of Adam and Eve not developing shame, but having it thrust upon them almost as quickly as God thrust clothes onto their bodies; that God is perturbed that his two primordial humans are in league cunningly with him (intellectually) shocks the Creator and automatically serves as an expression of the importance of Chapter Three of the Biblical Book of Genesis (Gen. 3.1-7).

Before the liturgical establishment of the Holy Trinity, one much older and worldlier was instituted in Eden as a Trinity of Blame. From this, the nakedness of the morals of God and of Adam and of Eve was covered—clothed—simultaneously in material and ethereal fashions (Gen. 3.21). Donning the garb of shame, the primordial human couple immediately took note that they were adorned too in blame. That the two humans become aware of their nudity is not the point of merit in this piece of Scripture; it is the birth of self-preservation through an act of destruction—blame—which warrants study. For in a significant geometric route, the first appearance of blame in the world travels at an astounding, almost synaptic speed. From God inquiring of Adam the identity of his own, only possibly deific, antithetical authority in the Garden—the Serpent—the Creator sparks within his Man the lightning bolt of Preservation.

Wandering among his epitomic creation—Eden—God seems to be unaware of Adam’s whereabouts and calls out to Man, who remains hidden. Transfixed by new knowledge of his vulnerability found in being nude, Man expresses his embarrassment through word and gesture; covering his genitals while explaining his awkwardness; as will be shown, it is this response of the primordial humans, their words coupled with dramatic gestures, which come to integrate the concepts of personality and human nature as they are formed (Gen. 3.4, 3.12-13).

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” (Gen. 3.8-11).

Adam, cowering among the paradise’s foliage in his own divinity—divinity by virtue of being possessed of knowledge so equivalent to that possessed at this time by God as to make its mutual possession holy—commands with utterance and gesture a manipulation of influence; he blames his female counterpart, his earthly wife, Eve. “She gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate” Adam not merely replies, but accuses (Gen. 3.12).

From Adam to Eve, this blame, commenced as a sheepish, self-preserving, shameful reply to God’s perplexed inquiry, flows horizontally, if we may refer to the famed bronze door of Saint Michael’s in Hildesheim, Germany which depicts so wonderfully and with triangular foundation the Fall of Man, forming a bond of iniquity between the two humans: the Son and the Daughter of the Creator, and forming simultaneously one side of the triangle which makes the Trinity of Blame (Janson, 207). “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate”; she, too, accuses (Gen. 3.13). Eve, with utterance and gesture, motioning to the wily Serpent before her feet, draws the second line of this triangle, and stands as the second personality of its Trinity.

“God [said], ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’ . . . for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” the Serpent may be seen to sarcastically—accusingly—note, while stating, “[y]ou [did] not die”: an inconsistency on God’s supreme part (Gen. 3.1-5). In these two important statements, the Serpent indirectly blames God almost as though the Lord had it coming on account of his error, his lie. This casts the Serpent as the third personality of the Trinity of Blame—now, as the allusions show, constructed of the Son, Daughter, and Adversary of the Creator; each an emanation of Him—and the slithering provocateur draws with its clever breath the third and final line—path—of the route along which the very first blame in history travels.

While the Serpent can be said to be voicing, however indirectly, an accusation at God, it must be noted that the Serpent’s crucial musings occur prior to the blame Adam commences, but nonetheless by virtue of the innovation of each, are essentially blame, and in essence directed however explicitly at God (Gen. 3.1). From Adam to Eve to the Serpent blame travels. Though the traditional doctrine of the Trinity alluded to did not appear historically until many centuries after Genesis, the image it is used to help paint here can be expressed in terms comparable in hierarchy to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the Serpent, the Daughter, and the Son (of the Creator) (Matt. 28.19).

It is most interesting to announce that previous to the Fall of Man as the Christian theological tradition terms the scene rampant in the third book of Genesis, Man does not seem to possess the ability to blame at all; Man is even given authority over every other entity on earth except himself, which means blame is impossible for it requires at least a partial extent of assumed equality to be challenged (Gen. 1.26). There are no instances in the first two books of Genesis where humans have any major speech or thoughts, or even exercises of their earthly authority (and indeed, no challenges to it). This begs the question of what actually caused Adam and Eve to react the way they did to God’s simple but authoritative question of who told them, exactly, that they were naked. Certainly, God’s own reaction to their reaction is fascinating as well in its display of challenged authority, shaky blame (Gen. 3.14-19). Was it sensitive knowledge that the humans were living in a state which should actually be considered embarrassing? Why is God perturbed that Adam does realize he is naked? Is God so concerned only because he himself has a fear: the fear that he does indeed have an opposing authority in his perfect realm?

Since God actually sets foot on earth in Book Three—a very rare occurrence in the entirety of The Bible—this signals an importance underlying the act (Gen. 3.8). God does not seem too concerned that his humans have partook of a forbidden fruit, indeed, it seems the Lord does not even know they have, the Lord asking, “Where are you?”, but that the terms on which Adam and God commune are doubly impersonal in syntax yet familial in diction, it proves that there was from the beginning, within Man, an inherent ability to discern that which is capable of being thought by Man’s creator (Gen. 3.9). God and humankind do not read minds, least of which each others’ across the planes of Heaven and Earth, but Genesis shows us in this scene with his question that God is seeking to obtain new knowledge, asking his primordial experiments who made them aware—gave them the new knowledge—of their shame. Adam and Eve are filled with not only the ability to receive new knowledge, but new knowledge itself (Gen. 4.1). God alone knows of the duality of being naked and being garbed, yet by inquiring of his creations an explanation of this distribution of select knowledge, proves that they are now in a state of realizing their congruity with their ruler. They become as naked and simultaneously knowing and unknowing as him (Gen. 3.22). A dangerous equality comes of this realization and it is not surprising that Adam and Eve instinctually react by using verbal destruction in the form of blame to escape their own physical destruction in the form of spoken preservation.

To deliver to the reader’s mind yet again the image of a holy triangle, a divine diagram, it should be acknowledged that while the Father—God—sits at the apex of the doctrinally-accepted example, in recognition of duality, the Trinity of Blame is a reversed triangle, not having an apex, but a nadir at which the antithesis of the Father rests: the Serpent. Adam and Eve, that Son and that Daughter of the Lord, grace the two corners of this inverted triangle at its top, and this is indicative, too, of the serpent’s place in accordance with God’s curse: perpetual dwelling on the ground, below even Adam and Eve, who themselves are below God. In Heaven, the Holy Trinity sits as a triangle upright, pointing ever upward, excelsior, while its dichotomous sibling rests below it on earth, in the profane world as a symbol of human nature, pointing as a triangle reversed downward. These two Trinities which rest on top of one another form a diamond, as in geometry, two stacked triangles do, and this is the ultimate symbol: the gem. It is error which is beautiful, dissident acts which evoke blame then repentance and overall, God’s justice. Were it not for the base inclinations of Adam and Eve and the Serpent to respond as they each did, then the importance of God being desirous to know something he did not would be irrelevant. “ . . . God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us[: naked,]” (Gen. 3.22). We are each one of us, divine in our dependence on blame, in negativity and positivity, for it defends us in spiritual nudity before whomsoever we may declare to be our Lord.

Works Cited

Genesis. The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version.

Janson, H. W. and Janson, Dora Jane. A History of Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1972.

Job. The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version.

Matthew. The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version.