Monthly Archives: June 2015

Adam & Eve, according to James Joyce

I’m just reading for the first time, that masterpiece of James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  In Section III, I recently came upon this curious version of the Garden of Eden story.  This is a preacher speaking to our young hero Stephen Dedalus, among others:

“Adam and Eve, my dear boys, were, as you know, our first parents and you will remember that they were created by God in order that the seats in heaven left vacant by the fall of Lucifer and his rebellious angel might be filled again.”

“Alas, my dear little boys, they [Adam and Eve] too fell. The devil, once a shining angel, a son of the morning, now a foul fiend, came in the shape of a serpent, the subtlest of all the beasts of the field. He envied them. He, the fallen great one, could not bear to think that man, a being of clay, should possess the inheritance which he by his sin had forfeited for ever.”

And, after Adam and Eve ate the apple and were expelled from Eden,

“He [God] took pity on our poor degraded parents [Adam and Eve] and promised that in the fulness of time He would send down from heaven One who would redeem them, make them once more children of God and heirs to the kingdom of heaven: and that One, that Redeemer of fallen man, was to be God’s only begotten Son, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word.”

Has anyone else seen this version of the Genesis story … where Adam and Eve are created as replacements for Lucifer and his rebellious angel?  And where this same Lucifer — envious that his inheritance should be taken over by humans — appears to Eve in the form of the serpent?  And where God promises the expelled Adam and Eve that humankind would eventually be redeemed by Jesus Christ?


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Did slavery make America?


My wife  and I recently visited some relatives of hers, who live near Charlottesville, Virginia.  We had been to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation before, but of course her relatives, who live just a few miles away, had never been.  So we took them there.  Jefferson, as is well known, kept slaves; and before entering the famous Jefferson home, we went on the “slavery tour”.  The very knowledgeable guide reccommended a book that came out only last year:  Edward E. Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

Baptist’s book does for slavery, what Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States does for America as a whole.  That is, it sees history not from the point of view of the capitalists, but rather of those exploited by that capitalism.

One of Baptist’s main points is that “Slavery was a key driver of the formation of American wealth”.  And not just Southern wealth — as most people might expect — but Northern wealth as well.  Perhaps — just as Germany is still paying Jewish survivors for the Nazis’ crimes — reparations are still due to the American slaves’ descendants?

For a fuller discussion of Baptist’s arguments, see this Huffington Post article.

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