Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mother Eve Was A Large Woman

While researching Church history for my last post over at Mormon Matters, I came across an interesting tidbit regarding our Mother Eve.

Early Church member Zebedee Coltrin tells a story about an experience he had with the Prophet Joseph while traveling to a conference in New Portage, Ohio. At one point, Joseph, with a far off look in his eyes, took Brother Coltrin and Oliver Cowdery by the arms and set out on a stroll. Coming to a scenic spot, Joseph suggested, "Let us pray." After each prayed in turn they lay down on their backs, the two men leaning against Joseph's outstretched arms. "Now brethren, we will see some visions," Joseph promised.

"The heavens gradually opened, and they saw a golden throne, on a circular foundation, something like a light house, and on the throne were two aged personages, having white hair, and clothed in white garments. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind he ever saw. Joseph said, "They are our first parents, Adam and Eve." Adam was a large, broad-shouldered man, and Eve as a woman, was as large in proportion." (Minutes, Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 11, 1883.)

For some strange reason, I just get a kick out of Eve being described as "large." And she was the most beautiful and perfect specimen of a woman he had ever seen. In our society we women are always trying to be small, small, small! We exercise and diet zealously, but not in an effort to be strong--we want to be skinny and tiny.

In this post I decided to include some paintings of Adam and Eve from the great masters of the late 1400's and early 1500's to illustrate their conceptions of a proportional Eve. (They are nude, so I included them after the break. If you don't want to see them, don't scroll down!) It's interesting to see that Eve is not a small woman in these works. In many of the paintings, she is the same height as Adam. And you can easily see that she would wear a larger jeans size than he!

Michelangelo 1508

Lucas Cranach the Elder 1509

Flemish Master of Lucretia 1520 ----------- Albrecht Dürer 1507

Albrecht Dürer 1504

Titian 1550

from an English Bible

Masolino da Panicale 1424 ---------- Gustav Klimt 1917

Notice that the Masolino da Panicale Eve is every bit as tall, large, and strong as the Adam figure. The Gustav Klimt comes from a later time period, but I include it here because I like how he portrays his Eve as particularly lush and rounded. I think this is a very attractive image of the female body. It is a much more natural shape for a woman than that of the flat-stomached, ab-crunching, magazine cover body that is held up as the ideal shape for women today. (see left)

I'd like to take the editors of Vogue and Cosmo by the hand into a shaded grove, lie them down on my arms, and say to them, "Now girls, we will see some visions." Then we'd marvel at the beauty of the plus-sized Mother Eve.


jana said...

You know, I'm just fine with a plus-sized mother eve! But the rub for me is that she probably wouldn't qualify for health insurance in the US (assuming her BMI is about a 27 or so). Sigh.

Howard said...

God was about to start the human race. Wouldn’t a large woman make birthing easier and safer?

Bored in Vernal said...

wow, Jana. If you are a woman of 5'5" that is about 162 pounds. Lots of us are going to be in trouble with health care.

Howard, not necessarily according to this.

Howard said...

Thanks for the link. I wasn’t thinking of weight so much except that it might have advantages for nutrition storage.

Eve is described large in proportion. So if you scale everything up chances are you end up with a larger birth canal as well. Seems like a great safety advantage given there were no doctors or hospitals available.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that the depictions that have spanned the ages cannot be correct. If Eve came from Adam, then where did she get the belly button?

Anonymous said...

Oops did it again!


Anonymous said...

I just googled the question and I guess it is not an original thought. There are several claims that neither Adam or Eve had a belly button. I guess the early masters did not have that one thought out. They did like pleasantly plump women though. They could spit out any number of kids knowing some would survive. The advantage of weight would allow them to take care of the family in case of a scourge. My how things have changed:)


lma said...

Just wanted to thank you for including two of my favorite artists...Michelangelo and Durer.

G said...

brillant biv.
(love the klimpt one, especially)

Ayla said...

Right on! of course! I knew she didn't look like those Farrah Fawsett pictures in the GP book! LOL!

MarkS said...

I also thought it was interesting that only 3 of the 8 Adam images had beards.

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse the modern colloquial usage of 'large' as a polite way to identify a woman as obese with the the proper and culturally unburdened 'large' especially when it was used to compare Adam to Eve, not describe the makeup of Eve's body.

The passage implies that Adam and Eve were approximately the same size in *scale*. That is to say, most likely the same in HEIGHT. The form of their bodies, beyond Adam's shoulders and the words perfect and beautiful, is not described.

It would be logical to assume that any fat on Eve would be purely aesthetic, same as Adam, and that it would NOT distort the shape of her bone structure and muscle mass as it does with women who are overweight.

If is probably soft bodied, certainly not skin and bone, but not fat.