Contrary to popular opinion, the story of Adam and Eve is not confined to the book of Genesis. It has roots in prebiblical myth and continued to evolve long after the Bible was completed. Bernard F. Batto traces the development of the Adam and Eve story from its origins in Mesopotamian myth to its reformulation in Genesis and beyond--including its expansion in Jewish epigraphs such as 1 Enoch and the Life of Adam and Eve, and its place in Christian innovations such as the apostle Paul's thesis that Christ is a second Adam, and in the thinking of church fathers such as Irenaeus, who held that Christ recapitulates all humankind in himself, and Augustine, whose doctrine of original sin interprets the Adam and Eve story. Batto also examines gnostic teachings about a heavenly Adam and an earthly Adam, and surveys rabbinical attempts from the Talmudic period to find hidden meanings in the Genesis story. Islam's emphasis on Satan's role in seducing Adam and Eve is also discussed, and the book concludes with Milton's unforgettable retelling of the Adam and Eve story in Paradise Lost.
Batto's goal is not only to reveal the many faces given Adam and Eve throughout history, but also to understand the divergent cultural and theological factors powering this long, evolving tradition.