Original Research

Was Eve the first femme fatale?

Roche Coleman
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2138 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2138 | © 2021 Roche Coleman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2020 | Published: 08 March 2021

About the author(s)

Roche Coleman, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Feminist theology approaches the biblical teaching of the fall with a non-historical or traditional interpretation. The biblical teaching suggests that the primordial couple sinned by eating the forbidden fruit from the tree that God prohibited (Gn 3:1–24). Additionally, the woman is blamed because she functions as a femme fatale who enticed Adam to eat the fruit. Writers within the feminist and non-feminist theology argue that the so-called ‘Yahwist’ is responsible for a patriarchal view that is evident in Genesis 3. Ultimately, male authors and interpreters of the Bible crafted a narrative that implicated the woman as the culprit for the presence of sin within humankind. Thereafter, women have been suppressed by the male-dominated culture that has manifested itself throughout the biblical literature. Several approaches seek to absolve the woman of guilt in the fall narrative: firstly, denial of the fall; secondly, depatriarchalising the biblical text; and thirdly, applying a deconstructionist literary methodology. The objective of this study was to consider whether Eve deserves the label of the first femme fatale. Did Eve use influence, beauty and words to persuade Adam to deviate from the divine mandates? The question surfaces uncomfortable considerations, but labelling Genesis 3 as patriarchal is an attempt to silence dialogue. Uncomfortable conversations are essential in the academic quest.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Feminist and non-feminist theologians seek to absolve the woman of the femme fatale label by denying the fall, depatriarchalising the Old Testament and applying a deconstructionist interpretation. This article challenges the feminist, Old Testament and systematic theologian to reconsider their interpretation of Genesis 3, especially, the woman’s role as a femme fatale.


femme fatale; fall; feminist; patriarchal; deconstructionist


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