Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that creation, fall, and atonement are the pillars of eternity. “They are,” he wrote, “the greatest events that ever have or ever will occur. Without any of them, and without all of them inseparably woven together, there would be no salvation, no purpose in life, and no reason for being.” [i]
This would lead us to suppose the subject of the fall is surely study worthy. Interestingly, the enumerated details of the story reveal the conflict of life, and the resolution of the same. On this account, it is useful to review the archetypes, or definitive examples, that are apparent there.
Archetypes Illustrated in the Story of the Fall
1. The Garden is the Archetype Temple
“The events associated with the Garden of Eden make it the archetype of our temples. Here Adam received the priesthood, here Adam and Eve walked and talked with God; here our first parents were eternally married by God himself; here they were taught the law of sacrifice and clothed in garments of skin; and from here they ventured into the lone and dreary world that they and their posterity might prove themselves worthy to return to that divine presence.” [ii]
2. Archetype Candidates for Salvation:
Adam and Eve are the representative candidates for salvation. Even their names are name-titles for the roles they play, Adam being “Man” or “Mankind,” and “first father.” (Abra. 1:3) and Eve being Life or Life-giver. “As Adam became the pattern for all his sons, so did Eve for all her daughters. “Eve is an individual and a generic name for all women who believe and obey as she did.”[iii]
3. The Archetype of Salvation: The Father is the example of salvation; he was accompanied in the garden by the Son upon whom salvation would depend by way of the atonement. These two comprised the tree of life.
4. The Archetype of Sin: Satan, who opposes all the Father and Son do and who desires to destroy their work is the master of sin.
5. The Archetype Temptation: Satan uses scripture, speaks with authority, appears as an angel of light (2Nephi 9:9, 2Cor. 11:14), and works on Adam and Eve without ceasing.
6. The Archetype Conflict: The opposition arguments, and the choices resulting from good, better, and best.
7. The Archetype Exercise of Faith: Adam and Eve exercised enough faith in the atonement or the tree of life to make the irretrievable decision to go forward.
8. The Archetype Family Organization: The roles established in the garden
provide the unit leading to exaltation. All other systems of government rest on that first organization.
9. The Archetype Preparation: Adam and Eve are instructed in their mission, washed, anointed, and clothed in holy garments, and they are sent into the world where they are told they will receive further instruction.
Why Didn’t God Just Put Adam and Eve in the Mortal Sphere?
God did not, and perhaps could not, create a sphere of death, sin, and corruption. Such a state was contrary to his nature, which his words “I forbid it” may indicate.
“Had he created such a sphere “then death, sin, and all the circumstances of mortality would be God’s doing, and would be eternal and permanent in their nature.”[iv]
God would not place two children whom he had sired in a state of purity into a sphere of corruption. They must choose to go forward with the plan then the decision was their choice; they could not condemn God for it when the going got rough.
Adam and Eve were capable, required, and privileged to perform the work. Therefore, Alma said, they “brought upon themselves” the fall. (Alma 42:12) The power to bring death was a great power.
Exercising Faith to Partake was a Process
By faith, Adam dwelling in the peace and serenity of Eden chose to fall that man might be; and this he did knowing that such a course opened the door to immortality and eternal life. “Faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings whether in heaven or on earth…[and] without faith there is no power and without power there could be no creation nor existence.” [v]
Reasoning Process in the Fall
Adam and Eve must grapple with many things: the need to have children, the need to experience good and evil, to work and to grow, the need to gain a body that would die in order to receive resurrection, whether they could receive continued revelation and direction from God in the moral sphere or whether they would be cut off entirely, whether there would be a payment for sin and a reparation for death, whether there would be a return to the full presence of the Father, whether they could achieve the exaltation they desired. Eve, we know, carried with her the desire to have children. There was surely the whispering of her foreordination in her heart that President Joseph F. Smith called the “memory of the soul.”[vi] (The Life Before, p. 174)
Conditions in the Garden were Instructive
Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked and talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another. (TPJS, p. 345)
The Father was a resurrected, exalted Man of Holiness. The Son was a spirit personage destined to come into mortality with an inheritance from the Eternal Father and a mortal mother, enabling him to overcome the effects of the Fall. The bodies of Adam and Eve were in a paradisiacal state. Surely these differences in states and roles gave Adam and Eve something to ponder concerning their own mission, and their dependence on the Father and the Son..
An Opposition was Necessary to Move Them to Action
“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other being bitter.
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.”(2Ne. 2:15-16)
The Serpent (na cash) to hiss and to whisper, to prognosticate. Symbolically speaking, insidious, venomous, subtle or cunning (`aram) He presented himself as an authority, and he came as an angel of light (2 Ne. 9:9; 2 Cor. 11:13-15)
He went straight to the issues which were becoming as God or the matter of exaltation, and the matter of temporal death, and likely spiritual death. He censured God. He used scripture to present his own doctrine and offered a counterfeit. He presented a form of godliness denying the power thereof.
The Words of the Account are Words of Process in Reasoning.
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, “that is for nourishment or substantive in some way, and that it “became pleasant [ta’avah] to the eyes,” a Hebrew idiom meaning ‘a desirable thing,’ and a fruit to be desired [chamad] to make one wise,” or ‘desirable as a means of wisdom [and ] insight,’ she partook. This tree, she saw was to be “desired” [chamad] or precious, too.” When the scripture tells us that Eve saw [ro’ah] it means she had considered and she knew.
What They Had to See [ro’ah]
At some point they must see that in order to gain the fulness of the tree of life represented by Christ and his atonement, they must partake of the tree of mortality and death. They had heard Satan’s argument, they had before them the word of the Father who had ordained them to multiply. They knew the choice to fall would be irretrievable – “thou shalt surely die,” the Father had said. They understood that in a fallen state they could never of their own will and action return to God’s presence. They must partake on a pure faith in the redemption of Christ. What Adam and Eve knew, and what they had to know was sufficient to produce the faith to choose the Fall. Only such a faith could validate so great and so indispensable a work as the Fall.
Why They Partook
“Adam fell that man might be.” (2 Ne. 2:25; Gen. 5:1-2) They chose in order to bring life into the world. This choice was so compelling that it enabled them to cross over the stricture placed upon the mortality tree. Alma said God drew them from the garden. (Alma 42:2)
Why They Partook Has a Bearing on How They Partook
One of them partook first, there is a great point made of this in the scripture. The responsibility to bear children had been given to Eve. She was the individual into whom God had breathed the breath of lives. As God would not coerce man to fall, Adam could not force Eve to follow him into the world of pain and suffering. Eve must be willing – in the most absolute sense – to face death to bring life, to enter the valley of the shadow of death to bring forth children. Both could partake only when she was willing to say, “I will partake.” Her decision was not only a manifestation of faith, but of inexpressible love. That their decision was more united than we generally suppose is shown by the words, she “did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her.” (Moses 4:12)
We ought also understand here that this is the moment in which Eve enabled Adam to become a priest and a king with the gift of eternal posterity. Only she could hand him this gift. That Adam hearkened to his wife in the matter of the Fall suggests his willingness to accept that fatherhood.
What is the Forbidden Fruit?
Forbidden Fruit: What the real meaning is of the expression forbidden fruit has not been revealed, and it is profitless to speculate. It is sufficient for us to know that Adam and Eve broke the law which would have permitted them to continue as immortal beings, and this course of conduct is termed eating the forbidden fruit.[vii]
Was the Transgression a Sin?
“It is proper and according to the scriptural pattern to speak of the transgression of Adam, but not the sin of Adam. D&C 20:20; 29:40; Job 31:33; Rom. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:14; Alma 12:31; Second Article of Faith.) Lehi says, for instance, “If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen.” Then he explains that while in their state of innocence in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve “knew no sin.” (2 Ne. 2:22-23.) Knowledge of good and evil is an essential element in the commission of sin, and our first parents did not have this knowledge until after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”[viii] Joseph Smith taught, “Adam did not commit sin in eating the fruit for God had decreed that he should eat and fall.” [ix]
What the Fall Brought
1. Spiritual death came upon man as God had decreed. “First to take effect was a spiritual death, or in other words, being cut off from the presence of God. This is as Alma describes it, ‘a death as to things pertaining to righteousness.’ (Alma 12:32) Adam experienced this death after partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. How fast the process was we do not know, but it came as a direct result of partaking of the fruit, and the impression given is that it was relatively soon.” [x]
2. Adam and Eve became subject to physical death. At the Fall blood became the medium of life rather than spirit as had been the case in Eden. Adam died at 930 years after becoming mortal, dying, thus, within the Lord’s day which is 1000 of our years. (Abr. 5:13; 3:4) This physical death was the necessary precursor to resurrection. Creation as we know it occurred with the Fall.
3. Adam and Eve gained knowledge of good and evil necessary to their progression.
4. Adam and Eve obtained the gift of posterity. Lehi said, “They have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.” (2 Ne. 2: 20)
[i] McConkie, Bruce R., All Things: Their Creation, Fall, and Redemption, p.1.
[ii] McConkie, Joseph Fielding, Gospel Symbolism, p. 258.
[iii] McConkie, Bruce R., Eve and the Fall, Woman, p. 68.
[iv] Matthews, Robert J., The Man Adam, p. 60)
[v] Smith, Joseph, Lectures on Faith, 1:13, 24
[vi] Ostler, Craig, The Life Before, p. 174
[vii] McConkie, Bruce R.. Mormon Doctrine, p. 289.
[viii] Ibid., p. 804.
[ix] Ehat and Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 63)
[x] Matthews, Robert J., as quoted in McConkie and Millet, The Man Adam, p. 50