Does An Archaeology of the Fall meet the criteria formulated by Pope Pius XII in 1950, or does it fail?
Consider a crucial line from the Pope: These chapters … disclose important truths, upon which the attainment of our eternal salvation depends, and they also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and of the chosen people.
The Pope’s words give the impression that the origins “of the human race” and “of the chosen people” coincide. In An Archaeology of the Fall, the origins of the human race and of the chosen people differ. Hominid evolution differs from that moment – the transition from hand-speech to speech-alone talk – when the potential for a chosen people came into being.
The story of hominid evolution is told in a variety of places. The text drums the slogan: The exaptation of the hand for talking coincided with the evolution of the Homo genus. The exaptation of the vocal tract for talking (in addition to hand talk) coincided with the evolution of Homo sapiens. (In Evolution and the Sin in Eden, Zimmerman agrees with the latter statement.)
However, there are vignettes that point to Chapter 1 of Genesis. In particular, Sarah’s Mother says that the evolution of the Homo genus reminds her of the “intention of man”, the “creation of man” reminds her of the evolution of Homo sapiens, and one of the final verse, “give plants to the animals”, reminds her of the adoption of stockbreeding at the dawn of the Developed Neolithic. What a clever gal. With her intuition, An Archaeology of the Fall points to how Genesis 1 magically parallels the origin – er, evolution – of the human race. The maligned word “concordism” is qualified by her aesthetic intuition. Here is an “artistic” concordism.
An account of “the origin of the chosen people” is performed (by Mom, again) in chapter 13C. In light of the possibility that the Torah was stitched together right before the fall of Judah, then laid out as a quilt to greet the returning exiles, we might think of the origin of the Jews this way: Within the territory of Judah and Israel, popular stories of an “Abraham”, a person who came out of a Mesopotamian tradition before Babylonia even existed, combined with the Near Eastern traditions of genealogies (which are basically “lists”, see Jack Goody), could have served as nucleation sites for all the stories of Genesis.
In other words, all the Genesis stories, including the two versions of Noah and the Flood, along with the genealogies, the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and so forth, could have been “popular stories” that fit together like pieces of a puzzle when Josiah’s elite band of scribes realized that the stories of Abraham were a lynchpin that allowed them to portray themselves as coming out of both Mesopotamia and Egypt, which, by God, they did. Or maybe, the scribes just copied what the bards were already singing.
The divine irony is that the picture held by the puzzle became real (just as the serpent became real in An Archaeology of the Fall, not by Eve’s doing alone, but through what the Zygon folk call “co-creation”). The picture became convincing enough for the chosen people to settle down in this beautiful, sublime and monstrously real theo-dramatic landscape. And now, after we – the heirs of Judaic philo-theos and Greek philo-sophia – have started to delineate the edges of the pieces of the puzzle, surprise! The stories of Adam and Eve become a new lynchpin.
With An Archaeology of the Fall, the Creation Story (Genesis 1-2.3) and the stories of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2.4 – on) touch base with both the familiar evolutionary point of view of human origins and a novel “scientific” perspective, in as much as semiotics and human prehistory could ever be constituted as “science”. In doing so, they (as Pope Pius XII put it) “disclose important truths, upon which the attainment of our eternal salvation depends, and they also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and of the chosen people.”