The Characters of Noah and Adam in the Book of Genesis

The bible for generations has been a sacred text that instills morality, establishes societal formalities, and attempts to outline humanity's role with the one and only God. These relationships are first established in the book Genesis and continue throughout the bible with various other characters. These characters, however, are unmatched in importance to the very first group of men introduced in the bible. The most important of men are the two characters of Adam and Noah. Even though the stories of Adam and Noah do not follow sequentially within the bible, they do, however, have many fundamental similarities.

God's outlined relationship with Adam and Noah, for example, give key insights on how our modern-day relationship with God was shaped. These men represent the inner workings of a human and attempt to relate our struggles and faults to Gods' image of humanity. Moreover, Adam and Noah also represent growth and failure in many different shades, enlightening the reader on how God reacts to the men's decisions while developing the reader's understanding of the complexity of humanity. Therefore, within the Book of Genesis, the two characters Adam and Noah are used comparatively to establish the complexity of man, the balance of morality and the fundamental understanding of God.

In the very first chapters of Genesis, we are introduced to a man named Adam. Adam is God's first-ever human and is referred to as the father of both the spirits and physical bodies of all humans born on Earth. Adam had a very unique relationship with God. There were no other humans on Earth, and he was the only person to have interaction with the creator, God himself. Besides, his relationship was not encumbered with sin.

Adam lived a life filled with only joy and happiness. There was no sorrow, fear or pain in the world. Adam lived in paradise on Earth in the Garden of Eden. In saying this, God entrusted Adam with the world and to keep order for him. God proclaimed, '… have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' As many knows, there was one divine rule Adam and his partner Eve were supposed to follow. This rule, however, was arbitrary. But Adam broke the rule, starting a downward spiral of chaos. God said, '… cursed is the ground because of you; in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life.' 

We see with Adam that God expects humanity, which we can never reach. Even in a world of paradise, humanity seemingly failed, leading to a world of corruption and struggle. However, Adam's failure allows the reader to understand that humans are never perfect, and even amid perfection, we can fail. This theme of failure continues throughout the bible, and the reader needs to understand that humans are very complex beings that eventually shape the world as we know it. This idea of humans shaping the world with their complex decisions is even noted by God himself leading him to proclaim, 'I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.' In other words, God understands that humans will make bad decisions over and over again, and if God were to continue to punish all sin, the world would be filled with relentless punishment. Moreover, the Bible itself uses this story of Adam to instill how Catholic morality is based. Through human failure, we acquired 'the original sin' and that we must always work towards living a sinless life.

This sense of morality is also structured around God's expectations of humans. An expectation of living like God himself, freeing oneself from sin and to live a life of worship and prayer. These ideals instilled in the first chapters of Genesis continue throughout the book and are reinstated in God's relationship with Noah. After the flood created by God, the world again is faced with one man. This man is named Noah. Similar to Adam, Noah is the face of humanity, and he must not only populate this baron earth but to continue God's work and be the person who leads humanity to a world of prosperity. God said, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.' 'And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.' 

In contingency with Adam, Noah is tasked with the responsibility of dominating the world. It is to be Noah's responsibility to bring life back into the world, and to one day make God's earth a place of happiness, growth, and beauty. Noah would have the power over creation and he would be the man to one day lead humanity. 'The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand, they are delivered.' However, in a similar fashion to Adam, Noah neglects his responsibilities and becomes drunk where he casts the curse of Ham on Ham's son Canaan. Again, the curse is arbitrary, because it is Noah's failure that leads the reader into a deeper understanding of humanity. An understanding rooted in the complexity of human failure, and Gods expectations.

When God made man, he proclaimed that man was made in his image and that man is supposed to represent the best of himself. However, through the character of Noah, we can infer that we can never be God. Humanity is rooted in corruption and sorrow rather than complete bliss and happiness. Through Noah, we can understand that our failures and our mistakes as humans can lead to ultimate failure, but it's through these failures where we can attempt to reach God's expectations of being of his image as best as possible. This cycle of failure and forgiveness, as seen in Adams story, is also present in Noah's story in Genesis. If we bring the stories into real life, we can see that they are a stable of how Christianity instills its morality among its followers and morality of being in God's image. As previously touched upon in the story of Adam above, it is a continuous cycle of human failure, God revising his expectations of man, and humanity attempting to instill these new expectations into morality, law and social order.

If we step away from the stories and focus on the implications of Noah and Adam, we can see the parallels of their stories in human progress. As it is well known, the bible's Old Testament is said to be constructed by multiple authors. In saying this, we can interpret the stories of Noah and Adam in a more historical and factual basis, compared to a more theological basis, as previously mentioned. If we consider human innovation and improvement within the time the book of Genesis was constructed, we can figure that multiple enlightened thinkers attempted to answer some of humanity's most sought-after questions. These questions revolving around suffering, creation, and religion. In terms of creation, the authors wished to create stories that explained how man came to be and how humanity is supposed to live in accordance with the creator. In terms of suffering, the stories of Adam and Noah display why there is sorrow, pain, and suffering within the world they live in. And finally, in terms of religion, the bible is written to define one creator rather than many. This is because, at the time of the Old Testament's creation, the most prevalent religion that defined these same characteristics and questions was one of a polytheistic essence.

In saying this, the stories of Noah and Adam even though have a very similar nature in terms of their cyclical nature, are very different. Since the Bible, specifically the Book of Genesis was created by many authors, we can infer that their subjectivity allows for some discrepancies within the bible itself. From the shaky linear timeline to the repetitious and conflicting images of God, both Adam and Noah are following two fundamentally similar but different Gods. Therefore, in terms of following Catholicism attempts of human expectations and morality, one can question the validity of its foundation and creation.

In conclusion, there are many similarities and differences between the stories of Noah and Adam. From their strong connection to the ideals of morality and complexity of humanity to their image of God, the characters represent the average human being. Adam is the first generation of man to fail and grow in a world of chaos and displeasure, to Noah representing a new face of God. One where failure is more accepted, and that chaos and displeasure is inevitable. All in all, the two stories of the men display how complex humanity is with all of its subjectivity and moral conflicts.  

07 April 2022
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