“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2: 24; Matt. 19: 5; Moses 3: 24; Abr. 5: 18)
This verse is one of those rare scriptures that was quoted by Jesus himself. Modern readers usually view it as a simple endorsement of marriage, but many ancients viewed it as being much more literal than that. For thousands of years there has been a view that Adam and Eve (and thus perhaps all humankind) were once literally joined as male and female into a single being in the beginning and that returning to a similar fusion is a goal for humans in the end. In this post I’ll list some of the sources that lend themselves to this idea starting with canonized scriptures then moving to a few non-canonized ancient texts and finally pointing out some modern LDS comments along these lines. I am not arguing for the truth of this idea here — my goal for now is simply to lay out a few sources for readers to ponder and perhaps discuss. I don’t know whether this notion has any validity or not, but I definitely think it is fascinating.
The first scriptural texts I want to highlight deal with what many ancients considered the literal fission of “Adam” (the premortal Michael in LDS thought) into male and female, or Adam and Eve:
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
(Gen. 2: 21; Moses 3: 21; Abr. 5: 15)
Some ancient thinkers considered the fission of the unified “Adam” into male and female parts to be what constituted the Fall and they believed that the goal of humankind was to unite or fuse the male and female together again. While this idea is explicitly stated in some non-canonical ancient texts (see below) there is also some evidence to support this notion in Biblical scriptures:
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10: 5-9)
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. (1 Cor. 11: 11)
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;…
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:…
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Eph. 5)
15 And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
17 And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made. (D&C 49: 15-17)
Other Ancient Texts
From the Gospel of Philip we get these quotes:
When Eve was still with Adam, death did not exist. When she was separated from him, death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more.
If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.
From the Gospel of Thomas:
22. … Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”
106. Jesus said, “When you make the two into one, you will become children of Adam, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move from here!’ it will move.”
From a Nag Hammadi Library text (“On the Origin of the World”)
Now the production of the instructor came about as follows. When Sophia [Wisdom] let fall a droplet of light, it flowed onto the water, and immediately a human being appeared, being androgynous.
A Modern Source
Here is a very interesting excerpt from a sermon given by Elder Erastus Snow:
the being we call man, but which in the language of these Scriptures was called Adamâ€”male and female created he them, and called their name Adam, which in the original, in which these Scriptures were written by Moses, signifies “the first man.” There was no effort at distinguishing between the one half and the other, and calling one man and the other woman. This was an after distinction, but the explanation of it isâ€”one man, one being, and he called their name Adam. But he created them male and female, for they were one, and he says not unto the woman multiply, and to the man multiply, but he says unto them, multiply and reproduce your species, and replenish the earth. He speaks unto them as belonging together, as constituting one being, and as organized in his image and after his likeness. And the Apostle Paul, treating upon this subject in the same way, says that man was created in the likeness of God, and after the express image of his person. John, the Apostle, in writing the history of Jesus, speaks in the same way; that Jesus was in the likeness of his Father, and express image of his person. And if the revelations that God has made of himself to man, agree and harmonize upon this theory, and if mankind would be more believing, and accept the simple, plain, clear definition of Deity, and description of himself which he has given us, instead of hunting for some great mystery, and seeking to find out God where he is not and as he is not, we all might understand him. …
“What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself, and anything pertaining to the creation and organization of man upon the earth, I must believe that Deity consists of man and woman. Now this is simplifying it down to our understanding, and the great Christian world will be ready to open their mouths and cry, “Blasphemy! Sacrilege!” Open wide their eyes and wide their mouths in the utmost astonishment. What! God a man and woman? The Shakers say he was, and Ann Lee says, “Christ came in the form of a man in the first place, and now comes in the form of a woman,” and she was that form.
Then these Christiansâ€”they say he has no form, neither body, parts nor passions. One party says he is a man, and the other says he is a woman. I say he is both. How do you know? I only repeat what he says of himself; that he created man in the image of God, male and female created he them, and he called their name Adam, which signifies in Hebrew, the first man. So that the beings we call Adam and Eve were the first man placed here on this earth, and their name was Adam, and they were the express image of God. Now, if anybody is disposed to say that the woman is in the likeness of God and that the man was not, and if vice versa, I say you are both wrong, or else God has not told us the truth.
I sometimes illustrate this matter by taking up a pair of shears, if I have one, but then you all know they are composed of two halves, but they are necessarily parts, one of another, and to perform their work for each other, as designed, they belong together, and neither one of them is fitted for the accomplishment of their works alone. And for this reason says St. Paul, “the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.” In other words, there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female.
(Journal of Discourses, 19:266)
Ok, I think that is probably sufficient to introduce this subject. If any of you know of other scriptures or important texts related to this subject that I have omitted please share.