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The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us

The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us

by Bruce Feiler

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham comes a revelatory journey across four continents and 4,000 years exploring how Adam and Eve introduced the idea of love into the world, and how they continue to shape our deepest feelings about relationships, family, and togetherness.

Since antiquity, one


From the New York Times bestselling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham comes a revelatory journey across four continents and 4,000 years exploring how Adam and Eve introduced the idea of love into the world, and how they continue to shape our deepest feelings about relationships, family, and togetherness.

Since antiquity, one story has stood at the center of every conversation about men and women. One couple has been the battleground for human relationships and sexual identity. That couple is Adam and Eve. Yet instead of celebrating them, history has blamed them for bringing sin, deceit, and death into the world.
In this fresh retelling of their story, New York Times columnist and PBS host Bruce Feiler travels from the Garden of Eden in Iraq to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, from John Milton’s London to Mae West’s Hollywood, discovering how Adam and Eve should be hailed as exemplars of a long-term, healthy, resilient relationship. At a time of discord and fear over the strength of our social fabric, Feiler shows how history’s first couple can again be role models for unity, forgiveness, and love.
Containing all the humor, insight, and wisdom that have endeared Bruce Feiler to readers around the world, The First Love Story is an unforgettable journey that restores Adam and Eve to their rightful place as central figures in our culture's imagination and reminds us that even our most familiar stories still have the ability to surprise, inspire, and guide us today.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Feiler (Walking the Bible) addresses the impact that the first couple, and their complex experiences in and out of Eden, have had on Western society. While some of the insights are expected and cover well-trod ground, such as his discussions of Michelangelo and other artists, others are surprising and open trajectories into popular culture, as he considers the influence of Adam and Eve on people like Mae West and Frank Sinatra. Feiler explores how the larger paradigm of love, loss, recovery, and redemption in the Eden story has cast a long and enduring shadow across the wide spectrum of popular art and culture. “Humans might spoil the garden, but love never dies,” he writes, and this undying love of God for people, and people for each other, can all be best understood in light of the Eden narratives. Taking the oldest story of romance and giving it a new gloss, this book may be Feiler’s best work yet. A wonderfully readable, powerfully presented look into the influence of the original love. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“This may be Feiler’s best work yet. A wonderfully readable, powerfully presented look into the influence of the original love.”
— Publishers Weekly

“An eye-opening look at one of the most famous stories of all time. The First Love Story is a provocative journey that reconceptualizes the tale of Adam and Eve as not one of sin, but romantic love. The First Love Story also serves as a history of love itself—how we comprehend it, and how we express it. Eloquently written, Feiler’s book forces even the most experienced of religious scholars to rethink our understanding of sacredness and profanity.” 
—Reza Aslan, author of Zealot

“With his characteristic insight and grace, Bruce Feiler has painted a revealing portrait of the archetypal human story of love, temptation, betrayal, and endurance. There is much to learn and ponder in these pages.” 
—Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson

“The First Love Story is full of wit and wisdom.  In charting the story of Adam and Eve, Bruce Feiler unfolds the history of love itself, showing how our sense of guilt and discomfort coincides with our experiences of passion, commitment, and joy.” 
—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree

“Somehow Bruce Feiler has taken what may be the most mulled-over story in western culture and not only found something fresh in it but found something compelling, inspiring and—perhaps most amazing of all—timely. He guides the reader across rich and varied terrain—archaeology, art, literature, psychology, history, theology—with the grace, wit, and wisdom we’ve come to expect from him.” 
—Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God

“A wise and nourishing book that shows how the first story is really our story.”
—Rabbi David Wolpe, author of Why Faith Matters

“Adam and Eve, dismissed as merely allegorical by some, derided as a relic of fundamentalist belief by others, are revealed by Bruce Feiler in his fascinating new book, as not only relevant to our modern understanding of love and community, but absolutely essential.  As he has shown in his books and television series, Mr. Feiler has the unique ability to introduce readers to the insights of art, history and theology in a way that makes a seemingly hidebound topic come alive and the oldest of Bible stories seem fresh, inspiring and even exciting.” 
—James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“Read from Bruce Feiler's The First Love Story and your eyes will be opened to love in all its messiness and mystery, struggles and sacredness, uncertainty and wonder. This book is filled with life affirming wisdom that is accessible, authentic, and profound. You will never think about Adam and Eve or love in the same way again.” 
—Rabbi Irwin Kula, author of Yearnings

Library Journal
When people think of the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 and 2, they tend to focus on the negative aspects: creation, life, and death in a world of sin. New York Times columnist Feiler instead emphasizes the positive aspects, notably Adam and Eve as the first love story providing insights on contemporary relationships. The author examines the narrative in its context as Hebrew Scripture, but his main emphasis is on how this story shows the love between Adam and Eve in art and literature, particularly through Michelangelo's depictions of the first couple in the Sistine Chapel and John Milton's depictions in Paradise Lost (1667). Such representations show the first couple as symbols of mutuality, interdependency, and love. Feiler also uses insights from psychologists and cognitive scientists to further show the relevance of Adam and Eve in the present day. He sees Adam and Eve as figures who provide a message to current societies, which he believes are often deficient in the areas of love, family, and interconnectedness. VERDICT Readers with a curiosity about religious thought, as well as those interested in male-female relationships, will find this unique book appealing.—John Jaeger, Dallas Baptist Univ. Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
Feiler (The Secrets of Happy Families, 2013, etc.) examines the saga of the first romantic couple in an intellectual exploration that could have been titled "A Thousand Ways of Looking at Adam and Eve."The author relates how he began contemplating Adam and Eve obsessively while visiting the Sistine Chapel in Rome with his 8-year-old twin daughters. One of the girls examined the ceiling, saw the image of God pointing at Adam, and asked, "Why is there only a man? Where am I in the picture?" Noticing a different detail, his other daughter asked, "Who's that woman under God's arm? Is that Eve?" Those questions caused Feiler to realize the centrality of Adam and Eve in conversations about male-female dynamics over the past 3,000 years. "One story," he writes, "has served as the battleground for human relationships and sexual identity." To understand that centrality, the author researched the Bible carefully, read countless other religious and secular portrayals, and consulted dozens of scholars from a variety of disciplines. Although torn from the start about whether Adam and Eve were flesh-and-blood individuals or mythical creations, Feiler seems to lean toward the former throughout his exploration, which is impressively wide-ranging but repetitive to a fault. The author discusses the couple foremost as examples of love for and loyalty to each other. In addition, he examines them as sexual beings, parents, trailblazers for equality between genders, and much more. The repetition revolves around Feiler's insistence, in somewhat varied words in each chapter, that the couple invented and defined love—both at the guidance of God and somewhat independently of God. At times, he comes across as a college debater trying overly hard to prove points that are impossible to prove. Despite the sometimes-exhausting repetition, Feiler provides a fascinating look at why Adam and Eve matter in understanding couples today.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Meet the Author

Bruce Feiler writes the “This Life” column for the Sunday New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including Walking the Bible, Abraham and The Secrets of Happy Families. He’s also the writer/presenter of the PBS series “Walking the Bible” and “Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 25, 1964
Place of Birth:
Savannah, Georgia
B.A., Yale University, 1987; M.Phil. in international relations, Cambridge University, 1991

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