A most interesting interpretation of Genesis 1:27 (“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”).
Adam (the first human) was a hermaphrodite! (“Male and female created he them”).
That’s the interpretation that the famous atheist Enlightenment thinker, Baron d’Holbach, gave to Genesis 1:27.
His reasoning was based on the assumption that some of the ancients, particularly the Egyptians, had hermaphrodite gods at the beginning of creation. And so it was, in d’Holbach’s estimation, a sign of Egyptian influence on the Hebrew text of Genesis that the first humans were created “male and female.”
I stumbled on this curious interpretation of Genesis 1:27 while reading Martin Priestman’s excellent book, Romantic Atheism: Poetry and Freethought, 1780-1830 (Cambridge 1999).
Here’s how Priestman puts it:
“d’Holbach argues that . . . Moses’ account of the birth of Eve from Adam’s rib reflects a belief he had picked up in Egypt that humans were originally hermaphrodite, like aphids. He explains how “Moses, who was educated among these Egyptians” wrote in Genesis that ‘”in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”‘: “It is not therefore presuming too much, to suppose, as the Egyptians were a nation very fond of expressing their opinions by hieroglyphics, that that part which describes Eve as taken out of Adam’s rib, was an hieroglyphic emblem” (p. 16-17).
Isn’t that a trippy reading? It’s probably fallacious, but I like it.
d’Holbach reconciled Genesis 1:27 with Genesis 2:21-22 in a rather creative fashion.