I recently posted a comment in response to Brant Pitre’s post “Did the Virgin Mary Experience the Pains of Childbirth?” I said:
“pain in childbirth is clearly taught in Scripture as one of the results of the Fall (Gen 3:16).”
There is another way of reading Genesis 3:16, namely that Eve had already experienced pain in childbirth and that God simply multiplied it after the fall. So even if we accept the Immaculate Conception I see no reason that Mary would be excepted from pain in childbirth.
Danny Garland, Jr. said in response:
Your alternate reading of Genesis 3:16 presupposes that Eve had children before the Fall. Yet Scripture suggests otherwise. Eve did not have children until after they left the garden.
Also notice the line in verse 3:16:
“in pain you shall bring forth children”
The phrase “you shall” points to a future realization. Thus, even if Eve had previously bore children it was not in pain. God tells her that after the Fall, she “shall” (future tense) bring forth children in pain.
And Brad also said:
There is no implication that pain in childbirth was pre-Fall; nor does the text of Genesis in any way suggest that Eve had children before the Fall. Indeed, when the literary unity of Genesis is taken into account, Gen 4:1 (“And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain..”) implies the opposite, with Cain as the first of a series of problematic first-born sons (Ishmael, Esau, Reuben, etc.)
Rather than go off topic over there I’ll explain why I believe that Eve had children before the fall and how scripture suggests this contrary to Danny’s and Brad’s protestation. And for my point pain in childbirth is irrelevant so I’ll refrain from addressing his ‘future realization’ argument. I also must mention that for the sake of this argument I am treating Adam and Eve as the first two humans to ever exist, and as historical persons (although I think there may be better explanations of the Genesis narrative I’ll use this for this argument).
There is a phrase that appears 6 times (7 in the LXX) in the opening chapter of Genesis that lays the foundation for my belief in Eve having children prior to the fall. In Genesis 1:7, 9, 11, 15, (20, LXX), 24, 30 we read וַיְהִי-כֵן (vayehi-chen)/καὶ ἐγένετο οὕτως (LXX) which is typically translated as “and it was so.” So throughout the course of the narrative we see that:
God separated the water from above and beneath the expanse (vs. 7)
God gathered the water so that dry land would appear (vs. 9)
God commanded plants to produce after their kind and they did (vs. 11)
God created lights to separate night from day (vs. 15)
God created living creatures from the land (v. 24)
In all of these cases what God intended to happen, happened. Now I’m not arguing for a strictly literal reading of Genesis 1 and I’m certainly not arguing for a 6 day creation. I believe that the Day/Age theory makes very good sense of all of this (yes, better sense then even my beloved Gap theory ). But my point is that God got the results he was looking for.
Now onto vs. 30. In vs. 28 God commands (or blesses) his human creation to reproduce. In vs. 29-30 he gives humans and animals plants for food, and it all ends with וַיְהִי-כֵן/καὶ ἐγένετο οὕτως. I take this to mean that not only ‘was it so’ that humans and animals ate plants, but also that the humans began to immediately fulfill the command/blessing to be fruitful and multiply.
The Bablyonian Talmud takes an interesting position on the day in which Adam was created (one I think jives quite nicely with the Day/Age theory ). It says:
R. Johanan3 b. Hanina said: The day consisted of twelve hours. In the first hour, his [Adam's] dust was gathered; in the second, it was kneaded into a shapeless mass. In the third, his limbs were shaped;4 in the fourth, a soul was infused into him; in the fifth, he arose and stood on his feet; in the sixth, he gave [the animals] their names; in the seventh, Eve became his mate; in the eighth, they ascended to bed as two and descended as four;5 in the ninth, he was commanded not to eat of the tree, in the tenth, he sinned; in the eleventh, he was tried, and in the twelfth he was expelled [from Eden] and departed, for it is written, Man abideth6 not in honour.7 (b. Sanhedrin 38b, Italics mine)
5 I.e., Cain and his twin sister were born. V. Yeb. 62a. Abel and his other twin sister were born after they sinned. V. Tosaf. a.l.
Next there is always that question that newbies in Christ ask after they’ve read Genesis 4. They ask, “if Adam and Eve only had Cain and Abel, then where did Cain find his wife?” Well, an easy answer is that they didn’t only have Cain and Abel, in fact they had other children, and they likely had them before the fall. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve’s first children. Rashi says:
Now the man knew [This took place], prior to the above episode, before he sinned and was banished from the Garden of Eden. Also the conception and the birth [took place before], for if it were written: וַיֵדַע אָדָם it would mean that after he had been banished, he had sons. — [from Sanh. 38b] (Online here)
In agreement with Rashi the note in the Stone Edition Chumash says:
“The translation in the past-perfect follows Rashi, that the conception and birth of Cain had occurred before the sin and expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden.” (The Chumash Travel-Size Edition – With Complete Sabbath Prayers, Nosson Scherman, ed. (New York: Mesorah, 2001), 19, n. 4.1.)
So I think there is a pretty solid line of evidence that Adam and Eve did have children before the fall, even if Cain and Abel (or Cain and a twin sister) were the only ones. This also has implications for the doctrine of original sin but I’ll save that for another post.