Take the biblical tale of Creation. And then ask… what if Eve… had said no? Would evil have given up all attempt? Or would it instead have carried on, scheming, waiting to pounce? And what then? From that joy-filled world where the lion lies down with the lamb, where we are in perfect relationship with Glory and where there is neither death nor sadness nor dissonance… how would that Unfallen family, mirroring God’s heart, react to the Fallen – and the other way around?
By imagining a universe in which the Fall is deferred by a generation, the book allows us to go behind the scenes to live and experience the events and characters of Genesis 1-4 from the inside, rather than reading about them from the outside. From first temptation to eventual fall, and the unravelling of relationship leading to that first, most shocking, conclusion, and the grace which follows, we smile, laugh, wince, mourn and rejoice with those inhabiting those days. What might it really have been like before the Fall? In practical terms. And after?
The novel is in two halves. Part I is set in Eden, and traces the tale from first moments of consciousness to cataclysmic Fall. Part II follows Cain and his family as they build their lives outside Eden’s boundaries, and the relationships which are destroyed and rebuilt.
Two great Trees. Of Life, and of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Only one forbidden. What happens when the fruit of the forbidden one is eaten? And why?
This ‘what if’ scenario is one that, surprisingly, does not appear to have been explored before. It is a story that Anna couldn’t believe had not already been written. ‘Hence,’ she says, ‘since no one else had yet written it, I needed to.’
By placing the story in the realm of ‘what if’, Anna continues, ‘it permits a meditation on fundamental biblical truths in a way which is simultaneously gentle and unthreatening, yet perhaps all the more thought-provoking precisely because they have been transposed to a safe environment. Readers find themselves mourning the relationship with God, Creation and each other, thrown away by the Fall; atheists have absorbed the message without antagonism, while Christians have come away with a new and refreshing reminder of His joy and grace.’
Eden Undone is a story of grace and joy, loss and sin, hope and redemption. It is accessible to all – from the age of 9 to 95 – and is enjoyed equally by Christians and non-Christians. It is funny and tragic, gentle and powerful, original and thought-provoking.
It turns out that publishers and distributors have zero budget for promotion of their books. The distributors haven’t even mentioned Eden Undone in their catalogues. So this novel desperately needs YOUR help to make it through – please consider supporting generously at http://igg.me/at/Eden-Undone (You can get a free copy of the book, among other incentives, in exchange for your support!)
Sample chapters from Eden Undone:
NB. Throughout this book, names for God are used interchangeably, depending on which facet of His character is to the fore.
Glory, Majesty, Love… all these are wholly Him yet none by themselves encompass Him.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
(The Book of the Beginning 1:24-27)
Memories of memories, without shape or form. He was floating up, rising, surfacing through inchoate shadows. Fragments of impressions, feelings. Light and dark. Palms to rough bark. Knuckles on soft soil. Dust. Wordless sounds. And then – explosion of lucidity, consciousness. Opened eyes meeting the face of Love, radiating joy.
“Your name is Adam,” He said. “Welcome, my beloved!”
And: “Come. Come with me.”
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground —trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
[…] 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
(The Book of the Beginning 2:8-15)
“I’ve got something to show you. Close your eyes,” He said.
The world moved.
“Look,” He said.
It was a garden. The man knew it was a garden, knew the word, knew the name. Garden. Eden.
There were trees. Trees of every kind, shape, and size, as far as the eye could see. And flowers. Riots of colour, exuberant cascades, shy petals in tiny nooks. A gentle breeze filled Adam’s lungs with the subtle afternoon perfume: nothing cloying, nothing clashing. A bird chirruped. Curious eyes turned to them, drew towards them. In the distance, some animal let out an ecstatic bugle of welcome.
And a moment of stillness, breathless, expectant.
“I planted it,” He said. “For you. Do you like it?”
There were no words. Words aren’t sufficient for first glimpse of beauty, first breath of awe. Only the heart that fills until it feels as if it could explode from joy.
Only a nod, and the heart that leapt.
And a thundering of hooves, pounding of paws, as noses nuzzled and soft fur touched. “Welcome,” they said. “Welcome. We have been waiting for you. Come and see! Come and see! Come and stay!”
“Will you?” He asked.
“Yes,” said Adam. “Oh, yes!”
13 …every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald,
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendour.
So I threw you to the earth;
(Fragment: The Lord’s Lament)
He had kept most of the gems. Smuggled them out with him when he was cast out from Heaven. Idiot …One…, not to have realised that the gems were being sneaked out. Or worse, to have realised, and not cared. He couldn’t quite bring himself – not even now, when he was entitled to his fury! – to curse God. Not that it would be blasphemy, of course; how could it be, when that …One… had shown Himself to be so weak? It was simply that, well… and so what of it? It could not, would not, could not be interpreted as weakness on his own account. If anything, Lucifer thought, it was, well, proof that he had been maligned. And it certainly could not be taken as proof that deep inside he was aware of who (a pause. Even in his own thoughts he could scarcely bring himself to think of …that Being…) …the One… was. He was no mere throne bearer, worship leader, guardian of the holy places, cherub he! He, Lucifer, who by rights should be on the throne, not merely bearing it. He, Lucifer, the most beautiful in all the hosts of heaven: he who had been adulated by all, and called the bright morning star, son of the dawn. Even without the living jewels whose fire had reflected his beauty before and still showered him with their lustre now.
And power. For the umpteenth time, Lucifer nursed his bile against his Creator. What did that …One… know about power!? Power was for using. Power was for creating more power, bartering for what you could get, and simply grabbing what wasn’t up for exchange. Power was created by those strong enough to lust for it, strong enough to foment dissension, to weaken everyone else and to make oneself look bigger. Power went to the strongest. The strongest deservedpower.
He could not have been created himself. Could not. Particularly not by that… that… …One… who had failed to surrender His throne to him. Granted, he had no specific recollection of what he’d been doing when light was separated from dark, and dark from light, but … but that did not mean that he was created. Or, even if he had been created, then certainly not by that… that weaklingwho occupied the throne and wielded the power he craved, the throne and power which should by rights be his…
Take the Earth. The Earth was supposed to be his. To use as he saw fit. To take the things he wanted. Such as more gems. He was certain that with gold and jewels one could accomplish all sorts of things. Precious stones reflected his beauty, dazzled and awed those around him. Especially the living jewels, the stones of fire, which adorned Heaven and in which he had clothed himself too. Granted, those he had smuggled out were losing their life and becoming …hard… but they were still precious. And still reflected his beauty. And still instilled awe. And where you could instil awe, you had power. And power… power was everything.
What use was power if you didn’t use it to exploit those around you, if you didn’t use it for yourself, if you chose instead to use it for others? Sign of a weakling, that was, and by the end, he’d even managed to convince others of the angelic host the same thing. Managed to convince them that he would run a far tighter ship if he were in power rather than the present incumbent. With, of course, the right incentives to those loyal to him…
Didn’t that count for something, that he’d succeeded in convincing some of the lesser angels that the power should be his?
And where were those beings now? Scattered. Weaklings.
He was surrounded by weaklings, that was the problem. Above and below… Why, even the fact that he’d been exiled from Heaven was proof of that impotent …One’s… weakness and stupidity. Now if he’d been on the throne, he’d have known the right way to treat a menace as powerful, beautiful, and, and, and powerful as himself. If the roles had been reversed, hah! then Heaven would have seen what Power truly meant. And he wouldn’t have been so idiotic as to leave his enemy running loose…
There, he’d said it. The… One… was… the enemy. All that faff that the… One… had said about grieving for Lucifer, all that mourning his so-called corruption, all that pleading with him to throw away his pride and come back to be forgiven. Forgiven?! How dare He? How dare He suggest that Lucifer was wrong? Or patronise him by mourning for him? Just signs of weakness, hypocritical cant to cover up a Lord too weak to do what needed to be done. Lucifer wasn’t going to fall for it. Would not be taken in by that pretence of love. Love? Even the word now tasted disgusting to him. Slimy. Lucifer spat. The horrid taste remained, and the churning of his insides. Love? Pah!
Well, He’d regret it, Lucifer vowed. Power was his by rights, and since the …One… had been so stupid to let him loose…
Nursing the dimming gems and his enkindling grievance, Lucifer beat his great wings and continued to roam the world of his exile.
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
(The Book of the Beginning 2:19-20)
They danced there with him, leading the way, showing him, welcoming him. “Welcome,” they cried, the merriest confusion of sizes and shapes and colours, ‘til he could scarcely begin to take it all in.
The colours alone – just glancing around him, why, if he’d been the one to create green, and it had occurred to him, then, well, perhaps a single shade? But here – just the greens alone, in too many shades to even begin counting. And that was just the greens. Every colour was a celebration of variety on its own: put together and the infinite colours sang of their Maker’s joy and unbounded exuberance. And then there were the textures. And the shapes! And the interplay of them all…! And then the animals! Fur and feathers and scales, rough and smooth, big and small!
He hardly even knew where to start. There was so much to do, so much to learn! It was so gloriously new, so endlessly challenging, so full of awesome wonder.
He put up his hand toward one of the leaves caressing his face. It was delicate, a fresh green, unfurled from a branch with smooth silvery bark. Birch.
But even as he was touching it, he became aware of a chorus of voices, getting louder by the instant. “We’re coming! We’re coming! Wait for us! Here, let us through! We’re here! We’re here!”
With a rush and a rustle of undergrowth, a parting of surrounding hoofs and paws, whiskered faces and feathered wings, two new somethings careened out of one of the bushes, through the throng, and hurtled against his legs in a flurry of silky fur, wet noses, wagging tails, and furred paws, bowling him over.
With a thump, Adam landed on the soft grass, laughing.
“Welcome! Welcome! Oh, welcome!”
It took a few seconds, but finally the two somethings succeeded in untangling themselves from Adam’s legs and each other, and Adam found himself looking at two pairs of excited eyes.
“Hello,” he said. “Er, I’m Adam. What about you?”
They almost floundered for an instant, until He said gently to Adam:
“Actually, I thought you might like to Name them all. Who do you feel they are, Beloved?”
It was his first Naming. He could feel their Name shaping itself in his heart and mind. It was the right Name, he could feel it, the Name that belonged to them. “Dog,” he said.
The two bounded up. “We’re dogs! Yes! Dog! We’re dogs! Here, did you hear? Did you hear? He’s named us, he has! We’re dogs, we are!”
They chased each other ecstatically round and round the clearing, weaving in and out of the surrounding forest of legs and hoofs and paws, while Adam picked himself back up off the soft sward. One of them was so excited that he tumbled head over heels before continuing the romp, and then they both landed, panting, pink tongues lolling, back at Adam’s feet.
“We’re coming with you,” they said. “We’re here! We’re here!”
Adam laughed, rubbed their ears, and looked up into the next pair of great brown eyes, set in a long face with a velvet nose and a black mane. A happy whoosh of warm sweet breath fanned his face. “Lord Adam!”
“Horse,” he said, and with a joyful nicker, Horse made way for the next somethings.
They were all there, big and small, welcoming him, receiving their Names, while God beamed with delight.
Lion. Swallow. Elephant. Sheep. Mouse. Bear. Bee. Cat. Eagle. Rabbit. Giraffe. Beaver. Owl.
Glorious Tiger with her stripey hide.
Tall Serpent with his proud carriage and jewelled colours.
Cow and Bull with their glorious horns.
The pair of Squirrels with their pitterpatter of tiny paws, scampering and skittering along the branches, leaping featherweights from twig to twig, bushy red tails held high.
“We’re here too! We heard! We heard! Welcome, Lord Adam!”
Adam’s heart danced a jig of pure joy, and the soaring paeans of praise rising unprompted to his lips harmonised with the hushed choirs of angels above.
You were […] perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
(Fragment: The Lord’s Lament 28:12)
And Eden. Eden should have been his. Was his by rights. He’d been there when the …One… was creating it.
The …One… had even asked whether he liked it! Of course Eden had been meant for him – why else would the …One… have shown it to him and to the other angels, if not because He’d secretly been intending to give it to him all along? And then… then to discover that it had actually been meant for that… that … creature! That weak, fragile little two-legged monstrosity that He’d created out of dust, raised from the mere fabric of the world itself, given life and consciousness by His breath! How dare He pass Lucifer over in favour of that…. that mud-man? He didn’t have the power that Lucifer had. Nor his perfect beauty. Nor his wings. Nor his position. He hadn’t been a throne-bearer to the Almighty. What right did that interloper have to… to usurp his rightful prize?
And to add insult to injury, now that he’d been banished from Heaven, he wasn’t even allowed back into Eden either! When anyone else could have plainly seen that Eden was his by rights, and that in mere deference to his former position, he should at the very least be given Eden to set up his residence. As… as an apology for the way he’d been shamefully passed over andthen banished. Banished! When by rights his ambition should surely have led to his promotion! So Eden was, after all, his by rights – he’d set foot in it long before the …One… had created that thing. He’d been there first. How dare He then snatch it away again to give to that creature?
Well, if he couldn’t have Eden, then it was up to him to see that that creature wouldn’t have it either. Or the …One…. Lucifer would show Him. He’d see. He’d pay. No-one was going to mess with him.
And then, who knows, once he’d evicted that… squatter, then he’d have shown that idiot …One… just who had more power, he or the squatter, and then the …One… would see sense and give Eden back to him.
After all, Eden should have been his in the first place.
And if he couldn’t have it, then no-one could.
9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
(The Book of the Beginning 2:9)
Joy upon joy, awe upon awe, wonder upon wonder. Each step they took together, each corner they turned, each dell he explored in God’s company, it seemed to Adam that they came upon something new and more beautiful than the one before. Sometimes, he’d almost have walked past it had Glory not drawn his attention to it and opened his eyes to see it properly and share God’s passion for it.
It wasn’t just the animals who had different names and personalities, likes and dislikes. The plants did too, and during their walks together, Adam got to know each of them.
“This one,” He’d say, “likes your help keeping it trimmed,” and the vine put its pretty blush into its grapes.
“This is the Avocado. See how her fruit covers itself? Try it!” and so Adam peeled the glossy, nobbly black coat and tasted the perfect nutty richness within, buttery-soft and satisfying. They shared merry laughter when the fruit – so ripe that the coat came away in easy strips – skittered out of his hands and left a trail of green cream along his arms and down his leg where the fruit had slid. Adam rinsed himself in the nearby brook, cool and sparkling as it burbled along its bed, and flicked some of the water towards Dog, who had been bounding along beside them. Dog responded by plunging in and spluttering with delight, and the two of them enjoyed a brief splash-fest before emerging again, dripping, onto the bank, water diamonds glistening before the warmth of the sunshine dried them again deliciously. Dog decided that shaking himself vigorously and making the water droplets fly up in great arcs was almost the best bit about getting wet.
Cherries – huge, rich, black, bursting with flavour – became an instant favourite. And the flowers on the tree (for all the trees in the Garden had both flowers and fruit on them at the same time) also took his breath away with their beauty. Beauty down to the smallest detail.
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden,” He said. “But you mustn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die”.
“What does “die” mean, Lord?” he asked then.
A great sadness crossed His face. “It’s when someone is cut off from my presence, Adam.”
A chill ran down Adam’s spine. Cut off from Love’s true light? That… that would be like drawing breath and finding no air, opening his eyes and seeing nothing. Conceivable only in the dimmest fashion, but gut-wrenching even at that remoteness. No, dying was not something to which he felt drawn…
But then “Come, dearheart!” and the moment of the shadow of fear melted in the light of His Love, tucked away from experience and stored only in knowledge.
They bent down to speak to Mole, who had swum his way up through the rich soil to greet them and had now emerged, sneezing and blinking in the sudden sunlight, with his great shovel paws resting atop his little mound. Crumbs of soil still covered his velvet fur, and his nose twitched. “Welcome my Lords, welcome,” he snuffled. “My burrow is yours, if you’d like to visit? It’s cool and restfully dark,” he added, squinting in the unaccustomed light, and plainly convinced that any sensible being would be equally uncomfortable in so much blinding brightness. “If you give me a few minutes, that is, to make the hallways a little wider?”
Adam gravely thanked him, touched by the invitation, but reassured him that they were quite happy up here in the fresh air, and might find soil quite difficult to breathe.
“But there’s lots of air here!” defended Mole. “In between the soil. And the roots. I like roots,” he added. “The roots here are lovely. Ask the Lord. HE knows.”
Glory smiled, and assured him that indeed He knew; and Mole, finally convinced that the Lord Adam would not be joining him and Mrs Mole for tea, disappeared again in a flurry of earth as he burrowed back down again into the welcoming blackness, full of the clean scents of soil and roots.
And the Lord showed Adam how the loam crumbled, and spoke of the different types of soil and how this one was loved by such a tree, and that one was loved by that. Adam ran his fingers through the soil, feeling its beautiful texture, and marvelled anew at the vastness of God’s conception, that knew and loved every atom of this world He had created, from the depths of the earth, and the crumbs of the soil, to the trees that fed on it and the creatures that lived on – and in – it.
Anna Lindsay graduated from St.John’s College (Cambridge University) and has worked everywhere from Hong Kong (as a volunteer working with Jackie Pullinger to help drug addicts) to temping in Switzerland and as a teacher in the UK. Health challenges forced retirement, since when she has served her community in a volunteer capacity including 16 years as a Trustee of a tiny local Registered Charity in the centre of Cambridge.
Anna Lindsay is available for book signings and interviews, and can be contacted via [email protected]