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[Heb.,=life], in the Bible, the first woman, wife of AdamAdam
, [Heb.,=man], in the Bible, the first man. In the Book of Genesis, God creates humankind in his image as a species of male and female, giving them dominion over other life.
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 and the mother of Cain, Abel, and Seth. Fashioned from Adam's rib, she was beguiled by the serpent into eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. Eve then tempted Adam to eat, whereupon they were banished from the Garden of Eden. See also LilithLilith
, female demon of Jewish mythology, originally probably the Assyrian storm demon Lilitu. In Talmudic tradition many evil attributes were given to this supposedly nocturnal creature. In Jewish folklore she is a vampirelike child-killer and the symbol of sensual lust.
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in genetics, popular term for a theoretical female ancestor of all living people, also known as Mitochondrial Eve. In 1987 biochemist Allan C. Wilson proposed that all living human beings had inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from a single woman. Using statistical and computer analysis of mtDNA—which is almost always inherited by a child from the mother—from people of various ethnic groups and assuming a slow, constant rate of genetic mutation, Wilson concluded that the oldest mtDNA was African and that every person's mtDNA stemmed from one woman who lived about 200,000 years ago. (He did not suggest that this woman was the only female ancestor alive 200,000 years ago.)

Critics questioned the appropriateness of the mtDNA samples used in the study and argued that computer analysis of the data was flawed and that Wilson's conclusions were not supported by the fossil record. A further study using more diverse mtDNA samples and supporting Wilson's theory was published in 1991, but other computer analyses of mtDNA samples have indicated that several different "family trees" can be constructed from the same data and that the order in which samples are analyzed by the computer program affects the results.

A 1995 study supported the idea that modern humans originate from a single source by identifying identical stretches of DNA on the Y chromosomes of a sample of men taken from different racial and geographical groups worldwide. This study looked at the zinc finger y, or ZFY, gene, a gene that is passed only from father to son, and concluded that humans evolved from a common ancestor (i.e., a small group) around 270,000 years ago. More recently, Spencer Wells, in The Journey of Man (2002), has argued that all men are descended from a single African man who lived 60,000 years ago. Some researchers have suggested that the most common male ancestor, or Y Chromosome Adam, lived from 50,000 to 150,000 years ago, while other scientists have argued for a more distant ancestry.

Those who argue against the Eve, or "out-of-Africa," hypothesis, are led by Dr. Milford Wolpoff and support an alternate hypothesis known as "regional continuity." It contends that human evolution was a much slower process (covering a million or more years) that occurred simultaneously in many areas of the Old World after the migration of Homo erectus, the species generally recognized as immediately preceding Homo sapiens, from Africa.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(ancient Hebrew, Havah), according to biblical mythology, the wife of Adam, created from his rib by god. She was the first woman and the mother of the human race in Judaic, Christian, and, later, Islamic mythology. According to the legend, at the instigation of the serpent, she tasted and persuaded Adam to taste the “forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” For this “sin,” bringing condemnation upon the whole human race, Eve and Adam were driven out of paradise by god.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


in the Bible, the first woman. [O.T.: Genesis 1–5]
See: Firsts


for disobeying God, would suffer in childbirth. [O.T.: Genesis 3:16]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Old Testament the first woman; mother of the human race, fashioned by God from the rib of Adam (Genesis 2:18-25)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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