The Eden Revelation An Evolutionary Novel David Rosenberg Dr. Rhonda Rosenberg “The greatest enterprise of the mind is the attempted linkage of the sciences and humanities.” E.O. Wilson
Fears of Extinction
A typical copying mistake
A character-driven evolutionary time
Smartphones in place of bananas
A buried Garden of Eden
Anna Freud and Adam and Eve
LINKS ABOUT BOOK, EPISODES, AND SUBJECTS
Video : Miami Book Fair
The Eden Revelation
An Evolutionary Novel
Dr. Rhonda Rosenberg
“The greatest enterprise of the mind is the attempted linkage of the sciences and humanities.”
Not since Dante and Milton has Eden been deeply excavated
From the invisible microbes that sustain us, to the fantastical creatures in Eden,
to our blindfolded image of how we were sexually created—
a new-normal novel about living with our species origins
and Western origin story.
By acclaimed poet-scholar David Rosenberg ( ) and esteemed scientist Rhonda Rosenberg
FICTION AND NONFICTION
ENLIGHTEN EACH OTHER
IN A “NEW-NORMAL” NOVEL…
THE EDEN REVELATION:
AN EVOLUTIONARY NOVEL
From New York Times bestselling poet-scholar David Rosenberg and scientist Rhonda Rosenberg, The Eden Revelation: An Evolutionary Novel is a first of its kind, a “new-normal” novel rooted in the long arc of prehistory.
“The greatest enterprise of the mind”
In a unique husband-wife collaboration between an esteemed scientist and New York Times bestselling author, the Garden of Eden is recreated, comes alive. Not since Dante and Milton has a literary writer dared to re-envision biblical Eden, nor has a modern novel evoked the origin of a natural ecosystem in evolutionary terms.
Wholly unexpected, The Eden Revelation is an experimental novel that eclipses conventional and postmodern genres, fulfilling the hope of the late, famed biologist, E.O. Wilson: “The greatest enterprise of the mind is the attempted linkage of the sciences and humanities”.
The Eden Revelation is a subtle update as well of the twentieth century’s novel of ideas. Western literature’s first idea, mythologically, was recorded just outside the Garden of Eden, in an ancient echo of eschatological climate change that exiled the first humans.
“A stupendous achievement,”
writes U.K. critic Anthony Rudolf
“A novel of ideas
which actually moves one”
—for the literary reader:
The Eden Revelation is not fiction, not nonfiction, not hybrid, not experimental or intense prose style, but “an evolutionary novel”—fiction and nonfiction challenging each other to be fittest.
—for the general reader:
The Eden Revelation is a new-normal novel about living with our species origins and Western origin story—from the invisible microbes that sustain us, to the fantastical creatures in Eden, to our blindfolded image of how we were sexually created.
—for science thinkers:
The Eden Revelation dramatizes how past and future are homologous, in evolutionary terms—and how complex ecosystems, no less than human brains and subatomic particles, can have radically uncertain origins.
—for interdisciplinary academics:
The Eden Revelation answers E.O. Wilson’s lifelong quest for a meeting of ecosystem science and art.
The Eden Revelation spirals all up and down the tree of knowledge—all the while calling attention to that fact. In remaining totally conscious of itself, it’s experimental. Questions are raised about how it is possible to be fully present like the archetypes of Adam and Eve and how it is possible to disappear without a trace like Adam and Eve’s consciousness when they die.
The Eden Revelation transforms the human body
into the mind of its Creator, who is disguised as a natural ecosystem called the Garden of Eden.
—for Jewish creatives:
The Eden Revelation turns Adam and Eve into several contemporary characters whose anxieties are rooted in a lost event—yet they can’t help searching for its cause.
The Eden Revelation looks inside the mind to its origins in a disturbance. It becomes an origin story for a more deeply buried drive below the death drive, a drive to evolve that also expresses the characters’ anxiety about loss and extinction during their search for a lost colleague. But Julie’s quest undercuts the plot, enlarges it, showing you’re nowhere without reckoning with the unconscious… as it becomes dramatically represented in an unearthed ancient scroll.
—for public health professionals:
The Eden Revelation shows how communication between colleagues can break down and, in a public need for origin stories, fuel misinterpretations of evolution.
—for the Bible-literate:
The Eden Revelation asks why the two sacred trees of Eden—Life and Knowledge of death—are dependent on each other. The answer requires the (his)story of evolution on earth to parallel the (his)story of the Garden of Eden in its commentary.
—for cultural critics:
The Eden Revelation parallels the recent pandemic. No-one could explain the appearance and disappearance of the different versions of SARS-CoV-2; no-one could really deal with evolution. The public heard only about “variants”, as if they were tiny sci-fi droids, divorced from the natural world. It’s never about evolution, it’s never going to really be about a virus that basically lives on the air. In the same way, there were at first no natural terms for Archie’s disappearance; it was as if he was a lost peripatetic amnesiac. Eventually, however, his colleagues understand it was an evolutionary drive kicked in by a singularity: the disturbance of a long-buried ancient ecosystem, one resembling stories of the Garden of Eden.
Also by David Rosenberg
Dreams of Being Eaten Alive
Rosenberg’s stunning version brings to English some of the most unnerving and powerful passages in the Kabbalah, reinstating it as a passionate, enchanting literary text. This is an exciting, discomposing book.
New York Times Book Review
The Lost Book of Paradise
Filled with the exquisite irony of one who knows how to imperil our simplest notion of belief. He refuses to make it any easier for us than the suspenseful fictions of Borges and Kafka.
The Book of J
Rosenberg’s innovative translation struggles to re-create J’s distinctive voice, a tone of modulated ironic grandeur, words echoing within words.
—Edward Hirsch, The New Yorker
The First Historical Biography
One of the most perceptive triumphs of imagination I have ever had the pleasure to read.”
—Carl Rollyson, New York Sun
A Literary Bible
Audacity and originality. A stunning new translation that restores the creativity and poetry of the original text.
—Adam Kirsch, The New Republic
See What You Think
Nothing else is like these pieces. As in a transforming mythography, characters are the same and not-same. It’s a singular work, an evolved form of memoiristic writing.
A Life in a Poem
As someone whose scholarly and creative sensibility could never abide the academic, Rosenberg has allowed us to feel the weight of culture and psyche lifted, deciphered.
brief excerpts for quotation
rosenbergs.spuytenduyvil at gmail dot com
from an early anonymous review
that describes main character:
The Eden Revelation: An Evolutionary Novel has perhaps more to reveal about what we have never properly internalized: that for all our intelligence and creativity, we were not responsible for our evolving. Something as complex as the human brain, but much larger, had more to do with it: a natural ecosystem large and complex enough that we were lost in it until we found our niche.
The authors of this “evolutionary novel” are to be commended for rooting their work in a time and place older than any prior fiction: the actual Garden of Eden. Everyone has heard of Adam and Eve, even if they’ve never read the story in Genesis. There are
even many people alive today named Adam, or Eve. But what were the original humans in Eden actually like? And in terms of scientific evolution, what were the first Homo sapiens like?—those who evolved in a place that seemed like paradise to them because it had everything they needed: food, shelter, beauty, and room to explore. They also had sexual attraction—or else we wouldn’t be here.
But more than the first humans, this novel has for its main character the lost natural ecosystem in which we evolved, somewhere in a vast area that scientists call the Syrian-African Rift, stretching through the Middle East down to Africa. This novel begins when an archaeologist, Archibald Shechner, accidentally digs up that fossilized lost ecosystem and it begins
to tell him things that no one has heard in thousands of years. Of course, he’s out of his head, traumatized by what he’s found. All of his friends and colleagues try to get him psychiatric help—but at the same they’re fascinated by what he’s recounting of the
ancient ecosystem’s voice. What happens when these friends of Archie’s collide with the various experts and literary scholars who arrive from Europe and America to interpret what he is saying, leads to all kinds of mix-ups and earth-shattering insights, some of it scandalous, some of it revelatory.
So begins this unique novel that bridges science and art, much like the late Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson had in mind when he wrote: “The greatest enterprise of the mind has always been and always will be the attempted linkage of the sciences
communiqués … (a monthly update)
A Few Questions about The Eden Revelation
and Why We Moved Down to Miami
Our novel tries to bridge a relationship between art and evolution in the form of a novel. It takes to heart Knausgaard’s comment: “The duty of literature is to fight fiction. It's to find a way into the world as it is”. Usually, that “world” means human society, but for us it expands into natural history.
Part of our novel is based on the art of the Eden story in Genesis, which shows us how our ancestors understood the subtlety of knowledge: that it first comes in disguise, as when Satan disguised himself as a friendly serpent.
Why our human parents Adam and Eve fell victim to the serpent can be described as a failure to ask “Why?” Why did the serpent want them to eat the sacred fruit, and Why shouldn’t they eat it? By failing to ask Why, they were seduced by Satan’s argument that it would be good for them think only of their own enjoyment—and to have no respect for even a tree. We can also say that Eden’s “Tree of Knowledge”—for us today—represents how we evolved to be human. How and especially why we evolve is a crucial part of the plot in our novel.
Fast forward to today in Miami. Our knowledge of evolution allows us to see a complex natural ecosystem like the Everglades as a type of Garden. If we ask why we should protect it, we begin to understand that evolution is not just about us—even though humans are the fruit of evolutionary processes. Because Adam and Eve didn’t question Satan’s motives, they found themselves exiled, forced to deal with climate change and war; that is, they were forced out of Eden by a hurricane-like wind, and then they found themselves in our natural world that includes death and disease.
So Rhonda and I first moved down to Miami from Manhattan, back in the early ‘90s, by an offer to take over the house of Fairchild Tropical Garden’s director (he was moving on to head Hawaii’s tropical garden). We had decided we were too uneducated about nature and that we weren’t going to learn alot about trees or natural ecosystems in Manhattan, where the only wild things you might see for awhile were roaches and pigeons.
We wanted to ask “Why?” questions about why we felt more at home in the denatured imitation-ecosystems of cities, and why, for instance, we were ignorant that there were male and female plants and trees. Why did they too reproduce and evolve sexually? As soon as we asked that question of why at Fairchild, we saw that the sexuality of tropical plants was highly visible—and even tastable, like the sacred fruit in Eden.
So we spent time learning from Fairchild’s botanists how to ask more and more questions about the natural world. And we soon took our questions to Everglades National Park, which we spent many years exploring on weekends. Finally, we wondered how we could write about our experience in a way that would prompt even New Yorkers to ask “Why” questions about ecosystems and sexuality.
There are plenty of books about evolution and sex, but people get tired of too much information, which we get every day from media. What we needed was a work of art, like a novel, that might be moving, unsettling, and intellectually exciting. But how to begin? Just the fact that the two of us were asking the same Why questions led us to consider collaborating, which is very unconventional for a literary novel.
We started with the idea that our main character would be a Garden of Eden-like ecosystem instead of a person, because we could each bring our areas of research to bear: David’s biblical scholarship on the Garden of Eden as our original ecosystem, in which the first humans evolved, and Rhonda’s scholarship on evolution from her research on infectious diseases. As well, David’s background as a poet and literary critic, and Rhonda׳s as a scientist, married two seemingly opposed fields of human knowledge: science and art.
Yet soon we discovered that we ourselves, the writers, were like characters that needed many others in the novel who could also collaborate and make love and have lots of problems. Ipso facto, we started with Adam and Eve as they were represented in the lost Israelite source for the Garden of Eden story, an ancient scroll mentioned in biblical commentary as the “Scroll of the History of Adam”. And then we thought of contemporary characters who were connected to that Scroll in some way, as researchers, archaeologists, interpreters, teachers, translators, etc. But professionals like these could be rather boring people, so we needed a catastrophic event that would upset all of their lives. And there it was, hiding in plain sight in that lost scroll: the disastrous ancient climate change that woke up our human ancestors out of their original Eden-like ecosystem and sent them out to explore the rest of the planet, hungry for new knowledge.
So that’s how we began, and we can think of a lot more questions that readers might have, like how did we collaborate on the writing and where did we do it, how long did it take, how did it change our lives, etc. One major question entails the unconventional form the novel takes, going back and forth in time and place, from Texas to Tel Aviv, and involving even the book’s editor, literary agent, and the top American literary critic. We are still trying to understand how we fought our way into “the world as it is”.