Bible Review 15:6, December 1999

Readers Reply

“Did we do the right thing?” we asked BR readers in our August 1999 issue (see sidebar to “Did Eve Fall or Was She Pushed?” BR 15:04). We had printed a detail of Hans Baldung Grien’s painting Eve, the Serpent and Death as the opening illustration in Susan L. Greiner’s article, “Did Eve Fall or Was She Pushed?” BR 15:04. Eve is shown smiling suggestively in an openly sexual pose. The painting well captures Eve in the role popularly—but not biblically—assigned to her: the sexual temptress responsible for bringing sin and death into the world. The only thing missing from the scene was a fig leaf, and we opted to crop the painting just below Eve’s navel.

Did we act in our readers’ best interests, avoiding unnecessary offense and sparing children from something not appropriate to them? Or did we become prudish censors, preventing readers from fully appreciating a serious work of art? We turned to you for your comments, and you responded in record numbers. In the largest outpouring of letters in memory, you let us know that, for the great majority of you, we did not do the right thing: 70 percent said we should not have cropped the painting, while only 20 percent approved of our action; another 10 percent expressed no direct opinion. Two-thirds of the writers were male, and ten percent were clergy, of both sexes and of both opinions. A sampling of the range of opinions follows.—Ed.

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