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Man is alone (Genesis chap. 2, verse 20)

Benczur-narcissusAnd Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Man diligently carries out the task entrusted to him by God (Gen 2:19). First of all, note that man is obedient to God, doing everything He says. However, the element to highlight is the condition of man after he had given the name to all animals.

Giving each animal a function useful to him – this means giving the name to the animals – he nevertheless noted with bitterness that no animal was an “help meet for him.” What does this phrase mean?

Man, by nature (cf. Gen 1:26-28 and 2:7), it is a being who needs to enter into intimate relationship with another being. Not only with God but also with someone who is “similar” to him. Now, the animals were taken, like man, from the earth (Gen 2:19); therefore they share something of him, but they aren’t “similar” to him. In fact, man’s likeness to God (Gen 1:26-28) implies an intimate relationship between God and man. A relationship that is not physical but spiritual. So the animals are not “similar” to man.

So man is alone. But I don’t think that this word is able to express the human condition. Rather I would say that man is “isolated”, that is unable to enter into intimate communion with a being that corresponds to his nature, to his deepest identity. If we were to imagine the situation of man, we might think of a city surrounded by high walls and inviolable. No one outside will ever know and share the daily life that turns inside the walls, in the city. So had to feel the man, after he had given the name – i.e. the function – to every animal.

After all, it is the condition of those who cannot express their desires and projects; in short, the isolation is the condition of those who aren’t able to be “intimate” with anyone … and perhaps they aren’t able to be intimate even with himself.

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Simone Venturini

Writer and Researcher at Vatican Secret Archives, Professor of Bible at Pontifical University of the Holy Cross od Rome

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