A Review of The Story of Lilith: The Mysterious First Wife of Adam by Johnnie Hogue

The Story of Lilith: The Mysterious First Wife of Adam by Johnnie Hogue

The Story of Lilith: The Mysterious First Wife of Adam by Johnnie Hogue

There have been, are, and will be, many works that attempt to tell the story of Lilith, her mythos and how that relates, in many ways, to the story of Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden. Many of these works are written for a more adult audience, one that can accept the questions raised, the thoughts expressed.

It is, for me at least, quite a surprise to come across a work about Lilith that can be described as a picture book for children about Lilth’s myth and the story behind it. The thing about writing such a work is that it is very easy to tell a story with a particular slant. A statement about God and the relationship between men and woman. Words that, sadly, express that the concept of equality isn’t possible, and more so that God isn’t in favour of it.

Tone means everything, and some tones, some words used, leave deep marks behind when they are expressed.

  • Title: The Story of Lilith: The Mysterious First Wife of Adam
  • Author: Johnnie Hogue
  • Illustrator: Dyra Mika Manangan
  • Published By: Amazon Digital Services
  • Length: 16 Pages
  • Format: eBook
  • ASIN: B01MAVU8LV
  • Publishing Date: October 11, 2016
  • This work in Kindle Format at Amazon.com

 

This work is described as:

An Illustrated Book to Teach the Forgotten Story of Lilith, Adam’s First Wife.

A picture book that tells the mythos of Lilith in words and images. The story of the first woman seeking to be equal to her mate and finding that he cannot accept that. The pain of hearing from God that she has no value unless she submits and her reaction to that, and the cost she suffers in only wishing equality.

I’m very conflicted about this work, and I’ll explain further, but first I think I should say the positive here. The art is lovely, the characters of Lilith, Adam and Eve look delightful in all of their forms. There’s a lot of joy it seems in the illustrator’s art and I loved the art for that. The art is, at least to my way of thinking, made for a young reader, to captivate them, to draw them into the story and that does work well.

The problem, for me, is how Lilith’s story is told as a whole. There’s a certain viewpoint here which makes me very uncomfortable, especially as the work would be attractive to young readers because of the art. The work states, clearly, that as per the mythos, Lilith and Adam were equal in God’s eyes, but Adam wanted Lilith to submit to him. The conflict described as the work moves past that point makes it seem like God became vengeful because Lilith wanted equality and then spiteful to make Lilith a demoness, or succubus.

Lilith isn’t described as a succubus, her actions as a succubus are not delved into, only that she causes pain to mothers and visits men. But the story pushes a view of Lilith seeking revenge, looking to cause pain and so forth. The work adds that beings like Lilith, who are “fighting against God” are doomed to suffer eventually.

And that statement, more than anything else, is what nags at me. From my perspective, the story seems to suggest that women seeking equality are doing so against God’s wishes. I’m sorry, but I can’t subscribe to that view. What this does, for impressionable young minds, is plant a seed in their thoughts that being equal, respected, a partner in life with men isn’t a good thing. That a woman’s only purpose is to be submissive and nothing more. Because God wants things that way and one must obey the word of God.

That simply isn’t true.

God, or Goddess, whichever one believes in, isn’t a cruel being. They want their children to be happy, content, to live and love equally. That, for me, was what the Garden represented. The expression of why Lilith and Adam came from the same dirt. The desire of their children, all of them, to live together, be together.

Lilith expresses that need within to be equal, to have value, to be a partner, to share in the life given for the greater good of all. That’s not an evil thing, that’s not an expression of being against God’s wishes. It is, however, the expression of the need for all souls, regardless of they being male or female, to see each other as equals.

This work, placed in the hands of young souls that do not understand, that cannot make up their own minds, will tend to push them to think in a way that doesn’t allow for equality. That’s the greater shame here. Lilith’s story, though not part of the Bible, matters in the here and now. It means something in the world we live in. It is meant to make us think. We should be.

I’m not giving this work a rating.

I find myself unable to separate my dislike of the tone used, the expression that women shouldn’t be equal to men. The words used press home the idea that God didn’t want women and men to be equal, even though, at least in the story of Lilith, both she and Adam came from the same dirt.

There’s a conflict in the telling, an expression of somehow “putting women in their place” which is telling.

 

Tera

4 comments

Skip to comment form

    • avatar
    • James on October 18, 2016 at 1:41 am

    This is not just about tone, this is about a story being used–as it has been, unfortunately, for millennia–to oppress. And here it is being used on children. Your Majesty was far more gracious than I might have been.

    • avatar
    • Jason on October 18, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Hmm… The book says it’s an illustrated book, and does not say it is a children’s book. It is also listed under the mythology category, and not under the children’s books category. I think this book is intended more for teens and young adults, not a bedtime story for toddlers.

    Also, it says that Lilith was punished for disobeying God, not because she wanted to be equal. Just like Eve ate from the apple, Lilith spoke Gods name, which was never to be spoken at that time. She left the Garden of Eden and wouldn’t come back, even though God had asked her to. It was only Adam who wanted superiority, not God who wished for him to be superior. Lilith and Eve both disobeyed God, and both were punished according to Gods will (according to myth).

    He’s only telling the story as it is already told, atleast by some…there is more than one version, but I think it tells of one of the better versions. He’s not sugar coating it. It’s just a myth, and not part of the Bible. I think the story is as honest and accurate as it can be for younger (teenager+) audiences. But yah, this isn’t a story to be told to elementary ages.

    I’d think the book is rated around a 3 or 4, assuming u know the proper age group for this book. The illustrations are amazing, as you stated. And the book is accurate according to legend.

    I seriously don’t think he was being sexist. It is believed that this part of the Bible was removed by men, because at that time, they didn’t want women to believe that they were ever equal to men. I see nothing wrong with his blunt honesty, especially since this book can’t be found in the little kids section.

    If Lilith was the “need within to be equal, to have value, to be a partner, to share in the life given for the greater good of all”, then it seems that they should have stayed together instead of Adam needing to find a second wife. Besides, the name Lilith itself means ‘night demon’. How does that sound like it comes from a happy story?

    • avatar
    • TeraS on October 18, 2016 at 6:02 pm
      Author

    Jason,

    It’s not a happy story, and really the mythos of Lilith has that aspect and I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t. Where my issue comes from is the tone of things. I agree it isn’t meant for children, I don’t dispute that point. But the artwork I think is very attractive and it suggests a certain lighter tone which, for me, didn’t quite come out here.

    I agree that this mythos isn’t part of “canon” Biblical understanding, and yes, there are many thoughts from all sorts of viewpoints about Lilith and what she represents. There’s no question that the story tells the myth, and I don’t dispute that either. Where my issue comes from is that feeling I get from this one part of the work: “The reason Lilith was rejected as Adam’s wife was because she insisted on equality.” That’s a rather telling thing to say directly to a younger reader that might not be able to separate things in their thoughts and understand this well.

    To my rating of the work: I did not want to rate this a zero, because it doesn’t deserve it. Nor did I want to rate the work on the art alone, which I adore and loved, well to a five in the artistic nature and talent therein. It’s unfair to go and rate something like this based on my own personal thoughts about Lilith, what she represents to me.

    So… that’s my conflict here.

    The work tells a story, but there’s just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way. That’s the core of my issues with the work and I dearly didn’t expect that to happen. I thought that it would be a little more… call it gentle in the telling of Lilith’s story. To be more blunt, I purchased a copy of this work, and I’m not sorry for doing so.

    Everyone has the right to tell the story they wish to. It’s how each of us relates to that story that tells the larger tale…

    Tera

    • avatar
    • James on October 18, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    And Your Majesty has the right to Her opinion, and Her review, with which others do not have to agree.

    By the way, the story of Lilith is not a portion of the Scriptures, at least not the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, which was removed by men. It is a midrash–a story told, later written, to illuminate or explain a portion of the Scriptures in a way that sometimes furthers the political ends of those telling it. In this case, it is to explain away what seem to be two slightly divergent creation stories in chapters one and two of Genesis–there is no need to go into further details about this part or argue about whether it was necessary here. What does seem clear, to me and others, is that the midrash itself was used to justify the oppression of women who sought equality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.