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Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 6, Adam and Eve perceived their nudity.

This is one in a series from Jaques-Benigne Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, and specifically the Fifth Day.  There is more here on the Bossuet Project.

And immediately their eyes were opened; and being certain that they were nude, they covered themselves with fig leaves sewn together, and made themselves a girdle; the original door, clothing around the loins. Alas! we begin to dare not speak of what followed in our history, where it begins to seem to us something that modest lips cannot express, and that chaste ears cannot hear. Scripture wraps itself up here and only tells us a hint about what our first parents felt. Hitherto their innocent nudity did not trouble them. Do you want to know what it did to them? Consider that they covered themselves, and with what. It is not against the wounds of the air that they cover themselves with leaves; God gave them skin for this purpose and clothed them himself. Here it is only the eyes and their own eyes that they want to protect themselves.They need only leaves, only they have chosen larger and thicker ones so that the eye can pierce them less. They perceived it for themselves, and so their eyes are open. They were not blind before, as some interpreters have believed; would have been, Adam would neither have seen the animals or even Eve whom he named, nor Eve have seen either the snake or the fruit. Say then that their eyes were opened to them, it is an honest and modest way to express that they felt their nudity, and it was by this means that they began, in their misfortune, to know evil. In a word, their spirit, that had risen against God, could no longer contain the body to which it was to command. And here, unrestrained after their sin, is the cause of shame that until then they did not know. Let us wrap this up, so as not to return to this shameful disorder. We are all born of it, and it is by this that our birth and conception, that is to say, the very source of our being, is infected by original sin. O God! where are we, and from what state are we fallen!


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