By Kerry Griffin Smith
For years, I’ve misunderstood something Eve says to Adam in the temple film. With the addition of subtitles to the updated endowment film, I finally saw the correct wording. At first thought, the difference may seem subtle, seemingly unimportant. But the more I ponder it, the more there’s a difference between what I thought Eve said and what she actually said in the depiction. Maybe you’ve misunderstood it too.
Alone or a Lone?
In the temple film, a reflection of Bible teachings, Eve tells Adam he must also partake of the forbidden fruit, saying he will be left “a lone man” in the Garden of Eden if he does not. That’s straightforward and simple, but I always thought she was saying he would be left “alone, Man,” in the Garden.
I’m an editor by trade, and I’m particular about how words are used and punctuated. In this case, I thought she was addressing him as Man and was concerned he would be alone and lonely if he didn’t accept the fruit as Eve had.
Of course, I understood, from subsequent things they say to each other and God in the film, that there is more to the situation. Lack of eternal knowledge and progress with choices that include having posterity and populating the earth were at risk.
But the entirety of their choice and its consequences is summarized in those initial three words.
Eve’s explanation that Adam would be “a lone man” is a thesis statement for their decision to eat the forbidden fruit, leave the Garden, venture into the telestial world, and have a family.
What Does Alone Mean?
The word alone can be used two ways: as an adjective or an adverb. When using it to describe a noun, we simply mean no one else is present: “Adam was alone.” Alone modifies and tells us about Adam, but notice it comes after a verb. So do the next two examples:
If we use alone as an adverb, we show that someone is on their own, as in: “He lives alone.” We can also indicate that something is confined or specific to someone: “We set up a test for him alone.”
These definitions certainly pertain to and describe Adam’s situation in the Garden. So it’s not wrong to think of them. But they are subtle descriptions that happen after a verb, after a noun takes action, and they’re basic.
Does Lone Mean Something More?
At first glance, the words alone and lone have similar definitions. But let’s dig a little deeper. Lone specifically means having no companions, being solitary or single. Being “a lone man,” in the context of our discussion, would specifically mean Adam not having Eve—or anyone else in mortality. Adam’s options are stationary, in other words, if this happens.
An additional definition includes lacking support of others and being isolated, which would also likely be a concern for Eve as she loves Adam. The Garden is Paradise, but would it be so without her? Is his loneliness her biggest concern?
Now let’s look at how the word is used. Lone doesn’t follow a verb; so it can’t be acted upon or changed. It also doesn’t describe a verb like an adverb does. In other words, it doesn’t describe an action. Lone is always used as an adjective, describing a person, place, or thing. In other words, Adam would be “lone,” and he wouldn’t be able to change it.
Fortunately, Adam has his agency and chooses not to become “lone” as he, too, accepts the fruit. He can be with Eve forever, and they can learn good from evil together as they create a family and populate the earth.
How Can We Relate?
Many of us are alone at times. Maybe someone chooses to live alone or likes to do some things without others around. Some of us might even feel alone, for instance, in a crowd of people, or we might feel alone in a marriage. Others may feel alone as a single parent or as an individual who has never married.
There are many examples of feeling alone. It’s a state of physical or emotional being, a variable of which we generally have some control. We can be single, for instance, but not feel alone as we seek opportunities to do things with others.
But we don’t have to worry about the isolated permanence of lone. We haven’t been placed on this earth as lone sojourners. Instead, we experience the ups and downs together, the consequences of our choices, and the opportunities to self-correct and do better.
“As you choose to live on the Lord’s side,” President Russell M. Nelson has said, “you are never alone.” That’s a promise.
Kerry Griffin Smith is a former editor for the Ensign Magazine who loves to spend time in the temple and enjoys family history work. Discover her digital educational printables and articles at MrsLadyWordsmith.com.