Mother Eve
by Beverly Campbell
from the book
Eve and the Choice Made in Eden

Who is this woman, the Mother of All Living, this Eve, who with Adam, the mighty pre-mortal Michael, Ancient of Days, aided the Creator as this world was organized?

Why do we find her persona imprinted on virtually all cultures, all societies, and all religions?

What is her import that God would design a genetic finger print, a marker, whereby all children who have ever been on this earth can be linked through their mothers to that first mother, Eve?

How could the actions of this righteous, grand, and noble daughter of our Heavenly Father have been so misunderstood?

With a soul hungering for truth and light as a body hungers for food, I began my search. Some time later I was asked to write the entry on Eve for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Drawing on research shaped by the words our prophets have used to describe this first of all women, I wrote:
"Eve is one of the most important, righteous, and heroic of all the human family. Eve's supreme gift to mankind, the opportunity of life on this earth, resulted from her choice to become mortal."
We Shall Forever Call Her Mother

Because of Eve's calling as the Mother of All Living, the lineage of humankind would come through the daughters of Eve.

At the time of Eve's first stirrings in the Garden, God endowed her with the seeds of those lives that in the Grand Council of Heaven she had committed to bring forth. Eve's role was pivotal if waiting spirits were to obtain the requisite mortal bodies of flesh and blood.

An intriguing scientific discovery ties us all back to Mother Eve and helps us see the enduring nature of our linkage to her. That linkage, which has to do with our innermost "wiring," also helps us understand that it was Eve and her daughters who carried within them the power to activate lives.

We know that the body has within it hundreds of mitochondria, which were once free, living cells. They contain their own genetic material distinct from the cell's DNA in the chromosomes.

Scientists have found within the mitochondrial DNA thirteen tiny genomes, which have come to be known as powerhouse cells. These cells are the activators of life, for without the genomes, the body would exist but not live.

Mitochondria are only inherited from mothers; a father's mitochrondria are never passed on. Only a daughter can pass her mother's mitochondria to the next generation. The mitochondrial genes of any woman who bears only sons are lost.

Each genome bears a succession of mutations inherited from the foremothers in whom they have occurred. Scientists tell us that it is thus possible to trace lineage back to the original mother of us all, Eve.

Based on this incredible finding, we not only call Eve "Mother" but we can be sure that Eve and Adam had many daughters. It was not until my husband gave me a book entitled The Seven Daughters of Eve, by world-renowned geneticist Bryan Sykes, that I began to feel a compelling identity with these distant daughters.

The introduction to the book stated:
"After plotting thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world, Sykes found that they clustered around a handful of distinct groups. . . . The conclusion was staggering. Almost all people of native European descent, wherever they may live throughout the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women."
Though Sykes's work is not completed, he has identified twenty- six other daughters, who tie the rest of the world's population together — all going back to that first mother, whom scientists call "Mitochondrial Eve."

It took my breath away to think of Eve's daughters, how they had been taught, how they had played and worked by their mother's side, how they had been caressed and valued by their father, how they must have felt as they too went out into the world to start their own families.

Sykes expressed his musings about these ancestral mothers:
"I am on stage. Before me, in the dim light, all the people who have ever lived are lined up, rank upon rank, stretching far into the distance. . . . I have in my hand the end of the thread which connects me to my ancestral mother way at the back. I pull on the thread and one woman's face in every generation, feeling the tug, looks up at me. Their faces stand out from the crowd, and they are illuminated by a strange light. These are my ancestors. I recognize my grandmother in the front row, but in the generations behind her the faces are unfamiliar to me."
Each one is individual — short, tall, dark, light — and yet there is a strong connection:
"There are all my mothers who passed this precious messenger [mitochondrial DNA] from one to another through a thousand births, a thousand screams, a thousand embraces of a thousand newborn babies. The thread becomes an umbilical cord."
Sykes continued, speaking of this tie to others:
"We share the very same piece of DNA that has come down from our ancient maternal ancestors. We use it constantly. Cells in every tissue are reading the message it carries and carry out its instructions millions of times a second. Every atom of oxygen we take into our bodies when we breathe has to be processed according to the formula that has been handed to us by our (maternal) ancestors. . . .

"But the route by which the gene reached us from those ancestors has its own special importance, for it follows the same path as the bond of pain, nurture and enduring love which begins again every time a new child is born. It silently follows the mysterious essence of the feminine through a thousand generations."
What insight this fundamental connection gives us into the gathering into families in the hereafter and therefore of the importance of genealogy and temple work. How marvelous is the plan of God and His wonderful scales of justice as He places recognition of the linkage of humankind through the mother and the lineage of the priesthood through the father.

Daughters, mothers, sisters, fathers, and sons—how elegant and joyous is this news that through our genetic makeup we are inseparably identified with those who have gone before by this same wonder of mitochondria from the Creation to the Millennium.

(edited by David Van Alstyne)

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