Genesis 2:18–20 (NRSVCE) says:

"Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner."

One feels that the ritual of naming the animals and birds could have taken place after the creation of Eve so that Adam would have had someone to consult with. My qustion is: Why did God entrust the duty of naming the animals and birds only to Adam? What do the teachings of the Catholic Church say on the subject?

  • 1
    The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; BUT for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. It seems there is no Eve yet (?).
    – karma
    Feb 13, 2018 at 6:06
  • 2
    True. Eve came later. See Gen 18: 21 -22. Feb 13, 2018 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


From St. Augustine's Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichees, bk. 2, pp. 111-12:


Man's Work in Paradise and Woman Is
Made As His Helper

  1. Although man was placed in paradise so as to work and guard it, [Gen. 2:15] that praiseworthy work was not toilsome. For the work in paradise is quite different from the work on the earth to which he was condemned after the sin. The addition "and to guard it" indicated the sort of work it was. For in the tranquility of the happy life, where there is no death, the only work is to guard what you possess. He also receives the command that we have already dealt with above. This command ends so that it is not addressing one person, for it says, "On the day that you eat, you shall die the death." [Gen. 2:17] Hence, Scripture begins to explain how the woman was made. It says that she was made as man's helper so that by spiritual union she might bring forth spiritual offspring, that is, the good works of divine praise, while he rules and she obeys. He is ruled by wisdom, she by the man. For Christ is the head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman. [1 Cor. 11:3] Thus it said, "It is not good that man is alone." [Gen. 2:18] For there was still need to bring it about not only that the soul rule over the body, because the body has the position of a servant, but also that virile reason hold subject to itself its animal part, by the help of which it governs the body. The woman was made as an illustration of this, for the order of things makes her subject to man. Thus we can also come to see in one human what we can see more clearly in two humans, that is, in the male and the female. The interior mind, like virile reason, should hold subject the soul's appetite by means of which we control the members of the body, and by just law it should place a limit upon its helper, just as man ought to rule woman and ought not to allow her to rule him. When this happens, the home is perverted and unhappy.

  2. Hence, God first showed man how much better he was than the cattle and all irrational animals, and this is signified by the statement that all the animals were brought to him that he might see what he would call them and give them names. [Gen. 2:19-20] This shows that man is better than the animals in virtue of reason, since only reason which judges concerning them is able to distinguish and know them by name. This latter idea is an easy one to grasp, for man quickly understands that he is better than the cattle. The former idea is a difficult one to grasp, namely, that by which he understands that the rational part in him that rules is distinct from the animal part which is ruled.

Thus, according to St. Augustine, Adam named the animals to show that he is distinct from and superior to them (having an intellect, unlike them) and that he is to rule them, just as his soul is distinct from and superior to his body, which must be subjected to reason. Similarly, man must rule woman and not let woman overrule him.

  • I'm guessing this is the best answer we're likely to get, but a few bits of summary would help!
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 13, 2018 at 19:30
  • Is that bit about man ruling woman and not letting woman overrule him a catholic teaching? If so a source would be good. Is the inference that if Eve had been around during the naming of animals there would have been some dissent from her? Tried picking out a paint color for the house with the wife involved?
    – Kris
    Feb 13, 2018 at 22:48
  • @Kris I cite in my answer 1 Cor. 11:3: "…the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
    – Geremia
    Feb 14, 2018 at 0:33
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    @Kris "Is the inference that if Eve had been around during the naming of animals there would have been some dissent from her?" Who knows, but perhaps St. Thomas Aquinas's questions on the production of woman will help.
    – Geremia
    Feb 14, 2018 at 0:38
  • 1
    @Kris Yes, which is why hierarchy/inequality is important ("hierarchy" etymologically means "sacred rule").
    – Geremia
    Feb 14, 2018 at 0:39

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