Eve plays a particularly significant role on the doors [of Bishop Bernward]; in fact, the narrative begins with her formation, not with the creation of Adam, as might be expected. In the Temptation and Fall, Eve’s attitude and gesture parallel those of the serpent at the right, who, like Eve, offers an apple. This parallel makes explicit Eve’s role as seductive agent, accentuated by the way she holds the apple so closely to her chest that it almost appears as if she were grasping her breast rather than the fruit. With this gesture Eve’s guilt in humankind’s exile from Paradise is emphasized and her sexuality underscored.
While Early Christian writers had considered Eve responsible for the Original Sin, during the Ottonian period references to her guilt multiply and become more vigorous. This might be a result of efforts by Bishop Bernward and others to reform the morality of the clergy in an effort to restore the vow of celibacy to priests and monks, some of whom were known to allow their wives and children to cohabit monasteries. Thus, the burden of clerical immorality is in effect, assigned to Eve, the first woman and the first seductress.
H. W. Janson, Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, 2007