Tag Archives: Historical Adam

Prop 8 – @ivpacademic’s “Lost World of Adam and Eve”

On facebook, I stated my concern regarding Walton’s stance on the historical Adam and Eve. I am troubled he makes these statements without support, whereas nearly every other statement he makes is supported by well-reasoned logic. There is a fallacious danger in not reading ahead as one does “read throughs,” so I have at least skipped ahead to see if Walton does give his reasons. He does, in Proposition 11. Yet, I am on Proposition 8, with only the point-of-fact statements “Adam was a real person” made in the midst of “don’t take anything else as ‘literal’.”1 He tries to separate when Genesis 2–3 speaks about a historical figure and when it speaks about an archetypal representative; however, the lines are not clear enough in my mind. If Adam is representative of humanity (or Israel as a King would be) in 8 out of 10 cases, then why are the other two revealing he is a real person? Could it be a stylistic choice or an interpolation?

Wo ist Wellhausen!?

Saint Augustine of Hippo, a seminal thinker on...
Saint Augustine of Hippo, a seminal thinker on the concept of just war (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Indeed, this troubling statement is surrounding by an acutely canonical awareness of “formed” (as well as “rib” and “dust”) and how it plays into the story. While Walton does not mention it, his own parsing of the Hebrew reveals a Platonic caveat of soulmates (i.e., Symposium) I did not realize was there. Yet, through all of this, we are still told by the author of his belief in a historical Adam. Or perhaps, an assumption. If the forming of the two are archetypal and not related to material origins but rather symbolic of human relationships, then why are we still discussing Adam as if he is a historical person? Likewise, the author goes to great lengths to bring in St. Paul and his use of Adam in Romans and 1 Corinthians. This latter issue I find exciting and troubling.

Exciting because of the use of the entire Christian canon to work out theology. But, likewise it is troubling because if I am examining the ancient literature for what it is, I want to examine it devoid of reception during the apocalyptic discontinuity. Admittedly, however, I cannot focus too much on the troubling (to me) aspect because if Walton is doing what he did in Lost World of Genesis One, then he needs to tackle the usual Protestant Christian teaching regarding Original Sin and the Fall (even if one is because St. Augustine did not read Greek all that well).

There is a lot in this singular proposition, some of which I will detail in a follow-up post. As usual, Walton is pushing the boundaries, not of the Text itself, but of our theological facets.

  1. Joel’s paraphrase.

The Federal Headship of Adam

I am not a Calvinist, nor one who believes in St. Augustine’s error. Rather, I believe we can theologically explain the transmitted nature of sin better. However, in reading a particular book, the federal headship view was mentioned (sort of). I wanted to invite consideration and thoughts:

Transgression of the covenant commandment would result in death. Adam chose the course of disobedience, corrupted himself by sin, became guilty in the sight of God, and as such subject to the sentence of death. And because he was the federal representative of the race, his disobedience affected all his descendants. In His righteous judgment God imputes the guilt of the first sin, committed by the head of the covenant, to all those that are federally related to him. And as a result they are born in a depraved and sinful condition as well, and this inherent corruption also involves guilt. This doctrine explains why only the first sin of Adam, and not his following sins nor the sins of our other forefathers, is imputed to us, and also safeguards the sinlessness of Jesus, for He was not a human person and therefore not in the covenant of works.1

Is Adam our representative in that one particular sin?

I’m going to go ahead and give away my view of Adam. I think the story is representative of Israel’s choice to have a king, which is a federal representative in the ancient world. When the King chose to break the covenant, then all Israel fell. This was the original intent.

For now, I don’t have to justify this with St. Paul’s view…

….however, if I had too, I would say St. Paul sees Adam as the federal representative of the people of God made that by the covenant. Christ makes a new covenant that undoes the sin (the violation of the political treaty) of Adam and thus makes a new, unbreakable covenant.

But I could be wrong.

  1. L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 242–243.

A discussion on Creationism and the Historical Adam

Sort of …. it is going on here. This is my latest, fastest comment:

First, Jesus isn’t clearly saying anything. Read Paul Ricoeur about figurative language. Second, let’s say Jesus said that Moses is whom the Jews trusted. Do you notice the play on rhetoric there? Let’s break down that passage. Does Jesus ever say that Moses wrote the Torah? No. What does Jesus specifically given to Moses? He gives the Law. The Law is not the Torah but contained therein.

Now, regarding Exodus. Sure. Fine. You got me ;) Except… Deuteronomy says that the sabbath is for…

5.12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Are you familiar with the source hypothesis? Remember, Jesus didn’t come to correct to be a historical critic. Nor did his ideographic (or idiographic, I’m not settled on that yet) biographers want him to be. Instead, his words are rather succinct. Let’s go just a bit further.

What words of Moses is Jesus perhaps talking about? Deuteronomy. If you do a quick study on how important Deuteronomy is to the New Testament, Qumran and other Second Temple Judaisms, you’ll see that it is a pretty significant book for the development of these Judaisms (including Christianity, the must successful Judaism). Paul even uses Deuteronomy to argue against Leviticus. Look at Deuteronomy and you’ll see that it more likely contains the history of the tradition of the words of Moses. We have to understand that authorial authority didn’t mean a copyrighted work. Tradition was more important.

Why are you taking the Genealogy as authoritative instead of as rhetorical? Let’s consider what Peter Enns and others have done in recent years to speak to the so-called historical Adam.

Ancient cosmology and indeed, the ancient idea of time, allowed for the law of eternal reoccurance (which by the way, fits well with thermodynamics and Green’s multiverse). The destruction of the world more often than not didn’t mean the destruction of our planet, as they had no such concept. It meant the destruction of the world order. Death of the king, exile, etc… Read Isaiah. What happens? The New Creation is not the recreation of another world, but the creation of a new Temple where YHWH is king once again. When I started my recent bible study with my Sunday School class, we started with Exodus and Isaiah. Why? Because Exodus 15 is another creation story. Isaiah informs us of what Creation was during those times. Ex nihilo was not considered and never considered until Augustine. (Read Walter Brueggaman sp? on this.)

So, what is Adam? If we understand Genesis in light of the earlier Isaiah (and Isaiah does come first), then we can seen Genesis 1 as a hymnodic rendition to combat the Babylonian myths of creation. Genesis 2 and 3 then become the start of the new creation, i.e., new covenant. What happens when Exodus 15 occurs? A new covenant. What happens when Noah’s flood is over? A new covenant. What is promised after the end of exile? A new covenant. Scripture is written with progressive and evolving covenants. What does Jesus go back to Adam? Because, Adam is the first of the progressive covenants that lead to Christ which moves Judaism from a sectarian religion to a universal religion, YHWH from a tribal god to a Universal, Cosmic God.

10 Reasons why Kevin DeYoung is wrong about the Historical Adam

Shaun posted this morning a link to DeYoung’s original post, and others have picked up on it as well.

  1. Scripture doesn’t have the same concept of history as recent innovations in the West does. Yes, Theology and History go hand in hand in Scripture, or perhaps, ideology and history as we can tell from the Chronicler (Fox News) and the Deuteronomist (BBC); however, just as ideology is shaped to fit certain things and theology is often times abstract, history in Scripture follows the same mold.
  2. DeYoung and others do not understand why or how the ancient writers would mimic other ANE creation stories or the psychological aspects of this process. Again, this is a bit of theological-ideology shaping history. Mimetic supplanting of other Creation stories helped to shape and preserve Israelite identity in Exile.
  3. Simply because they the opening chapters aren’t poetry doesn’t mean that they aren’t lacking in the modern concept of fact. Historical Narrative is hardly the same from culture to culture, generation to generation.
  4. This is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. No disagreement here, except to note that ‘history’ is not like Western History. I would pose that the concept of Western History developed to counteract the ‘historical narratives’ of cultural myths, even Scripture, and perhaps, especially Scripture. To set Scripture in the same mold as a high school history book is to fall into the trap of the Enlightenment about what is Truth.
  5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical. See the comments above. Genealogies are given throughout the ancient world, tracing heroes, even cities, (Um, Rome, anyone?) through genealogies. This doesn’t exactly make them ‘historical.’
  6. Paul believed in a historical Adam. Sure he did. Or so we read him as saying the same thing. Given the tools which Rhetorical Criticism is playing in our current understanding of Paul, an actual figure of Adam is not needed in Paul’s thought, just as actual enemies aren’t needed in Galatians, or Seneca’s writing party and situation aren’t needed to have his writings remain ‘true.’
  7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam. But who’s interpretation? This means that interpretation outweighs Scripture.
  8. The idea of common decent is a silly one. They start with a solution to a problem, often created by racists in the West, not realizing that other cultures need no common descent to allow that humans are of one family. Further, as Paul says, we are all of one blood. (Acts 17.26 ESV) Further, given that we are all one in Christ, neither Jew nor Gentile, that is from whom we descend.
  9. Original Sin is a doctrine not completely Biblical. Sure, there are Scriptures for it, but Original Sin is only through Interpretation. If a historical Adam is needed to secure a doctrine, then one must ask oneself if that doctrine or the truth is more important? Why do so many continue to use their doctrines to test truth?
  10. Paul’s doctrine of a second Adam does stand, with or without a historical Adam. Or rather, the Reformed view of Paul’s conversation about a second Adam stands. Adam, even as figure, is given the cause of the sin of the world. Then, Christ, the Word of God, reverses it. This is where understanding rhetoric and ancient styles of argument needs to take place.

Do I believe in a historical Adam? Sure. But… It’s not the Adam of the Young Earth Creationists. I’ve explained it before. No need to go back into it.

See Dr. McGrath’s post as well.

A letter from Adam And Eve

Yeah… a lot of good stuff in this parody –

Our contention with you rests firmly in your statement, “The moment you say, we have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world, you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy, nor the respect of the world.”

In the midst of all of this you have forgotten the love of God. Your contention is with biblical orthodoxy and respect of the world, neither of which Jesus ever commanded.

Associated Baptist Press – Opinion: A letter from Adam And Eve.

Straw Men Created by the ‘Historical Adam’ Debate

Depiction of Adam and Eve being cast out from ...
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Statements like this – all the gospel will be lost if – has been uttered and repeated time and time again when those entrenched against new information cannot handle it and create fear scenarios . Dr. Mohler writes,

Thus, the denial of a historical Adam means that we would have to tell the Bible’s story in a very different way than the church has told it for centuries as the Bible has been read, taught, preached, and believed. If there is no historical Adam, then the Bible’s metanarrative is not Creation-Fall-Redemption-New Creation, but something very different.

If we do not know how the story of the Gospel begins, then we do not know what that story means. Make no mistake: a false start to the story produces a false grasp of the Gospel.

Adam and Eve: Clarifying Again What Is at Stake .

The issue is, is one of of intellectual dishonesty. This is not a slight against Dr. Mohler. This happens all the time and is natural – see the theory of motivated reasoning. What happens is you start with a position, A, and you reject anything that changes it, or outright dismisses it. You don’t challenge or otherwise defend against the evidence – in fact, all that is happening is that one has set up a position as unchangeable and defends that position by not allowing any contrary facts to exist.

The fact is, is that John Walton has placed along side the so-called ‘plain reading’ of Scripture Scriptural facts and evidences that the aforementioned reading is wrong. Yet, because that changes a particular narrative, it is not considered, or not considered fairly. This is what is happening. It is not that the Gospel is at stake – it wasn’t at stake at Nicea; it wasn’t at stake at the Great Schism; it wasn’t at stake in the Reformation. It’s not at stake now. What is at stake is entrenched interpretations – as the above mentioned moments in Christian history – and those who needed them to believe the Gospel. The fact is, is that with Walton’s evidences, the Covenantal theme becomes that much more clearer in Scripture. Perhaps, then, that is what troubles so many. Perhaps a change in the narrative is what is troublesome.

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How not to read the bible, as evidenced by the Quote of the Day

From here.

I am so tired of these statements which are not supported by either biblical genre or logic

Jason, C. John Collins, and the need to have Adam

Jason has reviewed a book which fits into the recent discussion on the historical Adam:

C. John Collins, (Phd, University of Liverpool) professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, St Louis, has written a good book on the subject of the historical Adam. From the very beginning, he lays out plainly what he believes. The introduction declares that the historical belief was that Adam and Eve were literal, historical people and that creation occurred in six days. He then states that we may change our views on the length of time in which creation took place without changing our core beliefs, but that we are in danger of disrupting the story line of the Bible…..

via Book Review: Did Adam And Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins | Pastoral Musings.

Here’s the issue as I see it – one which those who need an identifiable Adam, singular, fail to resolve. Why is it that their ‘story line of the Bible’ is the only one considered? If their story line is in danger of collapsing, is their story line valid?

I’ve read the accolades given to Collins and his work and the are impressive, but it seems to me, from reading Jason’s review and others, that Collins set out to prove something which he already believed. While he makes allowances for science and evolution, he needs the historical Adam and because he sees Adam as historical, he then reads others as seeing it as well.

For me, I don’t think that a singular individual needs to have existed in order for the narrative of the Text to remain true. We know that singular individuals have represented whole lands, etc… in Scripture and other literature of the time. So why is is that so many still insist that a singular, identifiable person exist? There is a lot of interplay here – check with a Hebrew Scholar – with number in Adam. Adam may mean one person or many.

Also, I am still interesting in Paul’s use of tupos in describing Adam. I hope that I’m able to get it it later.

Anyway, read Jason’s review (formatting, Jason!) as it is one which made me interesting in the book.

Even the Bible doesn’t talk about Adam

Well… not in the way in which we normally assume. David Lamb has a post up which explores a few odd and end things, but this caught my attention:

the popular version of “The Fall” isn’t really either (see text below).  The humans aren’t called “Adam” and “Eve” yet, but simply “the man” and “the woman”.

God Behaving Badly 5: What really happened in Genesis 3? « David T. Lamb.

So… not even the Bible is YEC?

Whew… glad no one built and Ark Park or anything. That would have been embarrassing…

A Jubilant Adam – The Mythical Man in the Book of Jubilees

Jason is going to look at Adam in the Apocrypha (which one?) but I thought that I might give a look at Adam in the Book of Jubilees. This is not in depth and nor is it meant to be. It is just a few snippets of the book which has been used by Christians – and still is in some parts of the world:

There (were) two and twenty heads of mankind from Adam to Jacob, and two and twenty kinds of work were made until the seventh day; this is blessed and holy; and the former also is blessed and holy; and this one serves with that one for sanctification and blessing. (JUB 2:23 OTP)

Interesting… So the genealogy is representative of kings or dynasties. So why not Adam in some what? After all, the Jubilant author is using other traditions to write his work. He may be trying to redact earlier traditions to reflect his theological understanding or the polemical nature of his work. It has been proposed by current Christian thinkers that the genealogy of Genesis should represent dynasties. I don’t see a real reason why not (although there may in fact be good reasons why not).


OPE  Jubilees 3:9 On the forty-sixth day of the creation of the world, on the fourth day of the seventh week, Pachon fourteenth, May ninth, the sun being in Taurus and the moon in Scorpio, according to diameter, in the rising of Pleiades, God led Adam into Paradise on the fortieth day since his creation. On the eighth day of the making of the world, on the forty-fourth day of the making of Adam, on the Lord’s Day, Pachon eighteenth, May thirteenth, after three days since his entrance into Paradise, the sun being in Taurus and the moon in Capricorn, God commanded Adam to avoid eating from the Tree of Knowledge. On the ninety-third day of creation, on the second day of the fourteenth week, during the summer season, the sun and moon being in Cancer, on the twenty-fifth day of the month of June, Epeiph first, Eve, helper of Adam, was led by God into Paradise, on the eightieth day since her creation.

OTP  Jubilees 3:9 And after Adam had completed forty days in the land where he had been created we brought him into the garden of Eden to till and keep it, but his wife they brought in on the eightieth day,

I’ve included both manuscript traditions here. Note that the author doesn’t force Adam into the sixth day scheme, but, throughout this book, stretches the early accounts over years. There is no command here to be ‘literal’ and in fact, early Christian commentators referenced the Book of Jubilees.


Jubilees 3:11 And for the birth of a female eighty days. Since also Adam in the fortieth day since his creation had been taken into Paradise, where for the sake of the things produced on the fortieth day they offer to the temple, according to the Law. But for a female she is unclean for eighty days, because of her entrance into Paradise on the eightieth day and on account of the uncleanness of the female in contrast to the male. (JUB 3:11 OPE)

Just some interesting views….

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More on Infallibility and the Mythological Adam

Ícone de São Barnabé.
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Begin with this post here. Jason has replied here. I understand that is post is perhaps clarifying his position more than anything and setting a goal for himself. Knowing Jason just a little, this is how he works. He has a goal to know something and he will. So, this is a reply of sorts.

First, I want to push Jason, in regard to the early views of Genesis to look at Justin, Origen and others who struggled with the fact that others were pushing a literal 6-day event. Keep in mind, that this is a struggle which arose after the Apostolic Fathers, not to mention Second Temple Jewish interpreters. What is interesting is that some, like Barnabas, needed the literal 6-day event to prove that God was working eschatologically in 6000 years, which for them, was in their life time. It wasn’t just with Barnabas that this view was taken, but others, even others centuries after him. I would contend that it was a the latter (eschatology) influencing the former (creationism). We see this today, and have seen it since we have began once again to misinterpret the Book of Revelation.

Jason writes:

I am using foundation in the sense that this is the beginning of the story, and all of Scripture builds upon this story until it comes to its completion in the New Heavens and New Earth.  I think Joel and I actually will be more in agreement there than not.

Agreed. He goes on:

Now, if the beginning of the narrative is mythical, and it shows us that it all began with a person who did not exist, how and when are we to see that it becomes literal?

He also writes, “If the beginning story is a fictitious parable…” Two things here. It is impossible to have this conversation if one doesn’t understand what ‘myth’ means in light of Scripture. Let us try to reconcile the fact that myth does not mean fiction (nor is a “figment of one’s imagination”), but instead, using our words to explain an unnatural event, or even an event beyond of our scope. As I said, I do not believe that Paul was speaking about the same Adam which Creationists do. He was speaking about the Scriptural Adam, which I read as an Adam which was not physically identified. Doesn’t mean that Adam didn’t exist or that the story in Genesis 2-3 is fiction. Instead, it means that we are not left with the theory of motivated reasoning, but with allowing the Text to speak for itself. This, of course, is tied in many ways to literalism, which in my opinion is what I am trying to preserved – and Jason in his opinion is as well. Literalism doesn’t always mean that when the text says black, it means black. It may in fact mean evil. Literalism is properly understanding and employing the literary devices found in the text to allow the Text to speak for itself.

In regards to rejecting the ‘literal Adam’ (I reject that statement as it has no reality in the conversation) which leads to rejecting the ‘literal Jesus’, it is equal to saying that those who reject a ‘literal six-day event’ must reject a ‘literal resurrection’ when many of the Creationist group will take great strides to remove the ‘literalist’ reading of ‘this is my body/blood’ and ‘baptism is what saves’ from Scripture. If you reject a ‘literal’ Jesus because Adam may not be a physically identifiable person some 6000 years ago (although for Barnabas, it is now 8000 years and counting) then you never accepted the physically identifiable Jesus and your faith has always been counterfeit. This is the problem with many. Their faith is not built upon Christ, but upon themselves and their own understanding of Scripture. What if the doctrine of original sin, which is not found in Judaism or the Eastern Orthodox (at least not the Reformation-type), is not accurate? Would that undermine an individual’s faith to the extent where they disbelieve Jesus? Hardly. If one allows themselves to reject God because they have discovered that their image of God was not accurate, then they deserve the fiery fundamental a-theism which they receive.

To sum:

  • Myth does not equal fiction
  • The Early Church Writers were all over the map and had different agendas in their interpretation of Genesis 1-3
  • Myth does not equal fiction
  • Literalism is not always a black and white thing
  • Myth does not equal fiction
  • If one rejects Christ because of their own faulty interpretation, they get what they deserve
  • Myth does not equal fiction
  • Jason is still a good guy
  • Myth does not equal fiction
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