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.