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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.’
The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam. But who’s interpretation? This means that interpretation outweighs Scripture.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…..
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.
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)
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 SecondTempleJewish 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.
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.
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
I begin not with Jason, but with Rodney. Rodney and I disagree as far as the East is from the West on a good many things political, and while many times, it appears that we are uncivil to each other, Rodney and I speak telephonically frequently. When I post a challenge to his political naivete, and he responds to mine, it is not to attack one another. I say this, because while the tone on your screen may seem harsh towards Rodney, it generally is not meant to sound rude or as a method of attack. Neither his to me, I supposed. I now segway to Jason.
I’ve met Jason and have spoken with him numerous times, and will meet him again one day or Another. My tone here should not be taken as an attack on Jason. Instead, it is a polite disagreement and as such, I hope that it remains on friendly terms. I believe that both of us have a desire to seek the Truth and in the end, preserve the faith of many. With that said…
Jason postulates that in denying a non-literal Adam, that people may deny the Fall, human sinfulness, and our need for redemption. How is that so? What if Adam does in fact represent the fall of Israel in accepting an image of God instead of God himself, as kings were seen as in the Ancient Near East (ANE). Look at the connection of the language and thought behind both stories. If the Garden of Eden is God’s perfect will for humanity, where no Government exists, but is in fact fully reliant upon the shoulders of God, then the Fall can be taken as the displacement of God for an institution and thus the the moment sin entered the world because we then required a Law. The Fall, then, as expressed in Adam, is God’s shining example refusing their birthright of utopian anarchy in favor of being like the others nations, and in co-opting their knowledge and their systems as their own. This doesn’t remove the Fall, but the testimony to this can be found in Revelation wherein we read that in the return to the primal state, God once again walks with humanity and serves as King and Priest with no Law being required. Gone are the governments and institutions of humanity. Again presented is the communication between God and His creation with no interruption. What then sin? Sin is shown by the Law, but before the Law, sin was not counted as such (Romans 5.12-14). In fact, it was the Law which called sin Sin (Romans 7.7). We know and cannot deny the basic sinfulness of humanity, although we may wish to define it more than depravity, regardless of how we understand the myth of Adam, because Sin is not dependent upon Adam, but upon the Law. Further, I do not simply see the Incarnation as a mere solution, but like others, a part of the grand narrative. And to be forthright, I do not see Genesis 1 and 2 about origins in the scientific arena, but they do celebrate the theological origins of Israel.
What startles me with both Jason and Christianity Today, among others, is the use of ‘intellectual’ as if it is a code word meant to cast doubt about the faith of those who are speaking or writing. Perhaps this is not their intent; however, we must remember that the Scriptures were not anti-intellectual and neither for the most part, is Church History. Just the opposite, as a matter of fact. The issue we have today in American society is that when we wish to cast doubt upon either the motivations or the the intelligence of an opponent, we actually use the word ‘intellectual.’ In Jason’s comment, he writes regarding the emotions of those who “appear intellectual.” Appear? So then if their facts do not line up with your facts or opinions, then they merely appear intellectual? I hope that we can dispense with the use of the word as a pejorative, as after all, Jason in trying to examine this issue critically and analytically, is himself attaining to the level of intellectual.
He is concerned about the “radically re-engineer(ing of) the foundation of Christian doctrine.” I would disagree with Jason and everyone else who says that either Genesis 1 or Genesis 2, or the other Creation accounts in Text, is the foundation Christian Doctrine. I was only aware of Christ being the foundation of all things. Thus, to re-examine doctrines and theology is not re-engineering, but reforming what may have been previously held in error, but not eternal error. He then goes on suggest that we much look behind us and examine what the ancients had to say. The ancients didn’t coalesce around one particular viewpoint, but while we are at this station in the argument, let us examine briefly where this leads us. Would Jason then examine what the ancients said about baptismal (re)generation or the Eucharist? Or the Priesthood? The Saints, Mary or even Rome itself? Yes, examine the ancients. Examine our history, but if you must do so in one area, why are we afraid to do so in another? To be forthright, the ancients were more in harmony an any of the above given positions than they were on Creationism. Further, as the Reformation as proved, we take the ancient voices and add our own to them, but always we rest on Scripture. It is up to us, as it was up to the Ancients and to the Reformers, to understand more assuredly what Scripture meant, not what it merely means. We do so not by resting upon history of interpretation only, or the great Theologians of the past, but upon biblical scholarship. God is the ultimate source of Truth, and if Christianity is the way which God has ordained to bring His creation in line with Him, then it will withstand all forms of critique and reformation. We must be mindful that we are not inerrant or infallible, and neither are our interpretations of Scripture, therefore, if we must reform our understanding of Scripture which will then lead to a reformation of doctrine, let us do so with the words of Christ (John 16.13) upon our hearts, minds and hands.
We next approach the notion that Adam wasn’t “real” and the issue of Jesus and the origins of the world. We know of the argument of Mark 10.6, but that argument is only as potentially damning to Truth as the recipient allows it to be. We may ignore the fact that Christ had placed his own words within the context of marriage, but we cannot ignore the fact that if this verse points to a Young Earth Creationism, then Jesus was wrong. In Genesis 1, humanity wasn’t created first, but last. Instead, it is preferable to not ignore Jesus’ own context, but to understand that Jesus was speaking in his own time, to the issue presented before him, and that of marriage (Mark 10.1-10). My point with this post is not to argue Creationism, but the allowance for examining doctrines in light of biblical scholarship, and this doctrine, of course, which we examine is the reality of Adam. Then, I return to the thought of the “real Adam” and say that I believe that I have covered another possibility which preserves doctrines and allows for biblical scholarship which brings to light the original context and not how we wish to continue to read it.
In thinking about this issue, however, we must ask ourselves whether or not the science that has led to this decision to reject a literal Adam is truly scientific. We should ask, also, if the theology that leads to a rejection of Adam is truly biblical.
The issue here is simple. Jason begins with his notion of how it should end and then proceeds to work backwards from there, judging the facts by his own final destination. Further, he demands that we inquire as the consequences of a change of understanding and then decides that the “truthfulness of that matter” rests on those consequences. This is a logical fallacy, in both instances. Consequences have no bearing on Truth. Further, I have to question who is rejecting? Literal, as you may know, is etymologically connected with the word literary. I would counter, as I often do with Young Earth Creationists, that unless you take Adam as he was meant to be taken, as Scripture and the writers of Scripture intended, then you are simply not being literal, but instead, especially in this case, rejecting the “literal Adam.” If a theology is developed which is based in Scripture, due to a closer examination of the Text itself, and shows itself to be counter to a physical, identifiable Adam (versus a “literal” or “real” Adam) then which is more biblical? The same charges were leveled by the Reformers, which in the end, is why I find laughable the arguments between denominations and groups as to who is more ‘biblical.’ In the end, those who ‘reject’ an identifiable and physical Adam may in fact be the more ‘biblical.’
Finally, to this point, the consequences must never outweigh the drive for Truth – that the price of abandoning wrong doctrine, as the Reformation taught us, is never too high to pay. The issue which Jason then laments, that the abandoning “of Adam and Even will lead to a large scale reshaping of Christian theology” need not take place. His lament is misplaced because Adam and Eve are not being abandoned, but re-examined in light of scientific and biblical scholarship which must take place in order to reform our errors. Further, the charge of abandonment and reshaping has been leveled before, during the Reformation, but it proceeded without the complete reshaping prophesied by the laments of the day.
In a comment, noted above, Jason comments that the issue, for him, is about the infallibility of Scripture versus the “tenuous conclusions of fallible scientists.” I would urge Jason, then, to consider it as ‘infallibility of Scripture versus the “tenuous conclusions of fallible Theologians.”‘ It is not about Piltdown Man, which is a hoax and could be countered with the recent Lead Codices and the James Ossuary if we were to take objects for which fallible people have become convinced of their historical place. Instead, it is about error. Further, he considers a physical Adam and Eve as something which was a belief 2,000 years ago and proceeds to imply that Christian doctrine is the same today as it was in the beginning. Hardly so, on both accounts. When I read Christ, I read his words as Jason does, through our individual eyes and knowledge. Let us not pretend to be completely objective here. I read Christ and I have no need to ignore his words because I see him as saying what I believe he is saying. So does Jason. Or Paul for that matter. I do not believe that Paul was identifying a historical figure, physically identifiable. Jason does, because that is how he reads him. As much as Jason needs us to admit that scientists are fallible, so too he must admit that theologians are equally fallible, if not more so. He ends with a plea against watering down biblical authority, but again, I counter than when we must defend the Text against changes of interpretation which we feel may undermine it, we simply don’t allow it the authority which we think it has. Either the Text has Authority, or it does not. If it does, then it can be questioned without it becoming a house of cards, dependent upon one interpretation or another.
In the end, it is not the infallibility of the Scriptures which we are defending, but our own.