What if the Historical Adam was Real? A New Approach

Adam & Eve in garden of Eden
Image via Wikipedia

Reading this post, which in part reads,

In Genesis 2:15, God “took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  God acts upon humanity here, taking him and placing him in the garden with a specific task.

…got me to thinking.

The Bible is centered around Covenants. As a matter of fact, the first few pages of the text gives us covenants galore. Marriage. The Edenic Covenant. The Post-Edenic Covenant. We know that each Covenant led to another, with the biggest being what we call the ‘Old’ leading to what we have long called the ‘New.’ Further, I would postulate that humans are made persons, given personhood or divine status under, and only under Covenant with God. I realize that this is difficult to handle, mainly because we do not understand Personhood or human flourishing, which in my opinion can only be complete in God, and the more so, covenant with God. Brueggemann says something similar,

“the Old Testament has no interest in articulating an autonomous or universal notion of humanness.” its articulation of what it means to be human is characteristically situated in its own Yawhistic covenantal, interactionist mode of reality, so that humanness is always Yahwistic humanness, or we may say, Jewish humanness.” (page 57 – Walter Brueggemann, An Unsettling God (ht – Rodney))

So, in an undeveloped notion, and one which I would like your insight on, I would propose that in reading Genesis 2-3, we separate it from Genesis 1. Whereas Genesis 1 is universal, Genesis 2 pertains to Israel. (If you continue to read Genesis 1 and 2 as a mesh, you are doing violence to the Text.) In that, we find that God, as he does throughout Genesis until we get to the tribes of Israel, carves out of humanity a Person, Adam. He (see above) takes this man from out of the human species and places him in the Garden to form a covenant with him. In doing so, God inaugurates what it actually means to be human, a person, the Creation of God. Thus, Adam becomes the first person.

If we take Scripture as a grand narrative, then we understand first the nearness which God seeks with His Creation, and it is always through a Covenant in which God acts to bring to Him some segment of the populace. Second, we understand the role in which singular individuals play in that Covenant. There is Adam, Noah, Abraham and finally, Jesus Christ. All of these represent a large group. It may be that Adam is the progenitor of the Imago Dei which is only fully realized at the Incarnation. This placing of Adam, out of humanity, into the Garden of Eden created a special relationship between the Created and the Creator which was the promise and goal of God for humanity, but the Covenant was broken. Now, this view, as niave as I am in hoping that the multi-sides of the argument can come to some sort of respectful compromise, would allow the Text to remain violence free, especially in trying to get Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 to fit seamlessly together. Further, this allows for the Grand Narrative to remain pegged to an identifiable figure while allowing science to help us understand the origin of our species all the while relying upon the divine for what makes us, well, us. Finally, this places a focus on the unique relationship between God and His image.

I would like to develop this maybe. Thoughts anyone?

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21 Replies to “What if the Historical Adam was Real? A New Approach”

  1. Baptists will never compromise. We’re always right!.
    Seriously, the covenantal approach is a valid one. The issue, however, is that the various genealogies, Romans 5:12-19, and 1Peter 1:18 seem to point to a seminal identity between us and Adam.
    Still thinking…

      1. Will have to think about that one. The law was somewhat of an imposition because of sin, if you recall. I’m not sure that the connection would be the same.

        1. All are covenants. Start with Adam who was given the first covenant and thus made a person. Do animals sin? No. If Adam was given this status of a soul, and sinned, it would bring sin upon all. This also helps with all the things which are unanswered in Scripture, such as the daughters of men and sons of God.

          1. Yes, but was Moses a mediator of the covenant for all, or for ISreal?
            Elaborate on the sons of God, etc.
            I’ll be back sometime to check up. Very busy.

          2. Each Covenant had a specific purpose, wouldn’t you say? Israel first, then the Gentile… (which sounds like Paul)

            Who did Cain marry? Why was he scared that others would kill him? What about the cities which he went too?

  2. Covenant has more to do with “lordship” if you know what I mean.. Hittite vassal treaties and so forth.

    We get our humanness by being born, our “purpose” by being image – I think covenant is really just “what you are supposed to be doing to image”.
    That is, the covenant shows us in detail that which Adam lost, and that which we can not live up to – to be God’s image (representatives).

  3. Do they?

    I thought I was a New Zealander because I was born here. My wife was born the USA, and she is not a New Zealander.

    Interesting point though… at what point in forming a people does covenant happen? Obvious, Adam was already (or “the people for whom Adam represents”) God’s, since God created him. The Adamic covenant sets out what is required to remain in that relationship, or the boundaries of that relationship.

    If for example, you were born in America, but then proceeded to blow up america with a big bomb, one would assume you are rejecting your birthright. Sound feasible?

  4. Joel,

    I would say, generally, yes. But in this case, I dont think so.
    Although there is the whole “vassal” thing, in regards to a conquered nation, but that only applies post fall, and not pre fall.

    The Adamic covenant (every time I write that I write Thomas Covenant argh!) does not “make” a people, it defines the boundaries of “peoplehood”. The new covenant is a result of something God has done, so through re-birth you become a people of God and then part of, and defined by the new covenant.

    I still cant think covenant defines a people, because a “people” is a birthright – which is why being reborn is crucial.

    Jason, you cant be a real calvinist then. You must be an arminian in disguise.

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