Category Archives: Adam
One of the points made by Michael Chabarek in the book I reviewed in the last post – perfectly valid as far as I can see in the primary sources – is that to Thomas Aquinas, the special creation of Adam (and of Eve from him) was an essential truth of the faith. Apart from his understanding of Scripture, this had to do with the immutability of fundamental natures (substances), as I mentioned briefly in my post, but also with the special nature of man as both a spiritual and an animal being, whose immaterial aspect (aka soul) cannot even in principle be formed by material secondary causes. On the … Continue reading
I’ve done several articles recently more or less motivated by the Genealogical Adam hypothesis, and Joshua Swamidass has asked me to put links to them, and to his own article at Peaceful Science, which is mainly about the science of the thing. I will do this below the fold, as well as linking to various others I did between 2011 and 2015, considering “matters arising” from treating the idea of a historical Adam as the forbear of all living men, though not the sole original ancestor. I hope you’ll forgive the fact that these pieces arise from thoughts as they have occurred to me, rather than being a systematic development … Continue reading
Back in May I did a piece on how the profound (and fascinating) changes in lower Mesopotamian topography over the millennia can endorse the broad historicity of the Genesis 2 narrative. But I did leave one or two loose ends then, some of which I might be able to tie up here.
The genealogical Adam hypothesis, which I’ve been dusting off again in recent posts because of Joshua Swamidass’s focus on it, has been accused of being an “concordist” position, designed solely to make belief in a literal Adam consistent with modern discoveries in fields from ancient history to genetics. But to some extent any interpretation is concordist, because we have to reconcile any text to what we already know, or believe we know.
The creation of man, as envisaged by the Bible, isn’t as obviously biological as is often assumed, which is important if one wants to take a “science and faith” approach that doesn’t lapse into mere scientism. Take, as a limiting case, the Christian who, according to both Jesus in John’s gospel and Paul, is a “new creation”. As far as I know, every man or woman who has ever been a Christian was born by generation in the usual biological way, and if one accepts evolution has ape ancestors – none of which has any bearing on the process of their new creation whatsoever, which is of the Spirit.
“Adam” means “man” in Hebrew (as “human” rather than “male individual”), and quite apart from the deliberate wordplay in Genesis it is generally believed to have some kind of etymological link in Hebrew with “adamah“, meaning “red” and hence “red (=fertile and tilled) soil”. This would not be far-fetched, since our own English word “human” appears to derive from a Proto-Indoeuropean (PIE) root meaning “earth”, thus distinguishing men from the gods of heaven. One question for the “genealogical Adam” hypothesis of my last post, in which Adam is an historical figure and universal common ancestor, but not the first man, is how he gets to take the word for all … Continue reading
Despite modern denials, original sin (known in the East as “ancestral sin”) has been assumed by all major branches of Christianity down the ages. I wrote on its affirmation by Irenaeus in the 2nd century here (against many modern writers who pin it all on Augustine two centuries later).
Joshua Swamidass has concentrated attention at BioLogos on the idea that the biblical Adam, as one common ancestor of the present human race, is scientifically viable, irrespective of genetics. That has focused my attention on the genealogies originating from Adam not only in Genesis, but in 1 Chronicles and in Luke’s gospel. The issue concerning me today is not directly how these support, or otherwise, the “Most Recent Common Ancestor” framework, but their purpose.
Today I want to tie up a couple of loose ends with reference to Wayne Horowitz’s Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography as it relates to the Hebrew understanding of the world that appears in Genesis 1 and elsewhere in the Bible. The main themes, the non-existence of a heavenly ocean, and the non-existence of a solid vaulted heaven, in “ANE cosmology” I dealt with here and here.
Continuing my attempts to place the early chapters of Genesis within some historical context, I noticed for the first time this week that Genesis doesn’t mention any foreign gods at all in its fifty chapters. That seems remarkable to me, for I’ve never heard mention of it before, though it must undoubtedly have been noticed by someone over the last three thousand years. I look to the scholars to explain it.