Category Archives: Adam
In the last post I laid out a case for a pervasive contrast between two kinds of temple architecture in Scripture, arising from what I take to be a deliberate contrast between the sacred space described in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and that of Genesis 2:4ff. Here’s a further example – a textual problem that, to me, makes most sense when seen as part of a deliberate set of contrasts.
This is a restatement, and reminder, of one of the significant internal reasons to regard the narrative of Genesis 1 and 2 as mainly sequential, rather than parallel – the significant changes in temple imagery between the two. It relates to my understanding of the Bible’s overarching metanarrative as Yaheweh’s desire to fill the whole cosmos with his glory, and to do it through his earthly creation, mankind. Since this is not necessarily a familiar view, I need to keep bringing it to attention. In so doing I’ll add some new thoughts, which I hope will clarify it.
When I was doing a home Bible study on the Genesis creation narrative a few weeks ago, one guy asked me, “Who was there to write it down?” I’d not yet explained how to approach the text, so it was a good introduction to that, as well as a good question, and you’ll guess the answer wasn’t “God saw the whole thing,” although he certainly did.
My maternal great-grandmother was Emma Tyler, who came from a non-conformist family (Brethren, Primitive Methodists or Independents to a woman) that I can trace right back to the sixteenth century in Braintree, Essex. There it was, coincidentally, that I ran a back pain clinic for the last two years of my medical career. Many of the Tylers were bakers and confectioners in the nineteenth century, and any older readers who knew Cambridge “back in the day” may remember that the best bread came from Tylers bakery opposite St Johns College. That was started by my 3X great-grandfather’s brother English Tyler in around 1840.
Does Genesis 2 follow from Genesis 1, that is? One of the objections made to the Genealogical Adam hypothesis is that the idea that the story of the Garden follows sequentially from the Genesis 1 Creation account is wrong, and that they are actually different accounts of the same events.
Some things in the Bible are probably unknowable from our current state of knowledge – and conceivably, our future state, too. This may seem hard to accept since the Scriptures are God’s revelation to us, but then nature is also God’s revelation, and the limits of our comprehension themselves remind us to be humble before God. We see through a glass, darkly, but tend to forget that in our pride.
Basil of Caesarea is not only one of the Fathers I cite in God’s Good Earth as a supporter of the teaching of an unfallen creation, but he wrote a complete series of homilies on the days of creation, expounding Scripture in conjunction with the science of his time. In other words, he was both deeply interested in, and a great admirer of, the creation. So I was struck by reading an apparent anomaly in his other writings yesterday:
One of my current research aims is to demonstrate that the Bible itself has an awareness of other people existing in the world at the time of Adam, despite being overtly silent about them. I approached this from the point of view of the “compositional strategy” of the Torah and Tanach here, and from the point of view of hints about people other than Adam in the text here.
On the Genealogical Adam model – and indeed on any model dealing with an historical Adam – one has to account for the fact that humanity appears to have had some kind of religious or spiritual life almost as far back as artifacts can be found.
Joshua Swamidass has become involved in what appears, at first sight, a minor disagreement on a BioLogos thread puffing a new essay by several authors entitled Is Genesis Real History? His objection was especially to one sentence (bearing the marks of John Walton’s hand, I suspect), which reads: Or consider Genesis 2:7, when God forms Adam from dust and breathes into his nostrils. This could not have happened exactly as described, because we know from other passages in the Bible that God is Spirit with neither hands nor lungs.