- Humanity beyond Adam’s line in Genesis 18/08/2017
- What it means to be created human 14/08/2017
- What is man – no, really? 11/08/2017
- Original sin and the genealogical (MRCA) view of Adam 09/08/2017
- Of nesting hierarchies 06/08/2017
Category Archives: Adam
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.
In a recent post I argued for the case that Genesis 2 intends us to take the garden of Eden as a real place set in geography and history. I want to take that idea a bit further, and draw some conclusions on what we are intended to understand about the “very good” nature of the Creation before the Fall.
Carrying on the theme of biblical archaeology, Kenneth Kitchen’s book On the Reliability of the Old Testament takes a general overview of the “proto-historic” first 11 chapters of Genesis, but there have been some interesting developments since he wrote it that are worth considering, with regard both to the Flood and to the Eden narrative.
I want to present an important distinction that’s been made clearer to me during my reading of N T Wright’s magisterial series Christian Origins and the Question of God. And that is the importance of history to a truly biblical faith.