Re: Dating Adam

Thu, 30 May 1996 12:44:56 -0400 (EDT)

I have a question about ancient near eastern creation stories.

Unless I'm mistaken, there were a number of differing ANE creation stories
held by differing people groups, each featuring their own particular

Were they widely regarded (by the people at that time) to be stories of
the creation of _all_ human beings, or only of the creation of their own
_particular_ people group?

Do we even know enough to answer that question?


Dick Fischer wrote:

> "The ancient orient shows us with ever increasing clarity that the purpose
> and function of an image consists in representing someone," according to
> Edmund Jacob who wrote _Theology of the Old Testament_. "An image, that
> is to say a statue of a god is the real presence of this god ..."
> In that context, Adam would have been God's representative to the world,
> or conversely, the world's representative to God, but if Adam's time frame
> is around 7,000 years ago as the Bible's manner of presentation suggests,
> then Adam entered a populated world whether he was man's rep or God's rep.

You have demonstrated that the biblical text can be translated in this
way, and you have pointed to a few texts which imply that there were other
human contemporaries of Adam. However, the biblical text can also be
translated to imply that Adam, about 7000 years ago, was the father of
_all_ human beings (though that seems to conflict with archeological and
genetic data). If Adam was meant to be God's representative to an
already-populated world, it seems remarkable (to me) that the Genesis
story does not _explicitely_ say this.

I'm trying to figure out what assumptions the ancient Hebrews would have
held when reading that text.

If the ancient Egyptians believed that their creation myths explained only
the creation of the Egyptian people (and not other people groups), and if
the ancient Sumerians believed that their creation myths explained only
the creation of the Sumerian people (and not other people groups), etc.,
then it is probably safe to assume that the ancient Hebrews --- reading
scripture --- would have implicitely understood them to be a story
of the Genesis of their _own_ people group, not necessarily the genesis of
other humans.

On the other hand, if the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, etc. each believed
their creation myth to be the valid story for _all_ humans, then it seems
likely that the ancient Hebrews would have read the Genesis story the same

I'd appreciate any expert commentary.

"There's nothing more exciting than science. You get |
all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing | Loren Haarsma
down numbers, paying attention. Science has it all!" |
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