Re: Dating Adam

Dick Fischer (
Tue, 04 Jun 1996 15:01:12 -0500

Loren wrote (a while back):

>You (Dick) 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

When the Japhethites dispersed (Gen 10), the areas they occupied did not
encompass the earth. The prophet Ezekiel accounts for the tribes of four
of the seven sons of Japheth, and implies local confines.

Eze. 38:3-6: (In God's words) "Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief
prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into
thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and
horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company
with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia,
and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all
his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands:
and many people with thee."

It is that last phrase, "and many people with thee," that seems to include
*others* outside the tribe of Japheth. No, it isn't conclusive, but
certainly it suggests that Ezekiel, to name just one of the prophets, knew
of peoples outside of Noah's line of progeny.

But you raise another interesting point about how we interpret sacred
Scripture. Did the Holy Spirit guard the written word, were the ideas
implanted divinely with the exact wording left up to the inspired human
author, or was the author merely a human tool who virtually took dictation?

Suffice it to say there are schools of thought and various *expert* opinions
about the nature of the transmission, but I'll give you my two cents worth.
I believe the authors wrote beyond what they knew. In fact, they had to in
order to prophesy. The "foundations of the earth" (Job 38:4) may have been
thought of as pillars of stone holding up a flat earth, yet the writer used
words obscure enough to encompass what we know today, not from the human
writers knowledge, but from the protection of the Holy Spirit.

Rules of grammar that Hebraists apply have been compiled largely with
experience values. The Bible says X, it must mean Y, because everybody
knows Z. The writers of Holy Scripture, primarily OT, didn't have a
grammar book to refer to, or if they did, they didn't leave us a copy.
In other words, rules of Hebrew grammar have been applied after the fact.

Why is 'adam always the word for "man" in the company of beasts? Why is
'ish always the word for "man" in conjunction with women and wives? The
short answer is that we don't know all the answers. Or maybe "we" do know
all the answers, but no one of us has them all. If a solution is desired
that lies entirely within the bounds of preconception, then there probably
is none. For those prepared to give up something, they may gain something

Dick Fischer
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