Young's Article

Dick Fischer (
Thu, 20 Jun 1996 01:00:02 -0500

Bob DeHaan asked me to summarize Davis A. Young's article, "The Antiquity
and the Unity of the Human Race Revisited" that appeared in _Christian
Scholar's Review_ about a year ago. Here are highlights.

Young began with comment on B. B. Warfield's classic article from which
this article took its name (with the addition of the last word,
"revisited"). Under the heading, "When Did Adam Live?" Young states his

"Let us assume as the fundamental premise of the following
discussion that Adam and Eve were not only historical persons
but also the very first humans, miraculously created by God in
a 'supernatural' act that involved no evolutionary ancestry
whatever so that the issues to be raised cannot be construed
as the result of speculative evolutionary scenarios."

Concerning the flood, Young comments:

"I suspect that ancient Near Eastern flood epics and Genesis 6-9
are referring to the same event. The similarity in structure
between Genesis 1-11, the Atrahasis Epic, and the eleventh tablet
of the Gilgamesh Epic renders it likely that all have the same
deluge in mind. If so, the biblical flood is appropriately
identified with a flood that occurred shortly before the time
of the Sumerian king Gilgamesh who lived in the early 3rd
millennium B.C. Thus the biblical flood should probably be
dated in the 4th or very early 3rd millennium B.C. Possibly
the biblical flood should be related to some of the flood deposits
encountered at a variety of archaeological sites within
Mesopotamia. If this is the case, early evidences of agriculture
at ancient Near Eastern sites plainly pre-date the biblical flood,
just what seems to be suggested by Genesis"

Under the heading "Relevant Evidence from Paleoanthropology",
Young begins:

"On the line of reasoning we have just followed, Adam and Eve
would have lived no earlier than 10,000 years ago."

and ends:

"I suggest that there are three major approaches to handling
the data before us, given the assumptions made thus far."

Young offers three alternatives. (1) Adam and Eve as recent ancestors,
(2) Adam and Eve as recent representatives, and (3) Adam and Eve as
ancient ancestors.

Adam and Eve as Recent Ancestors

1. All human beings who ever lived would be directly and biologically
descendant from an historical Adam and Eve.

2. Adam and Eve would have been specially created about 10,000 years ago.

3. Scientifically difficult to defend with fossil evidence that
anatomically modern humans lived long before 10,000 years ago.

4. Proponents must provide compelling evidence that such people died out
completely without leaving any survivors.

5. Theological overtones. If these "pre-humans" still live they could
not be descendants of Adam and therefore are not human.

6. Missionary activity for such people would be unnecessary. "We do not
evangelize non-humans."

7. Summary:

"In my judgment, this first approach that all humans are
biological descendants of an Adam and Eve specially created
by God about 10,000 years ago is so fraught with difficulties
that it needs to be summarily dismissed."

Adam and Eve as Recent Representatives

1. Regards Adam and Eve as the parents of the human race in a
representative sense rather than a biological sense, conceding that
anatomically modern human beings have been living for tens of thousands
of years. About 10,000 years ago God entered into a new relationship with
a representative couple, Adam and Eve.

2. Accounts for Cain's wife.

3. Only some human beings during the past 10,000 years were or are
biological descendants of Adam.

4. The rest were or are descendants of pre-Adamic people.

5. The orthodox view of original sin would need to be revised to emphasize
the federal headship of Adam over the human race.

6. Adam acted as a representative to his contemporaries who all fell in

7. The analogy of Romans 5 maintains that the one man, Jesus Christ,
represented his people in his act of obedience as the one man,
Adam, represented his people in his act of disobedience.

8. Christians not descended from Christ. Why necessary for all humans
to be biologically descended from Adam?

9. Challenges to this view primarily theological. Scientific evidence
consistent with this view.

10. This position also claims the biological unity of all humanity.

11. Three theological difficulties were cited:

1. Some biblical texts imply that Adam and Eve were the first
biological ancestors of the race. Alternative exegeses would be needed
for Acts 17:26 and Gen. 3:20.

2. Proponents of this method need to convince on biblical grounds
that biological inheritance is not a necessary component of the biblical
view of original sin.

3. Would those who preceded Adam be image-bearers of God?

12. Young ends this discussion with theological questions that would need
to be worked out for proponents of this approach.

Adam and Eve as Ancient Ancestors

1. As biological ancestors of the entire human race, Adam and Eve would
have lived tens of thousands of years ago.

2. Preserves the historic confessional view of original sin which includes
transmission by inheritance from Adam.

3. Claim is made that Cain, Abel, Seth and contemporaries are to be
identified with the onset of the Neolithic in the ancient Near East around
10,000 years ago.

4. Adam and Eve, the first anatomically modern humans, must have lived at
least tens of thousands of years earlier.

5. Little difficulties scientifically, except that the mitochondrial
DNA hypotheses places early man in Africa, although Genesis 2 points
strongly to the Near East.

6. Challenges to this view primarily exegetical.

1. Adam could not be the immediate father of Cain and Abel, thus
requiring genealogical stretching.

2. Stretching difficult because Genesis treats Cain as the
immediate son of Adam.

3. Genesis 4:1 states explicitly that Adam lay with Eve, she
conceived and gave birth to Cain.

7. Young concludes:

"The major challenge then for this position is to account for
a time gap, tens of thousands of years long, of which the Bible
seems to know nothing. Proponents of this approach should also
keep in mind that Adam's role as gardener and namer of livestock
also connects him with the Neolithic revolution, making it
questionable that he lived tens of thousands of years ago."

The last of Young's paper explores other options.

1. Perhaps Adam and Eve could have been the biological progenitors of the
human race who lived tens of thousands of years ago, but civilization
existed long prior to the Near Eastern civilization of 10,000 years ago.
The argument is that the cultural development mentioned in Genesis was
after Adam, that which was known at the time of writing.

2. Maybe there was more than one Adam. This distinguishes between Adam of
Genesis 2 and 3 and a representative Adam, and the Adam of Genesis 4 as an
individual. Adam represents every male, Eve represents every female,
moreover Adam may be considered as symbolic.

Conclusion: All competing theories are fraught with serious problems.

Young ends:

" aim here has been not to solve the problem but simply to
encourage Christian theologians, anthropologists, archaeologists,
and paleoanthropologists to collaborate in honest, forthright
assessment of the available evidence and to develop a viable
position that preserves the biblical doctrines of man, sin and

Dick Fischer