Re: Apologetics and Genesis

George Murphy (
Thu, 12 Nov 1998 17:36:59 -0500

Adam Crowl wrote:
> Hi Group,
> Dick's post was certainly interesting, and comparing his approach with
> Paul Seeley's makes them much of a muchness - Genesis is HISTORY, but
> it's WRITTEN as UNIVERSAL. I essentially agree with that point of view,
> since it's endemic to all origins tales that the "first couple" of
> whatever race are the only people alive. There's two versions of the
> Inkan origings myth - one which has the first couple appearing out of a
> fog on the holy mountain, and the other telling of their migration from
> elsewhere. Or so my imperfect memory tells me - I'll have to check it
> out.
> Glenn finds such an approach unpalatable because it ISN'T Universal
> enough.

It's well known to this list that I don't agree with Glenn on the way in which
he tries to read Gen 1-11 as history but he is certainly correct in insisting that it is
intended to have universal (i.e., for all humanity) significance. The very term Adam
is, of course, the generic word "human being" before it is a proper name. Furthermore,
the name Eve is interpreted as meaning "mother of _all_ the living."

> And admittedly the arguments of the Apostle Paul seem to be
> roughly related to Adam's role in letting sin into the World - though
> not via hereditary original sin as Augustine misunderstood Romans 5:12
> to imply. Paul's argument on sin is one of analogy - as Adam sinned and
> died, so we sin and die. In that light we don't strictly need Adam to be
> the father of all.

Genesis 1-3 is about creation before it is about sin. We share a common status
as creatures intended to be in the image and likenbess of God before (ontologically) we
share a common status as sinners. Dick's interpretation challenges both ideas.
Admittedly Augustine's biblical interpretation with respect to original sin
wasn't perfect. But the church's rejection of Pelagius' view, that Adam was simply a
bad example for us, was correct.

> Another point is that God created a nation from one man's children - not
> out of the Earth, but out of a man. Perhaps we ask too much of the
> Genesis text when we insist on a literal interpretation of the creation
> of humans from humus.

George L. Murphy