Re: Exegesis or Eisegesis?

From: george murphy (
Date: Mon Dec 31 2001 - 09:02:57 EST

  • Next message: John W Burgeson: "Re: Dick Fischer deserves a hearing"

    Dick Fischer wrote:

    > George Murphy wrote:
    >> I think Dick's approach is a valiant attempt at a concordist
    >> interpretation of early Genesis, but I also consider such
    >> interpretations in general to be futile & unnecessary. Adam & Eve
    >> are theological figures who represent the first human beings, as
    >> part of the fact that in a broader sense they represent all humans.
    >> That doesn't mean that they are simply wax images that can be made
    >> to represent anything at all. 'adham means "human" and Eve is given
    >> her name because she is "the mother of all living." This makes it
    >> clear that they are representatives of all humanity, not simply some
    >> subset of humans.
    > Either Adam was a real-life, flesh and blood, God-fearing human being,
    > or he wasn’t. There is no intermediate position. We either have Adam
    > wearing his fig leaf, or we have Adam who was only a figment. As much
    > as you can couch the issue in theological mumbo jumbo, there is no
    > escaping a fundamental fact. Adam existed in the flesh or he didn’t.

            Sneering at "theological mumbo jumbo" is a pretty sure
    indication that what will follow will be bad theology. Theology is, in
    simplest terms, thinking about the faith, & we'll have more-or-less
    competent theology or unreflective and bad theology.
            One source of bad theology in Evangelical science-religion
    discussions is the notion that the only thing we need to be concerned
    about is figuring out some way to match up biblical narratives with the
    data of archaeology & paleontology, without any attention to the
    possibility that the biblical texts might be something other than
    strightforward historical narratives.
            Another source of bad theology is failure to start with what is
    primary in Christian faith, Christ.
    By this I do NOT mean that people fail to put their faith in Christ.
    But in discussions of scripture &c, he tends to be presented as simply
    another important biblical figure whose historical character must be
    accepted. E.g.

    > Let’s assume he didn’t exist. Let alone the Old Testament narrative
    > in Genesis, look at parts of the New Testament and see what the
    > effects are.
    > Luke dutifully recorded the genealogy of Christ ending with Adam.
    > Luke 3:38: “... which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth,
    > which was the son of [non-existent] Adam, which was the [non-existent]
    > son of God.”
    > Did Seth have no father? Maybe Seth was non-existent too? How about
    > Enos? You could ask that question all the way to Christ himself. At
    > what point could the real persons be phased in with those who had no
    > life, but only fill some hypothetical, theological niche.

            You could ask that question all the way to Christ himself - if
    you think that you're supposed to start with Adam. But in fact you're
    supposed to start with CHRIST! Jesus, a man whose existence no serious
    historian today doubts, whose life is described and interpreted in some
    detail in the gospels (in contrast to Adam, about whom as an historical
    figure we're told virtually nothing) is the sine qua non of Christian
    faith. If he didn't exist then we have no one to believe in and no
    theology to talk about.
            The point of the Lucan genealogy (with its well-known
    differences from that of Mt.) is to show the connection of the savior
    with the beginnings of humanity, represented by the figure of Adam, and
    thus his solidarity with the whole human race. Whether or not Adam was
    a single identifiable individual is of secondary importance for this

    > Rom. 5:14: “Nevertheless death reigned from [non-existent] Adam to
    > Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of
    > [non-existent] Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was
    > to come.”
    > I hesitate to ponder how death can come to a non-existent life. Plus,
    > how did he sin? By not being born? How can an Adam who never was be
    > the figure of Him who died for us? By implication, this calls into
    > question the legitimacy of the death and resurrection.

            Note that Paul manages to discuss the fundamental problem of
    human sin and God's answer to it in Christ in Rom.1-3 without mentioning
    "Adam". The notion that we only believe ourselves to be sinners because
    we believe that an historical Adam ate historical fruit is fantasy.
            Romans 5 is primarily about Christ, not about Adam, who is
    sinful humanity in its origin. He is real sinful humanity, not simply
    an abstraction. But it is Christ who is the pattern of what humanity is
    suppiosed to be.
            I have no idea of what might be meant by questioning "the
    legitimacy of the death and resurrection" of Christ. Few serious
    scholars, other than Muslims, doubt that Jesus died on a Roman cross.
    Belief in the resurrection is a matter of faith in the apostolic
    witness. What may have been meant here was "questioning the need of the
    death and resurrection." But that would be nonsense. To take just one
    example, Acts 2 speaks of these events as being in accord with "the
    definite plan and foreknowledge of God" without any mention of Adam.

    > 1Cor. 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be
    > made alive.”
    > Men who don’t live don’t die. So just as non-existent Adam did not
    > die, therefore we won’t die, and don’t require being saved by Christ.
    > What a wonderful theological premise that is!

            "As in Adam ALL die" - PANTES apothneskousin. Adam is all of
    sinful humanity in its origin.
    Adam can be as historical an individual as all get out, but if all do
    not in some sense die in him, but only some subset of humanity does,
    then he's of no fundamental significance for the rest of us. He has no
    more & no less theological significance than the ancestor of the
    Laplanders. A casual disregard for "theological mumbo jumbo" has
    resulted in the sale of our theological heritage for a mess of
    concordist pottage.

    1Cor. 15:45: “And so it is written, The first man [non-existent] Adam
    was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

    > Although Adam did not exist, he was made a living soul? Do we
    > conclude that since the first man was not, therefore he was not made a
    > “living soul,” and “the last Adam” was not made a “quickening spirit”?
    > 1Tim. 2:13: “For [non-existent] Adam was first formed, then Eve.”
    > A non-existent Adam begs a non-existent Eve. Who needs a wife if you
    > aren’t alive to appreciate it?
    > 1Tim. 2:14: “And [non-existent] Adam was not deceived, but the
    > [non-existent] woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
    > Of course Adam was not deceived, there was no Adam to deceive. No
    > man, no woman, no deception, no transgression, no sin. It seems the
    > one deceived was Paul. Apparently he believed there was such a person
    > as Adam.

            Yes, Paul probably did think of Adam as an historical figure.
    The writer of Genesis 1 pictured a flat earth with a solid dome of sky &
    waters above the heavens. & the point is ... ?

    > Okay, I am treating this facetiously. The point is you can’t climb
    > into an ivory tower, take a theological position, and escape all the
    > consequences. A fictitious Adam is fraught with unsavory theological
    > implications.

            Your "consequences" are all non sequiturs. Adam is the human as
    God's creature who chooses sin and suffers its consequences. Thus he is
    neither more nor less fictitious than George Murphy or Dick Fischer or
    the first humans to whom God somehow revealed himself & who chose to
    turn from God. Certainly this requires some rethinking of aspects of
    traditional theology, but does not have nearly the "unsavory theological
    implications" of ignoring the inclusive scope of Adam.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

    > The problem as I see it is that traditional, conservative, Christian
    > beliefs about Adam are based upon both historical fact and erroneous
    > assumption. Conservatives see Adam as both a flesh and blood human
    > being and as the father of all humanity. When we began to discover
    > enough about the world to see it was impossible to specifically
    > identify the first human being, the fact was rejected by liberal
    > Christians, and the assumption embraced.
    > The answer as I see it is to recognize the historical Adam as the
    > father of the Adamites-Semites-Israelites-Jews. To be sure, there are
    > pockets of humanity that can claim Jephethite or Hamite ancestry, and
    > both Arabs and Jews claim Abraham as their father, etc. But there is
    > no person who lived roughly 7,000 years ago who could have been the
    > ultimate father of all the people who presently inhabit the globe.
    > What we are reading in Genesis is the history of the Jewish race, not
    > the history of the human race. When we recognize that, some of the
    > creation-evolution difficulties disappear.
    > Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
    > "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago"

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