From: Dick Fischer (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Feb 05 2003 - 16:57:23 EST
Matt Morton wrote:
>I am more than a little troubled by your letter (assuming I am=
>it correctly). But I come from the stand point that any subtle attempt to
>pervert the accuracy and integrity of the Bible is wrong.=20
Unless you are reading the original manuscripts written by the Bible authors=
themselves, you are reading a translation performed by men with their=
unique preconceptions and biases. One example discussed on this list is=
the Hebrew erets which appears as "earth," in certain Scripture passages,=
but with the benefit of clarification from other Scripture versus, "land"=
would have been a better choice. There are other examples.
In fact, I support the accuracy and integrity of the Bible in the=
autographs. I don't subscribe to inerrant translation.
>I am not scared off by the possibility that my thought
>paradigm needs change. What does turn me off (as with your letter below) is
>when every one of your assumptions is built on assumption and speculation,
>so consequently a pretty shaky dirt pile is constructed, and then=
>as the rock of Gibraltar. I noticed you've attempted to ice over the=
>holes with a few scripture versus or obscure references. But I dare say=
>is takes some courage to circulate such incomplete evidence with the
>proclamations you and the referenced web-site have made. It seems as if you
>believe you've got it all figured out.
When I landed from my 100th combat mission over Viet Nam, I was greeted with=
a traditional, celebratory water dousing. I was surrounded by volunteers=
armed with large buckets of water who all hit me at the same time. It's an=
interesting feeling. I went from bone dry to dripping wet in an instant,=
but remained perfectly upright, although I little rocky. If I hadn't been=
uniformly surrounded, or if one bucket had been a little slow, I probably=
would have been knocked flat. Now involved in apologetics, likewise=
buckets of criticism come from all sides, and fairly evenly just to keep me=
In the area of Christian apologetics, there are roughly two schools of=
thought as regards Genesis 2-11. There are those who believe it is the=
literal history of all of humankind, and those who consider it as allegory,=
poetry, myth, or Jewish tradition. To be sure there are variations, but by=
and large, the majority of Christians fall into one of those two=
>I think the bible is pretty clear on whether we are divine creation or
>related to the phyletic tree of life with the apes. I am a little worried
>that you ask the question the way you did. You may want to consider=
>it. I am hoping you are asking it that way for "shock value" to get people
>to click on the link immediately following that particular line of=
>But, again, it appears as if you are completely serious in your conviction.
If I could just guess, I would place you in the first category - that is,=
one who believes that mankind was created out of the dust without the=
benefit of natural parents. Since I also receive criticism from the other=
side, you might be interested in one of those criticisms and the response. =
This come from the writer of a published article, "Adam, Anthropology and=
the Genesis Record."
Alan J Day, wrote:
>I was aware of the two papers referred to at the bottom of your letter and=
published in 1993 and 1994 in ASA Perspectives . I have however taking=
the opportunity to read these papers again and also to view some of the=
material on your web site.=20
>I would make the following comments
>Your major thesis of course is based on the proposition or presupposition=
that the early chapters off Genesis are literal history, which indicates=
the special creation of Adam and the subsequent creation of Eve from Adams=
rib. The archeological evidence as well as the physical anthropological=
evidence are accepted as evidence of earlier pre Adamic humanity. These=
two interpretations are then correlated to suggest that the early chapters=
of Genesis relate not to humanity as a whole but rather to the development=
of only the Semitic race including of course the Jews..
That's a good summary. I can live with that. I would add that the=
historical data also speaks of a "created" Atum and a "created" Adapa. =
Whether that mandates that there were no natural parents could be open to=
argument, but whether Adam of Genesis was formed from the dust, or whether=
he had parents is not injurious to our case. I tend to be a literalist,=
but I could live with an evolved Adam if there was some genetic basis for=
believing that. His placement in history is the crucial element, both in=
time and place. There is no justification to drive Adam back into=
pre-history to satisfy our preconceptions that he was our ultimate=
>I suggest that your papers fail to engage with critical scholarship both=
biblical and theological, so that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion=
that your interpretation is somewhat na=EFve, linguistically, biblically=
>Several issues spring to mind
>1. Your literal presuppositions would gain little support from current Old=
Testament scholarship even among conservatives
That's their problem. They have to live with unworkable methods of apology.=
Some will see the clear advantages of a method of apology that can be=
supported with data and evidence. Others won't. All I am trying to do is=
catch the attention of a theological community that has up until now=
avoided the problem altogether.
>2. Linguistically you have failed to grasp the use of the various forms of=
=93Adam=94 in the early chapters of Genesis.
Go beyond Genesis. Psalm 49:1-2 is a case in point: "Hear this all ye=
people; give ear all ye inhabitants of the world: both low and high, rich=
and poor, together." The two Hebrew words bene 'adam, translated "low" in=
the second verse, are literally - "sons of Adam." What comes to us as=
"high" is the Hebrew bene 'ish. 'Ish is a more general term meaning "man,"=
"male," "human being," or "mankind." Instead of "low and high," which bear=
no semblance of meaning from the original Hebrew, either "sons of Adam and=
sons of man," or "Adamite and Non-Adamite" would have been literal=
translations, faithful to the Hebrew text.
Ah, but who could the sons of man be who are not sons of Adam? =
Non-Adamites? How could that be possible? So, the translators of the=
authorized version avoided certain controversy by substituting the benign=
"low and high," virtual synonyms for "poor" and "rich." Modern translators=
of newer versions have simply followed along.
This technique of substituting words of convenience where 'adam and 'ish are=
contained in the same sentence is used also in Psalm 62:9, where we do not=
read, "Surely vanity are the sons of Adam, a lie are the sons of man ..." =
Instead we read, "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high=
degree are a lie ..." In Isaiah 2:9, do we see the Adamite bow down, and=
the Non-Adamite humble himself? No, we see instead, "And the mean man=
('adam) boweth down, and the great man ('ish) humbleth himself ..." This=
same pattern is repeated in Isaiah 31:8, where the term for generic man=
'ish becomes a "mighty man," while 'adam is a "mean man." So, thanks to a=
sanitizing translation process, even a prophet may have difficulty getting=
his message to the people.
>3. The question of genre and the consideration of these chapters as =93sag=
a, protohistory or myth=94 demonstrating their important theology rather=
than history is important. John Thompson discusses this point in his paper=
Compare his logic to mine. Was Abraham myth or flesh and blood? If flesh=
and blood, was Abraham the descendant of a mythical Noah and Adam? Think=
about it. Where could mythical characters dovetail into real historical=
personalities? Take Luke's genealogy and draw a line that separates the=
last mythical patriarch from the first flesh and blood patriarch. Then=
>4. The relationship of the Ancient Near Eastern creation stories such as=
Enuma Elish to the Genesis narrative. These documents themselves are=
political/religious documents rather than literal history.
Enuma Elish bears little resemblance to Genesis and I don't put much stock=
in trying to find a relationship.
>5. The watershed that exists in Scripture at Genesis 12 with the Genesis 1=
to 11 prologue dealing with humanity as a whole and the remainder of the=
Old Testament directed to God=92s plan through Abraham and Israel,=
culminating ultimately of course in its expansion in the New Testament to=
God's encompassing the new Israel.
We don't stop with Adam, the flood and the tower of Babel are part of a=
continuum of Accadian and Semitic history. Read my section on the tower=
and see if you still think it is "dealing with humanity as a whole."
>Jewish commentators such as Cassuto or Sarna or the classical works of =
Westermann, Von Rad are relevant.
Sarna I haven't read. All the rest I have, plus Speiser, Delitsche, Kidner,=
and a few others I don't recall at the moment.
>It is interesting to note that current Old Testament scholarship is in fact=
concerned with narrative criticism and is particularly helpful for dealing=
with the discussion of the text by those who come from widely different=
theological positions =20
> None of this is hid under a bushel. These issues are dealt with in=
commentaries by such conservative scholars as Derek Kidner (Tyndale=
Commentary on Genesis) or of Gordon Wenham ( Word Commentary on Genesis 1=
to 15) and also in a number of Old Testament Survey's for example The=
Fuller Seminary Old Testament Survey by La Sor, Hubbard and Bush or the =
Westminster Seminary Introduction to the OT by Dillard and Longman.=20
There are four references to irrigation in the first eight chapters of=
Genesis. All of the luminaries you listed failed to pick up on it or=
recognize there was a significance in it. Irrigation tells you everything.=
Irrigation tells you when. Irrigation tells you where.
>I would have similar reservations about your virtual failure to consider or=
recognize some of the theological implications that arise from your thesis.=
The way in which you consider the text by the exclusion of most of=
humanity from the key biblical basis that establishes the doctrine of=
creation and its contained approach to humanity is particularly alien to=
Then change the orthodoxy! Scientific theories change with new discovery. =
The history of ancient Sumer was entirely unknown before the clay tablets=
were discovered and deciphered. Only theology remains entrenched in=
obsolete dogma unmoved by the revelations of either science or history. We=
must change the paradigm, not enshrine it.
>These reservations relate to=20
>1. The problems if the image of God is not related to humanity as a whole.
I am not responsible for 2,000 years of mistaken assumptions. I am trying=
to correct them. Here is a section from my book:
"It is true that traditionally the majority of Bible scholars have thought=
all of humanity was created in the image of God because supposedly all of=
humanity started with Adam. This stand has been taken, however, with a=
certain nonchalance not only for the fossil record and the genetic=
evidence, but also without heeding the qualifiers in the Scriptures=
themselves. Adam was created, and then Eve, but it is unfounded to think=
ancient precursors are encompassed by Genesis 1:27.
Bible expositors have taken the phrase "in the image of God" and blown it=
into proportions far beyond the simpler intentions of the text. An "image"=
is a likeness or representation of something. In Leviticus 26:1, the=
children of Israel were told to make "no idols nor graven image." Idols=
themselves can become objects of worship, obscuring the one true God who=
accepts worship directly. "The image of Baal" (II Kings 3:2) was an object=
of pagan worship, being a representation of that false deity.
In Genesis 1:27, Adam represented God, having been "created in His own=
image." This status was passed through the godly line of Seth (Gen. 5:3). =
Noah and his generations were God's chosen people, and thus were "in the=
image" (Gen. 9:6). This status as representatives of God was conferred=
upon the Israelites through the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17:1-8).
Apparently, those outside the nation of Israel were outside the realm of=
accountability. This can be inferred from Matthew 23:15, "Woe unto you=
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one=
proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell=
When one outside the Jewish faith was brought to the knowledge of God, he=
became accountable. Because of false teaching, he was condemned. This=
unique status for Israel as God's chosen people was rescinded, or at least=
modified, at the cross. Christ was appointed by God as His representative.=
The second Adam, Christ, was in the "image of God" (II Cor. 4:4) just as=
the first Adam, and the mantle was passed to the followers of Christ.
In I Corinthians 11:7, Paul's instructions were not to unregenerate men, but=
to the redeemed of the church at Corinth. According to Paul, they were in=
"the image and glory of God." They received this authority as believers in=
Christ, "who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every=
creature" (Col. 1:15). Fallen man has no claim to God's image unless he=
receives it through redemption.
Psalm 8 points to the coming Messiah. David affirms that Christ has=
dominion over all things. This was given to Adam at his creation (Gen.=
1:28), and was intended for his generations, but it was clearly in Christ's=
hands after the Fall. "Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of=
thy hands: thou hast put all things under His feet: all sheep and oxen,=
yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the=
sea ..." (Psa. 8:6-8).
Dominion over the lesser animals does not accrue to man. It was inherent=
first in Adam, and then in Christ. Those who belong to Christ share in His=
authority and in His dominion. Those who are not in Christ, though they=
may act as if they have divine permission, merely usurp an authority not=
granted by God.
The notion that all of mankind has "dominion" over the earth and were=
created in God's "image" derives from the mistaken idea that Adam was the=
ultimate progenitor of the human race. From this, Bible expositors have=
gone overboard postulating the marvelous similarities between us and our=
In what manner are we, his stumbling creatures, like the Most High God? Do=
we possess His holiness, or His righteousness? Can we boast of His wisdom?=
Are we omnipotent? Can we transcend time? Is it in our power to forgive=
sin? Can we grant immortality? No, we mere mortals presume too much.
Our claim to being in His image is on the righteousness of Christ, not by=
any birth right, lest any man should boast. "For my thoughts are not your=
thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:8)."=20
>2. Creation ethical implications form the basis of our understanding of=
human worth etc and the basis for consideration of our common humanity. =
All sorts of racial and discrimination issues emerge as implications of=
A caution flag should be raised lest anyone make unwarranted racist=
conclusions. Adam's niche in history is tens of thousands of years after=
the advent of modern Homo sapiens and the branching out of the great races.=
With no ancestral ties, Adam could not have been from any particular race.=
No one can say Adam was Caucasian, for example, even though present-day=
peoples with possible blood ties to Noah's three sons have Caucasoid=
The wives of Noah and the wives of his three sons are the key. Considering=
the likelihood these women had blood ties to the distant past, then this=
almost assuredly mandates Caucasian ancestry for them. At that point in=
history, the resident populations in the Mesopotamian valley, the=
Sumerians, were dark-haired, light-skinned Caucasians. And, possibly=
through intermarriage, this is the same racial type of modern-day Semites.
>3. The relevance of Genesis 1 to 11 to our common humanity particularly in=
>Sin and Responsibility
>Judgment and Grace
>Stewardship and Playing God
>These are key aspects of a Christian doctrine of Creation and are dependant=
on a proper understanding of the Gen 1-11 text and approach.
Unfortunately, we have made extrapolations from our misunderstanding. We=
don't come under sin because Adam was father to us all, but because he=
failed to be an example to us all. Likewise, we come under grace from=
Christ's example, not because any of us are related to him.
>The theology of the text seems to have been lost in your literal history.
If we must modify our theology on the basis of new-found understanding, then=
let us set about the task. What has been tried is to modify science and=
history on the basis of our theological beliefs. That has been counter=
productive thus far.
>I do not deny that there are issues that arise from modern anthropology,=
but would suggest that they cannot be solved by adopting the approach you=
I believe the deeper you dig into this the more likely it is that you will=
become convinced. I say that not arrogantly, but in all humility. I had=
to modify my thinking when I found I was on the wrong path initially. It=
was painful. I dropped out of seminary for over a year. I am not=
altogether happy myself with all the implications, but I believe the answer=
we offer will overcome its predecessors eventually on the basis of data and=
evidence, logic and common sense..
> If you have read my paper on Adam, Anthropology and the Genesis record you=
will see that I have indeed considered several alternatives including the=
one you present (a modern Adam but not the progenitor of humanity )=
.Several other possibilities are also considered.=20
So did Davis A. Young in Christian Scholars Review. Incidentally, I was one=
of the reviewers of that article.
>I hope you will see the above comments as adding to the discussion of an=
And I hope you will consider the validity of my responses.
Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
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