How to interpret Adam (was: Re: Kerkut)

From: Peter Ruest <>
Date: Tue Feb 10 2004 - 00:51:38 EST

George Murphy wrote (in answer to Dick Fischer):...
<< I know where it says "As in Adam _all_ die." It doesn't say anywhere "As
in Adan _some_ die." Adam is the theological representative & beginning of
all humanity which is enmeshed in death - which is to say, the whole human
race today. Adam is not "merely a symbolic representation of" humanity, he
IS humanity qua sinful & dying creature - including the first humans who
chose to sin. You chose to make him a single historical individual at the
cost of destroying his theological role as the one in whom "all" die. ... >>

Sometimes "all" is indeed used in the sense of "some", as in Matthew 3:5
"Then Jerusalem, all [pasa] Judea, and all [pasa] the region around the
Jordan went out to him" or Genesis 41:57 "So all [kal] countries came to
Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all [kal]
lands". Even in the second half of the very verse you quote, 1 Corinthians
15:22b, "... even so in Christ all [pantes] shall be made alive", the lost
ones probably are not included.

As to 1 Corinthians 15:22a "For as in Adam all die...", I agree with you
that Adam certainly is "the theological representative" of "the whole human
race", of "humanity qua sinful & dying creature - including the first humans
who chose to sin". But I don't agree that he necessarily is the "beginning
of humanity", or even that he "IS humanity". The text doesn't imply that his
being "a single historical individual" would mean "destroying his
theological role as the one in whom 'all' die".

This theological role would not necessarily require a historical Adam to be
the temporally first human being created in the image of God, from whom all
true humans would have to have biologically descended, and who is the cause
of all other humans falling into sin (I assume this idea is the reason why
you claim Dick's interpretation would "destroy his theological role as the
one in whom 'all' die"). Jesus is called the "second Man" and the "last
Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45,47). But neither of these designations is meant
in the historical or biological sense. Christ is the "firstfruits" (1
Corinthians 15:20,23), the beginning of the new humanity. But the fruit of
his sacrifice on the cross is effective even into the past. It is not only
New Testament saints who "shall be made alive" in Christ, but also Old
Testament ones, e.g. Abraham: in John 8:56, Jesus says, "Your father Abraham
rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Similarly, an
historical Adam need not be the genealogical "beginning of all humanity",
their common progenitor, to have the theological significance required.


Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
<> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Tue Feb 10 00:48:52 2004

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