Re: How to interpret Adam (was: Re: Kerkut)

From: Peter Ruest <>
Date: Fri Feb 13 2004 - 00:47:04 EST

George Murphy wrote:
> Peter Ruest wrote:
> >
> > 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.

<< Yes, "all" can be used hyperbolically to mean "some," "a lot,"
&c. And one can argue that the "all" who will be made alive in Christ in I
Cor.15:22 are those who are saved, since Paul doesn't say anything
explicitly about the resurrection of the damned in this chapter. But again
one has to ask whether the resurrection of anyone, saved or damnded, takes
place apart from Christ. It is not simply a natural possibility.
          & who are the "all" in "in Adam all die" if not literally all
humans? Is it simply _some_ humans? This would mean that some don't die.
(I suppose some would appeal to Enoch & Elijah but that seems a stretch.)
One could say "in Christ shall all be made alive" means "all who are made
alive are made alive in Christ" which is OK but then the parallel would be
"all who die, die in Adam" which again seems to mean everybody. >>

I agree that the "all" in "in Adam all die" are literally all humans, not
just some, and I would include all Preadamites since the time when God
created humans in his image at least 30,000 years but perhaps even much
longer ago. But I would not primarily see physical death in this statement,
but spiritual death as a consequence of personal sin. And with this, I would
have to exclude Jesus from this "all" (I wouldn't exclude Enoch & Elijah).
This is fallen humanity, typically represented by Adam. I also agree that it
wouldn't be very helpful to say, in this context, "all who are made alive
are made alive in Christ" (although it would be correct). But the new
humanity, which is here contrasted to the fallen humanity, and of which
Jesus is the firstborn, comprises all who have been made alive spiritually,
i.e. believers from OT and NT times (Romans 8:29 "For whom He foreknew, He
also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be
the firstborn among many brethren"). Whether the resurrection of the lost is
apart from Christ or through him, I don't know, but in any case, they are
not in Christ and therefore not in this new humanity which Paul here
contrasts with the old one.
<< But there is another problem which I've already noted which is
independent of the interpretation of this verse. I appreciate the
theological need that some people feel for strict monogenism (i.e., that all
humans can be traced back to one historical couple) & don't think it's a
preposterous idea, though it certainly encounters problems. But to do that
you have to put Adam & Eve a lot farther back than 7000 years simply because
virtually the whole world seems to have been populated by Homo sapiens by
then. So unless you want to have all those others wiped out by a worldwide
flood (which I don't think Dick wants) or have them somehow all quickly
interbreed with A & E's descendants (which hardly seems feasible), then in
historic times there have been millions of people walking the earth who
looked human but in a theological sense weren't (to use Dick's term)
"responsible." This seems to me problematic for several reasons! >>

As I don't see any requirement for monogenism if Adam's headship of humanity
is taken as being typical and spiritual, rather than physical (just as with
Jesus' headship of new humanity), I don't have to place Adam at any other
time than about 7000 years ago, nor do I have to require all non-Adamic
descendents of Preadamites to die in Noah's flood (which I believe to have
been local in southern Mesopotamia) or to interbreed with the Adamic line.
As they were "created in His image", they were responsible for their own
sin, whatever it was.
<< I don't buy Glenn's concordist scenario but if I had to choose
between it & Dick's I would choose Glenn. It seems to me highly contrived &
unnecessary but it doesn't create the sort of theological problems that
arise with "Adam" appearing in a world populated by a lot of people who seem
to be fully human. >>

I believe they were fully human. I wouldn't go as far back in time as Glenn,
but I really don't know when to place that date. What are the theological
problems you see with this scenario?


Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
<> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Fri Feb 13 00:44:42 2004

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