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

From: george murphy <>
Date: Sat Feb 14 2004 - 07:14:44 EST

Dick Fischer wrote:

> George Murphy wrote:
>> & 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.
> As you have so capably reasoned, there are a number of ways we can
> look at it. As the federal head of the human race, not the biological
> head, all die in Adam as Adam failed in his responsibility.
> Precursors are an open question. Also Christ is the new covenant thus
> ending the old covenant. Under the old covenant only the faithful
> remnant, the children of Israel, are capable of redemption and all
> outside the covenant die, everyone. Under the new covenant all may be
> redeemed.
>> 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!
> Actually, my first attempt called for a catastrophic wipe out of all
> precursors. That seemed to make sense. The historic flood at 2900 BC
> eliminates that possibility. The entire world was far too populated
> by that time to have been impacted by an entirely Mesopotamian event.
> If that affects our theology, then theology needs to make room and
> recognize valid historical and scientific evidence. Otherwise we make
> similar mistakes to the YECs. Read the Bible, make a determination,
> and try to change the world to accommodate.

      "If that affects our theology, then theology needs to make room
and recognize valid historical and scientific evidence." "This is most
certainly true" as Lutherans say. & this means that we need to be
willing to do some rethinking about the nature of of the inspiration &
truth of scripture, including the possibility that the texts that we
have in early Genesis are not to be read as historical narratives.
(N.B., I do not mean by this simply saying that Genesis is "wrong.")

        & it seems to me that you are avoiding the 2d problem I note,
that of large numbers of humans not descended from Adam. It's all very
well to speak of him as the "federal head of the human race"
but why does he have this status? Does God just argitrarily choose one
of the many members of Homo sap spread across the world and decree that
this one is the head or representative of all humanity? What is the
theological status of all the others & their descendants, who have
physical & mental endowments not qualitatively different from "Adam"?
Are they simply not "responsible"? (Which would mean, e.g., that
pre-Columbian Americans who murdered, were sexually promiscuous, lied &c
weren't sinning.) or they made responsible for "Adam's" sin just by
decree, even though they're not descended from him. That seems a bit
        (Of course the traditional western idea that all humans in some
sense are guily because of what Adam did also seems rather harsh but at
least it's not arbitrary because their humanity is supposed to have been
corrupted by the sin of their ancestors.)

>> 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.
> It's the theological misunderstanding that has stood in the way all
> these years. Do we change history, or do we change our theology?
> Recently Bruce Waltke did a Genesis Commentary. Those who have
> studied Hebrew Grammar undoubtedly have a book with his name on the
> cover.


> So, theologically correct, historically out to lunch. You have good
> company George.

       We're obviously not in agreement but I fail to see how I can be
accused of making historical errors in this discussion. After all, I'm
arguing, inter alia, that it's a mistake to insist that early Genesis
must be read as historical narrative. You may think I'm theologically
out to lunch, but how historically?


Received on Sat Feb 14 07:17:54 2004

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