Re: Paul in Athens

From: Peter Ruest <>
Date: Sun Aug 21 2005 - 03:19:05 EDT

Chris Barden wrote:
> In my Bible reading today, I came across a passage in Acts that
> surprised me, for I've never heard it used in YEC circles. In Acts
> 17, Paul is using some kind of anthropological argument with the
> Athenians when he says, in verse 26: "From one man he [God] made every
> nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he
> determined the times set for them and the exact places where they
> should live." Can this be considered further support for reading
> Paul's position e.g. Romans 5:12, 1 Cor. 15 as an orthodox Garden of
> Eden and not just as "a type of the one who was to come"?

Acts 17:26 says: "And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the
face of the earth, ..." (RSV). In accordance with the Greek original, the RSV
says "from one" [ex henos], not "from one man". A minor reading, found in some
Greek manuscripts, has "from one blood" [ex henos haimatos]. But none have "from
one man". I think it is permissible to interpret this, in modern parlance, as
"from one population", i.e. by monophyletic descent from the first genuine
humans, which would be in accordance with an evolutionary origin of humans.

In the context of Paul's speech to the Athenians, the emphasis is on the unity
of the human race - again in accordance with modern anthropology. Of course,
Paul sees this human origin as based on divine creation, but the text doesn't
say or imply by what means God created humanity - it could be by imparting his
"image" (or spiritual dimension) to hominids descended from other animals. And
of course, the evolutionary process itself is a part of God's providential action.

Similar considerations apply to the interpretation of Gen. 1:27 and Rom. 5:12.

This evolutionary interpretation does not eliminate a typical application of one
early human, Adam, as "a type of the one who was to come", i.e. Jesus Christ. By
the way, I do not take Adam to be the first genuine human, but one who came much
later. But the timing of Adam doesn't affect the main point that Acts 17:26
(which mentions neither Adam nor any one "first man") is compatible with an
evolutionary origin of humans.

Peter Ruest

Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
<> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Sun Aug 21 03:21:41 2005

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