Adam in History

From: Richard Fischer <>
Date: Mon Nov 21 2005 - 10:21:55 EST

Ed wrote:
Dick, In assessing your particular interpretations of fact and fiction mixed in ancient tales from Sumer, Israel, and Babylon, I was just wondering why the Hebrew stories should ultimately take precedence over the rest, since we have evidence from both Egypt and Babylon of earlier tales, while the Hebrew stories appear to have been developed later and in a more de-mythologized form after more thought perhaps, and neither are any copies of the Hebrew tales as early as those we possess from Egypt and Sumer.
The reason the writings from Sumer and Accad are preserved is because they wrote on clay tablets recovered in only the last two hundred years. When the technological advance of papyrus came into vogue around the time of Abraham it brought ease of recording and portability, but of course, scrolls wore out and had to be incessantly copied which incorporated scribal mistakes, and only what the scribes deemed important was preserved. The version that wound up in Genesis may have been edited or compiled by Moses, or it may have been handed down through generations of oral tradition and/or written documents and finally recorded at a later date. Scholars differ on that.
The Sumerian/Accadian stories are loaded with gods and goddesses and are clearly embellished by 3rd millennium BC writers exercising their imaginations. The Genesis narrative presumably was funneled through the line of promise going back to Abraham. So although the Hebrew narratives and the Sumerian stories have a degree of commonality they also have differences due to poetic license and Sumerian polytheism.
Another question, just how many specifics in the Hebrew stories do you believe are historically true?
If we could purge Genesis of scribal errors, mistranslation and flawed interpretation, it could all be true. But how do you unring a bell?
Was there a talking serpent, and was the serpent the wisest of all the beasts of the field?
Was it a vision? Did Satan take on the appearance of a serpent just as the Holy Spirit took on the bodily shape of a dove at the baptism of Christ? Had the devil appeared as an angel of light Eve might have had an excuse for believing him.
Was there no rain in paradise?
 Bad interpretation. “It did not rain upon the land,” is a better translation, consistent with the Hebrew that refers to the necessity for irrigation in southern Mesopotamia just as they continue to do to this day due to insufficient rainfall. The “river” that flowed out of Eden (edin) was probably an irrigation canal. In Ezekial 1:1, the river Chebar in Babylon is a canal.
 Was Adam created from the earth and then life breathed into him and he became animated clay?
I am not an eyewitness. What an eyewitness would have observed is open to question. Certainly Adam was unique compared to the Ubaidans and Sumerians who lived in the region at that time. For one thing, he lived 930 years compared with the indigenous populations who typically died off in their forties and fifties.
Was Eve created directly from Adam's side?
Did Peter raise Tabitha from the dead? Did Christ raise Lazurus? If God can create the entire universe from nothing certainly Eve from Adam is no big trick. But a long-lived Adam might desire a long-lived wife. (Noah wasn’t so fortunate.)
Were all the animals on earth created from the ground and paraded before Adam to see if he could pick out a help-mate from among them?
I don’t think so. Adam could have selected an attractive female human being at that late date – or an ugly one for that matter. And all the animals Adam had to name were those in proximity to the garden. No duck-billed platypuses, polar bears, jaguars, aye-ayes, dinosaurs, etc.
Was there an angel with flaming sword barring re-entry into paradise?
Did God appear as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of smoke by day to guide the Israelites? Did an angel appear to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ? What is it you think God and angels can’t do?
(Did paradise decay and the angel left his post? Why post an angel at all to the entrance if paradise was going to decay naturally anyway?)
I don’t speculate far beyond what Scripture states and what the related historical versions confirm.
In what sense was Eden more paradisical than say, other paradisical places on the globe?
Eden comes from the Sumerian/Accadian “edin” which means “plain,” “prairie” or “desert.” Also, read Carol Ann Hill’s, “Garden of Eden: A Modern Landscape” in PSCF.
 Also, in what sense are you relying on simply collecting all the parallels you can, and ignoring non-parallels?
How many “created” individuals can you name? I can name three. Atum, Adam and Adapa. Atum “begot Seth.” Adapa was offered eternal life and called “son of Ea (god),” and Luke describes Adam as “son of God.” You can read the legend of Adapa in its entirety and see the commonalities for yourself. But my point is that these commonalities strengthen the case that Adam actually existed and lived in Neolithic times near the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates as attested to in Genesis.
Gilgamesh is another example. He appears without fanfare fifth on the post-flood Sumerian king list as the king of Uruk (Erech) who lived about 2800 BC. Stories about him are full of unlikely events. But the point is he was a living person and apparently had an exiting life.
In what sense are mere similarities of names from ancient Egypt and Babylon that we can't even pronounce today, let alone be assured we are spelling absolutely right, be used to make your case, while all other names of famous early gods and humans in the earliest creation myths that don't sound like the name, "Adam," are ignored?
I don’t know any other created human beings. Marduk was a god. Enkidu was half man and half beast. Anybody know any other named, “created” human beings besides Adam, Atum and Adapa?
Lastly, you spoke of Adam migrating. But might not the mythical tale of Adam, Adapa, Atum, also have migrated from culture to culture, at least within the ancient Near East's trade routes?
There is a little data that suggests it. Adam was cast out of the garden. Cain left Eden and built the city of Enoch located near Erech (or it actually was Erech). And the similarities in names between Seth’s and Cain’s descendents indicate they lived in close proximity. Adapa who lived in Eridu is also called “the Erechian.”
All the cultures who preserved the stories are Semitic. Even the pyramids in Egypt were likely carved by Semitic stonecutters. There are no other stories in any other cultures that resonate so closely with Adam.
The story of the Flood and the boat/ark for instance appears to have travelled from Babylon to the northern Hittites, then eastward to the Hebrews, then further eastward, as Howard Teeple documents in his book, The Noah's Ark Nonsense (Teeple had degrees in librarianship and theology.)
I would have to read his book. The title sounds as if he has an agenda. But if you put the entire scope of the flood within the confines of southern Mesopotamia around 2900 BC, covering about 300 miles, enough to wipe out the Adamic race, then it all makes sense. Remember, even the nearby Sumerians had pre-flood kings and flourished as a civilization after the flood. So they survived the flood.
A flood deposit was found in the central cities that would have contained Adamic/Accadian populations – Kish, Shuruppak, Uruk (Erech), and Lagash all dated by archaeologists independently to roughly 2900 BC. No flood deposits have been found in nearby Egypt, for example.
Lastly at what point do difference of opinion over your hypothesis matter, eternally speaking? Do you think a Christian can view the creation account as mythical (or lost in the shades of ancient myth) and still get to heaven?
Good question! What if a God-fearing Christian thinks the earth is 6,000 years old? Is his eternal salvation at risk? I don’t think so. But what about those who shun the Christian message because they think the Bible is in error? How many people could we reach if we could convince them that Genesis makes better sense than they have been led to believe?
Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
Received on Mon Nov 21 10:24:16 2005

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