Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Apr 08 2008 - 16:17:44 EDT

Bernie said: *I think the prodigal son in no way presents itself as a
historical story*

I respond: Fair enough. How about Job or Jonah? Even some conservative
scholars allow that these might not be "historical" figures. There are
historical problems, BTW, with just about every major figure in the OT.
Abraham -- no extrabiblical evidence. Joseph -- nothing in archeological or
historical records to indicate there was ever a Hebraic governor of Egypt.
Moses -- no evidence for a mass exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt. David
and Solomon -- many scholars think them largely mythic. Esther, Daniel,
Isaiah -- likewise. The issue isn't really "affirm Adam as a real person or
the dominoes fall". The issue is more like "to what extent does scripture
count as testimonial evidence, however contextualized it may be" and/or
"what is the historiography of the OT?"

Bernie said: *It looks like the abstract indicates it will answer this
question, but I have to pay $10 to find out. Does anyone know the free
answer?*

I respond: if you could pay $10 for a clear answer to this question, seems
to me it'd be worth it. The free answer is that there is no clear answer.
(For $20, I'll give you a link that resolves the antinomy between
predestination and free will).

On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 3:13 PM, Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
wrote:
>
>
>
>
> Thanks- David. When I said below
>
> "Therefore, we know from science there was no first man named Adam, as
there is no such thing as a "first" man."
>
>
>
> I meant:
>
> "Therefore, we know from science there was no biological first man named
Adam, as there is no such thing as a biological "first" man."
>
>
>
> Not only does the NT refer to Adam as a real person, but in my opinion,
the OT also does… by naming his offspring, ages lived, etc.
>
>
>
> Obviously there are different genres, and I think the prodigal son in no
way presents itself as a historical story, as does Adam, Noah, and Abraham
(so someone would be off-base in claiming it was a historical story).
 Therefore, I think the prodigal son is a poor example to relate to the Adam
"first human created" story.
>
>
>
> You wrote:
> "…Denis Alexander's presentation from last year's ASA annual meeting:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/edinburgh2007/papers/Edinburgh_Alexander_text.pdf
 "
>
>
>
> I didn't see my question directly addressed in that discussion (although I
find that discussion very insightful and powerful; I saw it before- thanks
for reminding me!).
>
>
>
> You wrote:
> "This seminary by the Academy of Christian Thought offers some further
ideas: http://www.actministry.org/eventDetails.php?event_id=115 "
>
>
>
> It looks like the abstract indicates it will answer this question, but I
have to pay $10 to find out. Does anyone know the free answer?
>
>
>
> …Bernie
>
>
>
> ________________________________

>
> From: David Opderbeck [mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 11:53 AM
> To: Dehler, Bernie
> Cc: asa@lists.calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Bernie, I've wrestled with this question as well. There is no straight,
crisp answer.
>
> Loren and Deb Haarsma's book "Origins" offers several possibilities, as
does Denis Alexander's presentation from last year's ASA annual meeting:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/edinburgh2007/papers/Edinburgh_Alexander_text.pdf
  This seminary by the Academy of Christian Thought offers some
further
ideas: http://www.actministry.org/eventDetails.php?event_id=115 There are
numerous PSCF articles on the ASA website about this as well.
>
> To me, the "slippery slope of historicity" isn't the biggest problem. We
can recognize that the Bible contains many different genres, each of which
have to be read on their own merits. We don't worry, for example, about
whether the prodigal son was a historical person. Of course, the New
Testament assumes Adam was a real person, so that does complicate things.
 But the bigger questions, for me, relate to anthropology and original sin.
>
> That said, I'd take issue with this statement of yours: "Therefore, we
know from science there was no first man named Adam, as there is no such
thing as a "first" man." IMHO, "science" can neither prove nor disprove
whether there was a "first man named Adam." The question here is what we
mean by "first man." Biologically there was no such "first man," but
theologically scripture reveals to us (IMHO) that there was such a "first
man." An interdisciplinary approach between science and theology therefore
suggests that what it meant to be the "first man" is something other than
merely biological. We can speculate forever about exactly what that
entailed, and what implications it carried for other human beings who might
have been contemporaries of the "first man," but it's unlikely we'll ever be
able to resolve those questions.
>
>
> On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 12:36 PM, Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
wrote:
>
> Hi all-
>
> I still have a question. For those who think that Adam was not a real
> person in history, how do you answer the critic that says this idea
> undermines the whole Bible, since likewise if Adam didn't exist then
> other characters maybe didn't exist either (Noah, Jonah, Abraham, &
> Moses). If the Bible is undermined, then the faith is on shaky ground,
> since it is difficult to know what is true and what isn't.
>
> I've asked before, but don't think I've gotten any straight, crisp,
> answers. Can someone point me to some references or sources for the
> answer? Is this a straight-forward question that is being routinely
> ignored or shunted or re-directed?
>
> I'm not looking for answers as to why Adam must have been real, but
> looking for answers to the criticism of those who say he was not a real
> person.
>
> Here's what I think the answer is-- tell me if it looks reasonable:
>
> The Bible must be studied with what we know of nature. If a Biblical
> story conflicts with natural science, then we must pick the clearer over
> the foggier; and if science is clearer, we must accept that. Example,
> those who read the Bible with ancient science thought the sun revolved
> around the earth. Now we know the earth revolves around the sun, so
> science is therefore used to interpret Scripture. Likewise, we know
> that evolution works on groups of people, and there was no "first,
> unique" man... man evolved like all other life-forms, over vast amounts
> of times within populations. Therefore, we know from science there was
> no first man named Adam, as there is no such thing as a "first" man.
>
>
> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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>
>
>
>
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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Received on Tue Apr 8 16:19:38 2008

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