Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com>
Date: Wed Apr 09 2008 - 06:46:04 EDT

I am off rabbit hunting here.

Personally, I like the way the threads flow here, it is natural. Someone makes a post, and someone responds to a portion of that post and the original thread branches off into two or three topics. And sometimes the secondary branches become longer and contain more branches themselves than the original theme. It is like the tree of life!

I did not think that the posters above had deviated far from the trunk of the tree. Certainly not as far off as this branch.

As far as whether or not to change the subject line, I think that depends on how far from the trunk the branch is. Up until now in this thread they probably should have stayed with the same subject line. If you change the subject line too often, you lose the context.

However sometimes the subject does appear to become a new "species" so perhaps then it is time to change the subject line.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: philtill@aol.com
  To: bernie.dehler@intel.com ; asa@calvin.edu ; dopderbeck@gmail.com
  Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 11:41 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

    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.

  First of all, one of things that can be discouraging on the ASA list is that so many discussions rapidly go off into rabbit trails. This was originally a great question Bernie raised, but almost all the posts so far have been discussing Abraham and Jonah instead of what Bernie had asked about. David's point in bringing up Abraham and Jonah was not to question their historicity -- so there is no purpose in arguing about their historicity -- but just to point out that the Bible itself should be taken as a valid testimony at some point, and that this applies as well to the question of Adam as to any other person that anybody has ever questioned in the Bible. In doing so, David's post was making an outstanding point and it was well written and thoughtful and highly interesting. The details of just how much Abraham can or cannot be questioned was never important to David's point! I was very disappointed when the replies to David immediately chased the rabbit (to no value!) instead of continuing to address Bernie's real question. I think there needs to be a little more restraint in not chasing the rabbits so that we can maintain a meaningful conversation here. Or maybe the "subject" line should be changed whenever a rabbit is chased.

  Bernie, one way I've been thinking about the historic treatment of Adam in the OT is with the idea that the Adam, father of Seth, in Genesis 4ff was the earliest person listed in the Hebrew geneologies and therefore Moses (or prior authors) took the opportunity to reflect him backwards as a literary device to "become" the first human ancestor in their creation mythology. (BTW, I don't use the word "mythology" in a negative way.) Thus, Adam in Genesis 4ff may have been a historic individual as the geneologies and subsequent accounts imply, and yet Adam in the garden may have been a theological symbol. I think it's pretty obvious there is a genre change between the garden account and the geneologies/historical sections that follow. Therefore the treatment of "Adam" may have likewise been different in the two sections. We needn't assume that because the name identifies a literal individual in one genre therefore it refers only to a literal individual in all genres.

  As an example, Ephraim is treated as a literal individual in Genesis, but his name symbolically represents an entire people group later in the Bible. The Hebrews were accustomed to using an individual name to represent an entire group. IMO, it is not too difficult to believe they did the similar thing _backwards_ to refer to the origin of man by using a _later_ literal individual Adam, who just happened to be the first in their geneology as well as possessor of a name that was highly symbolic of mankind.

  This doesn't address the issues with Adam being treated as a historical person in the NT, but then I think we can question if we really know that he was being treated as a historical person in the NT. Just because _we_ thought Adam was literal while we were reading Paul doesn't give us the right to impose our assumptions onto Paul. Paul may have been more sophisticated about the myth genre than we have been. After all, he lived in a Greek culture that was seeped in theology taught through myth, with strong contacts to the identical Egyptian, Babylonian, and Roman uses of the genre. How could we be smarter than him in recognizing that genre and knowing what's normative for it?

  Regarding your model for resolving this conflict: Personally I wouldn't pick the "clearer scence" over the "foggier Scripture" in determining what Genesis 1 was supposed to be telling us. To do so is equivalent to saying the Bible is just plain wrong and therefore we will reject it wherever necessary and keep the better science in its place. Instead, I'd want to use conflicts with science to clue me in to where we may have misunderstood Scripture and then take a closer look at its internal evidence to see if indeed we have. IMO, when we look at Genesis 1 in the light of science, we can break out of our prior hyper-literalism and recognize that by golly it actually isn't of a genre that we would normally have taken as literal history.

  Phil

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Received on Wed Apr 9 06:48:03 2008

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