Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: <philtill@aol.com>
Date: Sat Apr 12 2008 - 15:19:47 EDT

Walton deals with this in the second part of his ANE Thought book, by noting the ANE stress on archetypes and social cohesion, as against our modern individualism -- again, I think, a helpful distinction.

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David, I think I agree with?this.? I?believe that Adam of Genesis 2-3 is an archetype representing humanity.? I think there is a much stronger argument?for Cain?being an archetype to represent fallen mankind developing culture but under the curse, since?that explains neatly where the people came from to populate his city, why he could settle to build a city although he was cursed to wander, and a number of other such things.? In reading the geneology of Genesis 4 and the subsequent parts of Genesis I can't escape the sense that the Adam of those later sections was an historical individual.? Let's assume for the moment that he was and that the Jews understood the geneology to have been intended as literal history.? Well, if the Jews were going to create an archetype?to use in describing?the origin of mankind, to have an account with an individual standing in for the whole of unknown pre-history, then it would make sense for them to name that archetype after the most ancient hi
 
 storical person they knew:? Adam of the geneology.??Many of the archetypes in the OT were patterned after or named after historical individuals.? In this case the archetype was going to be prior to all known people, so he could only be named after someone who comes after him.? Who better than the earliest name in the geneology to be the representative for humanity in a creation account?

AFAICT nobody else on the list?seems to think much of this idea, but?I?think it has merit.? We are dealing with something that (forgive me)?could be compared?to wave/particle dualism -- Adam is confusing because of the?historical-individual?/ mythic-archetype dualism we see in the text.? As a result, we see people arguing both sides that he is literal and that he is archetypical or mythic.??And so?I think?there is?a good argument that the?explanarion for?Adam has to?lie in a direction that?addresses?this "dualism." The idea of an archetype based on a historical idividual is the only scheme I have heard of so far that does this.

By the way, I am not impressed with any of the arguments that the geneology in Genesis 4 is purely symbolic.? The explanations for the purpose of the symbolism are always inadequate to account for the full specificity of the list including both names and numbers, the fomer of which (IMO) bear no meaningful pattern.? Even the pattern in the numbers we see in the Masoretic is inadequate to explain why the pattern was even needed.

Phil
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Received on Sat Apr 12 15:32:22 2008

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