Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Wed Oct 07 2009 - 11:56:25 EDT
HI Pete:
Hey, we are all friends here.  Yes, man and "Adam" are used interchangeably due in part to the translators preference in accordance to what they believed.  Thus when Ezekiel is repeatedly addressed as bene 'adahm by God, it is translated "son of man" thereby bequeathing on him a title reserved for Christ, however, had the translation been literally "son of Adam" it would merely mean he was in the Adamic line.  In my estimation they made the wrong choice.
In instances where ha 'adam is used "the man" is a literal translation.  And Adam was "the man" placed in the garden, etc.
I believe the early Israelites were aware their ancestors were not alone in the world.  At the very beginning the Adamite colony was surrounded initially by Ubaidans and then Sumerians.  They had to know there were other peoples speaking strange languages and racially distinct.  The Akkadians called the Sumerians the "black-headed people," for example.
Knowledge dies out over time, and of course, our central core beliefs in the atonement are unaffected by this historical episode.  If the question is simply was Adam a historical personality, the weight of evidence falls on such being the case.

~Dick Fischer

Oct 6, 2009 05:01:11 PM, wrote:
O my, a little voice inside of me is saying "don't get involved, don't get involved."

Dick, you are aware, I am sure, that adam and/or ha-adam can and does mean in Genesis 1-4 mankind, man, or the personal name "Adam" right?

Hosea 6:7 is not a good example. Adam there does not refer to a "covenant with Adam" in no small measure because there was no covenant with Adam in Genesis. The first covenant was with Noah. To see a "covenant" with Adam in Hosea 6:7 is influenced by some of the NT texts you cite in order to find something in the OT that theologically needs to be there--which leads to a question: On what basis do you assume that the NT texts are determinative of what Genesis was communicating in its Israelite context? I agree that the NT treats adam as a person, but why does that determine what the author of Genesis meant? Are you concerned to maintain full consistency between what a text meant in the OT and how it came to be used int eh OT? That is a hard hill to climb.

Pete Enns

On Oct 6, 2009, at 4:43 PM, Dick Fischer wrote:

The correct interpretation of Deut. 32:8 can be debated.  But please give me an interpretation of Hosea 6:7, Luke 3:38, Romans 5:14, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Timothy 2:14 and Jude 1:14 that agrees with your hypthesis that Adam means "mankind" in general and not Adam, a flesh and blood human being?
Again, I am not tying a historical Adam living in Mesopotamia with any conceivable member of the Homo sapiens species who could possibly have been our ultimate ancestor.  That's another issue.

Dick Fischer

Oct 6, 2009 04:08:04 PM, wrote:

Calmly ignoring the fact that I showed that your citation or Dt.32:8 is misleading & says nothing like what you want it to say.
Sigh - no, I don't mean that Deuteronomy is misleading but that your understanding of it is.  Simnilarly, the issue is not whether the biblical writers were wrong but whether your interpretation of them is.  I would be more inclined to carry on a conversation with you if you could ever admit that you are wrong, as you clearly were in this instance.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 3:39 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

Hi George:
That's correct.  I'm critical of translations that were performed without the benefit of extra-biblical evidence.  In 1611, that's excusable, but later translations merely perpetuate original ignorance. 
That is what I'm trying to correct.
I am not critical of the writers of the inspired text which is what your position demands.  Moses has to be wrong.  Paul has to be wrong.  Luke has to be wrong in order for you to be right. 
That's the difference between my position and yours.

Dick Fischer

Oct 6, 2009 12:59:32 PM, wrote:

Dick -
You feel quite free, when it suits your purpose, to criticize (usually just by assertion) the KJV translation but then quote it in an uncritical way when - again - it suits your purpose.  Of course bene 'adham in Dt.32:8 is literally "sons of Adam" but it takes only a little acquaintance with Hebrew usage to know that the phrase "sons of X" often means not "men whose father" is X but "members of the class X" - e.g., "sons of the prophets."  Thus NRSV translates the phrase in question from Dt as "when he divided humankind" and NIV has "when he divided all mankind."
Furthermore, while the Masoretic text does have the last part of the verse as "according to the number of the sons of Israel (bene yisr'ael)", a Qumran mss has "sons of God" and LXX aggelon Theou, "angels of God" (which is of course one sense of the Hebrew "sons of God" = "godlike beings").  NRSV has "according to the number of the god", with "the Israelites" as the marginal reading, while NIV reverses this (with "sons of God" in the margin).  The latter reading makes more sense, the idea being that each of the nations is assigned a "guardian angel".  (Cf. Daniel 10:13 & 12:1).  OTOH it's hard to see what it means to say that the nations were divided according to the number of the Israelites.
Which of course is not to deny that in some places in the Bible Adam is used as a personal name.  But your appeal to Dt.32:8 fails completely.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

Well, to George's point:


"Adam IS mankind."

George, this is just a dogmatic assertion in the face of contrary evidence.  There is no leg upon which you can stand.

Consider Deut 32:8:  “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam,he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

Not only is the writer saying that Adam was a father who had sons, he is linking the posterity directly to Israel.  That’s been my point all along.

I would like to see the pen and ink corrections to Luke 3:38: “ … which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth,which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

How does “mankind” fit in that verse?  Or fit “mankind” in Romans 5:14: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam toMoses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”

Was Enoch the seventh from “mankind” in Jude 1:14?  I don’t think so.

So if we just assume the Bible writers, and Josephus, and the writer of Jubliees, and the unknown chroniclers whose works were destroyed over the centuries knew of what they wrote, then Adam was a person who lived in southernMesopotamia, land of the Tigris and Euphrates, about 7,000 years ago and started the Semitic race.  What is so hard to understand about that?

Okay, some theological assumptions may be wrong.  Change them!

Dick Fischer

Oct 5, 2009 07:29:39 PM, wrote:

No, what I accept is that "Adam" - "the man" - in Gen.2 & 3 is a theological representative of the human race.  My statement "Adam IS mankind" is a bit strong but deliberately so to set it off from Dick's claim that Adam was "an emissary to humanity."
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 5:26 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

George Murphy wrote: "Adam IS mankind."
If that is the case, George, and if you accept the logic *there must have been a first,* then do you accept that the 'first human' was ADAM, i.e. the first of 'mankind' or 'humanity'? If not, then why not? Are you a *degree, not kind* guy?

From: George Murphy <>
To: Dick Fischer <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 12:47:31 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically

When humankind (not just a single individual) is said to be created in the image & likeness of God in Gen.1:2, it's quite legitimate (IMO) to interpret the following words, "and let them [N.B.] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thin that creeps upon the earth" (NRSV).  I.e., humans are to be God's representatives in ruling the other creatures of the world.  The word "emissary" is really too weak for this.  But more importantly, there is no suggestion that oen human being is commissioned to be an emissary to other human beings.  So the point remains, there is no canonical texts that says - ot implies - "that Adam was God’s emissary to mankind."   Adam IS mankind.

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