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Archive for April 4th, 2014

20388086

(You can get this book at a discounted price at the Westminster Bookstore by clicking HERE or at Amazon by clicking HERE)

Vern Poythress is quite the Renaissance man; or more appropriately I should say he’s quite the Reformation man. With degrees in Mathematics from Cal Tech and Harvard balanced with a theological degree in apologetics from Westminster and also New Testament studies at Oxford, Poythress over the years have shown himself to be quite a capable scholar when it comes to discussion of various disciplines from the Christian Worldview.  When I learned that the editors for the “Christian Answers to Hard Questions” series has selected Poythress to write in defense of the historicity of Adam, I was quite delighted.  The debate on the historicity of Adam has been a source of contention the last few years in Evangelical circles and survey of the literature reveal that it involves the discipline of biology, Old Testament studies and Ancient Near East studies.  Given the inter-disciplinary nature of the debate, Poythress’ ability to navigate through inter-relationship of disciplines would be helpful (for an introduction to Poythress’ view on the relationship of disciplines, see his book Symphonic Theology).

Like other works in the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series, this is a short book.  The short length forces its contributors to be concise.  Poythress did a masterful job of engaging the reader.  I enjoyed and learned the most from his evaluation of the claim that man and Chimpanzees share 99% of the same DNA. He spends a considerable length addressing this issue.  Poythress’ footnotes demonstrate that he is informed and up to date with the latest peer review articles on genetic studies and I appreciate the caliber of his sources behind his effort to debunk the claim that Chimpanzees and man are 99% alike genetically.  It turns out that the data has been manipulated and some of the genetic materials that are not similar between man and Chimps have been eliminated from the percentage count.  I also appreciated the discussion of what one’s interpretative grid of the percentage means.  One sees here how Cornelius Van Til and Thomas Kuhn influenced Poythress on the importance of one’s philosophy of science that plays a role of how one understands the evidences.

I did not disagree with the conclusion or the arguments presented in the book.  However, the book could be improved in two ways.  First, it would have helped to let his readers know what his conclusion is in the beginning of the book rather than the end.  Secondly, I think Poythress shouldn’t have begun the book with a lengthy discussion about the genetics similarities between man and chimps.  Towards the end of the book Poythress noted that the discussion of the historicity of Adam takes place in various disciplines—theology, biology and Biblical studies.  I think it would have been helpful to put this in the beginning of the book as preparation for the genetics discussion.  Overall the book is more theological rather than exegetical but I wouldn’t dismiss it for being so since it paves the way for the Biblical data to speak on the question of the historicity of Adam.  In fact, I would recommend those who want to start understanding the debate to begin with this book first, followed by Zondervan’s recent Four Views on the Historicity of Adam.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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