Archive for the ‘historical adam’ Category

204879Yesterday EvangelZ posted an interview with Old Testament professor Dr. William Barrick concerning the historical Adam.  I thought I post here a compilation of all the posts on our blog related to the subject of the historical Adam.


Outline of a Biblical Case for the Historical Adam

My response to “Hank” concerning Peter Enns’ theological method


Review: Four Views on the Historical Adam

Review: Did Adam Exist? by Vern S Poythress

Critical Review of Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism PART 1


Interview with Dr. Barrick Concerning the Historical Adam

Dr Barrick Lectures: In the Beginning: Creation and Biblical Authority

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(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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The Historical Adam Barrick

 (Available on Amazon)

For the last few years the historicity of Adam has been a topic of controversy and debate within Evangelical academia.  It comes at no surprise that Zondervan would come out with a book in their Counterpoint series addressing this topic.  Four views are given a hearing in this book represented by Denis O. Lamoureux (Evolutionary Creation View that denies the historical Adam), John Walton (Archetypal Creation View), C. John Collins (Old Earth Creation View), and William D. Barrick (Young Earth Creation View).

Normally I’m cautious about these Four Views book either because I feel better contributors could have been selected or space limitation didn’t allow justice for the complex subject at hand.  With these expectations I must say I thought the book did a better job than I expected.  I’m happy to see some improvements over the years with this genre. The four scholars selected are highly qualified representative of their respective views.  In previous works the format feature the chapters by each school followed by the responses by the other schools; I appreciated that this work also feature a rejoinder to the other schools’ responses, a plus in my opinion in seeing what a counter-rebuttal looks like.  I also appreciated the editors’ decision to have two pastoral reflections that discussed what the implication of the discussion of the historicity of Adam means practically for the Christian (although I must say it seems Gregory Boyd’s essay ended up being more on why Christians should welcome those who deny the historical Adam as brothers and sisters in the faith even in our disagreements).  The two contributors selected for this part were excellent:  Both Gregory Boyd and Philip Ryken are well known for being pastor-scholars.  I thought the pastoral reflection also made their contribution to the discussion of which view one should take on the historical Adam question, and these two essays must not be overlooked or dismiss because its pastoral in nature; in particular I had in mind how Ryken’s essay laid out what an historical or non-historical Adam means theologically for the Christian experience and Gospel witness.

I imagine not many will change their views from reading this book and yet I would say this book is still important and worth buying because it provide a concise summary of each perspective’s argument.  Never had I read a book in Zondervan’s Counterpoint series in which the contributors footnoted their own work as much as they did in this volume but I appreciated this as helpful for those who want to do further research.  One can’t really blame the contributors for footnoting themselves so much since this is a much more complicated subject than most topics in this series since there is immediate question of Adam’s existence and also the undercurrent of one’s understanding of the role of modern science/evolution in interpreting the Genesis 1-3 that formulate one’s conclusion to the Adam question.  Really, this book had only one contributor (Lamoureux) who denied the historical Adam while the other three believed in a historical Adam; and yet all three who agreed on Adam didn’t arrive to their conclusion by the same method necessarily given their divergent view of the role of extra-biblical data (Modern cosmology, science, evolution, Ancient Near East studies) in interpreting Genesis 1-3.

Dr. Barrick has one of the most exegetically rich chapters in the book, and readers will appreciate his grammatical and syntactical observation brought out from Genesis 1-2.  The contributor with the strongest scientific background is Lamoureux but appeared to be the most exegetically weak, where in the responses the other three contributors harped on him for his take on the Hebrew word Raqia and his misleading translation of this term as “firmament.”

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan 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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The topic of the historicity of Adam as the first man is a hot topic today in theology since some Evangelicals have come out to deny the historicity of Adam. The following is an outline from a bigger series I have going through a Biblical view of man.  I hope the following is helpful to think about how various genre that is unquestionably literal found in the Bible interprets the meaning and genre of Genesis 1-3 literally.

Purpose: To consider the arguments for the historical Adam as the first man God created.

I. Special Creation of Adam and Eve according to Genesis 1-2

a. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-31)

i.      This is the more general account of the creation of man, Genesis 2 will be more specific.

ii.      “Man” here is literally “Adam” in the Hebrew.

iii.      Notice here the plurality within God creating man

1. “Let Us make

2. “in Our image

3. “according to Our likeness

iv.      Notice the role of man in God’s creation in this verse.

b. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

 i.      This account is more specific than Genesis 1.

 ii.      Again, “man” here is literally “Adam” in the Hebrew.

iii.      Two details of Adam’s creation

1. Formed from the ground

2. God breathed into his nostril

c. “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22)

i.      This account is the creation of the first woman, later named Eve in Genesis 3:20.

ii.      Note Eve was made from Adam’s rib.

II.  There have been those who have questioned the historicity of the Bible’s account of the creation of man with Adam being the firstMan.  For example:

a. Tremper Longman III[1]

b. Bruce Waltke: From a headline of the news, “OT Professor Bruce Waltke resigns from RTS Orlando Faculty amid historical Adam and Eve controversy”[2]

c. Peter Enns: “Likewise, Israel’s story was written to say something about their place in the world and the God they worshiped. To think that the Israelites, alone among all other ancient peoples, were interested in (or capable of) giving some definitive, quasi-scientific, account of human origins is an absurd logic. And to read the story of Adam and Eve as if it were set up to so such a thing is simply wrongheaded.”[3]

III. Objections comes down to an issue of hermeneutics

a. In his book against the historical Adam, Peter Enns writes, “One cannot read Genesis literally—meaning as a literally accurate description of physical, historical reality—in view of the state of scientific knowledge today and our knowledge of ancient Near Eastern stories of origin.”[4]

b. The role of presupposing evolution in shaping interpretation of Genesis 1-3: “If evolution is true, one can no longer accept, in any true sense of the word ‘historical,’ the instantaneous and special creation of humanity described in Genesis, specifically 1:26-31 and 2:7, 22.”[5]

IV. Why we should interpret Genesis 1-2 and Adam literally and historically

a. Genre of Genesis 1-2 is narrative and hence it should be treated as revealing literal information.

i.      The essential elements of Hebrew narratives include[6]:

1. Scene

a. This is probably the most important element.

b. Scene involves sequence of event in the narrative.

c. In the Hebrew text, the component of scene can be established by the pattern of wayyiqtol.[7]

i.      Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

ii.      Wayyiqtol is often used to establish temporal or logical sequence.

2. Plot

This concerns the beginning, middle and ending of the development of the narrative.

3. Character

Who is involved in the narrative?

4. Setting

Where in space/time does this narrative takes place?

5. Point of view

ii.      Genesis 1-2 has the element of the literary form of narrative

1. Scene:

a. Sequences of days (Genesis 1), Creation of AdamàGod’s dialogueàCreation of Eve (Genesis 2)

b. Genesis 1-2 has many Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

2. Plot: Five days of creation then the creation of man on the sixth day and then rest (Genesis 1); Lonliness of Adam then creation of Eve (Genesis 2)

3. Character: God, Adam and Eve.

4. Setting: The newly created world (Genesis 1), Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14)

5. Point of view: God’s point of view of creation chronologically (Genesis 1), God’s point of view of creation of man specifically (Genesis 2)

b. How does the rest of the Bible interpret Genesis 1-2?

i.      Methodological consideration

1. Since some say that Genesis 1-2 was originally not intended to be interpreted literally, that it’s meant to be understood as symbolic, so we have to ask the question of how the rest of the Bible interpret Genesis 1-2.

2. If the rest of the Bible as God’s infallible Word interpret Genesis 1-2 literally such as believing in a literal Adam and Eve, then we ought to see this data as God’s perspective on Genesis 1-2 and purpose of writing it is literal.

 ii.      Within Genesis

1. Note: Adam and Evil is presuppose as historical lest the rest of Genesis becomes nonsensical.

2. Narrative of the fall in Genesis 3 presupposes a literal Adam and Eve.

3. Those that have children are real, historically existent people.  Adam and Eve had children and therefore historically existed.

a. Adam and Eve is described as having children such as Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-2).

b. Adam described in a genealogy (Genesis 4:25, 5:1)

iii.      Book of Job: “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,” (Job 31:33)

At a minimum, this presupposes the story of Genesis 3 and a reference to Adam.

 iv.      Book of Hosea: “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.” (Hosea 6:7)

1. Here the sin of God’s people are compared to Adam’s sin.

2. Only a real person can transgress a covenant.

v.      Genealogies: 1 Chronicles 1:1, Luke 3:38.

1. Genealogy as a literally form is meant to refer to real people.

2. Adam is referred to in genealogies and therefore God’s Word is here attesting to the fact that Adam was historical.

vi.      Reinforcing the historicity of genealogies, Jude 14 as a straight forward epistle indicating God’s own Word interpreted genealogies literally.

vii.      Both Adam and Eve are presupposed as real in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.

1. Paul could have just invoked his apostolic authority concerning how women ought to behave.

2. The event of the fall of Adam and Eve is invoked here as the basis for Paul’s admonition.

viii.      Paul’s preaching of the Gospel to Athenian philosophers presupposes Adam as the father of all: “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts17:26)

1. Note that the Greeks did not believe God made all man from one person.

2. They believe that their own race (Greeks) had nothing to do with others since they were far more superior.

3. Yet Acts 17 is Paul’s sermon that lays the foundation to make the Gospel intelligible and he found it important to bring up Adam as the first man of all.

 ix.      Adam is presuppose as historical figure in the underpinning of the Gospel.

1. Just as Christ was historical and imputed righteousness for justification so too was Adam presupposed as historical imputing sin (Romans 5:12-21).

2. Just as Christ was historical and gave us life so too was Adam presupposed as historical giving us death (1 Corinthians 15:20-58).

[4] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), 137.

[5] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), xiv.

[6] The following essential elements are found in Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Narrative”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1995), 69-76.

[7] The discussion about the wayyiqtol is from Robert B. Chisholm Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 119-120.

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Peter Enns meme

A post over at Justin Taylor’s blog on The Loss of Historical Adam and the Death of Exegesis has generated a lot of comments and discussion, some of it being rather tense.  I also had an exchange with a guy name Hank who was going around trolling against those who believe in the historical Adam.  For those who are interested, the thread of that brief exchange (thus far) can be found here, and he began commenting after he said he read my essay critical of Peter Enns’ methodology.  To spare the blow by blow details, my latest response follows below.  What else could you add?


3.) “I’m just saying you seem like a young amateur in biblical studies–perhaps an MDiv–but certainly not someone who has written and exposed his ideas to learned and critical scrutiny.”

 Response: Let’s say I’m a young amateur.  To think this is a refutation is simply to commit an ad hominem fallacy and doesn’t prove your assertion that I’m just recycling others’ criticisms, that my arguments are wrong, etc.  Let’s say hypothethically you are older and more knowledgeable than I with your condescending tone towards me.  As the older and knowledgeable man, I would appreciate it if you not make a false appeal to authority but teach a younger man such as myself of how one interact with others fairly and reasonably: Please LOGICALLY DEMONSTRATE how my critique was wrong rather than merely asserting it and straw-man it. Ironically this whole time you have only been making assertions, and not offer critical scrutiny and interactions.  Show an amateur like me how someone in the major leagues like you behave and engage in reasonable and charitable interactions, intead of acting like a juvenile Enns’ fan boy.

 Truth be told, I have been following Enns for a few years now and I don’t know what the big deal with him is since Enns problem is more philosophically basic than how to weigh ANE evidences–if you recall in the essay that you said you read, I argue that the precommitments behind his bibliology would make rational discourse unintelligible and meaningless such as the very ones you expect others to engage in.  Can you resolve this dilemma of Enns’ methodological precommitments?

4.) “That is not ad hominem, but from what I see a reasonable conclusion.”

Response: You might want to brush up on logic.  You are committing a logical fallacy of ad hominem since you fail to address anything substantial in our exchange but simply shift the topic to something concerning the other person.

5.) ” I do see, though, that you are versed in the rhetoric of apologists: never answer questions only ask them.”

Response: It’s flat out incorrect for you to say this since I have answered your questions.  Read it again.  If you disagree, can you point out which one of your questions that I have not answered ?  There was a question that I asked of you for further explanation so that I can answer it which ironically, you did not answer.  Just looking at our exchange I find it ironic (yet once again) that the very thing you said about me is actually true about yourself in our exchange.  It is you who never answer questions or inquiry.  If I can remind you of what my inquiries you leave unanswered:

(a) Can you be more specific of what it is in my post that is merely “repeating the reactions of others”?

(b) Can you (1) show something I said (2)that  has been stated by someone else before (links and book citation would be nice)?

(c) I’m curious to see how Enns deal with the methodological problems driving his position. Or how you would answer for that matter.

(d)What constitute for you a “serious background” in Biblical studies?

(e) I think it’s legitimate also as well to ask whether your credentials is up to par with the standard you are putting me through concerning “SERIOUS Background” in the mentioned areas of study.

One last thing:  I finally looked at other comments on here and seeing your comments to others I just wanted to point out that you have the rhethoric of an Enns’ troll.

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