Adam: Man or People?

I first saw this video at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth:

For some great comments on it, see Justin Taylor’s blog.

Here is a response:

Was Adam a Real Historical Individual? at Analogical Thoughts
12 reasons why an evangelical view of the Bible commits one to the existence of Adam as a real historical individual.

This is the clincher for me:
8. In Romans 5:12-21, Paul draws his famous parallel between Adam and Jesus. The transgression of “one man” (Adam) brought judgment and death, but the obedience of “one man” (Jesus) brought righteousness and life. If Adam never actually existed (never mind sinned), Paul’s parallel — on which his theological argument depends — falls flat.

HT: Between Two Worlds

I don’t understand why people want to turn this stuff around and take the much harder reading and call the plain reading (in all of Scripture, not just Genesis) “very highly literalistic” as if it’s not legitimate or sophisticated.

And here is a response to the response at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.

Update: here is an excellent rebuttal to the rebuttal to the rebuttal at Analogical Thoughts which offered the 12 reasons linked above.

Update: The Historicity of Adam: Genesis DEconstructed and REconstructed at THEOparadox

28 Responses to “Adam: Man or People?”


  1. 1 Stan McCullars

    I don’t understand why people want to turn this stuff around and take the much harder reading and call the plain reading (in all of Scripture, not just Genesis) “very highly literalistic” as if it’s not legitimate or sophisticated.

    Unbelief.

  2. 2 Bitsy Griffin

    I was starting to think I was the only one who believed in a literal Adam.

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    Stan I believe you summed it up.

    Bitsy there seems to be a lot of liberal thinking out there that’s in vogue.
    Jeff

  4. 4 A.Admin

    I’m posting this here because Nick’s thread is up to 30+ comments.

    Almost every Biblical reference to Adam I can think of, references him as a past living person, at least to me. Without some serious evidence other than a theory based on a couple verses, I think playing with the beginnings of Genesis as a myth or allegorical account is not a very good use of time. Joseph’s lineage in Luke 3:23-38 traces to a living person.

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    Yeah, I don’t get it. I don’t want to say too much or I’ll get called out and that’s stressful for me. I think the people on Nick’s thread that agree with us are doing a good job even if some are a little less than gentle. Thanks for commenting here.
    Jeff

  6. 6 A.Admin

    I don’t want to say too much or I’ll get called out

    Rest easy, they’re bringing the challenge, they bring the evidence. So far, I haven’t seen anything other than a theory.

    I realize parts of the Bible are allegorical and speak in metaphor, but I need some hard evidence before I’ll get on this merry-go-round.

  7. 7 Bitsy Griffin

    but I need some hard evidence before I’ll get on this merry-go-round.

    Amen.

  8. 8 Stan McCullars

    There is no hard evidence, only fanciful ideas.

    See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

    The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them? (Jeremiah 8:9 ESV)

  9. 9 Derek Ashton

    One’s views about the historicity of early Genesis are a reflection of one’s view of Scripture. If one primarily views Scripture as similar to other ancient writings of the time period (Babylonian mythology, etc.), one will tend to view the Biblical writings through that lens and come up with ideas that seem sensible but actually disintegrate the unity of the Bible (and ultimately present the idea that it means something other than what it says). If one primarily views the Bible as God’s Eternal Word of Truth, as inerrant as God Himself is (though arriving by His Providence through the minds and experiences of imperfect and errant people), guarded by the Holy Spirit from any contamination or mistake, entirely pure and wholly true, one will tend to say that Scripture means exactly what it says – and that God was careful and exacting in His revelation.

    What I have learned here is that Tremper Longman III, although he is 100 times more scholarly and studied than I am, is not a reliable witness about the unity and integration of Scripture. Let God be true, and EVERY MAN a liar. That includes me and you and Tremper. But this is exactly the point – Scripture calls us to trust IT more than we trust our own thoughts.

    Perhaps scholars like Longman end up spending so much time looking at the ancient cultures, archeological data, and other human/earthly factors related to Scripture that they lose perspective on the heavenly/inspired character of the Word.

    My 5-year-old apparently has more faith in God’s Word than most super-scholars, and I take this as a warning against the subtle unbelief that sometimes accompanies “learning.” Ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the Truth – this is the danger for all of us knowledge-hungry seekers of insight from the Bible. May God help us to believe Him.

  10. 10 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks for the further comments and for the Scripture Stan.

    Derek what an excellent post. I don’t even want to call it a comment. That would be a great blog post. I feel EXACTLY the same way.

    I always thought of Tremper Longman as one of those “good names” you want to look for in an OT commentary. Now I find it would be hard to trust him with anything. I know that’s extreme, but it’s hard for me to get past it. I may do a post on that.

    I’ve added an Update to the original post.
    Jeff

  11. 11 Derek Ashton

    Jeff,

    Thanks for that suggestion. I was already composing the post . . . great minds think alike, I guess (or perhaps the Biblical version would be: feeble minds aided by the Holy Spirit are guided in the same direction). 🙂

    Blessings,
    Derek

  12. 12 Stan McCullars

    Derek,
    Yes. Good post.

    Dan Phillips has posted A few pithy thoughts on doubt over at PyroManiacs. It is a list of thoughts he had regarding the whole discussion of Tremper Longman’s regrettable comments.

  13. 13 Truth Unites... and Divides

    “I always thought of Tremper Longman as one of those “good names” you want to look for in an OT commentary. Now I find it would be hard to trust him with anything. I know that’s extreme, but it’s hard for me to get past it.”

    I feel the same way. In fact, I feel the same way about N.T. Wright.

  14. 14 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks for the link Stan.

    I posted another Update.
    Jeff

  15. 15 Scripture Zealot

    Truth, N.T. Wright happens to be another one of those people for me also. If he can’t get justification right (according to what I believe), do I want to read him? Plus I really don’t like reading his writings except for possibly his commentaries.
    Jeff

  16. 16 Icazu

    I don’t think you are giving the man any type of fairness. I suggest that you read Dr. Longman’s How to Read Genesis before commenting on his character and faith so negatively. I think you would find it much harder to do so then you have.

    I’ll quote something for you that he wrote in his commentary on how to read Genesis about the geneologies so many of you are relying on to disprove him. And oddly enough Dr. Longman agrees with you:

    “A genealogy is a list that shows the passage of generations. As such, it signals to us that the writers of Genesis 1-11 want us to recognize their writings as being history. Just because the want us to think it is history obviously doesn’t assure the skeptical reader that it gives us a true accounting of the past, but we shouldn’t decieve ourselves into thinking that this material was written as myth, legend parable or the like”

    On Genesis 1-2 and historical interpretation as in reference to creation days: “it appears that Genesis itself is not interested in giving us a clear and umambiguous understanding of the nature of the creation days. This ambiguity fits in with the overall impression we get of the passage, that it is not concerned to tell us the process of creation. Rather it is intent on simply celebrating and asserting the fact that God is Creator.”

    In short, I think that you are creating a strawman which you easily push over because no one is actually making these arguments.

  17. 17 Truth Unites... and Divides

    Here are some comments from other blogs:

    (A) “Tremper Longman has been bad news for years. Back in the day, I remember him holding court at GA with all the young dudes who opposed our church witnessing against our wives and daughters being drafted and serving as military combatants.

    There was a large sigh of relief at Westminster Philly when he left for Westmont. Westminster’s gain and Westmont’s loss, although Westmont wouldn’t see it that way.

    So now you report Tremper’s questioning the historicity of Adam. If so, someone in his presbytery needs to make use of our denomination’s much-vaunted “connectionalism.” But no need to talk about him. He’s proven yet again to be a man incapable of deep thinking. Robust orthodoxy is not to his liking. He’s a little man–little courage and little faith.”

    http://www.baylyblog.com/2009/09/tim-most-of-this-post-comes-from-2005-commenting-on-the-fact-that-the-hebrew-word-adam-is-used-throughout-the-old-testamen.html#comments

    (B) “My old Seminary principal, Rev. Philip H. Eveson, now retired, wrote a convincing essay against Longman’s view of Ecclesiates. He also spent a long time in the lecture hall warning us that Longman’s view of Eccles. was nonsense! He also warned us against the O.T. Instroduction by Dillard and Longman, telling us to get hold of the older work by E.J. YOung instead. Mr. Eveson has not only taught New Testament at the London Theological Seminary for many years, but was himself educated in liberal institutions as a young man (he has just retired). His complaint about Longman is that the man’s a quasi-liberal.

    Trouble is, too many Evangelicals today want to be accepted in the secular academy. Teaching theology. The academy’s liberal, so to be accepted you have to be at least a bit liberal.”

    http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2009/09/it-all-comes-back-around-to-origins.html

  18. 18 Scripture Zealot

    Hi Icazu,
    Thanks for the other side of the coin. I’m not sure if we’re commenting on his character but probably his faith.

    Also thanks for his quotes from his book on Genesis. I don’t see anything about Adam in there though. And I wonder if he’s changed his view(s) since then.

    I don’t understand how we’re creating a strawman. We’re not attacking his character at the expense of the debate. We’re debating his (and others in other threads) specific view of Adam as not being an individual man in the context of both Genesis and all of Scripture.

    When I say it’s hard for me to trust him with anything and that I may do a post on this, what I mean is it’s a weakness of mine that if I vehemently disagree with someone on a single issue, it’s difficult for me to want to consult them on anything else. I was going to see if others experience the same thing.
    Jeff

  19. 19 Derek Ashton

    Icazu,

    The words you have quoted are directly opposite to what he says in the video. Now, I am in the habit of being open minded about apparent contradictions wherever I find them. I’d like to hear Longman explain himself and reconcile his statements in the video with what you’ve quoted here. But I wonder how recent that quote is, and I wonder if he would still stand by it today. Scholars are allowed to change their minds. However, if they want to maintain any credibility in the Bible-believing Church, they need to NOT say evolution is compatible with Genesis, and they need to NOT say Adam was “mankind” rather than an individual. Since Scripture presents Adam as an individual over and over again, with specific actions and specific consequences attached to this one person (even relating this ONE PERSON Adam to the ONE PERSON Jesus Christ), I can’t find any way to agree with Longman (at least what he says in the video) without denying the inerrancy of Scripture outright. Let the whole Evangelical world go that way if they will, but by God’s grace I hope to die with a Bible in my hand and the Truth of it still blazing in my heart – from Genesis 1:1 to the end of Revelation and everything in between.

  20. 20 Icazu

    The book is from 2005 and I believe he was talking about the book when he did the video.

    I mean if you listen to the video he literally is just talking about Genesis 1 and 2 (not the rest of scripture and he talks about the difficulty on a non-literal reading of Genesis 1-2 at the 30 second mark). I think the point his point is more Genesis 1 and 2 don’t insist on the account being historical, that is an outside hermeneutic applied to the text.

    I think if you read Jeremy Pierce’s blog on how he reads the video it is a fair reading and leaves room for the book to be consistent with video.

    Or if you don’t find that compelling and believe that he speaking to the non-historicity of Adam in all the Scripture you can actually take him at his own word at the end of the video that he is still openly thinking about the issue. It might be interesting to consider whether a man can be labeled heretical for simply seriously considering whether something might not be true rather then trying to defend it.

    As an aside what I believe is being discussed here is hermeneutics. I don’t believe it is proper to treat our hermeneutic for dealing with scripture as inerrant. The text itself is inerrant – not the interpretive lens that we place on the text. We as sinners and westerners bring a lot of presuppositions to the text. More specifically orthodox reformed interpretation approach relies a good deal on Aristotelian hermeneutic approach (i.e. think systematic theology). But I am a secularly trained as a lawyer/philosopher so I don’t know what the current thinking is on these points in the reformed academies these days.

  21. 21 Stan McCullars

    If someone denies Adam in Genesis, they deny him throughout Scripture. Tremper Longman can’t have his cake and eat it too.

    He says he doesn’t think Genesis 1 & 2 prohibit the idea of evolution. Very troubling.

    A “scholar” having an open mind on such a crucial doctrine is very troubling.

    There is no straw man here. There is a man who doesn’t believe the Scriptures, his statements from his book notwithstanding.

  22. 22 Icazu

    QUOTE: He says he doesn’t think Genesis 1 & 2 prohibit the idea of evolution. Very troubling.
    ***
    Since when did disbelief in evolution become a central tennet of our faith – I’d like to see you defend that one using scriptural cites alone and not secondary sources on biblical interpretation.

    ***
    QUOTE- There is a man who doesn’t believe the Scriptures, his statements from his book notwithstanding.

    Aren’t you giving up the argument that he doesn’t believe in scripture if you recognize that the hundreds of pages long book on the matter is consistent with scripture.
    I mean the man has faithfully taught in the Church and helped teach and guide several of the leaders of the Church for almost 30 years. He was one of the earliest reformed teachers of this current generation challenging liberal teachers in the church. He has defended the scriptures as inerrant in everything he has written during that time. A single 98 seconds of a non-scripted interview is what he is being judged on. Let’s hope we are treated less harshly ourselves.

  23. 23 Stan McCullars

    I’d like to see you defend that one using scriptural cites alone and not secondary sources on biblical interpretation.

    Let’s start with Genesis. Pretty straightforward.

    From there you can look at how Jesus and apostles considered Adam a real person and built theological arguments on his being a real person.

    To suggest that God did not create everything that is and that Adam was not a real person is to call God a liar. Big problem.

    I mean the man has faithfully taught in the Church and helped teach and guide…

    And Benedict Arnold was a patriot…until he betrayed his country.

    A single 98 seconds of a non-scripted interview is what he is being judged on. Let’s hope we are treated less harshly ourselves.

    Give me a break.

    Come out of the shadows and quit posting anonymously if you are interesting in discussing further.

  24. 24 A.Admin

    Since when did disbelief in evolution become a central tennet of our faith –

    When it comes out of the “theory” category I’ll consider it.

  25. 25 Icazu

    Porbably won’t do that – my identity would be non-significant to you unless you want the opportunity to defame me, which seems to happen with regularity on the reformed evagelical blog-o-sphere. I think I’d perfer to shut up =D

  26. 26 Stan McCullars

    So typical for a drive-by defender of unbelief.

  27. 27 Icazu

    I believe in a historical Adam and believe that Genesis 1-2 is literla. Just trying to defend my brother in Christ =)

  28. 28 Scripture Zealot

    Apparently we are part of the fundamentalist craziness as the label shows.
    Jeff

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