Ten Really Bad Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam

Someone drew my attention to a post at the blog The Gospel Coalition written by Kevin DeYoung, entitled “10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam.” Since the reasons are not good ones, I thought I would quote them and then comment on them briefly.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology. Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that if far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

It is all well and good to blame things on the Enlightenment. But the truth is that if we are to ask historical or scientific questions, we need to have methods and tools for answering them. Science raised issues for geocentrism, and more recently with a historical Adam, and in neither case can one simply argue that one must keep the Bible and science or the Bible and history in apparent harmony, regardless of the evidence. If one sacrifices the Bible’s teaching about truth and honesty in order to defend the factuality of some of its stories, has one really defended the Bible in any meaningful sense?

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

The attribution of the Genesis creation story to Moses is silly, and only possible if one ignores what Genesis actually contains. The attempt to read the author’s mind on the assumption that he is Moses is even sillier. There is also a profound irony in considering points 1 and 2 in relation to one another, since the conviction that Genesis cannot be an ancient Near Eastern mythical creation account actually reflects the concerns of the Enlightenment and not the concerns of ancient Israelites.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry. Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

To call Genesis 1 poetry is certainly an oversimplification, but it does have structure and parallelism which provide internal indicators that its order is about something other than chronology. But even if it is not poetry, who says that prose has to be more historically or scientifically accurate?

4. This is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

Ancient literature connects historical figures with prehistorical ones all the time. It is once again modern, post-Enlightenment fundamentalists who say that one cannot do this, seeking to impose their concerns on ancient literature. In the New Testament, two genealogies which do not agree with one another and which selectively omit generations connect Jesus with David, Abraham, and Adam. They provide further confirmation that ancient genealogies do not make the sorts of points or always provide the sorts of historical information that modern readers desire from them.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

So what? Genesis 1 treats a dome over the Earth as real. Matthew treats a mountain from which one can see all the kingdoms of the Earth as real. The Bible contains material that does not meet our standards of scientific or historical accuracy, and some of it clearly does not even come close to doing so. By simply pointing to some ancient authors and showing that they shared certain assumptions does not get one any closer to determining whether those assumptions are correct or erroneous.

6. Paul believed in a historical Adam (Rom. 5:12-211 Cor. 15:21-2245-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.

So here we have the crux of the matter: an unwillingness to accept the Bible’s teaching on human fallibility, or Paul’s own protestation that at times he wrote as a fool.  The fundamental issue is the idolatrous insistence that the Bible’s authors actually shared God’s own attributes such as inerrancy.

7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam. The literature of second temple Judaism affirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church’s interpretation also assumes it.

Once again, what ancient people assumed or believed is not the issue. The issue is whether we can agree with them, based on the information available to us, much of which was not available to them. We do not determine truth by looking for the consensus of ancient peoples. What do you think the Christian stance on slavery would be if one took this approach?

8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.

No, at least in the form in which this is articulated. Common descent is a well-established scientific conclusion, and so we can make the same point by way of the human genome project. (Ironically, some fundamentalists adamantly deny the scientific basis for this conclusion and deny the scientific conclusion of common ancestry, since it shows that we are related more than to just each other as human beings). On the other hand, people who allegedly adhered to the teaching of Genesis have engaged in slavery, discrimination, and other sorts of racial hatred. And so Genesis is neither necessary for belief in human equality and dignity nor a guarantee that people will adhere to such lofty principles.

9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.

The very terminology of “original sin” itself reflects a theological construction which uses but goes beyond Paul. But if what is meant is the pervasiveness and universality of human nature with all its flaws, then that is something that one can establish through simple observation – and account for in terms of evolution, biology, and psychology. There is no need for a particular mythical explanation in order to view humanity in this way.

10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.

Sure it does, or at least, it does every bit as much as any other doctrine or bit of symbolism that has to be rethought in light of new information or changing context. Paul’s point is not about us being descended from Jesus rather than Adam. Being “in Adam” vs. being “in Christ” is about two different ways of being human and relating to God. To treat it otherwise is to create a hodge-podge of Pauline theology and later scientific information. Paul’s Adam-Christ contrast is based on Jesus, and could easily have been otherwise, had his belief about what God had done to bring salvation differed. If God had sent two saviors, it would have been easy for him to turn to Genesis and say “Just as through two human beings sin entered the world…” If God had sent successive generations of redeemers, Paul could have easily said, “Just as through multiple generations of human existence sin entered the world…” The contrast makes a theological point in a particular way because of Paul’s view of Jesus. The Adam side could easily have differed. And the symbolism of humanity being a certain, expressed through story, way does not automatically become less meaningful simply because we understand the actual course of history of life on this planet differently.

The author of the blog post, Kevin DeYoung concludes by saying, among other things, that “Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue.” Perhaps I should agree: it is indeed a “gospel issue” whether one is going to allow the Gospel to find expression for our time in the way that it has done throughout history, or is going to place a stumbling block between the people of today, with their scientific knowledge about human origins, and the challenge of the Gospel. Fundamentalists, as always, set themselves up as the defenders of the gospel, while in fact their very stance and their claims represent distractions from it in the best of cases, and in the worst and most egregious instances, actually undermine the gospel.

  • Lawrence Garcia

    Really enjoying your work of late. Great response. Do you have anything on the weaknesses of “original sin?”

  • http://theology.geek.nz Geoff Gummer

    What I would like to see is some good reasons for Adam to be a historical reality. As I see it, if Adam (the person, nation, people, representative or what ever) is not somehow historical, then the whole fall event is also not historical. That is to say, it goes from explaining how some thing happened to humanity which had a very real and devastating on our ability to image and be like God.
    There are trees, rivers, animals, etc, which appear to be there to tie the event into “the historical world” (by that I mean the history of humanity, as opposed to some fantasy or legend). If that is the case, surely Adam too, is and must somehow be grounded in human history? 

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think that it makes the most sense to view Adam as what the word means, since it isn’t a name. The story of Adam is a story about what human beings are like, projected back onto primordial time. I view the story as an analysis of the human condition, rather than historical reporting.

  • http://jamesbradfordpate.blogspot.com/ James Pate

    Hi James!  Here is a post I wrote that touched on common descent and the Human Genome Project.  I don’t vouch for my scientific knowledge, but I do link to some Biologos articles disputing that all human beings are descended from one man and one woman.  Of course, come to think of it, even if not all people are descended from one man and one woman, we all (as in humans and other animals) have a common ancestor, according to evolution, as you point out.

    http://jamesbradfordpate.blogspot.com/2011/12/david-marshall-does-evolution-make-god.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Judy-Redman/620618858 Judy Redman

    It seems that there are some silly arguments on both sides of this. Do evolutionists *really* argue that Genesis can’t be historal
    *because it is poetry*??? This indicates that they don’t have much idea about how oral societies formatted important material to make it memorable!!! I am surprised that DeYoung didn’t mention this.

    It’s unfortunate that we don’t have information about how people in the times when Genesis was written conceptualised what they were doing in recording historical events. First century Greek historians saw nothing wrong with making up words for historical people as long as those words were in general agreement with what the person would have said because public speakers in general didn’t produce manuscripts that they read their speeches from. Eyewitness testimony is demonstrably inaccurate with respect to detail. I guess if you can *prove* conclusively that Adam wasn’t an historical person, you can ditch the whole thing, but even ifyou can *prove* conclusively that Adam did exist, that *doesn’t* instantly validate the Genesis accounts.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Good points, Judy! Arni Zachariassen posted today on how the emphasis on eyewitness testimony by supporters of inerrancy is a very odd combination:  http://www.arnizachariassen.com/ithinkibelieve/?p=3048 

  • http://theology.geek.nz Geoff Gummer

    Yeah I realise it’s not necessarily a name, I guess I am not quite prepared to let Adam as a historical personage let go yet – not that I am holding it too tightly.

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  • Andom2000

    “Common descent is a well-established scientific conclusion, and so we
    can make the same point by way of the human genome project”…

    Prof. McGrath,
    are you saying that before it was discovered the common descent and the DNA  there were not valid and right reasons for believing in the equality of the mankind?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Andom2000, what I was saying is that science has provided additional grounds, and different sorts of grounds, for that conviction.

      The same question could be asked about absolutely anything written before the rise of modern science, could it not?

  • Oliver

    Am I naive to think that the problem of the absence of an historical first Adam for the existence of original sin has been solved quite elegantly by Teilhard de Chardin more than half a century ago? What *are* they teaching in school these days? ;-)
    [For a detailed exposition of this, see Genta 2007, esp. Figure 2.1 on p.33: http://www.scribd.com/vdeshbhratar/d/37450644/6-The-Problem-of-Original-Sin ]

  • steven

    ‘In the New Testament, two genealogies which do not agree with one another and which selectively omit generations connect Jesus with David, Abraham, and Adam.
    They provide further confirmation that ancient genealogies do not make the sorts of points or always provide the sorts of historical information that modern readers desire from them.’

    I think you will find that if an ancient genealogy claims that somebody is descended from the seed of David, that is a pretty good claim that that person is historical.

    Only an idiot would think otherwise.

    • Jag

      Not sure what you mean. Anyone can make a claim, but we don’t even know if David was a historical figure either…

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  • Mario M

    Dear James,
    Once again, thank you for another fine blog entry. As a humble student of Theology, I am fascinated by St. Augustine’s commentaries on Genesis, including the one he never finished. Do you think his views (that appear to me to change with time) on Genesis can provide: 1) A window into how the Early Church saw Genesis? 2) Good points for discussing Genesis considering our use of reason and the discoveries of science today?
    peace,

    Mario

  • Just Sayin’

    I’m an Adam Mythicist and I’m prepared to Stand & Deliver on that.

    • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

      Yes, but even relying on a mythical Adam and Eve story you’re left propping up Christianity with absurdities and denying what we know of the natural world. See my detailed reply to McGrath further below.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Here’s Charles Halton’s post chiming in on the topic: 
    http://awilum.com/?p=1971 

  • Scott Hatfield

    James, nice blog.  I should check it out more.  What do you think about the idea that Genesis 1 is a liturgy, meant to distinguish the God of Abraham from other Middle Eastern cults that worshiped the sun, moon, stars or other aspects of creation?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      That it has liturgical connections is very likely, given not only its structure but its relation to other ANE texts connected with festivals such as that celebrating the new year. And it certainly has the aim of putting forward a different view of God, and of celestial bodies, than many people had in ancient times. 

      I suspect that the primary concern may have been more to argue against older views found within Israel, rather than to combat the stories told in other places by other peoples.

      • Andrew Bossardet

        What about a late formation of the Genesis account? I am exploring Genesis 1-11 in light of empire criticism and the Babel/Babylon connection, and could reasonably see Genesis 1 (in its final formation) as an exilic liturgy to resist the Babylonian imposition. But I am so far in the world of hypothesis that I thought I would test it on an expert for reaction, review and correction. Thanks for being open to your readership!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          It’s an interesting idea! It is hard to know exactly when Israelite authors of the exilic period are reacting to Babylonian ideas, and when those are in fact ideas that pre-exilic Israelites held which they are trying to persuade their own people to abandon.

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  • James Phillips

    As for the question of geocentrism see http://www.galileowasright.com and http://www.scripturecatholic.c… for a truly excellent discussion of same.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      James, that is your third comment with just links. I appreciate the links, and so would like to leave them here, but if you continue then you will cross the line into spamming, so please leave it at that. Thank you.

  • James Phillips

    OK Mr. McGrath.  Correction on the site I mentioned.  The correct site is http://www.galileowaswrong.com.  

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think you were right the first time. Galileo was right (more or less). :-)

  • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

    McGrath’s Complete Retreat

    McGrath’s reply to number 9 identifies the dilemma that ALL Christians face, be they fundamentalist or liberal. And you can’t get round that dilemma by asserting as McGrath does, “The universality of flaws in human nature and accounting for them in terms of evolution, biology, and psychology,” and admitting, “There is no need for a particular mythical explanation in order to view humanity in this way.”
    McGrath is admitting that EVEN WHEN the Adam and Eve story is understood as myth it explains nothing in particular, while evolutionary biology and psychology do.

    That admission constitutes a definitive retreat for Christianity and its so-called inspired story of God and humanity’s “fall.” What “fall” indeed?

    How exactly are we to understand the phrase, “expelled from paradise?” According to what we know of nature death and suffering has been around for a lot longer than humanity. So have aggression and sociability. So how exactly are we to understand the “paradise” that humanity was supposedly “expelled from?” Living things suffer and die, species become extinct, sometimes they die off in mass extinction events. At other times they get along without much aggression, sociably, especially if they are a large-brained social species such as elephants, dolphins, primates, et al. So where can one situate “the fall from paradise” if birth/extinction, as well as aggression/sociability existed prior to humanity? 

    In fact without an enormous percentage of all organisms DYING rather than surviving to the age of reproduction there would be no gene shuffling (and subsequent whittling down of organisms leaving the most adept at producing more organisms), hence no evolution, and no human species. 

    And if a study of nature leads one to question the idea of humans ever having been “expelled from paradise” (since the world was never “paradise” to begin with, nor was it absolute hell, it was just life and death in equilibrium, same as it is now) then what about the story of serpents being “cursed?”  In what way was the serpent cursed?  The story seems to owe much to human revulsion at “dirt” and the idea of “crawling on one’s belly.” Primates that walk on two legs are revolted by the idea of crawling on their bellies and licking dirt. Lowness is also a metaphor for subservience. But to serpents/snakes it’s all an advantage, an evolutionary one. It allows them to sneak up on prey by lying low in the grass, out of sight, and approach silently, without footsteps. Nor were the ancient Hebrews aware that snakes poked out their tongues to gather molecules hanging in the air, the same molecules we gather by breathing in through our noses and then those molecules stick to the membranes of the inside of our noses. The snake sticks out its tongue then slides it back in and presses it against the roof of its mouth, against its own membranes, an organ of smell. That’s how it smells what’s in the air. They don’t smell like us. But there’s no wisdom involved in calling what snakes do, “eating dirt” as the authors of Genesis do, especially since there are plenty of animals other than snakes that spend far more time in the earth and hence pass greater amounts of dirt into their mouths and even through their system than snakes do, especially compared to the snake species that live in the tops of trees in the rain forest canopy, or the ones that spend a lot of time swimming in water. So how exactly was the serpent “cursed” In Genesis? One might as well consider worms, moles and gophers even more cursed if dirt upsets you. So it seems like a totally human-centric story, “Going on my belly! My face near dirt!” Think of all the creatures including intestinal worms that the Hebrews might have considered even more cursed by God. But the ancients were writing fairy tales based on human-centric prejudices, and probably also based on appearances as well, since the animals all appeared to only give birth to “their own kind,” and the sky appeared to meet the earth at the horizon of a flat earth, and the breath and heart appeared to encompass a person’s life and direct him, respectively, rather than that silent organ, the brain where our “life” really is centralized in the central nervous system.

    So how was mankind expelled from Eden if a paradise called Eden never existed?

    How was the serpent cursed if serpents are not cursed in any biological way at all?

    And lastly, why are the inspired Psalmists such ignoramuses when it comes to noticing how nature truly functions? Maybe they were too afraid to question the jealous anger-prone god(s) overheard, by calling into question the “goodness” of any of “His creations.”  But really, look at nature.  Question.  That’s what biologists do.  They don’t spout the idiotic drivel of the inspired psalmists below:
    PSALM 104 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from the Lord…Oh Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all…both small and great beasts…These all wait upon thee; that thou may give them their meat in due season.

    The inspired psalmist forgot to mention that “the Lord” either gives lions “their meat in due season;” Or has them be eaten by their own mother (because they are runts or deformed); Or has them be eaten by a rival male who has taken control of the pride; Or has them starve because their parents fail to bring enough food home or die trying; Or makes young lions the “meat” of some other predatory species that catches them off guard; Or (if they are male) has them grow up and be killed in combat by another male seeking territory or mates; Or makes them the “meat” for a parasite or disease organism. It’s all the same to “the Lord.” In 1994 one thousand lions, one-third of the population of East Africa’s Serengeti park, died from painful convulsions by a virus that attacked their blood cells, lungs and brain, i.e., the Canine Distemper Virus. The lions probably picked up the virus from hyenas who picked it up from domesticated dogs that lived just outside the park. (That same year, a tenth of the 500,000 western gray kangaroos in South Australia and the 2.8 million gray kangaroos in neighboring New South Wales, went blind due to a mystery virus.) Perhaps “the Lord” supplied those viruses their “meat” in due season?
    ____________________________ 
    PSALMS  145:5,9,16,19 & 147:9  On Thy wonderful works I will meditate…The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works…Thou dost open Thy hand, and dost satisfy the desire of every living thing…[By giving them other living things to prey upon? But then how is the desire of every living thing satisfied? – E.T.B.]…He will also hear their cry and will save them. [But if He “hears their cry and saves” them from being eaten by some living thing, then He is starving that other living thing. – E.T.B.] He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens which cry.  A recent study showed that one-third of adult birds and four-fifths of their offspring die of starvation every year (David Lack, “Of Birds and Men,” New Scientist, Jan., 1996). Not surprising, since birds have to eat from one-quarter to one-half their body weight daily, so starvation is a common killer of birds.  Neither does “the Lord” “save” the baby birds that get tossed out of their own nest by the young of a rival species, the cuckoo. The female cuckoo lays her egg in the nest of other birds, and when the cuckoo chick emerges from its egg it tosses the other eggs or other baby birds out of the nest, so only the cuckoo chick is fed by the other bird’s parents.  Nor does “the Lord” “save” the baby birds that I saw on the “Hunting and Escaping” video (in the Trials of Life series) which were dragged from their nests by sea birds of a rival predatory species in order to feed the predator’s own hungry chicks.   Nor does “the Lord” “save” baby birds tossed out of the nest by their own parents because their chicks were not developing properly or swiftly enough. BACK TO GENESIS–The story of the explusion from paradise appears to be a story about a deity unwilling to openly share his knowledge (Adam was created to “keep a garden,” and was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge) and then was hustled out of the garden before he could eat of the tree of eternal life as well. The story is supposed to explain why mankind is smarter than all the other animals yet also suffers death just like them. But it explains nothing and illustrates nothing except the human longing to not die. And it doesn’t portray the deity in such a great light either, initially creating Adam just as a gardener, and forbidding him knowledge and eternal life, and cursing his first pair of kids, then expelling them for their first negative act without a moment’s hesitation. Is that a lesson for how parents ought to treat their own children? As for the expulsion story combined with the Noah story, they raise the question of why God expects us to treat our own children with so much love when he expelled his own at their first infraction of the rules, and then drowned all their descendants except eight, and much later we find in Revelation that drowning was too good for them, for there’s also a fiery lake prepared for a host of Adam’s children as well. Nice. 

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Ed, I think you’re mistaking the nature of mythical language. It doesn’t explain things, it explores them through stories.

    Augustine said several different things over the course of his life, and I assumed that that is one reason why he is particularly worth looking at.

  • Oliver

    Ed, I’d also suggest reading Teilhard de Chardin (see my comment above) as he explained how a fall could have happened before humanity evolved much better than I’d ever be able to here.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Another contribution to the conversation, via Nick Norelli:  
    http://theologicalsushi.blogspot.com/2012/02/actually-there-are-three-out-of-ten.html

  • Richard Klaus

    I wonder how you would assess Ardel Caneday’s arguments in comparison to DeYoung’s?  His article:  “The Language of God and Adam’s Genesis & Historicity in Paul’s Gospel” http://www.sbts.edu/resources/files/2011/06/sbjt-v15-n1_caneday.pdf

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Caneday seems to me to say much the same thing in more detail. Ultimately he is committed to the view that the Bible cannot be wrong about matters in which modern science offers a challenging perspective backed by substantial amounts of evidence. I would say, with Bultmann, that no one can and no one does simply adopt the first century worldview within which the earliest Christians articulated their faith. And despite Caneday’s claim, the historicity of Jesus does not hang on the historicity of Adam any more than belief in a Creator depends on affirming humankind as literally made from dirt and living on a fixed Earth beneath a dome.

      • A. B. Caneday

        Thanks for being so clear and forthright on letting us know your affinities with Bultmann.

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  • Anonymous

    E. W. Faulstich’s chronology is strong evidence to refute those that would undermine truth of the Bible.

    “Adam was born 3/24/4001 BC.”

    http://biblechronologybooks.com/scientificmethod.html

    “Two days earlier earth, moon, mercury, venus, and mars were in 343 degree geocentric alignment.”

    His books are available free through his website for postage.

    http://www.lewisdt.com/research/biblicalchronology.html
    “Eugene Faulstich, of the Chronology-History Research Institute,
    refined the above Ussher method. He knew that Biblical months always
    began on the evening of a new moon, and that years began on a vernal
    equinox. So Faulstich used a computer program to calculate many timing
    cycles, including precise moon phases, vernal equinoxes, Sabbath and
    Jubilee years, priestly cycles, astronomical events such as eclipses,
    and also backward-extrapolated Gregorian (modern calendar) equivalent
    dates. By careful study of Biblical texts, as well as some
    extra-Biblical sources such as Babylonian king-lists, he arrived at what
    he considers much more precise dating of most Old Testament events. For
    example, his creation week occurred March 20-26, 4001 BC, at a time
    known to have a highly unusual planetary alignment. He based his work on
    the Hebrew (Masoretic) text.. E.W. Faulstich, Bible Chronology and the
    Scientific Method, Part II : Creation Through the First Temple.,
    (Spencer, Iowa: Chronology-History Research Institute, 1990 ). “

     

  • Anonymous

     The following is response to Timothy Law.

    http://timothymichaellaw.com/2012/02/08/kevin-deyoungs-misunderstandings/#comment-480

    ”    5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

    Again,
    odd. The genealogies are one of the last places one ought to look for
    historically accurate information, and one should, once again, really
    take stock of the reason for which genealogies in the ancient world were
    constructed. Consider also the problem of genealogical information
    since even within the Pentateuch there are so many variant traditions
    about the dates. In the genealogies, the Septuagint reveals a Hebrew
    text that has a different reckoning to the one found in the Masoretic
    text. The Samaritan Pentateuch has affinities with both the Masoretic
    text and the Septuagint, but then has unique figures of its own. We
    have, then, various artificial attempts at chronography by the ancient
    producers of Scripture. Here below are the differences between the
    Masoretic text and the Septuagint.

    Patriarch     Masoretic text           Septuagint      
       

    First Son
       

    Remaining Years
       

    First Son
       

    Remaining Years
    Adam    

    130
       

    800
       

    230
       

    700…

    Most
    modern readers really don’t care how old the Patriarchs were, but for
    the many who want to use the Bible to prove the date of the earth the
    schemes have very important implications. The causes for the lengthening
    of the age of the earth by 1380 years in the Greek version lay in the
    potential disputes the Jews would have encountered with their Egyptian
    contemporaries. The Egyptian chronology of Manetho in the first half of
    the third century indicated that the first Pharoahs would have lived
    some 3000 years before his time, but according to the Hebrew Torah the
    flood happened in 2348-2349 BCE, an impossibility if Manetho’s
    chronology was considered reliable. It is not, of course, to modern
    scholars, but it must have been to the translator of Genesis, who
    lengthened the generations by 1380 years, 606 years before the flood and
    780 after, a feat accomplished also by the addition of a Cainan who
    does not even appear in the Masoretic text. The Septuagint’s version of
    the Primeval History is not that of the Masoretic text, so we see
    already, very early on, that Jewish readers of Scripture felt these bits
    of genealogical information could be manipulated.”

    http://biblechronologybooks.com/index.html

    Click at Science and God in Balance for free book. 
    P. iii introduction:  “A. From Hebrew Sources:

    1. The Masoretic Text:
    Years of study have demonstrated that the Hebrew Bible (called the Tanach) contains the most accurate
    of all chronologies. It begins with Creation and ends with the destruction of Jerusalem 3413 years later in

    588 B.C.E. It contains one or two minor discrepancies, but another text contains a reference which correctly
    modifies it. These concepts will be shown to be accurate in the following pages.2.  The Septuagint:
    The
    Septuagint was translated by Jews.  Its chronology is corrupt.  It has
    added 100years to many of the ages of the patriarchs, as it is compared
    to the Hebrew text.  If the Septuagint were accurate, there would be
    many of the pre flood men still alive after the flood of Noah….

    4. Samaritan Pentateuch:
    The Samaritans are a mixed breed, a sect of ancient Israel who have survived the thousands of years of
    exile, and still live in the Holy Land. Their canon consists of the five books of Moses. The chronology is

    obviously corrupt in their text because it omits a hundred years from the ages of many of the patriarchs. The
    flood took place when Methuselah died, according to the meaning of his name. According to Hebrew
    chronology, he died in year 1656, the year of the flood. According to the Samaritan text, he and many other

    men who were born pre-flood, would have had to live through the flood of Noah.

    Chapter II, Bible Chronology Page 7
    You shall not add to the word which I command you,
    neither shall you diminish nothing from it (Dt. 4:2)

    I. Introduction to Bible Chronology
    Chronology is the backbone of history. This portion of the book will examine the details of Bible chronology.
    Parts of the historical record have been shrouded in mystery, and so they were difficult for the best

    of the sages to understand. These included such items as the time spent in Egypt, and the duration of the
    Persian rule. My intelligence is not to be compared with the wisdom of the sages, however I have at my disposal

    tools which the sages did not have. Astronomy is an exact science, and through the use of it, we can
    make chronology an exact science too. An outline of Bible chronology will be shown which shows the actual
    age of the universe as was calculated by our scholars at Chronology-History Research Institute (CHRI) compared

    to that which appears in the Seder Olam (SO) as given by Jose Halafta, the standard Jewish chronology.
    A running difference between the two is shown on the right -most column. A brief discussion will be
    made at each juncture in history where it was necessary to deviate from the SO and why. When the construction

    is finished, computers will be used to grade the two chronologies for accuracy.
    A. Creation Week & Genesis chapter 5
    The sages are not in agreement with the date of Creation. Some argue that it took place in the spring

    of the year, and others that it took place in the fall. The SO has chosen the fall. We started with the
    premise that it was in the spring of the year, because Moses clearly identifies Nisan as the first month of
    the year (Ex. 12:1). Furthermore, Nisan was considered the first month of the year even through the time of

    the second Temple destruction. Computers will later be used to validate a spring Creation rather than a fall
    creation. Our method, however, does not demand that we make that decision now. It allows us to work forward

    from Creation to a year in modern history where we can tie secular and Bible chronology together, and
    then work back to Creation, making sure that all of the Sabbath cycles remain intact.
    C. H. R. I. SO Rabba Difference

    Reference Add Event Total Total
    Ex. 12:1 0 Creation Spring Creation Autumn Creation -.5
    Gen. 1:26 130 Adam 0 0 -.5
    Gen. 5:3 105 Seth 130 130 -.5
    Gen. 5:6 90 Enosh 235 235 -.5
    Gen. 5:9 70 Kennan 325 325 -.5

    Gen. 5:12 65 Mahalalel 395 395 -.5
    Gen. 5:15 162 Jared 460 460 -.5
    Gen. 5:18 65 Enoch 622 622 -.5
    Gen. 5:21 187 Methusaleh 687 687 -.5
    Gen. 5:25 182 Lamech 874 874 -.5
    Gen. 5:28 600 Noah 1056 1056 -.5
    Gen. 7:11 4 The flood of Noah 1656 1656 -.5

    B. The Flood of Noah & Genesis 11
    The SO counts the birth date of Arpachshad, two years after the Flood began. CHRI chose to date the
    birth of Arpachshad two years after the Flood was over. I have done this out of respect for the Talmud,

    which states that there was no sex on the Ark, and the fact that he must have had two elder brothers, Elam
    and Ashur. The names of sons normally appear in the order of their birth. Elam-Ashur-Arpachshad, is the
    sequence given for their birth order.

    The birth date of Arpachshad, was 2 years after the Flood was over; Shem was 100 years old. The
    three sons of Shem were born in succession, first Elam, then Assur, and finally Arpachshad (Sanhedrin 69b)
    There was no sex during the Flood, Elam was born in 1658 (Sanhedrin 108b)

    Year 1658, Elam Year 1659, As sur Yr 1660, Arpaxshad
    Flood Duration 1560 Shem was born + 100 years = 1660, Arpachshad was born
    Flood Touching 2 Years Two Years After The Flood
    Year 1656 Year 1657

    The whole book is free on-line.

  • Rick DeLano

    The article is a gigantic fraud. The religion its author espouses has nothing at all to do with the Christian religion, which is based on the unanimous consensus of the Fathers East and West, all of the Doctors, all of the Councils, Popes, and the universally held Faith of Christians always and everywhere, that the Scriptures have God for their Author, and it were no more possible to attribute error to the Scriptures, than to attribute error to God.

    The author, a typical quackademic, is quite ready to contradict the plain words of Scripture, on the basis of his bloated self-certainty that he knows better than Scripture’s Author.

    There is no fact upon which we can rely with more complete certainty, than the fact that the Author of Scripture is wiser, more truthful, more honest, and more reliable than James F. McGrath.

    Infinitely so.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I humbly suggest that in claiming that Scripture has one Author instead of multiple authors, and in not only combining but deifying those human authors, you are departing from and even going blatantly against what Scripture actually says.

    • Anonymous

      i’m interested in church history, could you point me towards this
      ” unanimous consensus ”
      on any substantial issues in the early church?

  • None

    “I humbly suggest that in claiming that Scripture has one Author instead
    of multiple authors, and in not only combining but deifying those human
    authors, you are departing from and even going blatantly against what
    Scripture actually says.”

    I think Rick was claiming that God is the author of the Scriptures, rather than “combining and deifying the human authors.” Your snarky response tells me the idea of your being “humble” is an oxymoron. When you have to tell people you’re humble, you’re not.

    Or haven’t you learned ANYTHING from the Scriptures you denigrate so easily, and yet claim to have studied so well?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      How is what I wrote a denigration of Scripture, if it agrees with the evidence Scripture itself provides regarding itself? What significant difference is there between the stance that says that God pretended to be Paul when having Paul sign his name to words that were not his own, and a stance that turns the actual author of the letters, Paul, into a God? You seem determined to defend your doctrine of Scripture even when it means fighting against what those very Scriptures themselves say.

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  • Anonymous

    Was first disciple Andrew a real person?  I have made etymological link for Andrew to Adam.  Gospel of John seems to have Genesis template.

    Andro(ADaM)gens helps make men.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Since all names have etymologies, and that of the name Andrew is quite obvious, I am confused as to your reasoning. In what sense have you “made” a link here, and dare I hope that you are not fallaciously assuming that if there is an etymological link between two things, one or both is clearly symbolic?

  • Anonymous

     Would you say there is etymological connection between two names?

    I consider Adam to have been real person and Andrew.  Do you?  Does this relate to fact that they are “first” men in Genesis and John?  I was thinking of them both as literal men.  Can they also be symbolic?

    Thanks for your response?

    Do you have any interest in chronology of Bible?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Etymological connection is not the right term. The meaning of Adam in Hebrew (which is not a name) and the root from which the Greek name Andrew derives overlap, but that is an overlap in linguistic domain, not an etymological connection.

      • Anonymous

         I am not expert linguist, but you seemed to have an idea what I was getting at.  Your point seems like a distinction with out a difference.

        I would consider “overlap in linguistic domain” of words that seem to have similar consonants as an etymological connection.  They also seem to have semantic connection, if I am using right term, in that they were both first.

        Are you familiar with work of Isaac Mozeson, The Word.  His premise is that all languages are derived from Hebrew.

        Joseph Yahuda’s Hebrew is Greek is also interesting.

  • Anonymous

     Where is the second Adam in all this discussion?

    Part of Gospel lectionary for 1/29/12–”Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

    King James Version (KJV)

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.attig Jason Attig

    The comparison to the second Adam is interesting, especially when we consider that the effect of the second Adam, that is the salvation of Jesus Christ, went back in time retroactively as well as forward in time.  The epistles teach two truths, and that is that the Law could never save anyone, and that the blood of animals could never save anyone.  Well that is tough news for the OT saints, but not really because Christ’s atoning work transcends time, and so the OT saints are said to be saved by faith as we are, though under a different covenant. 

    What could that say about the first Adam? Whether he is literal or archetypical aside, the fall is what is real, and so if that happened in late neolithic Mesopotamia, would it be terribly anthrocentric to think that it still could have effected or factored into cosmic truths about our reality that have been in place since shortly after the big bang?  If God foreknew that both humans and angels would sin and turn to evil, it would make sense if reality reflected this duality preemptively.  For me that sort of removes many of the chronology problems regarding Adam being the first man in a physical biological sense, and actually leaves room for a literal covenantal, first patriarch Adam who simply had some additional literary archetypical qualities in the story.

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  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    As someone who knows at least a little of a number of languages in several different language families, I think I can safely say that the idea that all languages derive from something that deserves to be called “Hebrew” is bunk.

  • Anonymous

      The 1989 The Word is very outdated.
    You may refer to the global team
    of Edenics researchers (not an individual) who work on the Genesis
    thesis (not an individual’s), and give the site: http://www.edenics.org 

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  • Guest

    “Ironically, some fundamentalists adamantly deny the scientific basis for this conclusion and deny the scientific conclusion of common ancestry, since it shows that we are related more than to just each other as human beings”

    I have to admit I don’t know the evidence for us being related to “more than to just each other as human beings”. I have always assumed it is because there are similarities in the genetic code between us and other animals that people say that.
    Is that correct?

    What I don’t understand is why that has to mean that there is common descent.
    It seems that this is more of an opinion or an inference versus empirical evidence; interpretation of data versus fact.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thanks for your question. There certainly are similarities, and they often connect us up with other non-human relatives much the way that certain other less major traits like appearance, eye, and hair color connect us with close relatives. The genetic difference that has resulted in us and some other primates not producing Vitamin C is a good example. But there are also even bigger pieces of evidence, such as the fact that humans have one less chromosome than other primates, and one of our chromosomes is larger than others and has telomeres not merely at the ends but in the center. This either indicates that we share common ancestry with other primates and this difference results from chromosomal fusion, or that an Intelligent Designer was trying to make it look like that was what happened. Which seems to you the appropriate conclusion?

      These are but a couple of examples of what is a substantial body of evidence for our relationship to other living things on this planet. I would highly recommend reading some books about the research biologists and geneticists have done in this area, as it really is breathtaking.

  • Guest

    Thank you for your response. I guess what I am still trying to figure out (based on the facts that you mentioned)  if the two conclusions you mention are the only two options and regardless of the conclusions we make; are those potential conclusions facts?
    In other words, there is empirical data that we are very similar genetically to othere species, but then we need to interpret that data. I am trying to differentiate in my own mind what is really “scientific” fact versus interpretation  based on some other prior assumptions. So what I am really trying to figure out is what is considered “scientific fact.” Any thoughts?

    It seems that there is a substantial body of evidence that humans are very similar in the genetic code to other species, but then we have to come up with some possible conclusions regarding the meaning of this evidence.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I suggest that you actually make sure that you are familiar with the relevant evidence in detail, the processes of reasoning involved in drawing conclusions based on that evidence, and then we can talk further. Until it is clear that you have grasped the nature of the data and how it fits with other relevant data and leads to particular conclusions, I’m not sure what else I will be able to say that can help.

      Here are some links that you may find useful in beginning to research the example of evidence for chromosomal fusion that I mentioned:

      http://www.evolutionpages.com/chromosome_2.htm 
      http://science.kqed.org/quest/2008/05/12/chromosome-fusion-chance-or-design/ 
      http://www.gate.net/~rwms/hum_ape_chrom.html 

      This lesson plan also has a lot of useful information, as well as discussing the relationship between evidence and deduction as it might be explored in a classroom setting: http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/c.fus.les.html

      • newenglandsun

        Do we actually know how to define a human? Sorry, but if one relies on science to define a human, what we get is just us as a highly intelligent product.

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  • Bkundrat

    “Ancient literature connects historical figures with prehistorical ones all the time.”

    In order for this statement to be more than a nice story, shouldn’t you
    give an example from ancient literature that corresponds to the biblical
    account?  An example in ancient literature where the non-historical
    figure is central to many passages that link the historical to the
    non-historical as is the case with the biblical Adam?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I assumed the examples would be well known. The Sumerian king list provides a good example from a neighboring culture, and the connecting of later historical kings to the heroes of the epics in India provides a further removed one.

      The claim that Adam is central to ancient Israel’s literature is false, by the way.

  • newenglandsun

    “On the other hand, people who allegedly adhered to the teaching of Genesis have engaged in slavery, discrimination, and other sorts of racial hatred.”
    You’ve never heard of scientific racism? There’s racists who are polygenists and racists who are monogenists. It really depends on how one defines “human”. Monogenism, when it is misapplied to the monogenesis of a certain ETHNICITY (also just another fancy way of rejecting polygenism by asserting other ethnicities weren’t humans) is more how monogenesis is abused.

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