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The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins
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The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  665 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Can Christianity and evolution coexist? Traditional Christian teaching presents Jesus as reversing the effects of the Fall of Adam. However, an evolutionary view of beginnings doesn't allow for a historical Adam, making evolution seemingly incompatible with what Genesis and the apostle Paul say about him. For Christians who accept evolution and want to take the Bible serio ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Brazos Press
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Ben De Bono
Jan 14, 2012 Ben De Bono rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Peter Enns follows up his fascinating and controversial Inspiration and Incarnation with this equally fascinating and sure to be just as, if not more, controversial work on evolution and the Bible. A lot of good work has been done in recent years addressing how the creation account in Genesis 1 lines up with modern scientific discovery (cf John Walton's brilliant The Lost World of Genesis One). Enns touches on that briefly, but the main focus of this book moves beyond Genesis opening to the stor ...more
Steve
May 03, 2012 Steve rated it did not like it
This was quite atrocious. Essentially it is an "inerrantist" argument for the non-existence of a historical Adam!

The reigning assumption underlying the book is that "evolution is true" and that the descent of humans form lower primates is so certain, that we now need to revise our reading of Genesis 1-11 and Romans 5 to "make room" for this newer understanding. There is a lot one could say about this, but suffice to note that there is the threat of an "infinite regression" here. Why stop at Gen
...more
Bob
I found myself torn in reading this book. Like the author, I disagree with the attempts to fit evolutionary science into the Procrustean bed of a literal reading of the early chapters of Genesis. And yet it seemed to me that the author felt compelled to fit Adam into the Procrustean bed of evolution.

Along the way, the author argues for a post-exilic setting for the compiling and composing of the Pentateuch as an explanation for the Genesis accounts. Most of all, he argues that Paul's statements
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Jennifer
I'm still not sure I agree with Enns on everything he has to say in this book, but I do very much think it is a book worth reading and considering as we grapple with how to read and interpret the first couple of chapters in Genesis.
Ken Garrett
This book is an attempt to reconcile modern scientific and historical research and theory with the biblical narrative account of the Creation itself, and the creation (or not, according to the author) of Adam as an historical figure. The author gives little credibility to the idea of Mosaic authorship or Mosaic origin to the Pentateuch--and cites an over-riding theme of reconstructing the faith of a post-exilic Israel over that of recounting the actual Creation.
The Pauline treatment of Adam is
...more
Adam
Aug 03, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it
Just a couple things to note before you read this (and you should!):
1. Most of the book is about Biblical criticism and interpretation. It doesn't even touch upon evolution and all the other theories of "natural origins". That may feel like "false advertising", but it's fine with me. I'm not a staunch evolutionist...Modern science is proved wrong way to often for me to trust it implicitly.
2. Understand the intended audience. Peter Enns is writing this book to people who are stepping out of an Ev
...more
Nicholas
Feb 03, 2012 Nicholas rated it did not like it
*A Word to the Reader:
I think it is only fair to do a book review of his most recent work, The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins (2012), by rigorously applying Petey’s own methods. In doing so, I hope to bring out the absurdity in what Enns has done. What follows in this post is a book review written with Peter Enns explicit methodology in mind. If you want to know my view on the matter, see the Belgic Confession (Articles 15-16, 23), the Heidelberg Catec
...more
David Mosley
Jun 03, 2013 David Mosley rated it liked it
Peter Enns seeks to evidence that in the Christian tradition, we do not need a historical Adam and Eve, that is, that our theology will not rise or fall on Adam and Eve's existence or lack thereof. Enns first begins by discussing the changes geology and evolution caused in modern thinking about the age and construction of the world. He then goes on to note how biblical scholars began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to notice that books such as Genesis seemed to be compilations of vari ...more
Matt
In an interesting fleshing out of his ideas about hermeneutics previously expressed in Inspiration and Incarnation, Pete Enns attempts to interpret the creation story in a way that makes it compatible with belief in evolution. Unfortunately, just as in the earlier book, he falls short of that goal, in my opinion.

Enns makes many good points about how the creation story would have been perceived by ancient Israelites and early Christians. He points out that one would expect their views of cosmolog
...more
David
Jul 06, 2012 David rated it really liked it
The debates about creation and evolution have been around forever and do not seem to be slowing down. On one side you have the young-earth creationists who declare that the Bible be taken in its most "literal" form and thus the universe is only about 6,000 years old. Interestingly, no creationists support a flat earth model. Other Christians accept the age of the earth but still reject evolution (old-earth creationists). On the other extreme are voices that declare evolution is true and thus God ...more
Bob Price
Apr 06, 2013 Bob Price rated it liked it
Adam is dead....uh...er....can one say that if Adam never existed? That is at the heart of Peter Enns The Evolution of Adam.

Christianity is at a crossroads in the Evolution debate. Enns acknowledges that Evolution is not a new fight, but it has become particularly relevant in the wake of criticisms of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins. In the wake of this, Christians have become more militant in their defense of origins, especially that of Genesis 1. Hence we have groups like Answers in
...more
Paul Bruggink
Nov 02, 2012 Paul Bruggink rated it it was amazing
Dr. Peter Enns's new book is an important contribution to the growing collection of Christian literature on the necessary reconciliation of Scripture and biological evolution (not to be confused with Darwinism). His intention is "to clear away some misunderstandings and suggest different ways of thinking through some perennial problems in order to put interested readers on a constructive path and thus hopefully encourage further substantive discussion." His aim is "to speak to those who feel tha ...more
Aeisele
May 14, 2012 Aeisele rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
This is an important book, and while I didn't agree with everything, it is interesting.

It's broken up into two major parts: part one is about reading the story of Genesis in it's ancient near eastern (ANE) context, and part two is about reading Paul in his second-temple Judaism context. Overall, the 7th thesis in the conclusion captures the force of these two parts: "A proper view of inspiration will embrace the fact that God speaks by means of the cultural idiom of the authors - whether it be t
...more
Julia
Feb 01, 2012 Julia rated it liked it
In this book, Enns looks at the idea of a historical Adam, i.e., that an actual historical person named Adam was the first human being, and argues that a historical Adam is not necessary for the Christian faith tradition and in fact is not the most fair or sensible reading of Genesis and Paul's writings on Adam. The book has two main sections, the first dealing with Genesis (so much helpful background information that makes Genesis make so much more sense) and the second dealing with Paul's NT w ...more
Perry Clark
Jan 04, 2013 Perry Clark rated it really liked it
A thoughtful, and to some provocative, take on the Genesis creation stories, and, more importantly, and with even more verve and uncommon opinion, a distinctly heterodox reading of Paul's use of the story of Adam in both Romans and Colossians. While Enns' positions are deeply considered, they will not soon be readily accepted by the conservative evangelical branch of Protetantism, especially as he stipulates in the beginning an acceptance of not just evolutionary theory in its broad outlines, bu ...more
Bruce Glass
May 23, 2013 Bruce Glass rated it it was amazing
The Bible is replete with parables, metaphors, and symbolic language. It should be no surprise to us (and it is certainly no cause for alarm) that the creation stories were not intended to be taken literally. The use of mythology implies neither a misunderstanding of reality nor an attempt to deceive. It was simply a literary device intended to convey important (but in some regards complex, particularly for ancient populations) concepts regarding God's sovereignty and humankind's relationship to ...more
Joel Wentz
Dec 24, 2016 Joel Wentz rated it really liked it
Enns is great. This book is great, but please know what you will and won't get from reading through it.....

You WON'T get a systematic treatment of current scientific findings regarding human origins and evolution. Enns would say that's outside of his expertise, and he essentially takes our current scientific understanding at face value (he admits as much early in the book). So don't read this for a 'scientific' lens through which to reconcile the biblical texts with geology, biology, etc....

What
...more
Ben Chenoweth
Dec 01, 2014 Ben Chenoweth rated it really liked it
This was an interesting, occasionally slightly disappointing, read. (As a fan of Peter Enns' blog, I was expecting a little more humour in the writing style. But Enns takes his topic very seriously.) Regarding the content, chapters 1 and 2 provided a good introduction, filling in the background to the issue well. I was less impressed with chapter 3: I felt that Enns' discussion of the comparison of Israel's oral and written histories with those of the surrounding cultures was not as nuanced as i ...more
Don Bryant
I have read this once, and I need to go back and read it again, and then maybe again, before a serious review. I am friendly to the "creation as temple" paradigm for understanding Gen 1 and 2. But Enns is right in saying the more significant issue is the "First Adam, Second Adam" paradigm in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Does Paul work require a historical first parent, a la Adam? Enns posits yes, Paul's work requires this. And this is what Paul believed. But Paul was wrong. Not theologicall ...more
Adam Spivey
Mar 01, 2013 Adam Spivey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, religion
The book is very thought provoking but it will require Christians to challenge some of their assumptions about the Bible. Enn's apparently accepts the Documentary Hypothesis about the Pentateuch (that the first 5 books of the Bible were written by 4 different authors long after Moses) and that the creation account was partially adopted by the Israelites from surrounding cultures. I can see many Christians already having issues with accepting those ideas.

He draws parallels between Adam and Eve an
...more
Tony
Jun 08, 2013 Tony rated it it was ok
Mostly a waste of time. If you are seriously interested in ANE backgrounds and what texts relating to Genesis have to say, and don't know where to find the info, there are some useful notes and brief overviews. There are also some very nice summarizing charts. That's the highlight of the book. No particularly helpful or illuminating interaction with evolutionary theory here.

If you are sympathetic to Enns, you will find no new information. If you are not, you will find nothing compelling.

If you w
...more
John Ellis
Apr 01, 2013 John Ellis rated it did not like it
I sneaked a peak at Pelagius' Goodreads page, and, much to my surprise, he gave this book five stars! Go figure.
Josh Skinner
Aug 17, 2013 Josh Skinner rated it it was ok
The issue of the relationship between science and faith has been an important topic for centuries, if not millennia, if not longer. I do not think it is an overstatement to say that it is as great, if not greater, an issue today than any other time in history. Advances in science and archaeology over the past 125 years have put everyone in a position of having to address this relationship. There are many routes taken in this process.

Some go with a simple dismissal. Science is evil and a lie fro
...more
Isai
Mar 10, 2012 Isai rated it really liked it
In this short work, Dr. Enns seeks to give guidelines on how to address the problems which arise at the intersection of the Bible and Evolution. He begins by giving some background on the need for the book; mainly the arguments by the New Atheists about the incompatibility of faith with evolutionary theory. He ends the introduction by suggesting four options available to us if we take the relationship between evolution and Christianity seriously: 1) Accept Evolution and reject Christianity, 2) A ...more
Paul Abernathy
Mar 03, 2014 Paul Abernathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
There is currently no shortage of debate in Christian circles about Evolution and how to handle it. Most of the vocal Evangelical Christian voices still oppose it, although I see and increasing number of Christians who support Evolution. The author of this book, Peter Enns, is rather upfront that he does believe in biological evolution. This book is an attempt to show Christians that the primary reasons for opposing Evolution are not as valid as they think they are and that the Bible does not op ...more
Ben Wanamaker
Jul 11, 2013 Ben Wanamaker rated it it was ok
Though i highly enjoyed the insightful observations about considering ancient contexts when taking the Bible seriously, which is incredibly important, Enns pays complete and shallow homage to "the evidences of Evolution," without any basic background discussion as to the various definitions of evolution, let alone their Macro vs micro hypotheses.

The author is just presupposing that there's only the"change over time" evidence, which accounts for very little in the areas of highly complex machine
...more
Dave Lester
What is tragic related to contemporary study of Genesis 1 is how most messages on this passage of Scripture are often framed as a creation versus evolution debate. Science versus Faith. A lot of people are led to believe they have to choose between two disciplines of knowledge. Enter Peter Enns who is a very good Old Testament scholar. His work in "The Evolution of Adam" is to completely free Genesis 1-2 from the creationism and evolutionism debate by exploring what should be a very obvious ques ...more
Chuck
Feb 14, 2013 Chuck rated it really liked it

Peter Enns has jumped into the middle of the current debate over what evangelicals should believe with regard to Adam in the light of modern biblical scholarship and evolutionary science. Questions on the historicity of Adam and the Fall, interpreting the creation accounts in Genesis one and two, the historicity of the Flood account, the dating of Genesis, the Pauline understanding of a historical Adam, and the doctrine of original sin are just some of the issues encountered within The Evolution
...more
Greg Dill
Sep 18, 2015 Greg Dill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent book. Entirely changed the way that I have looked at the origins debate. I have been a lifelong literal creationist for most of my Christian life. But, in recent years I have begun to question this view and look a bit closer at how evolution could in fact be reconciled with the creation story. And, this book has most certainly helped with this journey.

"The Evolution of Adam" is broken up into two major parts with each part broken up into several more detailed subsets: 1) Genesis: An An
...more
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Peter Enns is Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has taught courses at several other institutions including Harvard University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Enns is a frequent contributor to journals and encyclopedias and is the author of several books, including Inspiration and Incarnation, The Evo ...more
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“As Jesus, the Word, is of divine origin as well as a thoroughly human figure of first-century Palestine, so is the Bible of ultimately divine origin yet also thoroughly a product of its time.” 3 likes
“A noncontextual reading of Scripture is not only methodologically arbitrary but also theologically problematic. It fails to grasp in its entirety a foundational principle of theology that informs not only our understanding of the Bible but of all of God’s dealing with humanity recorded there, particularly in Jesus himself: God condescends to where people are, speaks their language, and employs their ways of thinking. Without God’s condescension—seen most clearly in the incarnation—any true knowledge of God would cease to exist.” 1 likes
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