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

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns
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's review
May 07, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: bible, books-of-2012, science
Read from May 03 to 06, 2012

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 Genesis 11? What if science proves some other "facts" that relates to the rest of the OT? Are we heading for concessions to modern scholarship "hand over fist"?

Anyway, these quotes summarise the main problems with the book, and sadly there is very little in the book to commend it. The problems are systemic.

"The Pentateuch was not authored out of a whole cloth by a second-millennium Moses but is the end product of a complex literary process - written, oral or both - that did not come to a close until the postexilic period." (23)

"Together Genesis 1 and the flood story in chapters 6-9 present not a picture of history but a picture of how Israel sees itself as God's people amid a surrounding world. This point is essentially self-evident and so shapes our expectations of what Genesis is prepared to deliver to those who read it today. These early chapters are the Word of God, but they are not history in the normally accepted sense of the word today. And they are most certainly not science. They speak another language altogether"(50)

[NB. they are not history, they didn't happen, they are myth. But they are revelation on the terms of old Babylonian Myth, that introduces the true God into their story and shows his supremacy - got it?

Why can't it work like this?

1. God sends the flood.
2. Everyone alive is descended from Adam through Noah and therefore is
descended from an eye witness.
3. Therefore, people produce myths that explain how the flood is related to the gods whom they worship.
4. When God enters history to deal with his chosen people, he reveals the truth in parallel to Moses.
5. hence there are creation and flood stories across the world.

Answer: because no one would take you seriously in the academy.]

"While "Adam" is a dominant theological motif in the Old Testament, what is missing from the Old Testament is any indication that Adam's disobedience is the cause of universal sin, death and condemnation, as Paul seems to argue." [ SH - except Gen 3?]

"In making the case, Paul does not begin with Adam and move to Christ. Rather, the reality of the risen Christ drives Paul to mine Scripture for ways of explicating the wholly unexpected in-breaking of the age to come in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God. Adam read as "the first human", supports Paul's argument about the universal plight and remedy of humanity, but it is not a necessary component of that argument. In other words, attributing the cause of universal sin and death to a historical Adam is not necessary for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be the fully historical solution to that problem."(82)

"Paul invests Adam with capital he does not have either in the Genesis story, the Old Testament as a whole, or the interpretation of contemporary Jews. His reading of the Old Testament in general is creative, driven by hermeneutical conventions of the time and - most importantly - by his experience of the risen Christ."(135)
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message 1: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon Sounds interesting! I'll be curious to read your review.

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