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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  836 ratings  ·  102 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
Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Brazos Press
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Matt Absolutely. Chapter 6 is devoted to how Paul interprets the Old Testament generally, building up to Chapter 7's discussion of Paul's interpretation of…moreAbsolutely. Chapter 6 is devoted to how Paul interprets the Old Testament generally, building up to Chapter 7's discussion of Paul's interpretation of Adam and Jesus. His core argument is that Paul was interpreting Adam in terms of soteriology and Christology, not history.(less)

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3.95  · 
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 ·  836 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Ben De Bono
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ken Garrett
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Mosley
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
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
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Belich
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
A well drafted synopsis of what the Bible does and does not say about Adam and human origins. Peter Enns skillfully crafts arguments on how Christians should be reading the creation story, backed up by legitimate scholarly insight into culture and time. Readers of Enns other works will find the arguments outlined in this book to be familiar and inline with his other books.
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
Adam is 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
Paul Bruggink
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....

Ben Chenoweth
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
John Ellis
Apr 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I sneaked a peak at Pelagius' Goodreads page, and, much to my surprise, he gave this book five stars! Go figure.
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
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read, less about the evolution of Adam than the evolution of thought about Adam. Briefly looks at the evolution of thought about Adam during the period between the composition of the lasts books of the Hebrew Bible (in which Adam doesn't have a role to play and isn't considered a significant character) to the time of the first Christians texts when Jews were coming up with creative ideas about Adam. (I am also reading Crucible of Faith by Philip Jenkins which looks at the development of Je ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Toward a thoughtful harmony of Christianity and evolution

The book's introduction does a great job detailing exactly for whom it is written and what it sets out to do. If you're in the target audience – someone who finds claims of both evolutionary science and Christianity compelling – and want to discover if there might, in fact, be thoughtful ways for these two systems of thought to "play nice" without having to do violence to one or the other, then this book is a great place to start.

Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-theology
Peter Enns makes a strong case for a singular aspect of a complex argument surrounding the question of Adam. That singular point is that the writers of the writers of the Bible wrote using the information and culture available to them at the time and this is no less true with Paul's treatment of Adam. The fact that Paul treats Adam as a literal historical figure is more a reflection of Paul's culture then it is of an inspired reality. Enns makes this argument by showing how Paul was using Adam m ...more
Marty Solomon
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boy this book was good. It is what you would expect it to be based on the subtitle "What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say About Human Origins." The work is scholarly and dense, but very accessible and readable. I like that about Enns.

I also enjoy how he designed the book. Enns believes that the real relevant piece of the conversation [for Christian thought] is what Paul understood about Adam (particularly in Romans 5), and so he spends his book setting up the stage to have that conversation well.

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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
“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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