Saturday, September 24, 2005

The part of the Bible that got me anxious this time was ... Romans 5:15-19

AN (copy CED with personal info. deleted/changed and other minor changes)

----- Original Message -----
From: [...]
To: "Stephen E. Jones"
Sent: Saturday, September 24, 2005 12:16 AM
Subject: Thank You, Re: An apology and an explanation

AN>The part of the Bible that got me anxious this time
>was actually part of the NT, after reading your
>response to the "muddled" emailer that you reposted.
>Namely, Romans 5:15-19. In it, Paul repeatedly refers
>to "one man" bringing sin into the world, and he makes
>a distinction between the "one man" and "all men", to
>whom the effects of sin "spread" since they all
>sinned. He also refers to a period of time between
>"Adam" and Moses.

Agreed. But that is not all that Paul says, nor the way that he says it. As Bloesch points out, "Paul .... uses Adam as a pedagogical example ... In 1 Corinthians 15:22 Adam is depicted as both the first man and representative man. In Romans 5:12 ff. it is essential to Paul's argument that Adam be the first sinner ... In 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul argues that Eve and not Adam was the first sinner again in order to make a pedagogical point":

"We see the fall of man as an event that happens in both prehistory (Urgeschichte) and universal history. The tale in Genesis concerns not only a first fall and first man but a universal fall and universal man. Adam is not so much a private person as the head of the human race. He is generic as well as first man. He is Everyman and therefore Representative Man. He is the representative of both our original parents and of all humankind, and Paul sometimes combines these two motifs. [It is quite clear that Paul, who here reflects his rabbinic training, uses Adam as a pedagogical example or teaching model. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 Adam is depicted as both the first man and representative man. In Romans 5:12 ff. it is essential to Paul's argument that Adam be the first sinner, though Genesis pictures Eve as the first sinner. In 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul argues that Eve and not Adam was the first sinner again in order to make a pedagogical point.] It is human nature which sins in the Genesis narrative and not simply the first man. ... Yet this does not mean that the story of Adam and Eve as presented in Genesis is itself exact, literal history. ... James Orr suggests that the Genesis narrative is `old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress,' but he insists in line with the older orthodoxy that it refers to a fall from an original state of purity.' [Orr J., "The Christian View of God and the World," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1948, p.185]" (Bloesch D.G., "Essentials of Evangelical Theology," HarperCollins: San Francisco CA, 1982, Vol. 1, reprint, pp.106-107)

IOW, for Paul both Adam and Eve were symbols of "representative man". It is highly significant that even in Genesis 3, Eve was the first to sin, yet it is Adam's sin that is imputed to all humans. This indicates that something more than mere literalism is intended. In the case of Adam, Paul says "Adam ... was a pattern [Gk. typos] of the one to come [Christ]":

Rom 5:14 "Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come."
Also note that Paul calls Christ "the last Adam":
1 Cor 15:45 "So it is written: `The first man Adam became a living being' ; the last Adam, a life- giving spirit."
not "the second Adam" (my emphases). This implies (to me at least) that every sinner between the first sinner and Christ (and indeed from Christ to now) was an `Adam' in the sense that they recapitulated Adam's turning away from God.

Significantly Paul sees "the father of us all" (i.e. of all Christians) as not Adam but Abraham:
Rom 4:16 "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring-not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all."
and clearly Abraham was not the literal "father" (biological common ancestor) of non-Jews, but the spiritual father of both Jewish and non-Jewish Christians.

Dunn also points out that for Paul, "Adam means `man', `mankind'. Paul speaks about Adam as a way of speaking about mankind. Adam represents what man might have been and what man now is":

"The key idea which runs through his [St. Paul's] Christology and binds it to his soteriology is that of solidarity or representation. Jesus became one with man in order to put an end to sinful man in order that a new man might come into being. He became what man is in order that by his death and resurrection man might become what he is. The most sustained expositions of Jesus' representative significance come in Rom. 5:12-21 and I Cor. 15:20 ff., 45-9. In both instances Jesus is compared and contrasted with Adam. The point of the comparison and contrast lies in the representative significance of the two men. Adam means "man", "mankind". Paul speaks about Adam as a way of speaking about mankind. Adam represents what man might have been and what man now is. Adam is man made for fellowship with God become slave of selfishness and pride. Adam is sinful man. Jesus too is representative man. He represents a new kind of man - man who not only dies but lives again. The first Adam represents physical man ... man given over to death; the last Adam represents pneumatic man ... man alive from the dead. Now it is clear from the I Corinthians passage that Jesus only takes up his distinctively last Adam/man role as from the resurrection; only in and through resurrection does he become life-giving Spirit. How then can we characterize his representative function in his life and death? The answer seems to be that for Paul the earthly Jesus represents fallen man, man who though he lives again is first subject to death. Adam represents what man might have been and by his sin what man is. Jesus represents what man now is and by his obedience what man might become." (Dunn J.D.G., "Paul's Understanding of the Death of Jesus," in Banks R., ed., "Reconciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L.L. Morris on His 60th Birthday," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1974, pp.126-127. Emphasis in original)

AN>Now, to my reading, none of this requires that Adam
>was just the same as he is described under a
>literalistic reading of Genesis, or even that he is
>necessarily the biological head of the race. I've
>generally taken C.S. Lewis's perspective. But I can't
>escape the conclusion that Paul is saying that there
>was somebody, sometime, who sinned and kicked the
>process of redemption off, and that the general
>theological truth about this person is revealed in the
>narrative on "Adam".

As I thought I wrote recently (but cannot find) there had to be a first sin (in the sense of a deliberate turning away from God) and therefore a first sin, somewhere, sometime, just as for each human sinner (i.e. every adult) there has to have been his/her first sin (a deliberate turning away from God) somewhere, sometime, even if we do not know exactly when, where and how it was.

No doubt Paul thought (although we should not underestimate the sophistication of 1st century Jewish - and in particular Paul's - rabbinical theology) that Adam was a literal man who lived only a few thousand years before him and who was the biological ancestor of all humans. But the important thing is that he (i.e. the Holy Spirit through him) does not positively teach it. Indeed, what Paul (i.e. the Holy Spirit through him) teaches about Adam is that Adam's significance is in his relationship to Christ as a type or pattern pointing to Him.

See the long tagline quote by evangelical theologian John Stott from his commentary on Romans 5, in which he covers the issues well (athough I don't necessarily agree with it all).

For me personally I don't rule out that there may have been a literal man and woman called "Adam" and "Eve" in a literal garden of Eden at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates only ~10,000 years ago and they chose to sin rather than obey God and thereafter sin was for the first time legally imputed by God to humans thereafter. But if there were, it does not seem from the evidence that they were the biological ancestors of all humans, although they would have been the biological ancestors of the line that lead through Abraham the Last Adam, Jesus. But equally, to me personally "Adam" [Heb. "Man"] and Eve [Heb. "living"] may be also (or only) representative symbols of all the unknown and unknowable humans who were in directly in the line that lead through Abraham to Christ (and indirectly linked through a biological common ancestor as "one blood" - Acts 17:26 KJV). It seems to me that Paul's parallels between Adam and Christ work just as well (if not better) if "Adam" is a faithful representative symbol of all sinner humans (past, present and future), even if it turned out that he was not a literal man who lived in the Middle East only ~10,000 years ago.


Stephen E. Jones

"[Romans 5:18-21] ... The historicity and death of Adam. It is fashionable nowadays to regard the biblical story of Adam and Eve as 'myth' (whose truth is theological but not historical), rather than 'significant event' (whose truth is both). Many people assume that evolution has disproved and discarded the Genesis story as having no basis in history. Since 'Adam' is the Hebrew word for 'man', they consider that the author of Genesis was deliberately giving a mythical account of human origins, evil and death. We should certainly be open to the probability that there are symbolical elements in the Bible's first three chapters. The narrative itself warrants no dogmatism about the six days of creation, since its form and style suggest that it is meant as literary art, not scientific description. As for the identity of the snake and the trees in the garden, since 'that old serpent' and 'the tree of life' reappear in the book of Revelation, where they are evidently symbolic [Rev. 12:9; 22:2ff], it seems likely that they are meant to be understood symbolically in Genesis as well. But the case with Adam and Eve is different. Scripture clearly intends us to accept their historicity as the original human pair. For the biblical genealogies trace the human race back to Adam [Gn. 5:3ff; 1 Chr. 1:1ff. Lk. 3:38]; Jesus himself taught that 'at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female'' and then instituted marriage [Mt. 19:4ff, quoting Gn. 1:27]; Paul told the Athenian philosophers that God had made every nation 'from one man' [Acts 17:26]; and in particular Paul's carefully constructed analogy between Adam and Christ depends for its validity on the equal historicity of both. He affirmed that Adam's disobedience led to condemnation foray as Christ's obedience led to justification for all (5:18) [cf. 1 Cor. 15:22,45ff]. Moreover, nothing in modern science contradicts this. Rather the reverse. All human beings share the same anatomy, physiology and chemistry, and the same genes. Although we belong to different so-called 'races' (Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid and Australoid), each of which has adjusted to its own physical environment, we nevertheless constitute a single species, and people of different races can intermarry and interbreed. This homogeneity of the human species is best explained by positing our descent from a common ancestor. 'Genetic evidence indicates', writes Dr Christopher Stringer of London's Natural History Museum, 'that all living people are closely related and share a recent common ancestor.' He goes on to express the view that this common ancestor 'probably lived in Africa' (though this is not proved) and that from this ancestral group 'all the living peoples of the world originated' [Stringer C., in Jones S., Martin R. & Pilbeam D., "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1992, p. 249]. But how 'recent' was our 'common ancestor'? The evidence of Genesis 2 - 4 is that Adam was a Neolithic farmer. The New Stone Age ran from about 10000 to 6000 BC, and its beginning was marked by the introduction of agriculture, the original 'green revolution' which seems to have begun in the region of Eastern Turkey, near the head waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers (cf. Gn. 2:10, 14), and which has been described as the most important cultural development in all human history. So Adam cultivated the garden of Eden [Gn. 2:15], and he and Eve made clothing for themselves [Gn. 3:7; cf. 21]. Then the next generations, we read, domesticated and reared stock, as well as working the soil and cultivating crops [Gn. 4:2ff.]; built a protected settlement, which Genesis graces with the word 'city' [Gn. 4:17] made and played musical Instruments [Gn 4:21]; and 'forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron' [Gn. 4:22]. But surely the human fossil and skeleton record indicates that the genus Homo existed hundreds of thousands of years before the New Stone Age? Yes. Homo sapiens (modern) is usually traced back to about 100,000 years ago, and homo sapiens (archaic) to about half a million years ago, homo erectus to about 1.8 million years ago, and Homo habilis even to two million years ago. Moreover, Homo habilis was already making stone tools in East and South Africa; homo erectus was making wooden tools as well and living in caves and camps, while homo sapiens (especially the European Stone Age sub-species Neanderthal man), although still a hunter-gatherer, was beginning to paint, carve and sculpt, and even to care for the sick and bury the dead. But were these species of Homo 'human' in the biblical sense, created in the image of God, endowed with rational moral and spiritual faculties which enabled them to know and love their Creator? Ancient skeletons cannot answer this question; the evidence they supply is anatomical rather than behavioural. Even signs of cultural development do not prove that those involved were authentically human, that is, God-like. The likelihood is that they were all pre- Adamic hominids, still Homo sapiens and not yet Homo divinus, if we may so style Adam. Adam, then, was a special creation of God, whether God formed him literally 'from the dust of the ground' and then 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life' [Gn. 2:7], or whether this is the biblical way of saying that he was created out of an already existing hominid. The vital truth we cannot surrender is that, though our bodies are related to the primates, we ourselves in our fundamental identity are related to God. What then about those pre-Adamic hominids which had survived natural calamity and disaster (as large numbers did not), had dispersed to other continents, and were now Adam's contemporaries? How did Adam's special creation and subsequent fall relate to them? Derek Kidner suggests that, once it became clear that there was 'no natural bridge from animal to man, God may have now conferred his image on Adam's collaterals, to bring them into the same realm of being. Adam's `federal' headship of humanity extended, if that was the case, outwards to his contemporaries as well as onwards to his offspring, and his disobedience disinherited both alike'' [Kidner D., `Genesis,' Inter-Varsity Press, 1967, p. 29]. Having thought about Adam's creation and fall, we are ready to ask about his death. 'Adam...died' [Gn. 5:5]. Why did he die? What was the origin of death? Was it there from the beginning? Certainly vegetable death was. God created 'seed-bearing plants...that bear fruit with seed in it' [Gn. 1:11ff.]. That is, the cycle of blossom, fruit, seed death and new life was established in the created order. Animal death existed too, for many fossils of predators have been found with their prey in their stomach. But what about human beings? Paul wrote that death entered the world through sin (5:12). Does that mean that, if he had not sinned, he would not have died? Many ridicule this notion. 'Obviously', writes C.H. Dodd with great self-confidence, 'we cannot accept such a speculation as an account of the origin of death, which is a natural process inseparable from organic existence in the world we know ...' [Dodd, p. 81] We have already agreed that death is 'a natural process' in the vegetable and animal kingdoms. But we must not think of human beings as merely rather superior animals, who on that account die like animals. On the contrary, it is because we are not animals that Scripture regards human death as unnatural, an alien intrusion, the penalty for sin, and not God's original intention for his human creation. Only if Adam disobeyed, God warned him, would he 'surely die'. [Gn. 2:17] Since, however, he did not immediately die, some conclude that it was spiritual death, or separation from God, which was meant. But when God later pronounced his judgment on Adam, he said to him, 'Dust you are, and to dust you will return.' [Gn. 3:19] so physical death was included in the curse, and Adam became mortal when he disobeyed. Certainly the Rabbis understood Genesis in this way. For example, 'God created man for incorruption, and made him an image of his own proper being, but by the envy of the devil death entered into the world ...' [Wisdom 2:23f.]. This is why the biblical authors lament death, and are outraged by it. They see it as demoting us, levelling us down to the animal creation, so that we (God's special creation) have become 'like the beasts that perish' [Ps. 49:12]. The author of Ecclesiastes feels the indignity of it too: 'Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal' [Ec. 3:19]. It appears, therefore, that for his unique image-bearers God originally had something better in mind, something less degrading and squalid than death, decay and decomposition, something which acknowledged that human beings are not animals. Perhaps he would have 'translated' them like Enoch and Elijah [Gn. 5:24; 2 Ki. 2:11], without the necessity of death. Perhaps he would have 'changed' them 'in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye', like those believers who will be alive when Jesus comes [1 Cor. 15:51f.]. Perhaps too we should think of the transfiguration of Jesus in this light. His face shone, his clothing became dazzling white, and his body translucent like the resurrection body he would later have [Mk. 9:2ff., 9]. Because he had no sin, he did not need to die. He could have stepped straight into heaven without dying. But he deliberately came back in order of his own free and loving will to die for us. All this evidence confirms the straightforward statement of the apostle Paul: ...sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin... (5:12)." (Stott J.R.W., "The Message of Romans: God's Good News for the World," [1994], Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, 1999, pp.162-166. Emphasis original)


nivek_nailgun said...

What do you make of the supposed evidence of spirituality from pre-Adamites? The cave with the bear skulls and such?

Stephen E. Jones said...

nivek_nailgun said...

NN>What do you make of the supposed evidence of spirituality from pre-Adamites? The cave with the bear skulls and such?

It depends on what you mean by "spirituality".

The "cave with the bear skulls and such" (i.e. the Neanderthal `cult of the cave bear') is now known to be just "natural phenomena [that] ... fooled archaeologists into producing complicated explanations ... of prehistoric ritual":

"Other natural phenomena have fooled archaeologists into producing complicated explanations. For example, the suggestion of the cave bear cult was based upon the discovery of cave bear skulls in Drachenloch Cave (Chase 1987). Further examination of other caves and study of the natural behavioral patterns of modern bears indicated that the cave bear skulls were in fact natural cave accumulations, not evidence of prehistoric ritual (Jequier 1975)" (Pelcin A., "A Geological Explanation for the Berekhat Ram Figurine," Current Anthropology, Vol. 35, December 1994, pp.674-675)

Here is a longer (but still cut down) explanation by the Finnish paleontologist Kurten:

"During the years 1917 to 1921 Emil Bachler, of the museum in St. Gallen, Switzerland, dug the Drachenloch Cave ... The cave, at an altitude of 7,335 feet (2,240 meters) above sea level, forms a deep tunnel running more than 200 feet (70 meters) into the cliff. The deposit in the cave turned out to contain an immense number of cave bear remains, including several well-preserved skulls and complete limb bones. At that elevation, the site would have been inaccessible during the glaciation; thus the bears must date from the interglacial, the time of early Neandertal man in Europe. To his surprise, Bachler came to realize that the skulls and bones were by no means scattered haphazardly. On the contrary, they seemed to be oriented rigidly in certain preferred directions. Could they have been deliberately placed by man? Soon there were further discoveries that made Bachler sure. The finds in the Drachenloch were reported by Bachler ... The most remarkable find was that of a large stone coffin or chest, containing a group of cave bear skulls and covered by a large stone slab. All of the skulls were pointing the same way. The coffin was about three feet (1 meter) high; the sides consisted of limestone slabs, which, like the cover, had originally fallen down from the ceiling of the cave. Unfortunately, in the course of the excavation, workmen destroyed the chests, and no photographs were taken. ... Is there, then, any other evidence of the presence of man, apart from this curious arranging of the bones? In fact they are precious few. There are no flint implements. There are no burnt bones. There are no butchering cuts on the bones. All there is are some hearths, indicating that an occasional visitor or group made a brief stop. Any prolonged stay would certainly have been reflected in the sprinkling of numerous flints. But how could such elaborate structures as the suggested stone coffins have come about if not erected by man? And the alignment of the bones? ... It is evident that repeated pushing of such elongate objects as skulls, jaws, and long bones into niches or along walls will inevitably tend to align them in the same direction, suggesting that they were positioned by intent. In fact, all of the pushing, trampling, gnawing, biting, swallowing and regurgitating, pounding by falling rocks, and so on, which the bones undergo in a well-frequented cave ... is likely to produce, from time to time, the most peculiar results. And we must remember that such freaks or oddities are precisely the ones that tend to be selected for survival by natural agencies. For instance, skulls in niches are likely to be preserved, while skulls in the middle of the cave floor will be trampled to fragments and survive only as isolated teeth and pieces of bone pushed down into the earth. It is estimated that some 30,000 to 50,000 bears died in the Dragon Cave near Mixnitz, but only some 76 good skulls were found. One skull out of 500 or thereabouts! No wonder skulls in bear caves *look as if* somebody had put them in a safe place. Taking this possibility into account, it now seems impossible to accept the evidence for deliberate burials of bear skulls and other bones in the Drachenloch Cave near Vattis. The same goes for other sites, such as the Petershohle in southern Germany, the Dragon Cave near Mixnitz in Austria, and the Wildenmannisloch in Switzerland, where deliberate positioning of skulls and bones has been claimed though not in actual `chests.' ... Enthusiasm for the `bear cult' is naturally contagious. Secondhand and thirdhand quotations from the original works often tend to glorious embellishment-to be found even in the writings of such a sober prehistorian as the Abba Breuil himself, who once referred to the Petershohle as a Paleolithic `tabernacle.' ... The most trivial occurrences have been cited as evidence for the cult of the cave bear. ... I believe that we must conclude, with Koby, that there is no real evidence for a cave bear cult among the Neandertal men who inhabited Europe in the last interglaical and the earlier part of the last glaciation. There *may* have been a bear cult-but we have no proof." (Kurten B., "The Cave Bear Story: Life and Death of a Vanished Animal," Columbia University Press: New York NY, 1976, pp.83-84, 86, 89-91. Emphasis original)

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"