Adam and adams, not Adamites

@anon46279830, @Guy_Coe, @jongarvey and @AntoineSuarez I’ve been thinking about the right terminology that can facilitate many of the fine distinctions we are making on a theological level. There are few things I’ve been looking at, and will lay out here, I want to account for. I’m curious if you think the terminology I’m proposing might make sense of this, or if you would adjust it further.

  1. We can remind people that “human” is not a word that appears in Genesis.

  2. Adam” would be a real person a real past (Genesis 2), who we scientifically expect would become ancestor of all of us (if he lived anytime at or before 6 kya), but there will be debate about the theological importance of descent from him. He might be the first “theological” human.

  3. adams” is the same biological type as Adam, and we might argue they arise as a community before Adam (Genesis 1). Loosely speaking, we might connect this somewhat with “humankind”, but emphasize they a different type of “human” than those referenced by Scripture.

  4. Sons and/or Daughters of Adam” are the biological descendants of Adam (see Genesis 6)

  5. The “first Adam” and “second Adam” are referencing Adam and Jesus, the two adams (biological type) God (perhaps miraculously) created with a redemptive purpose (perhaps de novo = Virgin birth).

  6. We can refer to the Sons and Daughters of Adam as a “new kind of adam.”

As for “Adamites,” “Pre-Adamites,” and “Non-Adamites,” these three terms are associated with polygenesis and should be avoided to keep things simpler. . This language is too closely associated with polygenesis to be clear. Unlike polygenesis, all ‘adams’ are the same biological type as Adam (just as Gentiles are the same biological type as Jews).

This language does several things for us.

  1. We are avoiding terms associated with polygenesis, like “Adamites.”
  2. We are affirming monophylogeny with our use of “adams”.
  3. This echoes Scripture by linguistically acknowledging the continuity of the “adams” of Genesis 1 and “Adam” of Genesis 2; they are the same biological kind.
  4. This also echoes Scripture by linguistically acknowledging the discontinuity between “adams” and “Adam”'s descendants.
  5. We are making more sense of the “first” and “last” Adam terminology of 1 Cor 15.
  6. This appears to avoid much of the confusion associated with the word “human,” though we can certainly be opportunistic in connecting it back to these terms, so as to improve understanding.

What do you think? Does this terminology make sense to you?

The terminology does make sense to me, but I think #1 needs a tweak to accommodate what I and @AntoineSuarez are saying about Adam and what that might mean for the transmission of original sin. I think some segments of Antonio’s paper, such as section 2 and 3, warrant a post of their own, though I am still going through it.

I would make #1 ““Adam” is a real person with a a real past, who may have become ancestor of all of us.”

I know you are a proponent of genealogical Adam, and it does solve problems for you with acceptance from a certain theological group, but as I and Antonio’s paper point out, there are different views about how original sin propagated which are consistent with scripture. It is way too early to close the door on those other options within the framework, nor are we qualified to fully make such a call. We need to lay out the evidence before theologians and let them decide. I suspect some will go each way.

I would change #6 to say “have the capacity to bear God’s image” because the scriptures make it exceedingly clear that Christ is the Image of God. It is Adam’s fellowship with the pre-incarnate Christ in the garden which enabled him to bear that image and once fellowship was broken that was interrupted and reverted to likeness (Gen. 5:1-2). The other humans may have been just as good “light bulbs” as Adam, but without connection to the power source they would not produce any light. We are all meant to be connected to Him. None of us will “bear the Image of God” without a relationship to Christ, because He IS that image. If the gospel is at the center of your theology, its a sign that is good theology.

With those two amendments, I approve of your list. What your list does is describe definitions for a framework in which to view early Genesis. What I am suggesting with these two proposed changes keeps the same framework while permitting a few more ideas to be included in the framework. It makes the tent bigger. Inside the tent we can invite theologians to debate the merits of the different views within the framework (such as GA vs. views that focus on the genealogy from Adam to Christ rather than all of mankind).

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You suggest about #1

I prefer the scientifically accurate and theologically neutral approach:

“Adam” is a real person a real past (Genesis 2), who we scientifically expect would become ancestor of all of us (if he lived anytime at or before 6 kya), but there will be debate about the theological importance of descent from him.

You suggest about #6, and I agree with you in many ways:

I would change this to:

I entirely endorse the motivations behind your revisions too:

I should add that none of this changes the terminology, but just tweaks the big tent definitions of the terms.

I also emphasize that I am not insisting that genealogical ancestry must be the way that original sin transmit. Rather, I am just pointing out that this is what has been traditional discourse on original sin. Maybe that traditional discourse is wrong, but it is certainly not talking about genetic ancestry.

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Thumbs up on that one. Good way to put it.

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On your tweak of #6…Yes, this one is better too.

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8 posts were merged into an existing topic: Patrick’s Objections

Joshua, unfortunately a multi-participant discussion risks simply confusing interaction, but I’ll contribute anyway. The idea of forming a “Genealogical Adam Studies” vocabulary is a good one, because done right it can save the kind of confusion that so often occurs. One linked example is how loosely the theological conceptions of “creation” map to the Hebrew use of “bara”, so that one’s never quite sure whether a biblical or philsophical view is being proposed.

The criteria for a vocabulary need, I think, (1) to be as closely linked to biblical categories as possible, so that our terms have some equivalence to Hebrew usage; (2) To be cognizant of the koind of scientific/theological issues it will need to cover, such as the spiritual status of ancient races and species; and (3) to be aware of existing biases in understanding - for example, “pre-adamite” has a baggage of implications going back to other debates and other centuries.

Therefore, some principles are that the English capitalisation of Adam for an individual or archetype is useful, but so is the Hebrew use of the article, making ha’adam what was created in Gen 1. So I’ll now list your list, with my suggestions following in bold:

1 “Adam” would be a real person a real past (Genesis 2), who we scientifically expect would become ancestor of all of us (if he lived anytime at or before 6 kya), but there will be debate about the theological importance of descent from him. I agree with this, because it lays out the basis of the genealogical Adam case - those who disagree will simply dispute the science. Diluting this leaves room for those like Patrick, who appear not to have grasped the issue, to debate what is irrelevant to the matter in hand
2 “adams” is the same biological type as Adam, and we might argue they arise as a community before Adam (Genesis 1) I would suggest a Hebraism, ha’adam, here, firstly because it is what Genesis and the rest of the Bible uses, secondly because the lower case “a” achieves the distinction you’re after, thirdly because it saves possible confusions like “all sinners are little adams”, and fourthly because it sounds swankily intellectual (did I say that??)
3 “Sons and/or Daughters of Adam” are the biological descendants of Adam (see Genesis 6) Yes - this could include phrases like “children of Adam” etc.
4. The “first Adam” and “second Adam” are referencing Adam and Jesus, the two adams (biological type) God (perhaps miraculously) created with a redemptive purpose (perhaps de novo = Virgin birth). Yes - existing biblical category into which all theological discussion can fit
5 “adams” are “Adamites,” in that they have the same biological type as Adam, even though they do not all descend from him (e.g. when they pre-exist Adam). This I find confusing, and I’d rather dispense with the word “Adamite” altogether, lest someone “usefully” coins “adamite” and merges all our categories into a mash. May I suggest, for this and the following point, that we coin a hellenism to distinguish mankind as described in Genesis from anything else. Hence I suggest the word eikonic to denote those who are created in the image of God, however we understand that. Ha’adam are then eikonic because Gen 1 describes them that way, and Adam is also eikonic (which nobody disputes). This enables a clear term to discuss the spiritual/creational status of Neanderthals and, indeed, all early hominids: they would be “non-eikonic hominids” (thus avoiding ambiguous terms like human/men etc). So, for example, people could debate whether the Neanderthals who hybridized with H sapiens were eikonic or pre-eikonic, whether “sons of God” in Gen 6 were non-eikonic hominids, non-Adamic or angels and, hopefully keep clear of different applications of the word “adam,” biological confusion about whether biological ancestors are adamites because precursors of Adam, or not
6 “Pre-Adamite”, would be all those before “adams” arise (e.g. “Lucy”). Though this is rather beside the point, because we are not talking about them in Genesis 1 or beyond. See above
7 “Non-Adamites,” as in non-Adamic beings alongside Adam who interbreed with his lineage, would not necessarily be an occupied category. Though, perhaps, in the @vjtorley scenario of Neanderthals are non-Adamites. This confusing already because of capitals and the “A” word. See above - call them “ha’adam” or “non-eikonic hominids/races,” and the theological issues are clear to work on. if one were discussing things biologically (say somebody discovered late interbreeding with Hobbits), the relevant species name could be used, with “ha’adam”, “eikonic”, or “non-eikonic” to discuss their spiritual status.
8 We can refer to the Sons and Daughters of Adam as a “new kind of adam.” Use our technical term, “a new kind of ha’adam” and the necessary pause for thought will save the tendency to confuse all the different nuances of “adam”, “Adam”, “Adamite”, “adamite” etc.

Hope that’s a helpful contribution. I’m just imagining scholars discussing this in a few years time when we’re gone: if our terminology is sound, so will be the development.

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But “ha’adam” just means “the man” (or in some contexts “of man”). It refers to the MAN Adam in scripture, not the race adam. The Bible uses both. For example Genesis 1:26 uses just “adam”. “Let us make man”. Genesis 1:27 says “ha’adam”- “God created the man”. It is a shame it is not often translated like that there, but that’s what it means. More modern translations switch to “the man” but for some reason only starting in chapter 2.

So while I am good with the rest of your comments @jongarvey and agree in principle that some labels that don’t involve the word “adam” would help, this should not be one of those places. The man Adam is a member of the race adam. A specially created one, one who would bring the line of Messiah to redeem that race, but a member and archetype of that group.

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Then I suggest some other term for that designation, eg “race adam” or something better, that would refer to the people of Gen 1 and all their descendants, including Adam and his children.


“Race” is a bad term in this context. It evokes the wrong response. Let me think about this, and try a rewrite. Feel free to see what you can hammer out. This discussion is helpful.


Isn’t @jongarvey’s position merely to encourage the clarity you actually call for?

We have “Adam” as “humanity”… and we have “ha Adam” as the de novo male who mates with Eve.

Sometimes you should look to seeing how people are agreeing with your premises… instead of assuming the worst.

The reason why is that it says “male and female” right afterwards in Genesis 1:27, so it is not talking about a single man. So it is not possible to translate it as Adam or the man. Rather it is a the group of people of the same biological kind as Adam. I think “humankind” might be the best translation. What do you think?

The Hebrew says “The Man” in the first third, a singular pronoun on the second, and a plural pronoun on the third. And there is a way to reconcile it all very elegantly. Pre-incarnate Christ in heaven is “the man”. Adam on earth is the echo of that event in heaven, and the last part of the verse is speaking of both Adam and Eve and mankind generally (note no mention of their being in the image at this point, though humans have the capacity and will conform to the image once they become Christ and the Church- thus fulfilling God’s plan from the beginning to “make man in our own image.”) It started with a template, the heavenly one and the earthly one.

That statement probably does not make sense to people because there is so much misinformation about Genesis chapter one, the image of God, etc, etc. But if you will read the book I gave you, it goes to great lengths to demonstrate an elegant solution which harmonizes all the paradoxes of the text. Ironically, the YEC have not been reading the text closely enough, or even “literally” enough. The solution is not found in over-generalizing what the text says, but digging down and seeing what exactly it does say.

IOW the text is not repeating what God did three times. It is listing three things which God did which were all related to His decision in the previous verse.

I agree. What do you think of this?

I’m still thinking about your suggestion of eikonic, though that seems to be unnecessary at this point. We can have different understandings of what the Image of God is, and how it applies to these groups.

What do you think now?

Sorry but I cannot follow here. It might be because I just do not know enough hebrew.

Joshua - I am still confused (or rather, see grounds for confusion) in this bit:

The reason is the chronological priority of “adams” over “Adamites” in the obvious sense of the latter as “children of Adam.” Grammatically it’s true, but I can see people thinking, “all “adams” are children of Adam? Then what about the people in Genesis 1…).” A similarly confusing comparison would be between Israelites and Jews, the latter being the remnant of Judah after the dstruction of the northern kingdom. Clearly the same race, but to say “all Israelites are Jews, in the sense that they are the same race as Israel” sets the head spinning. Maybe it would simply be clearer just to reverse the order and say “all Adamites are adams…” since that suggests “Adam” coming from “adam” rather than vice versa.

Regardless of that, you have seen in the latest Hump thread that “eikonic” is a word that has a potentially useful place in the scheme, meaning an image-bearer. To me, Gen 1 would teach that “adams” are all image bearers, and so are the children of Adam, as opposed to the other beasts created - giving the theological counterpart to your “same biological type” idea. . But it would also allow a clear discussion if someone were to argue that Adam was the first eikonic man, and surrounding humans not: we would know what we meant rather than asking whether they were human, or the same species.

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Wow. I hate it that I have a full schedule today. This is important and needs sorting. Maybe evening…

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I think you make a very good distinction. For the purpose of those who haven’t read your other material, what is a one sentence definition for how you mean “Eikonic” ?

In the meantime, let’s break this down to elements:

  1. To me, Gen 1 would teach that “adams” are all image bearers, < The first creation clearly says “humanity” is made in the image of God.

  2. and so are the children of Adam, < The second creation clearly says de novo Adam is made in the image of god.

  3. as opposed to the other beasts created < Did @swamidass imply that Homo erectus (or was it Neanderthal?) could be labeled “image bearers” too? I don’t see that as really necessary, but I’ll wait for this to be discussed a bit more.

[4] New item: the de novo Adam seems to enjoy some lingering benefit from Eden. I’m not going to suggest that being “hand made” that Adam had a better physiology. I see the “hand made” aspect of Adam to be more about his psychological nature … or maybe even just his spiritual nature … the part that isn’t defined by genes. But if Adam and Eve had to eat from the Tree of Life on a periodic basis (in order to sustain immortality), then having one or two portions from the Tree of Life before expulsion might explain Adam living in excess of 900 years.

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George, the one sentence definition of “eikonic” is “created in God’s image (and/or likeness)” - in other words, it makes a convenient (and swankily Greek!) adjective out of a longer biblical clause.

Because this is about definitions to use in discourse, it’s not about deciding in advance who gets the adjective applied to them. So, although I thoroughly agree with your point 1, I’m anticipating a conversation with someone who says, “No, Gen 1 is about Adam and Eve - there were no eikonic™ humans before him…” at which point you at least know what you disagree about.

Likewise, someone like Ann Gauger might be able to say something like, “Given Catholic teaching on rationality as the image, I believe H erectus gives evidence of being rational enough to be eikonic™, and that’s why I favour an ancient Adam.” We then know we have to discuss whether that Catholic definition is adequate, or whether H erectus artifacts show rationality, rather than some vague generalisation about H erectus being “human” that gets nobody anywhere.


That was perfect, @jongarvey. Thank you.

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