Sy Garte informed us yesterday of meeting Michael Murray from John Templeton Foundation, and Josh has asked me to do a brief résumé of my version of Genealogical Adam because, he says, Murray’s resembles it (in a presentation at the Dabar Conference). In fact I wouldn’t claim to originate a “model” (hence the scare quotes in title!), but rather a number of reflections based on tossing GA around with a basically Reformed theology for the last eight years. So here’s a précis, which you must understand lacks full references to the kosher Evangelical scholars informing it, whose names I will sometimes drop as provenance. More detail may be found on The Hump of the Camel under the category “Genealogical Adam.”
If we assume that an historical Adam existed as described in the Bible, then he certainly existed as a figure within the Bible metanarrative (R Bauckham, C J Wright, N T Wright) just as surely as Abraham, Moses, David or Jesus, and needs to be understood from that viewpoint rather than simply as an anthropological necessity. If historical, I argue that Adam must have been remembered by tradition, so is recent (Neolithic/Chalcolithic) rather than in deep, forgotten, time. Yet man already existed, formed according to God’s image long before by some means, in spiritual innocence, worshipping God “afar off.”
At bottom, all Scripture reveals Christ as Beginning and End, from and for the Father. As a narrative, it begins in Gen. 2:4, the creation account being a preamble (C John Collins), whether it is seen as preceding, or else overlapping, Gen 2. After a long-established physical (psuchikos) creation, then, God decides to transform it to a spiritual (pneumatikos) creation, and to do so through man, already created in the image of his Son (Richard Middleton, P Edgcumbe Hughes). The aim is to fill all things with his glory, to unite heaven and earth (Num 14:21; Hab 2:14; Isa 65:17ff; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1ff).
One man, Adam, is called to a covenant communion with Yahweh in a sacred space, the garden, sharing the role with his wife, Eve. He will be federal head through progenitorship of this spiritual mankind. This probably involves some new endowment warranting the term “creation,” and described in the text as formation from dust and inbreathing by God (R Middleton). They are to learn wisdom from Christ, in order to take on this cosmic task, the first step of which is to obey God’s command not to take wisdom for themselves, or face death (spiritual and physical).
Since man’s intended role includes rule of the angelic realm (Irenaeus, Ps 8, Heb 2:5_ff_, 1 Cor 6:3), envy and pride prompt one such being, “that ancient serpent”, to tempt them to lose their fear of God, eat the fruit, and so gain only a perverted wisdom (for the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of true wisdom). They are exiled both from divine fellowship and the hope of eternal life, yet still transform the world - tragically corrupting it rather than “divinizing” it through their offspring, as Gen 4-11 explains. Eventually (as Genealogical Adam theory shows), the whole human race becomes (a) endowed with the spiritual nature given to Adam, but (b) corrupted by his sin. The beginning of this process is represented in the Table of Nations of Gen 10, covering all the peoples with which the OT deals.
Any Israelite at the time of the Exile would have recognised Adam’s story as parallel to Israel’s (N T Wright, J Sailhamer, S Postell). Called, like Adam, to intimate fellowship with Yahweh, as a “kingdom of priests” to remedy Adam’s failure, they too fail even as their covenant is being made on Sinai, and their increasing disobedience also leads to exile (in Babylon, a direct reminder of Babel in Gen 11). Now, Israel was called (through Abraham) out of the mass of mankind, to bless the mass of mankind then and in the future. The close, deliberate, parallel of Israel with Adam suggests that the inspired writer would most naturally see Adam as similarly called, like Israel, from and for an existing race. This, of course, is consistent with the Genealogical Adam idea of a human race with a history outside and before Eden.
To complete the Bible metanarrative, Christ the eternal image of God himself becomes a man, succeeding where Adam and Israel failed as the new Adam and the true Israel. He deals justly and faithfully with human sin by the cross, and with human death by his resurrection; he subverts the devil’s deception and enables his destruction, for he no longer has a moral hold over mankind; and best of all he completes as originally planned God’s purpose to fill all things with his glory through man (primarily Christ, but of course also through all those in Christ, who become part of the new creation - Rom 8:19-25).
And so the Bible metanarrative is effectively a tale in three parts, beginning with the background of the first good “natural” creation, and unfolding the drama of its transformation to a new, better, “spiritual” creation, first through the call of Adam (spectacularly failed - appears to thwart God’s whole purpose), then through the call of Israel (failed - ditto), and lastly through Christ (succeeds - but also redeems the former failures as Son of Adam and Son of Israel). The NT reveals the “mystery” that this work of Christ was actually planned before creation itself.
Genealogical Adam, by allowing that the Bible writers might well have been aware of, and building upon, the assumption that mankind in God’s image existed before Adam, gives shape to the biblical narrative as the story of the new creation. The history of the old creation, including the physical origins of the human race, is not its subject matter, so is simply assumed, and summarised in Gen 1:1-2:4, which I take as a temple inauguration account to show the world was always created to display God’s glory (J Walton, G Beale, R Middleton, N T Wright, Cosmas Indicopleustes).
The first creation is of importance to us because, awaiting its delayed transformation, it is our world, and we worship God through it - even by discovering the distant past before mankind. Scripture says enough about it to confirm its divinely-ordianed goodness, and to show God’s continued government of it. But the Bible’s focus is on the new creation, from beginning to end. We should not therefore be surprised at lack of information about early man, but understanding Genealogical science enables us to place new creation teaching firmly in the physical world we experience, whilst it witnesses to the spiritual world to come in Christ, spreading like yeast through the present creation.