Genealogical Adam - the "Garvey Model"

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.


What about the people of North and South America 12,000 years ago? Did Native Americans have to wait for GA to arrive on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria in 1492?


Not according to the original Nature article of Rohde, et al, who did the modelling based on most current knowledge of population movements. They put the most likely recent common ancestor, as I remember, in southeast Asia, and there was always some traffic from Asia to N America south of the ice of the Bering Strait.

And of course there’s the Southern route from SE Asia via the Polynesian Islands to S America, which looks genetically as if it was traversed, maybe, around the time of Moses - and that’s ignoring the possibility of genetic ghosts even earlier. The world turns out to leak people like a colander.

But that’s really more a question for the science boffs like Joshua, who’s examined the modelling closely and published the articles - my model has been primarily on applying it to biblical studies.

1 Like

Yes a founding population at 25,000 years ago. But if you put GA in Mesopotamia less than 8000 years ago, GA came to America with the European diseases that wiped out 50 million people in the Americas in the 16th century causing the need to industrialize African Slavery. Not a very good story for descendants of GA.

Not really. There was continuous traffic between America and Asia during this time, by perhaps more than one route. It is thought that agriculture comes to the Americas about 4000 years ago by this route. Reich will have much more details, and we will have more with ancient DNA.

Also, we are not arguing that Adam’s line was good. The point is rather that he was a corrupting influence. So causing the death of 50 million people fits that story really well. Adam was powerful, and was also Fallen. In this sense it is an anti-colonial reading. It’s like star wars with the evil empire, except the empire totally wins, extinguishing all the rebels. We are descendants of the empire.

1 Like

Didn’t the Bering Strait appear 11,000 years ago breaking the land bridge between Asia and North America?

That is not the only way to get from Asia to America. Read the references in my PSCF paper. Remember also that they had boats, and could cross large bodies of water.



A very specific question: you cited Bauckham very quickly. Is there evidence that he believes Adam was historical? I would be surprised if he actually discussed this issue. Or you were referring to a more big-picture point that he supports?

I don’t think that’s true. According to Wikipedia, " In the Andes of South America, the potato was domesticated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, along with beans, coca, llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigsIn Mesoamerica, wild teosinte was domesticated to maize by 4000 BC."

All well before 4000 years ago, and all native American plants quite far away from Siberia.

1 Like

I think I meant 4000 BC, which is about 6000 years go. I did not not know about the potato, which pushes it back maybe a bit father. It is all about the same timeline. I’m not saying, also, that Adam was the first and only agriculturalist.

What are you saying about Adam? You’ve been very reticent about just what his function was. Or when. I’m presuming he had nothing to do with the origin of any human cultural elements, or anything that makes us human, or anything except transmission of original sin, whatever that may be.

And it is not thought that agriculture came to America from outside but that it was invented locally; that’s the more important point, not the details of dates.

1 Like

Was G-Adam the first human to sin?
Was G-Adam the first human to have a soul?
Was G-Adam the first human to be made in image of God?
What attributes does G-Adam have other than being in the genealogy of every living person now and 2000 years ago?

Mark, my shorthand gave a false impression here - I cited Bauckham, with the other two, as a supporter of the unity of Scripture as “metanarrative,” rather than as a supporter of historical Adam. In fact I think he may have been the first to rehabilitate that postmodern term for biblical studies, and hence my putting him first.

So I’ve not seen anything by him specifically on Adam, but then I’ve not read any of the things he’s written on Genesis as the start of that narrrative - he certainly regards the first chapters of Genesis as foundational to the unfolding of what he certainly regards as events within history, for example taking the Gen 1 command to subdue the earth as binding, but radically opposed to the Baconiam “mastery” model.

I did find one passage in which he discusses sin in relation to nature, where he writes:

The traditional view was that the fall of Adam and Eve led to the fall of nature, and in terms of the effects of the human fall on our relationship with nature (as mentioned above) this sequence still has validity.

He goes on to discuss nature’s effects on us as an additional, not an alternative, factor.

The question one would wish to ask him - if indeed he hasn’t answered it already somewhere - is how the Eden account forms a solid foundation for what follows, if not essentially “eyewitness testimony.”

1 Like