Jack Collins, The Genealogical Adam, and Jon Garvey

I think maybe you mean, “singular focus?”
: )
I’m still formulating an answer for our esteemed new member, Dr. Collins. I don’t want to characterize my questions too quickly; being, as I am in the middle of about seven different pressing projects.
Curious though; why would the first two pericopes in Genesis being sequential rather than recapitulatory run afoul of the notion, with which I agree, that they are “complementary?”
Seems as though the echo of a different kind of attitude than my own, as an evangelical, is being countered for apologetic reasons which I get, but which I see as an entrenched conceptualization. I, for one, believe in a completely historical Adam.
Thank you for weighing in, Dr. Collins, and I hope to engage with you more substantively and productively, as time allows.
Glad you’re enjoying the diversity of views in helpful fellowship amongst each other on this forum!

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Guy, it became common in the 19th century to say that they were two competing creation accounts, and this is the most common perspective in critical studies. The conventional view (as I’ve said) is that the events of Genesis 2 take place on Day 6, and thus that this pericope is an expansion of especially 1:26–27. That produces other problems, which I think I have solved grammatically (having to do with 2:5–7 and 2:19).

Fun fact: If my grammatical analysis for 2:5–6 is right (of course it is!), then the formation of Adam is to be visualized as taking place just as the dry season is ending and the rainy season is beginning. That, BTW, is just when Rosh HaShanah happens, which is conventionally associated with creation (Genesis 1). (Also, you’ll notice that I said “is to be visualized”; that is intentional.)

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Agreed that historical scholarship which has advocated a sequential reading has been rather clumsily advanced, and has had its share of questionable proponents, applications and general nefariousness.
In some cases, it was used to argue for two “classes” of humans (or near-humans) and used to justify slavery. We rightly reject such notions.
But why conceive of the two pericopes as “competing,” or in any way contradictory?
It is obvious that the author or editor of these two very different stories linked them together by means of a chiasmus that employed an organizing phrase (toledot) to invite a unified reading rather than a “choose one or the other” approach.
These accounts are complementary, whether read recapitulatively or sequentially. Your own work on situating the second account seasonally and with geographic context is marvelous; I simply extend that situative intent to the comments about the man’s origin from dust, despite having proceeded from the prior lineage of humanity “created in God’s image” in the preceding chapter.
The commonness and conventional nature of the recapitulative reading is hardly evidence against a sequential interpretation. And since we must, in my mind anyway, even in positing the conventional reading, keep the fall itself in chapter three as happening AFTER the events of “day six,” so that we may agree with God that, at that time, everything was “very good,” the most that can be said is that chapter 2:4b and ff. to the end of that chapter can have occurred during that day.
The fall changed that definitively.
But, what if, as the chiasmus and toledot literary devices indicate, the events which occur from 2:5 and ff. ALL take place AFTER the first pericope concludes; perhaps, even, significantly afterwards?
Then, no matter how one conceives of Adam and Eve’s physical origins, they are

  1. the result of an act of God
  2. not necessarily entirely without a past history of physical continuity with prior hominins, hominids, or even “imago Dei” humans
  3. not lacking in any spiritual “de novo” aspect, even if they do derive in some fashion from Genesis 1:26-27’s transition from adam (plural, “groundlings” with a nod to Hebrew wordplay) to “imago Dei humanity” by the end of verse 27
  4. the central characters in a story which is not entirely without the use of idiom and symbolic elements, in the best tradition of ancient Hebrew literature
  5. certainly, “formed from dust” is a situating comment which is more about Adam’s humble state, surely, than upon his mode of “immediate manufacture?”
    In any case, questions remain–
  6. Must Adam be the very first “imago Dei” human being ever?
  7. Rather than being from a continuity of lineage described as having been “created in God’s image” in chapter 1?
  8. Certainly, Adam is the first human to come under, and to reject, a “thou shalt not” command, in that fledgling humanity
  9. The result of this interpretive view is a kind of “elevated mosaic monogenism,” brought about by God, which truly makes Him the “Father” of all humanity, and sovereign over all the nations, as their Creator and God --whether that knowledge was, initially, “beyond” their imagining, poorly understood from the study of nature, corrupted by internal or extrinsic factors, or later, through interbreeding and other means, gradually replaced by the now “super-capable” (sic) possessors of the “knowledge of good and evil” which characterized those descended from Adam’s lineage.
    That corrupting influence spread rapidly and tragically around the world, and is only to be countered by the power of the gospel.
    There is more to be said, but orthodoxy can reside here, in such an interpretive view.
    Comments, questions, criticisms, etc. all welcome.
    Thank you for gracing the forum!

Rather than pressing the case on a sequential Adam @Guy_Coe , I’m taking @jack.collins help here.

It is just not worth fighting the sequential vs non-sequential battle. The current iteration of my manuscript presents both as options, but does not make a choice. It is really a distraction from the main point here. All we need to accept is that there are “people outside the garden.” However one gets to that is really besides the point. It is good that their are multiple paths to that point. It is not a hill worth dying on.

Thanks; not dying, nor am I tying it to your proposal. If you look closely, you’ll find I’ve said nothing more specific than @jongarvey about what “must” be. This is truly a matter of weighing contingencies, not of establishing any exclusive claims to orthodoxy. Can’t see how that’s a distraction on anyone’s part. It’s the same thing we do in every other forum topic, just on a very specialized subject. Cheers!

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Your fine @Guy_Coe. You are not a distraction. I’m mainly trying to figure out “the rules” here of how the exegetes make their interpretive decisions. Ultimately, we have to win among them. My suspicion is that they are intractable debates here, that can go on forever without resolution. So, as I’ve done on several other points, it is helpful (at least for me) to be a big tent.

You are in a different situation. It makes sense for you to hash out your personal position. You didn’t do anything wrong on this thread :wink:.

Jack Collins has written, perhaps, the best overall book as an approach to the issues surrounding an historical Adam and Eve, to date, in his “Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care” in his relatively short treatise.
My copy is marked on virtually every page with notes, questions, points of agreement and disagreement, hypotheticals, etc.
I have enormous respect for his Hebrew linguistics awareness and facility, in conjuction with his application of discourse analysis.
As for the importance of “getting it right,” Collins takes his task seriously, as do I.
Page 111 has this telling quote from NT Wright, which sums up the actual stakes:
“It is ironic that many people in the modern world have regarded Christianity as a private worldview, a set of private stories. Some Christians have played right into this trap. But in principle the whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story which is the story of the whole world. It is public truth. Otherwise, it collapses into some version of Gnosticism.” (footnote 7, p. 111, “DA&ERE?” by C. John Collins, Crossway Publishers, 2011).
I heartily recommend the “big tent” approach to weighing contingencies he takes in this book, along with (most of) his “mere Adam and Evism.” Definitely worth the read.

I’m just hoping Dr. Collins will interact, especially, with the subject of “Tablet Theory” and related issues raised in this thread: The Genealogical Adam as Israel
His book is tantalizingly scant on this subject, which is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity in wide fashion, while having been modified a bit from its “wilder” assertions in Wiseman’s days.


I agree that the toledot of 2:4, if it parallels the other “generation” statements, begins within, rather than after, what precedes it, acting as a bridge. But I still see a number of problems for that within the text. For example, it places a “not good” slap in the middle of Day 6, which in 1:31 appears to end “very good” and lead into the “everlasting sabbath” in which history can begin to happen.

But if we’re treating Adam as history, but saying that his story is recapitulating ch 1, then we seem to be committing to the creation account as an historical sequence - and that gives us problems mapping to the world we know from history and science. And in my particular view, I’m suggesting that “Moses” himself was fully aware of a long world history, and of people outside the garden with their own long history - and therefore there’s a need to map the text to his world, too.

Now, mapping a mythical Adam to a mythical creation is OK - God creates Adam in a primaeval world without rain or vegetation, and then creates the creatures for him to name, and it’s only some kind of juggling with the order of things in Gen 1. And there seems no reason for myth to be chronologically consistent.

But if Adam is created (de novo, we’ll say) in history - be that in the Neolithic or long before - then he appeared in a world already full of rain, vegetation and animals (and women!), and suddenly we seem to be mixing events in relatively recent historical time with events before time by dragging in ch 1 as an interpretive tool for ch 2.

Now, in my understanding (and this was indeed derived from Walton, Middleton, Beale and those other "cosmic temple2 scholars, including good old Cosmas Indicopleustes, before I began to take it further), Gen 1 functions as a theological understanding of a phenomenological appreciation of creation as it is. It is therefore not history, and not even a story as such, but a rich background setting in which the stuff in chapter 2 begins to happen. “There was once a good king who lived in a deep forest. And one day he decided to…”

That “stuff”, I suggest, includes the “not good” of Eve’s absence - God is now doing something new, and anything that is missing from this new phase is, of course, detracting from the good he intends.

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Developing the “two temples” theme, here is a follow-on from the one heading this thread.

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Great article, @jongarvey . The contrast would also seem to be between those who prefer to reverence God from a safe distance, versus those who seek face-to-face revelation, communion and fellowship. The Bible gives good reasons for both types of worshippers to come and find what they seek. I even wonder whether the contrast includes the “storage” of the nascent, but developing canonical version of the Scriptures, as compared with the dramatic and defining tablets of the decalogue. The tent of meeting is where Moses receives new and ongoing revelation and adjudication, and the tabernacle where the general public goes to pay homage in prescribed fashion.

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Thanks, Guy.

The key thing to remember in this line of approach, I think, is that Israel was offered relationship with God, but turned it down through fear and lack of faith. It’s really a direct development of John Sailhamer’s understanding of the OT narrative.


There were those, however, who would approach the tent of meeting in order to “receive the latest,” wouldn’t you say? As a “remnant” within Israel, there have always been those willing to be a “kingdom of priests” of the living and active God, as opposed to those who are more comfortable “spectating” at a safe distance?

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I guess I’d be hesitant to draw a “remnant” theology from the use stated of “Moses’ tent of meeting”, since the text doesn’t suggest it. The problem with Israel was directing all their relationship with God through Moses - those who went out to enquire were still doing that.

Conversely, I’d want to avoid returning to a “competing traditions” idea of the “two tents” - it was Moses, after all, who received the plans for the tabernacle from the Lord, and had it made for them. It’s more (as Sailhamer stresses) a question of gracious provision to a people lacking in faith - since they could not worship “according to the Spirit” they were given the means to worship “according to nature.”

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We know of at least one occasion where the Presence in the Tent of Meeting spoke with Aaron and Miriam, along with Moses.
The story in Numbers 12 makes it pretty clear that “Moses-mediated ministry” was the way the LORD Himself wanted it, with pretty severe consequences for any one who got too “personally ambitious,” save for God’s specific calling.
Yes, perhaps the use of the term “remnant” is too evocative of the wrong kind of theological implications.

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A post was split to a new topic: Another Try at Sequential Reading Genesis