The Second Adam: Choosing vs. Refurbishment vs. De Novo

Aren’t we concerned with proliferating second Adams? I see the parallels, but it seems significant that Jesus is THE Second Adam, right? What do Adam and Jesus share that the others don’t?

Only if unwarranted, but there are clear sexegdtical and theological signs in the text to link both Noah and Israel to Adam. This is standard in OT studies.

Indeed. Jesus is the clamactuc anti-type, of Adam, Noah, and Israel. For one, he succeeded where all other failed. Also, he represents humanity in a way more directly as the representative of humanity. That’s at least where I would begin.

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Primogeniture? Josh, I’d agree with you in bracketing off the covenant with Noah from that with Abraham and with Jesus. I think the differences are significant as to scope, purpose and duration.

However the Noahic covenant is significant, too, and certainly Noah and the ark are to be seen as antetypes of Christ in some respect (1 Pet 1:20-21).

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I see no problem with seeing Adam as a type of Isreal or the other way around. However, the title second Adam seems to be uniquely applied to Jesus. Maybe Abraham is an echo of Adam, but it seems he is not a second Adam. Perhaps rightly so, because his obedience does not undo the work of Adam.

If I am right here, and I may not be, this seems to undermine several things put forward. Perhaps we should not be say that all these chosen leaders were Second Adams. Perhaps also being chosen from a crowd for a pupose is not sufficient to be a Second Adam. Of course, we know this is true in the case of Jesus. He was not merely chosen. This then seems to suggest that Adam was not merely chosen either. This is on of the Theological and textual reasons I wonder the de novo creation might be important. Perhaps Adam was not merely chosen, but entered the world in a special way, similar in some ways to Jesus’ unique entry. This would make them the only two Adams and bring salience to the title “Second Adam”.

Is this possible or am I reading too much into this?

I’m more comfortable grouping Abraham with Noah than with Jesus or Adam. Jesus, after all, is not the second Abraham. Noah is not the second Adam.


I’m not too worried about what term we call it. If you want to stay strictly biblical and stick with Jesus only as the Second Adam, that’s fine, as long as we don’t miss the intermediate typological steps with Noah and Abraham.

I don’t see this necessary myself at the moment (though I would sill use “special creation” with respect to Adam, de novo or whatever), but you already saw how I was ambivalent to the necessity of the virgin birth (though I do believe in it).

Jesus is THE seed of Abraham (and THE seed of the woman) and THE son of David. So, again, as long as we maintain the typology and Jesus as the climactic fulfillment of each.

I don’t have a problem with Noah as a (not THE) second Adam, at least to a degree. The flood is an anit-creation clearly, and God renews with Noah the creation mandate given in Gen 1 (but the 'adam vs. Adam might confuse this connection). And, both have their “falls”; but, yes, Adam’s fall had more far-ranging effects.

So I can respect trying to tighten up the language if one prefers.


While I agree with M. Heiser that there is a Divine Council, I don’t see it everywhere he does, including here. Men were called “the sons of God” before the Babylonian captivity. I wonder if it is not counting the 70 descendants of Noah as the “sons of God” here as a distinguished form of address for the inheritors of the covenant.

To be a double spoilsport, the language in chapters nine and ten where it says “by these were the nations divided” doesn’t really mean a situation where they were the physical ancestors of everyone in the new nation. More like their large personal households with many servants and hangers-on became the core of new nations.

Where is the plural ever used of human beings in the OT (or ANE)? I still favor Heiser’s read, but you’re not the only one to differ with him. With Deut 32:8, however, the LXX uses angeloi. And why would MT change it to “sons of Israel”? And what of silmilar language in Deut 4:19?

In what sense do you see Adam as a special creation?

I don’t have a set position here specifically, but I do see God “directly” creating Adam in some sense. This can be de novo or taking a hominin and “adding” something that makes a full-blown biblical “human” in a special relationship with God and thus creating privilege/responsibility/culpability/calling not in existence beforehand (and I’m fine with the possibility of “adding” physical or mental or whatever in a miraculous way). This is why GA is appealing, though I don’t theologically see the need for de novo (though I could make an exegetical argument for it, I’m open on the exegesis, which is why I’m willing to speculate on the larger theological reflection, which IMO includes considering the science).


So this is some class of refurbishment then, right? I’m not inclined to distinguish between de novo and refurbishment sharply. Refurbishment, however, is more than merely choosing, such as see in the case of Abraham. That might satisfy many of my questions on the title Second Adam implying a distinction between Adam and Abraham. Refurbishment would give a distinct ontogeny to Adam that parallels that of Jesus, and distinct from Abraham and Noah.

Scientifically it becomes more difficult if that refurbishment has to transfer to those outside the garden somehow. If that is the case, we might have to posit ongoing miracles. It is not a defeater, but is a challenge with using refurbishment as way to distinguish Adam from his peers.

De novo creation might give us a way to side step that problem a different way…

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Good point…I’m not inclined to go there. Somehow, in some way, the “transfer” takes place either horizontally to Adam’s peers or to the descendants as they mix. I don’t know the best option(s)…de novo is one.

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This problem is alleviated in the scenario where the original population does not bear imageness, so that Adam is the first image-bearer, which is then transferred horizontally (and vertically). Is this close to Collins’ scenario? But I now find it difficult to think of those “outside the garden” as non-imagers. So the extra hurdle persists. If we could just adopt fundamentalism, all the problems go away! But, alas, the evidence and intellectual integrity.

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So this was really remarkable to see unfold at Dabar.

There are several things at play here. What is the Image of God? Do those outside the garden have it too? How does the Image of God come to all mankind?

As I understand it there is some wide agreement on what the Image of God is among OT scholars. However, in origins, we are talking about the origin of things. If the Image of God includes, say, three different features. We should not assume that these three features arise instantaneously in the same way. Perhaps the features arise by distinct processes.

(You may note some parallels to how I am thinking about original sin).

Any how, here are the most coherent sets of answers I’ve seen to this.

Case 1. The Image of God is unique Adam and his lineage, and is best understood as a spiritual calling or vocation. This appears to be closest to @jack.collins’s and @jongarvey’s view and a few other unnamed scholars. There is no difference here in abilities between those inside and outside the Garden.

Case 2. The Image of God is unique Adam and his lineage, and is best understood as a new spiritual ability, which includes calling and vocation. Here, we would locate this ability within an immaterial soul, not in genetics, and see it spread by genealogical descent.

Case 3. The Image of God is on those outside the garden (not unique to Adam), and is consistent with biological structuralism. In a Catholic twist, we can suppose that a large population outside the garden was simultaneously refurbished at some point in the past. Adam, then, become unique because of the Fall, and the special responsibility he had in the Garden. I’m inclined to this one, and @jongarvey flirts with it too.

Case 4 is problematic though. If we take a structuralist view of the Image of God and say it was unique to Adam, then we are stuck with figuring out how it spreads from him, unless we want to say it was lost. This is what, it seems, a refurbishment creation of Adam seems to imply. Why would a refurbishment be needed if those outside the Garden were in the Image of God? If refurbishment is how Adam is made in God’s image, how does that extend to everyone else? Sure, we can make suppositions, but I think the coherence here is reduced.

Some of this gets down to definitions. Is there really a difference between 1 and 3? Maybe not, except just granting the label “Image of God” at different points in the ontogeny. I suppose I’m partly drawn to 3 because of the rhetorical strength, and what might be some textual grounding (though @jack.collins would disagree with this).

So, for these reasons, I think the refurbishment might be consistent with the text, but seems to raise its own distinct questions, that end up requiring ongoing miracles to solve. Maybe its true, but why add an embellishment to the traditional narrative that creates additional problems to solve?

What problems does de novo creation raise? I do not think it is coherent unless we have a good reason for God making Adam and Eve in a manner such that they can breed with those outside the garden. The way I answer that question is with a natural theology argument (look at me @eddie!) that God wanted them to interbreed. There original purpose was to produce a lineage would welcome others into the Garden. It is only in the fall, that this gets twisted into being a conduit for the transmission of original sin. We can see the ambivalence about interbreeding, and a change of course also, in the narrative of Genesis too (6:1-8, then the Babel Tower).

So, laying all that out, one could take (1) Adam as chosen from a population, (2) Adam refurbished form a prior hominid, or (3) Adam de novo created to redeem a larger population. I think 3 ends up being most coherent, and also closest to the test and the traditional reading. As for the Image of God, I’m not sure there is really a durable difference except rhetoric between Case 1 and 3 above.

What do you think?


This is an excellent layout of options (and inherent hurdles), and deserves to be a separate thread (we’re beyond Heiser and Rom 5:12 at this point). There may be more options. One question I’ve been pondering for a couple of years, which resonates I think with your Dabar paper: Is being an image-bearer and being “human” (biblically, not biologically) the same thing, or is one rather a subset of the other?

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This is a really good question, and my paper does drive us to this. I think we need to start thinking more deeply about the ontogeny of “human”, the development over time, rather than in singular definitions. There seems to be a lot gained from having different meanings of “human” to work with, and considering how they might arise in sequential and distinct ways.

Here are few important examples of definitions with which I have been working.

Philosophical “humans” might be beings that share the “human-condition” of a rational soul. This would include, for example, the Narnians from beyond the wardrobe, and intelligent aliens. It might include Neanderthals (or not), or perhaps even Homo erectus.

Biological “humans” would be defined by biological critieria, and be chosen to be Homo sapiens, or some other group of species.

Theological "humans’ are the humans to which traditional theology refers, which appear to only be Adam and his genealogical descendants.

Textual or hermenuetical “humans” are the humans to which Scripture refers, which appear to be only be Adam and his genealogical descendents.

Civilizational “humans” are those who arise with the cultural explosion of civilization the last 10,000 years.

“All of us”, meaning at least all humans “to the ends of the earth” when Paul writes Romans, and all their descendents.

Of course, some of these claims are up for debate. Though, we can start to easily see several things from just parsing out these definitions:

  1. There is no obvious reason that biological and philosophical humans are linked, and rise at the same time. Certainly, they might be, and one might be a subset of the other. Still, they decouple entirely when start thinking about aliens, other dimensions, or even angels.

  2. Textual and theological humans have no tight link (beyond being a subset) to philosophical humans and biological humans. It becomes hard to justify how and why the Genesis account would speak to biological or philosophical “human”’'s origin. After all, most people agree it does not speak against God making humans on another planet, even if they were philosophical or biological humans too.

  3. It makes sense that theological and textual humans are linked, as their conception both arise to together historically (theology arises alongside the text).

  4. The structuralist component of the Image of God only really make sense to associate with biological and/or philosophical humans. I think here, in the origin of “philosophical” humans is the place where refurbishment might have the most value, if it is required. Alternatively, we could place that structuralist notion of the Image of God in an immaterial or dualist conception of the soul that spreads from Adam, but I find this less attractive.

  5. The vocational/calling component of the Image of God could be associated with biological, philosophical, or theological humans.

  6. The relational component of the Image of God makes most sense associated with Adam, at the fountain head of theological and textual humans.

  7. From this, perhaps we can imagine the ontogeny of the Image of God as sequential development of these three components, with Adam as the final culmination of being in the Image of God. Are those outside the Garden in the Image of God? Yes, but perhaps not as fully as Adam before the Fall.

  8. Civilizational “human” arise in a time line very consistent with Genesis. Perhaps they might be associated with either the Fall, the knowledge of the Tree of Good and Evil, Agriculture, some combination of these things together. So there might have been additional things more than original sin that Adam brings to the rest of the world.

I’m just mapping out possibilities here though. I am not an exegete or a theologian. Surprisingly for me, it seems that the most traditional understand, of de novo creation, might end up looking the most coherent. I understand historically that refurbishment was considered primarily as a concession to evolutionary science. It seems, however, that positing people outside the Garden that Adam was specially created to redeem might be a coherent approach. Ironically, it is also a lesser deviation from traditional theology.


I like this exercise in speculative theology. I wonder if it might be easier to reduce the options to your civilization vs. textual/theological, or is it best to start messy/complex (how far off is Homo sapiens sapiens to civilization human?)? There will still be the sticking point whether we’re just perceiving these differences (e.g., to allow for evolutionary science) or whether we actually think the biblical writers are aware of or even teaching the distinctions.

On a totally different note, I find it interesting that some YECs suppose different human species, though only one (us) survived. Of course, they’d see A&E as the genetic premogenitors of all.

Does this assume the GA “concession”? I too find the traditional reading relatively coherent…sans the historical and scientific data, which intellectual honesty (and good theological thinking) demands we take into account. But if we’re taking GA into account, is it still proper to speak of “the traditional reading” even if de novo?

The front-loaded redemptive angle is intriguing. Requires more thought, but fits with the notion that the original creation was not the intended end result. In a sense, might we say the “civilization human” was “groaning” in Rom 8 fashion?

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Civilization and Civilized Humans

Yes, I mean with the GA.

However, I do vigorously argue that a GA is “within the range” of the traditional account. Maybe I am wrong. I know this is disputed. This, however, is a very important case to make. If I am right, it opens doors in the YEC community, and also supports doctrine of infallibility (independent of inerrancy).

The reason why is because there has traditionally been large amounts of speculation about those outside the garden. The GA is clearly within the range of non-heretical speculation, because it continues to affirm descent of all of us from Adam. The speculation itself demonstrates that Scripture is silent on those outside the Garden, except perhaps for hinting at them (Cain’s wife and the Nephilim).

Yup, same with @Agauger too. I think this has some problems. This does seem to mean there were multiple species of human post Adam.

It seems very clear to me (as a non exegete) that Genesis is about the rise of civilization, not the rise of biological humans (as Homo sapiens arise 200 to 300 thousand years ago). The message seems to be that civilization has a truly evil beginning, even though we have all grown accustomed to it. Of course, this matches what we know from archeology too.

There are a range of options used in science for “human”, and this list might be helpful.

  1. 12 to 6 kya, when civilization and agriculture arise, then spread quickly across the globe.
  2. About 70 to 50 kya, with the rise of behaviorally-modern humans .
  3. About 100 to 300 kya, with the rise of anatomically-modern humans , also known as Homo sapiens .
  4. About 500 to 700 kya, with the common ancestor of Neanderthals, Homo sapiens , Denisovans, and likely some other hominins.
  5. About 2 mya, with the rise of the first in the Homo genus.

Really, any of these definitions works as a reasonable starting point from which to make a more precise theological definition. If we take the text on its terms, it seems that it is referring the to the rise of civilization, with other biological humans in “peripheral” vision. There seem to several hints to this effect, if not outright statements to this effect (Genesis 6:1-4).

This is a key part of my argument. Yes, we would say that the very good was intended to be perfected by the expansion of the Garden.

Instead, we saw the expansion of Adam’s empire, and civilizational humans are groaning under its yoke. Is this groaning not obvious? God wanted to bring us a good civilization, without injustice, war, or death. He intended to take the very good creation of the sixth day, and make it perfect. Adam was to inaugurate and expand a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

This also strengths to contrast between Adam and Abraham. Israel ends up being a vessel to bring us Jesus, the one who succeeds where Adam failed. Adam and Jesus are greater than vessels, but both are intended bring forth the perfection of God’s very good creation, or Adam’s not good and fallen world. Jesus, also, is greater than Adam, as he succeeds where Adam failed, at a much harder task.

Coming full circle, this starts to bring into striking clarity how Jesus is the Second Adam. God made one prince who failed. Than God himself, the theophany of the Garden, He became a man, the prince who succeeded. Both were non-contingent acts of God to open a way for us into a new order, perfecting the very good world of creation (Adam) or the not good world of the Fall (Jesus). The typological connection between Adam and Jesus is strengthened, and others become mere echoes of them.

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@deuteroKJ I think is a very important and neglected message in Genesis. It seems to me that it is teaching that we have grown accustomed to civilization, accepting it as a reasonable trade off between good and bad things. Though we dislike things here and there, we are bound to it all the same, and cannot really conceive of anything else

The message of Genesis seems to be a radical rejection of this comfortable stagnation, telling us it did not have to be this way. It could have been better. It need not have been a trade-off. We could have had all the good, without the evil. That view point challenges our casual comfort with the evil of this world. None of it is essentially inevitable, except for the Fall. The hidden order to the world remains the Kingdom of God, and that is the civilization reality into which we are invited.

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I’m tracking with everything else; this is the part I need to keep thinking about, i.e., which part of this is within the (author-intended) “message of Genesis.” You’ll find help here from…wait for it…Michael Heiser on his work about the Babylonian alternative on the “good” that came about with divine beings helping humans with advanced civilization. It’s drawn from his work with 1 Enoch and the Apkallu.

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