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

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.

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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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Well you are the expert there :slight_smile:. Conversation with @jack.collins is a big part of what led me here.

If we remember the original context of either retaining true identity during exile, and recovering identity after slavery, this seems to make sense. It is supports a notion that they were looking for a return to the garden in the promised Land.

Though maybe I am just crazy here. Perhaps you will talk me out of it. Though the timing of Genesis and the rise of Civilization does merit contemplation. I suppose that is the one of the big question this returns us to.

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Why would you conceive of a “refurbishment” rather than a “refinement” as regards the given inception of the imago Dei? You don’t think God “poofed” Adam into existence out of thin air; do you see Him as, necessarily, picking up a handful of dust, and --“voila!”? All this is avoided in a pre-Adam imago Dei view, which derives naturally from a sequential reading. It affirms monogenism, too. It is not identical with structuralism, but in addition to it.

Catching up with this thread across time-zones, so replies may end up duplicating others.

In terms of covenants, that with Abraham is God’s first announcement of a global salvation project. Noah simply preserves (sinful) life from de-creation, doing nothing to extend God’s glory, though achieving stability.

But the elements in the promise to Abraham echo those of the beginning (land, people, blessing). He is promised that he will achieve what Adam failed to do, and narratively his call marks the break from the “Old Testament of the Old Testament”, Gen 1-11. It is a “new thing”.

Next, this covenant with Abraham is expressly applied to Jesus by Paul, and also is used in Deuteronomy as the basis for that new covenant which will replace Moses’ own covenant, in the event of its inevitable failure.

So, turning to the time of Moses, we can see the call of Israel (by the Mosaic covenant) as the first culmination of the promise to Abraham, intended to bring blessing to the world and glory to God, but failing through unbelief, even as it begins.

But we can see the ministry of Jesus (by a new covenant, announced explicitly at the time of Israel’s exile) as being the successful fulfilment of the same Abrahamic promise in a new form.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Israel’s story (rather than Abraham’s) closely mirrors that of Adam of call, presence, failure through disobedience, ending, as we know, in exile. “Adam is Israel”, for better and worse.

And so the key salvific figures are Adam (:frowning_face:), Israel as a nation (Adam redividus :frowning_face:), and Jesus, who is both the new/last Adam and the true Israel :grin:.

The other covenant figures fit into that big scheme both historically and typologically: Noah’s covenant forms the stable world in which God’s long-game is played, and as a saviour-figure, including water, may be legitimately be compared to Christ.

Abraham’s covenant is the “master-plan” of salvation by grace through faith, and as exemplifying these Abraham is typologically the father of all believers, as well as the ancestor of both Israel and Jesus. But his own role in history is limited to being an initiator - he is not the new Adam, and neither are the individual patriarchs.

Israel the nation, as I have said, has the potential to remedy Adam’s failed mission to the world, but they break their covenant through unbelief. But still, they are represented as doing Adam’s work.

David’s covenant is, historically, a way to retrieve Israel’s mission, as the righteous king who restores his people to God. But prophetically and typologically, it primarily foretells Jesus as being a royal figure achieving that same role for all mankind. David’s personal mission is only to Israel - he is not a new Adam.

Opinions vary as to whether Adam’s own mission is covenantal - I would argue that it is, though for obvious historical reasons it lacks the “2nd millennium ANE covenant format”.

And lastly, the “eternal covenant” which the Reformers saw between the Father and the Son is the overarching plan encompassing all the other covenants, and all history. Conveniently that makes for a total of 7 biblical covenants, 3 of which (Adam, Moses, Jesus) are clear episodes in the salvation history, and/or (in the simplest arrangement) 2 of which represent the Fall (Adam) and God’s remedy (Abraham).

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Isn’t the revelation to Eve that her “seed” would crush the head of the serpent a covenantal type of promise? When God speaks, He announces His intention to act.

Not sure this follows, Josh. “Refurbishment” is probably the most horrible theological term I’ve ever heard :grinning:, but I agree with you that there’s really little to choose between that concept and special creation. After all, in the literal account, Adam’s special creation is the refurbishment of dust. We are talking, perhaps, about the endowment of some new element of form on our first Adam (which we cannot define physically, though we might speculate conceptually on “God consciouness” or whatever), which is simply a lesser change than required for dust.

The net result, though, would be the same Adam whether created from dust or nothingness or created by such “refurbishment”:confounded:. In either case, we may see him as able to, even intended to, intermarry with those outside, and for his new endowments and spiritual handicaps to be communicable.

“Creation” has a wide range of application - though not as wide as seemed to be suggested by my recent thread at BioLogos, where it meant “efficient causation” for one poster. But at its heart “creation” seems to imply something new from God that was not inherent in the existing world. I don’t think that mere appointment and instruction would quite be covered by it, for God did not create Abraham, though he did create Israel, by dint of miraculous deliverance from Egypt and formation as a nation.

Me too - it demands that Gen 1 be about Adam, leaving those outside the garden totally unwitnessed in the text, implying they are of no account. Denying God’s image to “non-Adamites” also makes men outside the garden (with, as far as we can see, advanced cultures including religious awareness) to be mere beasts, rather than a dignified pinnacle of creation for whom Adam might have a mission from God. And intermarriage then become mere bestiality, rather than something more nuanced.

That’s why this is NOT actually my view.

Nor this, if we’re talking about “refurbishment.” In my view the role of Adam is to glorify mankind, already existing as created in Gen 1 in the image and likeness of God, but not in covenant relationship to him.

That is at least in part biological (though don’t get me started on “natural causes”), in that it encompasses all we might see in ancient man - intelligence, culture (subduing the earth in a new way), and even the kind of spiritual awareness that natural theology untainted by sinful rebellion would produce - ie the worship of the Creator “afar off”, as exemplified by the “temple pattern” of Genesis 1, in which God is high above in heaven, and mankind upon earth. Mankind rules the earth under God in all the ways that the old scholastic definitions of man as “rational animal” could.

The image, then, is not unique to Adam, though as a man he bears it. His call starts a new episode, in which heaven and earth are to be brought together, and (if we speculate chrsitologically in terms of image) the one created after the image becomes intimately related to the Image.

Yes Guy - one of the reasons both to see the call of Adam as covenantal, and to link him to the mission of Christ.

I believe it has to be that “human” and “image” are synonymous, for “after the image” is the creational description of man. The argument must be rather whether references to man are entirely about Adam and his offspring, or whether he was one among many. If Adam were considered the first man, then the Garden and the mission, as such, are irrelevant: the image comes through creation from dust and/or inbreathing, before Adam opens his eyes on the world.

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Ken, here is a risky, but potentially fruitful, “biblial interpretation/science” interface. I would hesitate to see (as some have) the Genesis account as a critique of the neolithic revolution.

At the same time, Adam most naturally fits, taking a “historical core” approach, into a more or less identifiable people group around the start of “civilisation” though not the only one - the Indus valley culture appears to have arisen independently.

We can say that all the ills of civilisation begin to be seen from that time, ie that sin has corrupted civilisation. And it’s not too wild a speculation that God intended for Adam to civilise the world in a better way, bringing mankind to a righteous rule of the earth (at least - maybe also beyond).

That does not preclude entirely an earlier Adam (as Jack Collins says, the cultural details in Genesis could be anachronistic. But could we look for archaeological markers of the difference between “sin”, especially expressed in terms of violence, as in Gen 1-11, and our “non-Adamic man” doing what rational animals do naturally? I’d not pin too much on it at this stage, but there does seem to be very much less unequivocal evidence of interpersonal violence before the turn of the Neolithic.

I do take very seriously the importance of any overview we take matching the Bible’s metanarrative. It’s not a piece of archaeological evidence on which we contruct any theory that might fit, but God’s revelation through ancient writers, conceived for a purpose. That’s why much of my recent effort has been to suggest that any “Moses” must have known about people outside the garden, and that the universalist tone even in the proto-history has that in mind.

Israel was called from the start to bless the whole world, ergo Israel’s story begins with the whole world in mind. But that story’s main hint at the universal - the Table of Nations - excludes nations to the East (descended from the Indus valley culture) with which any conceivable author of Genesis would have known trade links. Ergo, “Moses” knows that the Table of Nations is incomplete, so he knows also that Adam’s direct line is not coterminous with the whole world.

And I’ll stop commenting now, because I’ve said more than enough!



Who doesn’t believe in De novo Adam? The “poof” out of thin air (or out of dust!) is what i have EXPLICITLY signed up for …

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Thanks Jon for the lengthy reflections. Since I’ve kept up with The Hump most of this is familiar but it’s nice to have it synthesized together. I agree it is both risky and fruitful :slight_smile: