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

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:


George --the really odd thing is that you’d think that that “voila!” understanding is actually what the Hebrew presents or requires as an understanding. That it’s new is indisputable (every human birth is, in fact, a novelty), but that it’s instantaneously miraculous is in fact, NOT a requirement of the term. It emphasizes God’s agency to bring about something qualitatively novel, no matter how long it takes or whether something preexisting is used as a substrate.

@jongarvey , @jack.collins , @deuteroKJ , is there anything to prevent us from seeing the “formed of dust” and “inbreathed as a living soul” comments from Genesis 2 as intending to “merely” situate Adam as in continuity with the imago Dei humanity from chapter 1, rather than a description of his immediate and instantative creation? That its literary intention is to clarify Adam’s continuity with chapter 1’s humanity and overall purposes, only to have God radically change His calling to Adam to “tend and to keep” the garden and enjoy the fruits of a non-hunter-gathering mandate? This is about God’s beginning lessons and provision for the dawn of staid civilizations from as early as the late Paleolithic, at least potentially and partially. And obviously about much more than that, as well. Why would that be at all “risky” to anything but some unnecessary elements of “traditional” (recent) overinterpreting?

As far as I can tell, such cultural paradigm changes are at the heart of cultural artifacts like Gobeckli Tepe. At least some limited at-home agricultural finesse would have been required to enable a population from that early to have traveled to and congregated for the purpose of building and utilizing those structures, which I conceive of as a lot like churches/synagogues --places in which to worship, to learn cultural and personal values, to congregate as a penitent people, to enjoy unitive fellowship and social congress. The first “temple-university” structures.

Which meaning of “human” are you using? It seems important to have at least one definition bound to Adams descendants so the claims of universality if the fall are satisfied.

My own view is that it’s possible, firstly because Scrripture has other creatures described as returning to dust (references to man don’t count in this context, because “adamic man” is assumed). And all creatures have the breath of life from God (eg Ps 104).

Against it is the fact that none of this imagery is carried over from ch 1, so the context may require more.

Cf Richard Middleton’s comparison of the breath of God with Mesopotamian rituals to “divinise” divine images: that would suggest Adam is that kind of image, but then nothing like that has been said of the cereaytion of man in ch1.


My own suggestion has been that the word “adam” is originally a specific name for “Adam’s line” (literally the people of the red soil, analogous to the “Black headed people” of Sumer), which for want of a better is subsequently generalised to all mankind, and hence to those created in ch 1, along these lines.

In the context of the conversation here, I’m saying that “those outside the garden” have their very origin as being after the image of God, and Adam is one such image-bearing human to whom value is added by the garden episode.

Though it’s linguistically more complex, it allows for the “image” to designate all that makes man the reflection of the Logos, be that physical or intellectual or in the sense of the head of the earthly creation. We don’t have to deny the humanity of (say) Mesolithic man before Adam, but we do allow Adam a specific new relationship with God, and a role beyond merely dominating the earth (a role messed up, of course).

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That works for me. Keep in mind then you are using “human” in different ways.

Again, reflecting quickly and out loud (too much to do to give this too much time):

Not sure if this is relevant, but Collins finds the textual link in Gen 2:4, which points backwards and forwards. But, of course, Collins uses this for a non-sequential reading (but he’s at least open to an original tribe beyond the count of 2).

Heiser’s view is that Eden was the original meeting place of the divine council, with A&E potential members of the DC (harking back to your comment about the Serpent being jealous of A&E). Thus, the Fall is not just a casting out (exile) but a casting down (from the cosmic mountain). If correct, this fits with Middleton’s sense that A&E had a special relationship beyond that of the outside imagers.

The question of “transfer” of original sin persists…

@swamidass, this might shore up some of my comments about your Dabar paper. Also, there are some (e.g., conservative Duane Garrett in Rethinking Genesis) who, on form-critical grounds, argue that Gen 1 was the last part to be added to the book. This would be consistent with Jon’s point.


As I always remind Josh, original sin is only half of what is passed on, the rest being the status (to be studied) which Adam achieved. Man’s sin is the flip-side of his glory.


The chiasmus of 2:4 is most definitely a link, but may also be joining two stories significantly separated in time.


Sure, but I’ve been arguing that Gods Image was outside the garden. We did not get that from Adam so it does not make sense as the flip side to the a
Fall. Rather, his fall is connected to taking new knowledge, perhaps before his time of it was ultimately meant for him. Perhaps it was never meant for him, but just for Eve, or to only be a choice between independent knowledge and a wise guide.

Regardless, the fall spread froms him, but so does a powerful knowledge. That is the true two sides of the coin. We are fallen because of Adam, but we also grow in knowledge because of him. Perhaps they are linked too, because it is the power of knowledge that amplifies the severity and extent and longevity of our sin.