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

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!