The Two-Population Model and Traditional Teaching on Adam?

I very much enjoyed the office hours with out Lutheran guests (and regulars). If you have not read it, it is worth checking out for the distinctive (and I think proper) way they have of looking at creation and the tension between tradition and exploring new ideas. The have a tradition of “sola scriptura” like Luther himself, but at the same time they have doctrine on some things which means that they don’t go only from the scriptures, but the scriptures through a lens of their own tradition. On matters such as this I think it creates a natural tension, which they are more comfortable with than some denominations. In looking at creation for example, they start with the Resurrection and look back to see what that says about Creation rather than starting with Creation. The beginning point is always Christ. And properly done He’s the ending point as well.

Unfortunately the dialog ended just as they were beginning to explore the viability of the two-population model. That is, the idea that the biblical role of Adam is not to be the sole genetic progenitor of humanity, but rather to be the progenitor of the line of Messiah who would redeem humanity. There were other humans present outside the garden of Eden.

It is my contention that this view of Adam is far more scriptural and Christ-centered than the traditional view. IOW, it should be a better fit for Lutherans than the traditional view. Romans 5:14 says of Adam that he is a “figure of Him who was to come”. That is, Christ. That’s his scriptural role. And of course Christ is portrayed in scripture as a brother to those of us who are believers, not a father. See Hebrews 2:11, 2:17, Romans 8:29. 1st Cor. 15 says that Adam was the first man, in the way that Christ was the last man!

I could go on, but I’d like to start a conversation, not a monologue. The two-population model is more Christ-centered than the traditional view because it is a better fit at making Adam a figure of Christ than the traditional view. That this view of the text was not publicly supported in ancient Judaism is not surprising. Pandora’s family wouldn’t want to go around hollering that they were the clan that opened the box either. Best to pass over that part, especially given the history of persecution they endured.

That it is hinted at but not discussed in the epistles is not so much cause for concern as one might think either because the epistles tell us that they didn’t tell us everything. Consider the last half of Hebrews Chapter Five and the first few verses of chapter six.

1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrectionof the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits.…

It was clear there was more the writer wanted them to know but they were hung up on the “milk of the word”. He had a lot to say (5:11) about the mysterious OT figure Melchizedek which he didn’t get around to saying. And if you go down that list in chapter six, that milk is pretty much all the Lutherans are talking about now. The other evangelical denominations don’t even talk about that! When is the last time there was “a lot to say” about Melchizedek" from your pulpit?

So let’s talk about the two-population model, any of them not just the one I am advocating. Not just because it best matches what nature is saying to us about humanity, but because it is more Christ-centered than the version of events which the Christian church inherited from Judaism.


@Philosurfer, @CPArand, and @pmcelliott it seems @Revealed_Cosmology wants to continue the conversation here with you.

Though, I would emphasize that Adam could still be the sole-genealogical progenitor of the humans of Scripture: Story Three: Recent Sole-Genealogical Progenitor Adam.

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I like the clarity of your phrase: the two population model!

But your two populations are both created using instantaneous Special Creation.

Doesn’t allowing for one population to be created over a linger time period help confirm the validity of the natural evidence provided by God… and provide a motivation for Science to take notice of the two population model?

For purposes of this discussion I am broadening the horizon to ALL two-population models. My point is that any of them make Adam a better analogy to being a figure of Christ than placing him as the sole genetic progenitor of humanity.

I’ll tell you what George, I have been light on jumping into the evolution controversy around here because I consider the theology to be more important. The church is at a moment like they were when they realized the earth was not the center of the universe and the Bible never taught that it was. Just like the church had to accept that their view of the universe was informed by Greek philosophers and not what the text of scripture was really saying, so they need to accept that their view of Adam has been informed by a Jewish tradition which did not see Christ in the scriptures.

But if you want to argue evolution, if you really want me to spar with you on that subject, I will put up another thread on evolution that I have been thinking about and I invite you to argue on my point about it over there!

I am all for the kind of understanding, broadly, that you advocate. Let’s be clear, however, that this is a “one humanity” two populations model.
The operative words in George’s challenge are “instantaneous special creation.” I don’t believe in those ideas. I simply believe that God created one humanity, and later chose one person to “staff” the garden and be the first close disciple of The Angel of the LORD Himself.
The Hebrew verb “create” does NOT connote instantaneity, nor does it even, by itself, connote “ex nihilo.” So, the discussion of how the first humans arrived cannot be further specified than to merely acknowledge that they come about by His creation --however long it took, by whatever means it was. It is the announcement of a qualitatively new thing as the result of His creative activity. No need to go further than the textual warrant.

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It is a one-humanity two-populations model. Adam was human as were those he was the stand-in for outside the garden. But for the purposes of this discussion the question is “Does this model make Adam a better figure of Christ, and is thus more Christ-centered, than a view of Adam which makes his prime role in scripture the sole genetic progenitor of the human race?”


Yes, it does… but, eventually, as the entirety of those themes is not in the early texts. But it’s definitely a better reading of Scripture, from where I stand. You know, however, that I nuance some things differently than you. And the “more Christ-centered” nomenclature is a bit overblown. Cheers!


Let me further clarify that this approach makes yours a summary model, rather than an interpretive one. I’m trying to build an interpretive model, first and foremost.


As long as we both understand that I am NOT disputing Special Creation of Adam and Eve.


Cool; let’s also be explicit that I am, as it’s usually conceived. It’s beyond the warrant of the text to REQUIRE it means “special creation,” in the sense of instantaneous, “ex nihilo” (and thus, only in a limited sense, “de novo”) creation. The verb means God did something “qualitatively novel.” “And so God created them [made them qualitatively novel] in His image” is a good enough translation for me, as regards the semantic conveyance of the Hebrew verb “bara.”
Would love to hear how a Hebrew linguist regards or interacts with that meaning!

Do you understand the text to show direct agency of God in this act of creating Adam?

Yes, but “direct” does not have to mean immediate, lacking in process or precursor, unnatural, nor even “special” in the sense usually concluded.

can you describe what process you have in mind?

Don’t really need to, since the account doesn’t specify. Which potential process or processes do you see the text as not allowing? We would appear to be in need of consulting the “second book” to search out an answer.

I would love to see ANYONE construct a sensible definition for “direct” in this context!

One word: “providential,” does it.
I’d also like to be able to see my feet without so much effort when I shower, but it really isn’t much effort.
Or, how about “personally involved and invested”?



Was this an answer to MY question? If so, I think you found the one word that is MORE vague than DIRECT !

You think a miraculous event would NOT be considered providential?

MEH… : ) Vague enough for 'ya?