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The Biblical Statement Interpreted Literally (§ 1).
The Position of Adam to the Race (§ 2).
The Orthodox Views (§ 3).
The Evolutionary Views (§ 4).
The Use of “Adam” as a Proper Name (§ 1).
Foreign Influence in P (§ 2).
The Aim and Plan of P (§ 3).
The Narrative of J (§ 4).
Parallels in Other Literatures (§ 5).
The Literary Material Mythical in Character (§ 6).
New Testament References (§ 7).
1. The Biblical Statement Interpreted Literally.
According to the literal statement of Genesis (v. 2), the name “Adam” (Heb. adham, “man”) was given by God himself to the first human being. The important place occupied by man, according to the Biblical idea, is the close, the appointed climax, of creation. Inanimate nature looked forward to man. To his creation God gave special care. It was sufficient for the Creator to order the other creatures into being; but man was molded by the divine fingers out of the dust of the earth. Thus far he belonged to the created world; but into him God breathed the breath of life, and thus put him in an immeasurably higher place; for the possession of this breath made him the “image” of God. What this “image” was is learned from the Bible (Gen. i. 26, ii. 7); it was likeness to God in the government of the creatures and in the possession of 34 the same spirit (see Image of God). God, the absolute personality, reflects himself in man and, therefore, the latter becomes the lord of creation. Adam was the representative of the race—humanity in person. Opposite to the species and genera of beasts stood the single man. He was not a male, still less a man-woman; he was man. Out of him, as the progenitor of the race, Eve was taken.
But man’s true position can not be comprehended until he is considered in relation to Christ, the second man, as is most clearly expressed in Rom. v. 12 sqq.; I Cor. xv. 21-22, 45-49. By Adam’s fall, sin and death entered into the world, and condemnation has come upon all through him; but from the second Adam has come just the opposite—righteousness, justification, and life. Those who by sin are united to the first Adam reap all the consequences of such a union; similarly do those who by faith are united to the second Adam. Each is a representative head.
2. The Position of Adam to the Race.
Materialism sees in man a mere product of nature. It is difficult to see how it makes place for self-consciousness. The unity of the race is also given up; and so logically Darwinism leads to belief in a plurality of race origins. Theology, on the other hand, holds fast to the personality of man, but has, from the beginning of the science, wavered in regard to the position occupied by Adam toward the race. The oldest Greek Fathers are silent upon this point. Irenæus is the first to touch it; and he maintains that the first sin was the sin of the race, since Adam was its head (III. xxiii. 3; V. xii. 3; cf. R. Seeberg, Dogmengeschichte, i., Leipsic, 1895, p. 82). Origen, on the other hand, holds that man sinned because he had abused his liberty when in a preexistent state. In Adam seminally were the bodies of all his descendants (Contra Celsum, iv.; cf. C. F. A. Kahnis, Dogmatik, ii., Leipsic, 1864, pp. 107 sqq.). Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Chrysostom derive sin from the fall. Tertullian, Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, and Augustine represent the Biblical standpoint. Pelagius saw in Adam only a bad example, which his descendants followed. Semi-Pelagianism similarly regarded the first sin merely as opening the flood-gates to iniquity; but upon this point Augustinianism since it was formulated has dominated the Church—in Adam the race sinned.
3. The Orthodox Views.
The prominent orthodox views are: (1) The Augustinian, known as realism, which is that human nature in its entirety was in Adam when he sinned, that his sin was the act of human nature, and that in this sin human nature fell; that is, lost its freedom to the good, becoming wholly sinful and producing sinners. “We sinned in that man when we were that man.” This is the view of Anselm, Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Luther. (2) The federal theory of the Dutch divines Cocceius and Witsius is that Adam became the representative of mankind and that the probation of the human race ended once for all in his trial and fall in the garden of Eden. Accordingly the guilt of Adam’s sin was imputed to his posterity. This is the theory of Turretin and the Princeton theologians. (3) The theory of mediate imputation (Placæus) is that the sin of Adam is imputed to his descendants not directly, but on account of their depravity derived from him and their consent to his sin. (See Imputation; Sin.)
4. The Evolutionary Views.
According to the evolutionary view of man’s origin, which is not necessarily materialistic, Adam may be designated as the first individual or individuals in the upward process of development in whom self-consciousness appeared or who attained such stability of life that henceforth humanity was able to survive the shock of death. By some, the first man is conceived of as a special instance of creative wisdom and power; by others, as the natural result of the evolutionary process. Whether the human race sprang from one individual or from several is, for lack of evidence, left an open question. In this position the unity of the race is in no wise compromised, since this is grounded not in derivation from a single pair but in identity of constitution and ideal ethical and spiritual aim. This view of the first man brings into prominence the dignity of human nature and its kinship with the divine, yet at the same time profoundly modifies the traditional doctrine of original sin. In the disproportion between the inherited instincts, appetites, and desires of the animal nature and the weak and struggling impulses of the moral consciousness there arises an inevitable conflict in which the higher is temporarily worsted and the sense of sin emerges. By virtue of heredity and the organic and social unity of the race, all the descendants of the earliest man are involved with him in the common struggle, the defeat, and the victory of the moral and spiritual life. This conflict is a sign that man is not simply a fallen being, but is in process of ascent. The first man, although of the earth, is a silent prophecy of the second man, the Lord from heaven.
1. The Use of “Adam” as a Proper Name.
The sources of knowledge of Adam are exclusively Biblical and, indeed, wholly of the Old Testament, since the New Testament adds nothing concerning his personality and his doings to what is recorded of him in the Book of Genesis. The main inquiry, therefore, must be as to the place occupied by Adam in the Old Testament. Here several striking facts confront us: (1) There is no allusion to Adam direct or indirect after the early genealogies. In Deut. xxxii. 8 and Job xxviii. 28 the Hebrew adham (adam) means “mankind.” In Hos. vi. 7 the reading should be “Admah” (a place-name). The latest references (apart from the excerpt in I Chron. i. 1) are Gen. iv. 25 (Sethite line of J) and Gen. v. 1, 3 (Sethite line of P). (2) Outside of the genealogies there is no clear instance of the use of the word as a proper name. The definite article, omitted in the Masoretic text, should be restored in Gen. iii. 17, 21 (J) in harmony with the usage of the whole context, which reads “the man” instead of “Adam.” 35 Eve (Gen. iii. 20; iv. 1) is the first proper name of our Bible. (3) Whatever may have been the origin of the proper name “Adam,” its use here seems to be derived from and based upon the original generic sense. Even in the genealogies the two significations are interchanges. Thus while Gen. v. 1 substitutes “Adam” for “the man” of i. 27, chap. v. 2 continues: “Male and female created he them . . . and called their name Adam.” It is a fair inference that the genealogies are in part at least responsible for the individual and personal usage of the name. When it is considered that all Semitic history began with genealogies, of which the standing designation in the early summaries is “generations” (Heb. toledhoth), the general motive of such a transference of ideas is obvious. The process was easy and natural because in the ancient type of society a community is thought of as a unit, is a proper name without the article, and is designated by a single not a plural form. The first community having been “man” (“the adam”), its head and representative was naturally spoken of as “Man” (“Adam”) when there was need of referring to him. On the etymological side a partial illustration is afforded by the French on (Lat. homo) and the German man, which express individualization anonymously.
2. Foreign Influence in P.
The secondary character of the notion of an individual Adam is also made probable by the fact that the genealogical system of P is artificial and of foreign origin or at least of foreign suggestion. The whole scheme of the ten generations of Gen. v. is modeled upon and in part borrowed from the Babylonian tradition of the first ten kings of Babylon. Of these lists of ten there are five names in either list which show striking correspondences with five in the other, ending with the tenth, which in either case is the name of the hero of the flood story. These Babylonian kings also were demigods, having lives of immense duration, two of them, moreover (the seventh and the tenth), having, like Enoch and Noah, special communications with divinity.
3. The Aim and Plan of P.
In brief, as regards P, the matter stands as follows:—His first theme was the process and plan of creation according to an ascending scale of being. At the head of creation were put the first human beings, “man” or mankind (Gen. i. 26). The second leading thought in P’s “generations of the heavens and the earth” was the continuance of the race or the peopling of the earth. Expression was given to it by the statement that “the man” was created “male and female” (i. 27). The third stage in the narrative is reached when the descent of Abraham from the first man is established, in order to provide a necessary and appropriate pedigree for the house of Israel. At the head of this line was placed the individual “Man” or “Adam.”
4. The Narrative of J.
Turning now to the story of Paradise and the Fall, which, as has been seen, speaks of the first man only as “the man” and not as “Adam,” the main motive of Gen. ii.–iv. is to account for certain characteristics and habits of mankind, above all to set forth the origin, nature, and consequences of sin as disobedience to and alienation from Yahweh. Man is presented first as a single individual; next as being mated with a woman, with and for whom he has a divinely constituted affinity; then as the head of the race upon which he brings the curse due to his own disobedience. At first sight this might seem to imply a preconception of the individuality and personality of the first man, who may as well as not have borne the name “Adam,” which J himself gives him in the fragmentary genealogy of Gen. iv. 25-26. But the inference is not justified. The pictures drawn by J and the conceptions they embody are not spontaneous effusions. They are the result of careful selection and of long and profound reflection, and when the problems which J sets out to solve and the incidents which convey and embody the solution be considered, it must be concluded that the answers to the questions could have been arrived at only through the study of man, not in individuals but as a social being. In other words, this “prophetic” interpreter worked his way backward through history or tradition along certain well-known lines of general human experience, and at the heart of the story appears not a single but a composite figure, not an individual but a type, while the story itself is not history or biography but in part mythical and in part allegorical. Thus the unhistorical character of Adam is even more demonstrable from the narrative of J than from that of P.
5. Parallels in Other Literatures.
Some of the primitive mythical material in Genesis has analogies in other literatures. Not to mention the more remote Avesta, attention must again be called to some of the Babylonian parallels. It is now indisputable that Eden is a Babylonian name; that the whole scenery of the region is Babylonian; that the tree of life, the cherubim, and the serpent, the enemy of the gods and men, are all Babylonian. There is also the Babylonian story of how the first man came to forfeit immortality. Adapa, the human son of the good god Ea, had offended Anu, the god of heaven (see Babylonia, VII, 3, § 3), and was summoned to heaven to answer for his offense. Before his journey thither he was warned by his divine father to refuse the “food of death” and “water of death” which Anu would offer to him. At the trial, Anu, who had been moved by the intercession of two lesser gods, offered him instead “food of life” and “water of life.” These he refused, and thus missed the immortality intended for him; for Anu when placated had wished to place him among the gods. Some such story as this by a process of reduction along monotheistic lines may have contributed its part to the framework of the narrative of the rejection of Adam. It is indeed possible that Adam and Adapa are ultimately the same name.
6. The Literary Material Mythical in Character.
An important element in the whole case is the general character of the literary material of which the story of Adam forms a portion. Apart from 36 the conceptions proper to the religion of Israel, which give them their distinctive moral value, the events and incidents related belong generically to the mythical stories of the beginnings of the earth and man, which have been related among many ancient and modern peoples, and specifically to the cycle of myths and legends which reached their fullest literary development in Babylonia, and which undoubtedly were originally the outgrowth of a polytheistic theory of the origin of the universe. Much weight must also be attached to the fact that the story of Adam is practically isolated in the Old Testament, above all to the consideration that prophecy and psalmody, which build so much upon actual history, ignore it altogether.
7. New Testament References.
The New Testament references show that Jesus and Paul used the earliest stories of Genesis for didactic purposes. The remark is often made in explanation that their age was not a critical one and that the sacred authors did not in their own minds question the current belief in the accuracy of the oldest documents. This is probably true, at any rate of Paul (cf. especially I Cor. xi. 8-9; I Tim. ii. 13-14). His view of the relation between the first and second Adam (I Cor. xv. 22, 45; Rom. v. 12 sqq.) is the development of an idea of rabbinical theology, and has a curious primitive analogy in the relation between Merodach, the divine son of the good god Ea, and Adapa, the human son of Ea (cf. Luke iii. 38). Jesus himself does not make any direct reference to Adam in his recorded sayings.
Bibliography: I. §§ 1, 2: Jos. Butler, Sermons on Human Nature, in vol. ii. of his Works, Oxford, 1844; S. Baird, The First Adam and the Second, Philadelphia, 1860; J. Müller, Christliche Lehre von der Sünde, Breslau, 1867, Eng. transl., Doctrine of Sin, Edinburgh, 1868; Chas. Hodge, Systematic Theology, ii., ch. v., vii., viii., New York, 1872; R. W. Landis, Original Sin and Imputation, Richmond, 1884; W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, ii. 1-257, iii. 249-377, New York, 1888 (vol. iii. gives catena of citations from early Christian times to the middle of the eighteenth century); H. B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, pp. 273-301, ib. 1890; W. N. Clarke, Outline of Christian Theology, pp. 182-198, 227-259, ib. 1898; R. V. Foster, Systematic Theology, pp. 348-355, 363-381, Nashville, 1898; A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, pp. 234-260, 261-272, New York, 1902.
I. § 3: H. B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, New York, 1886; G. P. Fisher, Discussions in History and Theology, pp. 355-409, ib. 1880; cf. Calvin, Institutes, book ii., ch. 1., §§ 6-8.
I. § 4: H. Drummond, The Ascent of Man, New York, 1894; J. Le Conte, Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought, ib. 1894; J. Fiske, The Destiny of Man Viewed in the Light of his Origin, Boston, 1895; idem, Through Nature to God, ib. 1899; J. M. Tyler, The Whence and the Whither of Man, ib. 1896; C. R. Darwin, The Descent of Man, pp. 174-180, New York, 1896; J. Deniker, The Races of Man, London, 1900.
II. §§ 1-7: M. Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 511, 544 sqq., Boston, 1898; idem, in DB, supplement vol., pp. 573-574; H. Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos, pp. 420 sqq., Göttingen, 1895; idem, Genesis, pp. 5 sqq., 33, 98 sqq., ib. 1902; Schrader, KAT, pp. 397, 520 sqq.
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