Did Adam (and Eve) actually exist? Historically, the general confession among believers of all Christian traditions has been a resounding yes. Likewise, the faculty and administration here at Criswell College unequivocally affirm that Scripture teaches this truth. However in recent years certain advancements in scientific research have persuaded some evangelical scholars that this conviction needs to be revisited. As a result, there is now a growing polarization between evangelicals who believe in an historical Adam and a growing consortium that does not.
So in light of this development, the Spring 2013 edition of CTR is devoted to the significance of an historical Adam for biblical and theological studies. As we will see in this compilation of articles, there are numerous issues that are contributing to this theological impasse. Some of those matters include the hermeneutical complexities related to interpreting the Genesis creation account; whether scientific and biblical claims can be complimentary or not; how we should identify the textual derivation of Genesis 1-3 in light of comparative studies with various ancient Near Eastern creation myths; and most recently, whether the idea of humanity being traced back to one parental couple is compatible with current discoveries in genetic research. All in all then, we have put this volume together so our readers can see how this discussion is developing within Christian academics.
To begin, our lead article defends the historicity of Adam and it is written by C. Marvin Pate who is the Chair of the Department of Christian Theology and Elma Cobb Professor of Christian Theology at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. His article, which is entitled “Genesis: Creation and Adam in Context,” discusses exegetical issues that are pertinent to the contemporary literature on this debate including the literary structure of Genesis 1-2, the possible priestly background of Gen 1, recent interpretations of Genesis 1-2 in light of ancient Near Eastern creation accounts, and the role of Adam in the theology of Paul.
The second article defending the historicity of Adam is by Robert Chisholm, Jr., who currently serves as the Chair of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. His article, which is entitled “For This Reason”: Etiology and Its Implications for the Historicity of Adam,” argues that the way in which author of Genesis connects the creation account to the fall and other subsequent events necessitates an historical Adam because the original readers were expected to interpret their present experience in light of Adam’s previous existence.
The third entry comes in the form of an interview entitled “The Bible, Science, and the Historical Adam.” This exchange is between CTR and Denis Lamoureux, who is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta in Alberta, Canada. Lamoureux brings a wealth of expertise to this discussion, having earned three doctorates (dentistry, theology, and biology) and published two books on the subject (A Christian Approach to Evolution, 2008) and (I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution, 2009). Lamoureux represents the first author in this discussion who claims to be an evangelical who affirms biblical authority and the core doctrines of the faith but openly denies the existence of Adam.
Our fourth contribution briefly engages the work of Old Testament scholar Peter Enns who has recently published a book critiquing the idea of an historical Adam (The Evolution of Adam, 2012). The article is entitled “A Literal and Historical Adam and Eve? Reflections on the Work of Peter Enns,” and it is provided by the esteemed Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., who is President Emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts and now is the Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and Old Testament Ethics.
The fifth and final article that concludes this edition of CTR is written by Robert C. Kurka, who currently serves as Professor of Theology and Church in Culture at Lincoln Christian Seminary, which is part of Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois. Kurka’s article surveys specific issues in genetics, evolutionary theory, and historical theology that relate to the ongoing conversations about Adam. He concludes that the belief in a historical Adam is proving to be extremely problematic and that evangelicals who choose to maintain this position will continue to face significant challenges in the future.
Finally, this volume concludes with several book reviews in the hopes that they can inform readers about works that can improve their theological libraries. And also remember that past issues of CTR can be accessed online at atla.com. Your local university or seminary can provide you with a password.
Everett Berry, Editor