Recent evangelical discussion concerning Adam and Eve has served at least one good purpose — it has helped to clarify what is theologically at stake in the debate. The recent report by National Public Radio [NPR] alerted the larger secular culture to the debate, but the debate is hardly new. What is new, however, is the candid admission on the part of some that the denial of a historical Adam requires a new understanding of the Bible’s basic story — and thus of the Gospel as well. One of my recent articles, “False Start? The Controversy Over Adam and Eve Heats Up,” made this point clearly. As I argued there, the denial of a historical Adam means not only the rejection of a clear biblical teaching, but also the denial of the biblical doctrine of the Fall, leading to a very different way of telling the story of the Bible and the meaning of the Gospel. By the way, those who try to deny that Genesis requires the affirmation of a historic Adam as a real and singular human individual (arguing, for example, that the Hebrew word translated “Adam” means only “the man”) must face the fact that the Genesis narrative clearly presents Adam as a singular individual who acts, speaks, marries, reproduces, and is listed even in the genealogy of Jesus. Hebrew vocabulary offers no escape hatch from historicity. The main point of my “False Start” article, however, was that the denial of a historical Adam severs the essential point made by Paul in Romans 5:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come….
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