Monday, April 14, 2014

Four Views on the Historical Adam - A Review

Four Views on the
Historical Adam

Matthew Barrett
Ardel B. Caneday

A Review

This newest book in Zondervan’s “Conterpoints” series takes look at the role that Adam and Eve play in current theological thinking.  Recognizing that much of our understanding of Adam will depend on the role God played in creation, the editors begin by exploring six models of creation - ranging from philosophical naturalism (God was not involved at all) to Young-Earth Creationism (God created the earth in seven day approximately 6000 years ago).  Not all of these would be conceived as evangelical opinions - but they cannot be ignored.

Four authors are then asked to address the role Adam had in the creation story.  These four views are summed up in the book’s “Introduction”:

  1. There is no historical Adam - creation was a naturalistic process that, when properly understood, can be aligned with the Bible.
  2. There is an historical Adam, but in actuality Adam and Eve are seen as “archtypal” representatives of the entire human race.
  3. Adam and Eve were real, actual, historical persons - though he may have been the leader of his tribe or family.  This view is typical of creationists who hold an Old-Earth historical perspective.
  4. Adam and Eve were real, actual, historical persons whose very existence is evidenced by a careful reading of the Old and New Testaments.  This view is typical of those who hold a Young-Earth view of creation.

The book, along with examining the arguments for each of these four views, also explores, albeit briefly, the importance of understanding Adam and Eve to Christian faith for all believers.  Though each of the authors are careful to document their own writing, I was disappointed to not find suggestions for additional reading for those who may want to dig deeper into specific viewpoints.

Though the book is addressed to the Scholar, it would be readable by the educated lay person with basic training in science and theology.  I would recommend it be read by believers seeking to relate science to their faith - it may not provide all the answers, but it will assist the seeker in connecting these two areas of their lives.  The book is not an apologetic, but an attempt to educate the student of scripture to how other believes have understood the beginnings of the human race. Upper division or graduate students in the science would be well to add this book to their reading list - perhaps during a summer break or as late night devotional reading.  In addition, pastors may find the material of help as they work with a lay community who finds itself regularly confronted with challenges to their own view of creation.   

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

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