Adam is Israel
Adam is Israel
by Pete Enns
read the full article at this link.
For the past few posts we’ve been looking at creation in the Old Testament as a cosmic battle, and we’ve spent a lot of time seeing how that idea works itself out in the book of Exodus.
There is much more to Exodus and creation in the Old Testament than cosmic battle. I am not trying to say that cosmic battle is some magic key to unlock the mysteries of the Bible. But it does open a new window to seeing the ”ancient ways” in which the Israelites thought of creation.
It also helps us look at the Adam story from an angle that might be new to some readers here: Adam is the beginning of Israel, not humanity. I imagine this may require some explanation.
Israel’s history as a nation can be broken down as follows:
Israel is “created” by God at the exodus through a cosmic battle (gods are defeated and the Red Sea is “divided”);
The Israelites are given Canaan to inhabit, a lush land flowing with milk and honey;
They remain in the land as long as they obey the Mosaic law;
They persist in a pattern of disobedience and are exiled to Babylon.
Israel’s history parallels Adam’s drama in Genesis:
Adam is created in Genesis 2 after the taming of chaos in Genesis 1;
Adam is placed in a lush garden;
Law (not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) is given as a stipulation for remaining in the garden;
Adam and Eve disobey and are exiled.
There are two ways of looking at this parallel. You could say that the Adam story came first and then the Israelites just followed that pattern. But there is another way. Maybe Israel’s history happened first, and the Adam story was written to reflect that history. In other words, the Adam story is really an Israel story placed in primeval time. It is not a story of human origins but of Israel’s origins.
Everyone has to decide for themselves which of these readings of Genesis has more “explanatory power.” I (and other biblical scholars) come down on the second option for a number of reasons, some having to do with Genesis itself while others concern other issues in the Bible. Let me give one reason from Genesis.