You are herePete Enns: Adam is Israel

Pete Enns: Adam is Israel

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By Ransom - Posted on 02 March 2010

Read this stunning piece by Pete Enns, late of Westminster Theological Seminary. Below is a significant part of his remarks, but do read the whole essay.

I am impressed that the Covenant Creation model seems to anticipate much of this.

I think it would be helpful to have Tim and/or Jeff clarify specifically how their view differs from (not just expounds upon) the view below.
~Ransom

If the Adam story is about the first humans, the presence of other humans outside of Eden is out of place. We are quite justified in concluding that the Adam story is not about absolute human origins but the beginning of one smaller subset, one particular people.

The parallels between Israel and Adam that we see above tell us that the particular people in mind are Israel. Adam is “proto-Israel.”

Some might object that Genesis 1-11 deals with universal matters, not merely one people: the entire cosmos created in Genesis 1, the flood, the disbursement of the nations after the flood. Absolutely. No question there. But the point is this: after the creation of humanity in Genesis 1, Genesis 2 begins to tell the story of “proto-Israel.” In other words, Israel was not a latecomer, coming into existence only in the exodus. Israel was always there as God’s specially chosen people since the beginning.

Look at it this way. The word “adam” is ambiguous in Genesis. Every commentator notes that sometimes “adam” represents humanity (so I will use the lower case); other times it is the name “Adam” (upper case) representing one man. What does this back and forth mean? It means that Adam is a special subset of adam.

The character “Adam” is the focus of the story because he is the part of “adam” that God is really interested in. There is “adam” outside of Eden (in Nod), but inside of Eden, which is God’s focus, there is only “Adam”—the one with which he has a unique relationship.

The question in Genesis is whether “Adam” will be obedient to “the law” and stay in Eden, thus continuing this special relationship, or join the other “adam” outside in “exile.” This is the same question with Israel: after being “created” by God, will they obey and remain in the land, or disobey and be exiled?

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MiddleKnowledge's picture

Perhaps the right person to ask is Jerel Kratt. He gave a presentation at the 2009 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend in Ardmore, Oklahoma, that argued something very much akin to this position from the New Testament. I was convinced when I first heard it quite some time ago.

For my thoughts?

I am convinced that Adam and Israel are inseparable. The associations are very powerful, as are the connections between Adam and Abraham. You know, both Adam and Abraham were tempted by their wives, and fell. Both Adam and Abraham had a "deep sleep" experience. Both Adam and Abraham are discussed in close proximity to gold. A few other good parallels, too.

I do see the logic of Enns' association. I suspect, however, that Adam's is the original story. But then I believe Adam wrote portions of Genesis. I take the early date view of original authorship in early Genesis. Enns doesn't seem to think in terms of that possibility. Too bad.

Tim Martin
www.BeyondCreationScience.com

Sam's picture

Interersting article. I do like how he at least avoids the dogmatism of his presentation. I think, though, he goes too far, failing to see the establishment of "pattern" (Adam is called a "type" by Paul). Paul's argument is based on the fact that "all" (Jews and Gentiles) came from Adam. Adam is the great equalizer. The "all" is under his "condemnation"- and it is this "condemnation" that is removed (Rom 8.1). Wright's view, which I think is far more superior, is the "narrative typology" view - Adam, Israel is not identical, but Adam's story is repeated in Israel (Rom 7, see his commentary on Romans).

It is rather odd that Enns does not build his case from "explicit" Scriptures, yet calls those who hold that Cain married his sister "completely made up". Well, it's not "completely" made up. It is a logical deduction based of the preface of "Eve was the mother of all the living" and bookended with "Adam had many sons and daughters" (5.2). The author, in this view, has answered the question but is only focusing on who God called, "Abel, Cain, Seth." Nothing violates the text here (or contradicts it).

Mick's picture

Sam,
First let me say thank you for continuing to be engaged in this discussion, despite your frustrations with some of us at times.

Second, what if the expression mother of all living was meant in a covenantal sense; that is she was mother of all who were brought in to the “Paradise of God.” I find it fascinating that the LXX uses the same Greek word for paradise that the NT uses when Jesus tells the thief on the cross He would meet him in “paradise.”

Third, what if the dust from which Adam was from, and would return, was the same dust that the prophet Daniel was describing in Daniel 12.2? I agree with your view, “Adam's story is repeated in Israel.” Not that my agreement makes it correct, so the dust of the earth in Adam’s life may have been the same dust in the story of Israel.

Finally, I have pointed out before the similar language in the LXX for “breath of Life” in Adam’s story and Revelation 11. Again in my mind, the story of Adam is “first telling” of the redemptive work of God in the history of Man. It is told over again in the life of Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. Life = presence of God. Dust = the existence outside the presence of God. Death is separation from God. Breath of life = causes resurrection. These are some of the repeated patterns that I think I see.

Mickey

Mickey E. Denen

Sam's picture

Mickey,

You are always kind, and I have never had any issues with you. My first "problem" with seeing "dust" in Gn 2 as referring to "nations" is that in a forward reading, the suggestion is that we would have to wait centuries before finding out what "dust" meant! And, that "connection" is very scant. It seems the metaphor would be much "louder" in the Scriptures. We see the "patterns", of course, as most ministers have seen this. It's the problem that faces "allegorism" in general. Typology and allegorism are not the same things.

The question, for me, is that if a view has to "read into" a passage several technical aspects of definitions that are found centuries later (like Daniel's "dust" means nations, therefore, "dust" in Gn 2 means "nations") then that connection has to be strongly supported in Scripture. Strongly supported. I believe in that rule for it keeps us in bounds, so to speak, from drifting off in "allegoritus". lol. Surely you can see my concern.

As for Eve being the "mother of all the living" - I don't see any reason to say "covenantal" living, for immediately the problem is raised when Cain is born. Was he "covenantally living"? Secondly, Adam and Eve had "sons and daughters". Were they "covenantally living"? Scholars have long seen the "seed" of Seth aspects (even Morris and Whitcomb see that) - but this shouldn't get over into the abuse found in, say, British-Israel doctrine, or "serpent seed" doctrines. The reason those useless teachings have spawned is because of this tightly controlled "either/or" approach that has no flexibility to it whatsoever. I am leery of that. I don't like straightjackets.

In my approach, there is nothing contradicting the interpretation that Eve was the mother of the Hittites, Shem, Cain, Nimrod and Abel and "all". There is no contradiction in any text that she would demand that she could not have been the mother of "all" the living. The only problem this immediately runs into is not textual - but modern, Western science. I have not seen anything other than, "where did Cain's wife come from"? That can be answered satisfactorily and without contradiction. You may not like the answer, and that answer may not "fit" your "covenant creation" view - but, alright. You have to provide Scriptural support to show that this CONTRADICTS the Bible in another place. In other words, you would have to show conclusively that the Bible flatly contradicts the view I (and a most of church history) have expounded. That's what we did with Preterism. Futurism contradicts the Bible's clear teaching of what "near" meant. I would expect to find the same mentality and support for this issue, as well - and I have not seen it.

See, in my last article, I can adopt Walton, Wright, Godawa, etc. I am not committed to "science". I am free from that concern in any way, shape, or form. Thus, I can see patterns, covenantal aspects, historical narrative aspects, literal aspects and poetic aspects....But, if one adopts, as BCS explicitly states that they do, that science gives us "truth", then, like Milton Terry said, Genesis cannot be read literally at all unless one makes some radical changes.

I have made some changes here and there, but am also inclusive of a great deal of what other scholars are seeing as well. I am just not concerned with "science" at all. I am not trying to "save the appearances". I am not worried about "embarrassment" from the "world" or the scientific community.

mazuur's picture

Sam,

"I have not seen anything other than, "where did Cain's wife come from"?"

C'mon, Tim and JL put forth many many many many more points than just that one...sigh!

-Rich

-Rich

JL's picture

Stephen,

How familiar are you with the general idea of concordism and non-concordism?

Preterism, specifically Covenant Eschatology, is the non-concordist eschatology.

Dispensationalism is the concordist eschatology.

The other forms of eschatology divide eschatological events into covenantal/fulfilled/non-concordist and physical/future/concordist. As you are aware, these other eschatologies place some feature in the fulfilled category. Some of these are conscientiously called covenantal.

YEC, OEC (Ross, Snoke, Stoner), Gap-theory, Fischer's TE are all concordist creation. They attempt to build a one-to-one correspondence between Scripture and physical creation.

Covenant Creation is the non-concordist creation. We have a minimal definition so that we can handle any and every non-concordist element someone imagines.

Def. Genesis 1 tells us about the "creation" of the old covenant / old covenant people.

Anything that falls within that definition could be called Covenant Creation, just as the four creation views above could be called "literal" in the modernistic Fundamentalist sense.

Any non-concordist solution to any feature of the text is potentially adaptable into that definition of Covenant Creation.

Walton, Enns, Godawa are still partial non-concordists. They are not yet willing to separate Gen. 1 completely the "creation" of the physical universe. But they are still a help to us.

I personally have a stricter view of Creation than that basic definition of Covenant Creation. Just as Covenant Eschatology as become more tightly defined over the years, so will Covenant Creation. It is a matter of making sure we include what might work but slowly throwing out what doesn't work.

Blessings.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Islamaphobe's picture

I find the thesis presented by Enns to be very plausible, but I do not claim expertise on Genesis. For what it is worth I shall make some comments about a book written by Robert Bowie Johnson a few years ago entitled "The Parthenon Code."

Johnson is a West Point grad from Annapolis, MD who fought in Vietnam and became very interested in the study of ancient history after he retired from the Army. He is a Young Earth Creationist and criticized me when we met when I suggested that the Appalachian mountains visible out the window of the restaurant where we were eating were many millions of years old. I remain a believer that Earth is billions of years old, but I do recognize that Robert Bowie Johnson is a very good scholar.

In "The Parthenon Code," Johnson makes what seems to me to be a strong case for believing that the ancient Greeks shared with the Hebrews a belief in a great flood in the past, and he even argues that certain Greek figures from mythology correspond to people in Genesis. Heracles, for example, he argues, is the Greek version of Nimrod, and a figure of Greek legend known as Nereus is the Greek version of Noah.

What this suggests to be is that the ancient Greeks and the Hebrews may well have developed different versions of common legends, and I think that this understanding is compatible with what Enns writes.

John S. Evans

Islamaphobe's picture

I find the thesis presented by Enns to be very plausible, but I do not claim expertise on Genesis. For what it is worth I shall make some comments about a book written by Robert Bowie Johnson a few years ago entitled "The Parthenon Code."

Johnson is a West Point grad from Annapolis, MD who fought in Vietnam and became very interested in the study of ancient history after he retired from the Army. He is a Young Earth Creationist and criticized me when we met when I suggested that the Appalachian mountains visible out the window of the restaurant where we were eating were many millions of years old. I remain a believer that Earth is billions of years old, but I do recognize that Robert Bowie Johnson is a very good scholar.

In "The Parthenon Code," Johnson makes what seems to me to be a strong case for believing that the ancient Greeks shared with the Hebrews a belief in a great flood in the past, and he even argues that certain Greek figures from mythology correspond to people in Genesis. Heracles, for example, he argues, is the Greek version of Nimrod, and a figure of Greek legend known as Nereus is the Greek version of Noah.

What this suggests to be is that the ancient Greeks and the Hebrews may well have developed different versions of common legends, and I think that this understanding is compatible with what Enns writes.

John S. Evans

Islamaphobe's picture

I find the thesis presented by Enns to be very plausible, but I do not claim expertise on Genesis. For what it is worth I shall make some comments about a book written by Robert Bowie Johnson a few years ago entitled "The Parthenon Code."

Johnson is a West Point grad from Annapolis, MD who fought in Vietnam and became very interested in the study of ancient history after he retired from the Army. He is a Young Earth Creationist and criticized me when we met when I suggested that the Appalachian mountains visible out the window of the restaurant where we were eating were many millions of years old. I remain a believer that Earth is billions of years old, but I do recognize that Robert Bowie Johnson is a very good scholar.

In "The Parthenon Code," Johnson makes what seems to me to be a strong case for believing that the ancient Greeks shared with the Hebrews a belief in a great flood in the past, and he even argues that certain Greek figures from mythology correspond to people in Genesis. Heracles, for example, he argues, is the Greek version of Nimrod, and a figure of Greek legend known as Nereus is the Greek version of Noah.

What this suggests to be is that the ancient Greeks and the Hebrews may well have developed different versions of common legends, and I think that this understanding is compatible with what Enns writes.

John S. Evans

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