First Man versus Adam in Genesis - Creation and Evolution

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First Man versus Adam in Genesis

English > Fields of Research > Genesis Interpretation

P. Rüst (2008), Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 60/3, 206-207;

The original web publication by the American Scientific Affiliation:


In his response to my article, P. Rüst (2007),
"Early Humans, Adam, and Inspiration", Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 59/2, 182-193,
P.G. Nelson (2008), "Adam and Eve", Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 60/1, 71, claims that:
- the first human in Genesis 1:27 is the same as Adam in Genesis 2:7 because in both instances, the Hebrew uses "'adam" with the article, "ha'adam", indicating an individual;
- the plural "them" in Genesis 1:27 points to Adam and Eve.

First man
Adam ?

Main points:

- Gen. 1:26 has "Let us make man" ('adam), but 1:27 has "So God created man" (ha'adam). Both refer to the same collective, "male and female he created them". Thus, here "man" is not Adam, but humanity.

- The article is used with Adam's name when he fathered Cain (4:1a), but not when he fathered Seth (4:25).

- Gen. 2-4 usually adds the article, but 5:1-5 consistently omits it.

- The article is used from Gen. 6 onward, where "man" cannot denote Adam.

- From "there was no man to work the ground" in 2:5, Nelson seems to conclude that what follows is a creation story amplifying 1:27. Is he reasoning in a circle?

- Interpretation has to consider the immediate and wider contexts, and language flexibility.

- Gen. 1:1-2:4a has a global frame, but 2:4b-4:16 is local, dealing with the land of Sumer of the fifth millennium BC, as evidenced by the four rivers of 2:10-14. Gen. 2-4 is not a second creation story.

- After Gen. 2:4b, the geographical context gradually widens towards the northwest, until 12:3, when Abraham is sent to Canaan. In particular, Noah's flood was local.

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