Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some implications of Enns’ The evolution of Adam – moving the discussion a bit further

What are we to make of Peter Enn's book 'The evolution of Adam'
perhaps the following may help people be very wary of it.

Central to Enns’ theory is that "Adam is a prototype of Israel", and more so, that he is not an historical figure. Adam stands as a pattern[1] of Israel. Here is the idea that “his” being made, given a land, responsibilities and exile /death for disobedience are clear parallels between Adam and Israel. Does not this require a speculation by the reader regarding Adams significance since he is only a literary representation. The difficulty is the subjective range of interpretations available.

What are the implications of his theory if he is right?
Well firstly, Genesis tells us that Adam lived 930 years and then died, Genesis 5:5. If the book of Genesis was written post exilic[2] to comfort Israel in exile, ( leaving aside the need for comfort when they had wilfully ignored the prophets such as Ezekiel etc ) then this is not at all comforting, unless of course one restricts the prototype of Adam to just chapters 1-3. If you don’t then the news for Israel is that she dies! What is this death? Is it that there is no national future – something I might point out that flys in the face of all the rest of the Old Testament prophets. If you say that Adams death is just symbolic of Israel’s exile for sin then that opens a plethora of interpretations of the Genesis text.
Secondly if Adam as prototype is restricted to just Genesis 1-3 then one must include Eve as the prototype of Israel as well, otherwise God by mentioning the creation of Eve from Adam and his desire for her and his being enamoured with her etc is just putting “heavenly padding” to the text. That in itself would be contradicting the rest of Scripture which declares the words of God as pure and profitable for teaching rebuke and training in righteousness! Let me stand aside from such a foolish person who says this as God turns out his wrath upon them.

So it’s not padding but exactly what part does she play if Adam himself is a prototype of Israel. I will leave aside the speculation that someone no doubt will make that she is the Church!
Eve as the text says holds a special place as from her seed will come the Messiah. Indeed two lines arise from Eve, but more significant is this seed of Genesis 3:15, ‘spermos’ in the greek Septuagint – hinting at a virginal conception – that speaks of the coming Messiah. Certainly the Messiah comes from Israel and surely this is not something that Enns’ would deny, so one is left to assume that Eve is also a prototype of Israel along with Adam. Now what does that mean for the New Testament passages which speak of Eve? Paul, but of course Enns’ thinks Paul was just plain wrong much of the time, argued that Eve was deceived not Adam. 2 Tim 2:13-14 and that means on Enns’ hermeneutic there is suddenly a ripping apart of the model of Israel since Paul does pit Adam and Eve “against” each other at that point. Perhaps more importantly Paul says Adam was not the one deceived but the woman ( the definite article is used ) indicating she is an historical person and this is all in making an argument in relation to Adam! “The woman being deceived was in transgression”

Lastly and significantly, the speculative nature of Enn’s interpretation of so much of Scripture seems to confront not only that it has been understood and interpreted consistently to arrive at a consensus  of orthodoxy for the last 2000 years, but that it undermines the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture and nullifies Peter’s command in Jude 3 for all Christians “to contend for the faith”, that is the Whole canon of Scripture once delivered which presupposes that such Scripture can be understood and believed! It is these teachings of Scripture itself that negate Enn’s reworking of the faith.

It seems when you read Enn’s that he is more enamoured with having Science as His Authority of what is true and real than the self authenticating Authority of the Word of God endorsed by the Holy Spirit. Of course he would reject such a contrast by saying this only begs the question. But Scripture starts by confronting us with “Has God said?” – our answer is yes indeed.
I hope and pray this is a fair appraisal, I value your comments,
In Christ

[1] Prototype means model of, a pattern of, so Adam is an original model or pattern of Israel, the first example of Israel, but the problem is that not being an historical figure, it is merely a literary representation. Thus it seems we are open to speculate on any connections in the rest of the bible
[2] And this is predicated on source analysis JEDP or some variant of this being true. This I seriously doubt because of its philosophical and theological assumptions. Placing the writing of Genesis in the 7th Century just flies in the face of the bibles affirmation. Eg Moses as author an assertion of Jesus himself, not merely Paul.

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