Genesis 2 & 3: Adam and Eve As Archetypes, Priests In The Garden Of Eden, and The Fall

Genesis 2 & 3: Adam and Eve As Archetypes, Priests In The Garden Of Eden, and The Fall

This is the second paper in a series of papers commentating on The Primeval History period of The Bible (i.e Genesis 1-11). Because some of these papers are rather long, I have made them available as downloadable PDFs so that you can read them at your own leisure. Click here to download the PDF of this paper. ——-> https://www.dropbox.com/s/bdf6sam6ika4vrb/Genesis%202%20%26%203_%20%20Adam%20and%20Eve%20as%20Archetypes%2C%20Priests%20In%20The%20Garden%20Of%20Eden%2C%20and%20The%20Fall%20%281%29.pdf?dl=0 

Abstract: In this paper, I will make the case for the following statements (1) that Genesis 2  is a sequel to Genesis 1. (2) that Genesis 2 does not teach that Adam and Eve were de novo creations, but instead, that the accounts that speak of them being formed from dust and rib are features of archetypology. These facts of being formed from dust and Rib are not just true of Adam and Eve, but it is true of all of us. All men are made from the dust and all women are made from the side of men. Thus, Genesis 2 is not describing material human origins, rather it is describing aspects of human identity. (3) that Adam and Eve were not mere gardeners in an ancient sinless resort, but served as Priests in sacred space, (4) The serpent was a divine being and this explains why Eve didn’t find having a conversation with it odd, (5) that the sin Adam and Eve committed was not eating from The Tree Of Knowledge, but eating of The Tree Of Knowledge outside of God’s timing and for the wrong motives. (6) God’s curse of the serpent wasn’t a removal of his legs and giving him a diet of dust, (7) Finally, I will argue that while population genetics rules out all people being genetic descendants of Adam and Eve, it doesn’t preclude us from being their genealogical descendants. 

Topic 1: Genesis 2 Is A Sequel To Genesis 1. 

It is extremely common in books that talk about the creation narrative in Genesis to argue, or in some cases presuppose, that Genesis 2 is giving more detail of the events that happened on day 6 of The Creation week in Genesis 1. The first topic to be discussed in this paper is that I dispute that notion for several reasons. The evidence within the text suggests that Genesis 2 is not a rehashing of Genesis 1’s day 6, rather Genesis 2 narrates historical events that come after the 7 days. There are two pieces of evidence that favor this reading.

Piece of Evidence 1: The Toledot Formula Is Never Recapitulative. 

Genesis 2:4 says “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”

The Hebrew word translated as “account” in Genesis 2:4 is Toledot. The literary formula “This is the account of X” occurs several other times in the book of Genesis. Let’s look at several examples. 

Each time the toledot formula is used, it reports what comes after the preceding passage. It is never used as a recapitulation of what the narrative described before. Now, we do have some examples of recursive narratives, but a recursive narrative is not the same as recapitulation. A recursive account always happens with brothers, with the narrative detailing the less important line and returning to the more important one. There is not one instance in The Old Testament in which toledot is used to retell a previous narrative in more detail. Therefore, making a probability judgment based on usage, Genesis 2:4’s toledot is most likely meant to be read as a sequel to Genesis 1. If it’s a sequel, the people in Genesis 1:26-27 are not necessarily Adam and Eve. There could have been people who were created by God who preceded Adam and Eve. We cannot argue this on biblical grounds. The text allows for it.

Piece of Evidence 2: There’s Too Much Activity In Genesis 2 To Occur On A Single Day.

Richard Deem of GodandScience.org explained this very nicely in one of his articles on the subject. Richard Deem of GodandScience.org wrote:

“The text indicates that God planted a garden. This garden was not planted full-grown, since the text says that the trees were caused to sprout or grow (Hebrew tsamach). The amount of time allowed for the garden to grow is not stated, but would presumably take longer than 24-hours. After the garden had grown sufficiently, the man was placed into the garden to cultivate it. By this time, the trees were producing fruit so that Adam could eat. This process takes a period of time greater than 24 hours. Next, Adam was given the assignment of naming the birds, cattle and wild animals. The list includes only birds and mammals and does not mention fish or other lower life forms. Even so, it would require that Adam name at least 14,600 species (8,600 species of birds and 4,000 species of mammals). This would require Adam to name more than 10 species per minute (assuming he had the entire 24 hours). For those who believe in a young earth, it would require that Adam name not only all of the existing birds and mammals but all the ones in the fossil record also (since they would all have to be alive on day 6 – since no animal death occurred before the fall). This type of assignment would almost certainly double the number of animals Adam had to name. However, Adam did not have the entire 24 hours, since part of it was required for the planting and growing of the garden, Adam tending the garden, and God putting Adam to sleep to create Eve. Realistically, Adam would have to name at least 20 species per minute, including all the species found in the fossil record. Following this naming of the animals, no suitable helper was found for Adam. So, God put Adam to sleep, took at piece of Adam’s side, and created Eve.”2

As explained in the Richard Deem quote above, the amount of events in Genesis 2 could not possibly be crammed into a single 24 hour day. Therefore, we have two options (1) Adopt The Day-Age view of Genesis 1, or (2) Conclude that the events of Genesis 2 come after Day 6. 

Richard Deem himself opts for the former possibility. The Day-Age interpretation says that the days of Genesis 1 are long time periods of unspecified length. One argument given in favor of this view is that the Hebrew word translated day “Yom” can refer to a long period of time. Therefore, on The Day-Age view, you don’t run into the problem of trying to cram everything into a 24 hour day. The “day” is a long one. However, there’s a problem with trying to read “Yom” as being a long period of time in the context of Genesis. As Professor John Walton explains “…the examples generally used of yôm referring to an extended period of time are examples in which the word is being used idiomatically: ‘in that day.’ This is a problem because words often take on specialized meaning in idiomatic expressions. So in Hebrew, the phrase ‘in that day’ is simply a way for Hebrew to say ‘when.’ The word yôm cannot be removed from that expression and still carry the meaning that it has in the expression.”3

Since interpreting Yom as long time periods is problematic in Genesis 1, our only other option is to not put the events of Genesis 2 in Genesis 1’s day 6 at all. Genesis 2 is a sequel. Now, the fact that I think “Yom” should be interpreted as a 24 hour period does not suggest that we must all become Young Earth Creationists. I have written elsewhere that the days of Genesis 1 are part of God inaugurating the universe as His cosmic temple, that God’s “creation” of everything within the 7 days is only about assigning functions and roles, and that the 7 days come after a period of material manufacturing that precedes the 7 days. See the footnote for resources.4 So Genesis 1 is, therefore, compatible with any view of material origins that the scientists may want to propose. 

Topic 2: The Forming Accounts – Dust and Rib.

Genesis 2:7 says “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The Hebrew word translated as “formed” is “Ysr” and “Ysr” does not always necessitate a material act of formation. Zechariah 12:1 is one example using the human spirit, something incorporeal.

John Walton, in The Lost World Of Adam and Eve, provides other examples. The following bullet points are excerpted from Walton’s book.5

  • God speaks of events that are taking place as having been formed (NIV: “planned”) long ago (2 Kings 19:25//Isaiah 37:26; cf. Isaiah 22:11; 46:11; Jeremiah 18:11).
  • When God forms the heart, the statement is not referring to the blood pump but to thoughts and inclinations (Psalm 33:15).
  • God formed summer and winter (Psalm 74:17).
  • A corrupt administration forms (NIV: “brings on”) misery for the people through its decrees (Psalm 94:20).
  • Our days are “formed” by God (Psalm 139:16).
  • Israel is formed by God (Isaiah 43:1, 21; 44:2, 21, 24; 45:11; Jeremiah 10:16; 51:19) as a people. Obviously, the individual homo sapiens that comprised the nation of Israel pre-existed the nation of Israel itself, therefore the “Formation” of Israel is not a material act of bringing new material things into being from non-being. The people who comprised Israel pre-existed Israel, yet the text says that God “formed” the nation of Israel.
  • God forms light and creates darkness (Isaiah 45:7). While we recognize light as a material substance (it’s composed of photons), the ancients did not. So Isaiah would not have thought the statement “God formed light” to be referring to the formation of anything material.
  • Servant (which God’s word tell us is Cyrus elsewhere) is formed by God in the womb (Isaiah 49:5; cf. Jeremiah 1:5) though he is born via the regular process of human reproduction.
  • God forms (the NIV uses the word “prepares”) a swarm of locusts (see Amos 7:1).

In his book The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate, Professor John Walton writes “More than half of the occurrences are shown by context to be unrelated to material. Many of the occurrences listed above communicate how God ordains or decrees phenomena, events, destinies, and roles. Most of the occurrences not listed here could easily be translated by alternatives like ‘prepare,’ ‘ordain’ or ‘decree.’ …We therefore discover that our predisposition to understand ‘form’ as a material act has more to do with the English translation than with the Hebrew original.”6

*Formed From Dust = Created Mortal

The referent to dust simply means that man was created mortal. This is supported by a biblical passage in the very next chapter (Genesis 3), in which God says to Adam and Eve “Dust you are and to dust you will return”. Obviously, this is drawing from the imagery of decomposing bodies, which ancient Israelites would have been aware of as they collected the bones of their dead to put them into ossuaries a year after burial. It is not true only of Adam and Eve that dust they are and to dust they will return, it is true of all of us. What is true of all of us? That we are created mortal. Moreover, Psalm 103:14 says “For He [God] remembers how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14 says we are all dust. Psalm 103:14 strongly implies that being formed from dust is not something unique to Adam, but true of all humankind. Moreover, The Apostle Paul alludes to this archetypal nature of Adam and humanity when he contrasts Adam with Jesus in his first letter to the Corinthian church. In 1 Corinthians 15:47-48, Paul writes “The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.” (emphasis mine). Ecclesiastes 3:20 also supports the conclusion that when The Bible uses “dust” language of humanity, it is referring to our mortality. Ecclesiastes 3:20 says “All go unto one place. Are all of the dust and all turn to dust again.” (KJV)

Further evidence can be found in Job 10:9: “Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?” Here, Job says to God that He molded him from clay. Obviously, no one thinks that Job was miraculously transformed from a clump of clay into a living human being. Nor does anyone think that Job himself thought that. While “clay” is not the same word as “dust”, it certainly indicates that ancient peoples’ could know full well that they were born through the process of natural procreation, yet say of themselves that God formed them out of earthly material. If Job being formed from clay doesn’t mean Job didn’t have a Mom or Dad, then why should Adam being formed from dust mean that Adam didn’t have a Mom or Dad. Moreover, notice that Job does say “Will you now turn me to dust again?” This implies that Job believed he “was dust” at a prior point in time, since He asks God if he’s going to turn Him to dust “again”. How can anything happen “again” unless it happened a first time? How can Job go back to being dust unless he was formed from dust?

What all this leads to is the conclusion that God created Adam to be mortal, and this trait that Adam has is true of all humanity. Adam, myself, you, and all people are made from dust. The Psalmist explicitly said that we are all formed from dust. Job said he was. Ecclesiastes says that we are all of the dust.

Now, popular teaching on Genesis is that Adam and Eve were created inherently immortal and that they lost this immortality when they sinned. They would reject the explanation of the “formed from dust” language in Genesis 2 in spite of the biblical evidence because, they would say, it contradicts Romans 5. Romans 5 says that Adam’s sin human sin brought death into the world. However, people who say Adam and Eve were created mortal and draw this conclusion from a reading of Romans 5 are reading something into the text that isn’t there. Genesis says that God placed a tree of life in the garden and specifically says that He had to ban Adam and Eve from re-entering the garden, to prevent them from eating of it and, ergo, living forever (see Genesis 3:20). If Adam and Eve were inherently immortal, they wouldn’t have needed a tree of life. So the very presence of the tree of life suggests that Adam and Eve were created inherently mortal. This does not come into conflict with what Paul says in Romans 5 because, obviously, if humanity is cut off from the remedy to death, death would come. Without that miraculous fruit, Adam and Eve (not to mention their descendants) would grow old and die! Adam’s sin leads to being banned from the Tree of Life. Being banned from the Tree of Life meant that immortality was no longer available to Adam. Therefore, Adam would die. His descendents, also not having access to the tree of life, would likewise die. Adam’s sin brought death not because God removed his immortality in response, but because Adam no longer had access to the cure.

It is also worth pointing out that the original Hebrew doesn’t have the preposition “from”. The verse just says “וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃” Transliterated as “Yahweh Elohim way y’sr et ha adam apar min ha adamah.” Elohim is Hebrew for “God”, What this verse says literally is “God formed man, dust of the earth.” Grammatically speaking, Genesis 2:7 could be translated as “God formed Adam from the dust of the earth” or “God Formed Adam who is the dust of the earth.” Given the biblical evidence we’ve surveyed, I think the latter is the most plausible translation.7 

*Eve Made From Adam’s Side = Woman is Man’s Ontological Equal.

“So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” – Genesis 2:19-25

Most of us read this passage and imagine that the reason God put Adam to sleep was to keep him from feeling the pain of having one of his ribs moved. God was essentially doing surgery on Adam to extract one of his ribs. Well, as I pointed out in the previous paper in this series; “Genesis 1 – Functional Origins, Temple Inauguration, and Anti-Pagan Polemics”, we need to interpret scripture the way its original author and audience would have understood it. They wouldn’t have had any concept of anesthetized surgery. Anesthesia hadn’t even been invented yet! Ergo, they wouldn’t have read Genesis 2:19-25 as God giving him a divinely induced anesthesia to keep him from feeling pain as He carefully extracted one of Adam’s ribs. 

So if anesthetized surgery isn’t what the text has in view, what does it have in view? The Hebrew word translated as “rib” is “tsela”. Several commentators and Old Testament scholars do not believe “rib” is an accurate translation because there is a Hebrew word for rib and it’s not tsela. “Tsela” often refers to the side of a mountain or the side of the temple (see  for example, 1 Samuel 16:13, 1 Kings 6:8). What this implies is that God didn’t just take a piece of Adam’s side (rib), but took his entire side! He broke Adam in half! That’s pretty radical surgery, right? Oh wait. They weren’t thinking in terms of anesthetized surgery. What in the world is going on here? 

I believe the clue is found in what happened prior to the side taking. The text says that God put Adam into a “deep sleep” prior to taking his side. The Hebrew word translated as “deep sleep”  is “Tardemah”. Several examples in the Septuagint translation of Old Testament instances of this refer to a trance someone would go into to receive a vision from God (Abraham, in Genesis 15:12; Eliphaz in Job 4:13; Daniel in Daniel 8:18; 10:9; cf. Job 33:15)

As John Walton notes “the Septuagint translators chose to use the Greek word ekstasis in Genesis 2:21. This word is the same as the one they used in Genesis 15:12, suggesting an understanding related to visions, trances and ecstasy (cf. the use of this Greek word in Acts 10:10; 11:5; 22:17 [NIV: “trance”]).”8

What the use of the word tardemah and tsela suggests is that God put Adam into a trance, a visionary state. In this state, he saw a vision of God taking him and cutting him in half to make a woman. The point of the vision is that woman is ontologically equal to man.

Eve serves as an archetype for women. Just as all men are created mortal (from dust), all women are made from the side of all men (i.e all women are ontologically equal to men). Matthew Henry echoes this idea when he writes “Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”9 To be equal with man, to be under man’s arm to be protected, and to be loved by a man are true of all women, not just Eve. This was God’s intention for all women, not just Eve.

What can we draw from the information we concluded thus far? We can conclude that The Bible does not speak to the material origins of Adam and Eve, nor of humanity in general. Therefore, The Bible does not demand that we take a de novo view of Adam and Eve’s creation. Adam and Eve could have had parents, grandparents, great grandparents. Indeed, Adam and Eve’s ancestry could go back to lower hominids such as homo erectus, homo habilis, and Australopithecus. In other words, Genesis 2-3 does not rule out human evolution from lower primates. Now, this does not mean that Christians should automatically jump on the evolution bandwagon. Just because an idea is compatible with The Bible doesn’t mean that idea should be adopted without much thought. However, one cannot say that we are barred from accepting the scientific consensus on human origins on the basis of biblical authority if The Bible doesn’t speak on the material aspect of human origins.

Neither can one fault me for taking this interpretation out of a drive to harmonize The Bible with evolutionary science. Thanks to the work of S. Joshua Swamidass, I now see that even a de novo creation of Adam and Eve is compatible with human evolution so long as one makes Adam and Eve the exceptions to the material-continuity-with-other-animals rule. Humans outside the garden of Eden would be descendents of Tiktallik, but Adam and Eve themselves would not be. Swamidass’ proposal would be similar to how all babies are born through sexual intercourse with the exception of Jesus Christ.10 I take this archetypal view of the forming accounts — which I learned about from John Walton’s book The Lost World Of Adam and Eve — not to force The Bible and evolution together, but because I think this interpretation best fits the biblical evidence. But as Swamidass’ hypothesis shows, it isn’t the only way to harmonize the forming accounts with evolutionary theory. 

Topic 3: Priests In Sacred Space, Not Mere Gardeners.

The garden of Eden was not merely a luxurious resort where Adam and Eve could kick back and sunbathe all day. Rather, the garden was sacred space, and Adam and Eve, as the keepers of sacred space, were the very first priests. This is often overlooked by most modern Bible readers, but there are very good reasons to affirm this. 

Reason 1: Language Of God Walking Is Typically Used In The Old Testament In Temple Contexts.  

G.K Beale and Mitchell Kim wrote that “Eden is presented as a sanctuary and place where God dwells, as seen in Genesis 1–2 and the wider witness of the Old Testament. Even the seemingly casual mention of God ‘walking’ in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8) is rich with connotations that suggest God’s presence in the temple. In Leviticus 26, the Lord promises that he will ‘walk’ among them and be their God (Lev 26:12). In Deuteronomy 23, the Lord commands the Israelites to keep their camp holy because he ‘walks’ in the midst of their camp (Deut 23:14). When David plans to build a temple in 2 Samuel 7, the Lord reminds him that “I have been walking about in a tent [the tabernacle!] for my dwelling” (2 Sam 7:6, translation altered). In a similar manner, the Lord is “walking” in Eden (Gen 3:8) because Eden itself was the temple and dwelling place of God.”11 

Reason 2: Similarities To Eden With The Jerusalem Temple

G.K Beale and Mitchell Kim wrote that “The ark in the Holy of Holies, which contained the Law (which led to wisdom), echoes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which also led to wisdom). Both the touching of the ark and the partaking of the tree’s fruit resulted in death. The entrance to Eden was from the east (Gen 3:24), just as the entrance to the temple was from the east (e.g., Ezek 40:6). Both Eden and the temple are characterized by the holy presence of God that brings wisdom.”12

Reason 3: The Terms “Serve” and “Keep” Are Often Used In Referring To Priestly Tasks

In Genesis 2:15, Yahweh puts Adam in Eden and commands him “to work it and take care of it.” We can gleen some interesting info by taking a semantic look at these words. The words translated as “To work” and “take care of” are the Hebrew words ‘bd and šmr. These are words more often than not used to refer to homo sapiens doing religious devotion to Yahweh than mere farming or gardening work, although there are instances in which ʿbd certainly could be referring to the latter (e.g., Genesis 2:5 and Genesis 3:23), but in those contexts the nuance of the verb is conditioned by its direct object (the ground). When the word doesn’t attach itself to a direct object, it’s a reference to a person’s vocation such as we see in Exodus 20:9, for example. The broader sense of the word is often connected to either Worship (e.g., Exodus 3:12) or Priests doing stuff in the sanctuary (e.g., Numbers 3:7-10). In these cases, the verbal object refers to who is the one being worshiped. This causes an interpretive problem seeing as ʿbd could be talking about gardening or farming activity or religious service. If the garden of Eden is the object of the verb, then we’ve got something very unusual. As John Walton notes in his book The Lost World Of Adam and Eve, the verb will usually take dirt/soil/ground objects when it refers to agricultural work, and it will usually take personal objects (God, Baal, Egypt) when sacred service or servitude is the point.13 The thing is that “garden” could be categorized as either one of these. It really depends on whether we see the Garden of Eden as (A) just a place to grow produce or (B) a sacred place to worship and serve The Lord. To make an interpretive decision, then, we’ve got to look at the Hebrew word that accompanies ‘bd. What is that word? Smr. The contexts in which this word (Smr) is used is that of the responsibility of the Levitical Priests regarding their duties to the tabernacle and temple. This verb is only used in gardening situations when the produce is being guarded from humans and animals. When the word is used of the activity of the Levitical priests, it could involve control of access to the sacred area, although, more generally, it is applied to carrying out duties on the grounds.

My argument for Adam and Eve being Edenic priests can be summed up with the following lines of logic: 

  • Since there are a couple of contexts in which šmr is used for Levitical service along with ʿbd (e.g., Numbers 3:8-9), and
  • the contextual use of šmr here favors sacred service, and 
  • ‘bd is as likely to refer to sacred service as to agricultural tasks and
  • The Bible uses similar imagery and terminology when describing The Jerusalem Temple and The Garden of Eden and
  • Language Of God Walking Is Typically Used In The Old Testament In Temple Contexts. 

then it is likely that the tasks given to Adam are of a priestly nature: caring for sacred space.

As J. Martin Plumley describes it in Egyptian thinking, so it was throughout the ancient world, including Israel at many points: 

“But whatever wise men might think about the purpose of creation and whatever might be the official doctrines about the way in which the creation came into being, there was the universal belief that what had been achieved in the beginning of time must be maintained. For mortal men the most essential task of earthly life was to ensure that the fabric of the Universe was sustained. The ancient cosmogonies were in agreement that obscure forces of chaos had existed before the world was created, and that, although in the act of creation they had been cast away to the outer edges of the world, they nevertheless continued to threaten to encroach into the world. The possibility of such a catastrophe could only be averted by the actions of gods and men, both working together to maintain the world order. That order which embraced the notions of an equilibrium of the universe, the harmonious co-existence of all its elements and its essential cohesion for the maintenance of all created forms was summed up in the word Ma’at.”14

Topic 4: The Serpent – Garden Variety Snake, A Transformed Satan, Or A Divine Being?

God created humanity to have a relationship with Himself and each other in perfect harmony. They would never age, die, or get sick so long as they ate from the Tree of Life and refrained from the Tree of Wisdom. However, our first parents would mess everything up through the bad influence of a character the text describes as “the Serpent”. 

Now, we all know (well, except maybe some Reddit atheists) that the serpent was not a literal ordinary snake. The New Testament informs us that the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve was Satan a.k.a The devil. This comes from verses such as Revelation 12:9 and Revelation 20:2. However, we have the benefit of progressive revelation and ergo, hindsight. What did the original readers of Genesis, prior to the New Testament, think about the serpent?

The Hebrew word translated serpent is nachash. The word is both plain and elastic. Dr. Michael Heiser argues that the term applied to the Edenic adversary was probably intended by the author to be a triple entendre. This is what Dr. Michael Heiser wrote in his book The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible 

The most straightforward meaning…. serpent. When the Hebrew root letters n-ch-sh are a noun, that’s the meaning. But n-ch-sh are also the consonants of a verb. If we changed the vowels to a verbal form (recall that Hebrew originally had no vowels), we would have nochesh, which means ‘the diviner.’ Divination refers to communication with the supernatural world. A diviner in the ancient world was one who foretold omens or gave out divine information (oracles). We can see that element in the story. Eve is getting information from this being. The consonants n-ch-sh may also form an alternative noun, nachash, which is at times used descriptively, like an adjective. This term is used in place names outside the Bible and once within the Old Testament. First Chronicles 4:12 refers to “Tehinnah, father of Ir-Nachash.” The otherwise unknown Tehinnah is regarded in this verse as the founder of the city (Hebrew: ir) of nachash. This city has yet to be securely identified by archaeologists. The phrase means “the city of copper/ bronze (smiths).” Hebrew words like nechosheth (“ bronze”; “copper”) are derived from this noun. Ir-nachash was a place known for copper and bronze metallurgy. The option is interesting because copper and bronze are shiny when polished. In fact, the Old Testament uses nechosheth to describe divine beings (Dan 10:6). …….What I’m suggesting is that, since there are immediate clues in the story that the serpent is more than a mere snake, that he maybe a divine adversary, the term nachash is a triple entendre. The writer wants his readers to consider all the possible nuances in their interpretive, intellectual experience. All of them carry theological weight.15

What we can draw from the Hebrew language is the nachash was likely shining as divine beings typically did, he was crafty and cunning as literal serpents are, and he was a being who could convey information from the supernatural world. 

The next question we need to ask is what the nachash actually would have looked like. If you got in a time machine and traveled back to the moment of the fall, who or what would you have seen Adam and Eve speaking to? I would argue that Adam and Eve would likely not have seen a shiny talking snake, but a shining humanoid figure; a member of Yahweh’s divine council (cf. Psalm 82). The Divine Council is a worldview that pervades the entire Bible. This view is that there are three tiers of supernatural beings; all of which The Hebrew Bible calls elohim. God, Divine Council members, and angels. Yahweh  is an elohim, but not all elohim are Yahweh. There’s only one elohim who is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, etc. All other elohim are created beings under service (or as we’ll see later in this paper series, rebellion) to Yahweh. Plenty of scenes in The Old Testament are explicit Divine Council scenes such as Psalm 82; where God judges the gods (lowercase g) for ruling the nations corruptly, and 1 Kings 22 where Yahweh consults His council on how to bring about the downfall of the evil King Ahab. I will get into the topic of The Divine Council in more depth in another paper, but what I’ve just said should be enough to convey what I think is going on in Genesis 3. 

Eve was not surprised that the “serpent” was talking to her. She did not scream “Oh my goodness! A talking snake! What the sheol!?” Why? Because he would have looked no different than the plethora of other elohim she had been acquainted with. In Michael Heiser’s book The Unseen Realm, he explains that The Old Testament teaches that God original intention for creation was to have a two species family; a divine family and a human family. Consequently, in the unfallen Eden, Adam and Eve would have had interaction with gods who were considered sons of God (cf. Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7, Psalm 82:6). Consequently, Eve meeting the “serpent” and hearing it speak would have been no more surprising than if you walked down the street and struck up a conversation with Joe Schmoe. 

Given the divine council context of her status as God’s imager (Genesis 1:26-27) and new member of his family, what the nachash said to Eve seemed pretty plausible to her. “Of course God wants us to be like the gods— we’re all one family. We all represent the Creator, don’t we? Why would we die?” I don’t mean to imply that this excuses them, but it does help us to be a little less hard on them. We probably would have done the same thing in their shoes. Wait, they were naked (Genesis 2:25). They weren’t wearing shoes. You know what I mean. 

Topic 5: What Exactly Was The Sin Adam and Eve Committed? 

Now, I want to explain just exactly what the sin of Adam and Eve was. Skeptics of The Bible usually argue that Christianity is an anti-intellectual worldview, and one of their arguments comes from Genesis 2:16-17. “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” God didn’t want Adam and Eve to have knowledge. God didn’t want Adam and Eve to possess wisdom! See? Right from the very beginning, The Bible depicts thinking for yourself as bad! Or so the argument goes. 

It should be obvious from even a casual reading of the text that God did not put a blanket ban on knowledge in general. The forbidden tree is not just called “The Tree Of Knowledge”. It is explicitly called “The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good and Evil”. But, moreover, we should look at what the rest of The Bible says about God’s disposition towards people who seek wisdom. After all, interpreting unclear verses in light of clear verses is an important rule in hermenuetics. 

In 1 Kings 3, we read: “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father.” (verse 3) One night, the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (verse 5). In response, Solomon answered, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (verse 9). Then The Bible says “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this” (1 Kings 3:10). Did you catch that? It pleased God to give Solomon wisdom. In fact, Yahweh praises Solomon for asking for wisdom instead of anything else a king would likely ask for; the death of his enemies, a long life, or riches, and tells him that not only would He grant Solomon wisdom, but give him all of these things as well (1 Kings 3:11-12). If acquiring wisdom was a sin, why would God be so pleased with Solomon’s prayer?

Moreover, Proverbs 2:6-8 says “For The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” (ESV) Indeed, the book of Proverbs opens with lengthy speeches on the importance of obtaining wisdom before it goes on to give the various proverbs that can make one wise. The entire book of Proverbs is about how important wisdom is and what one needs to know to be wise. Why would The Holy Spirit inspire the book of Proverbs if He is anti-wisdom and anti-knowledge? 

I concur with my fellow internet apologist Michael Jones of Inspiring Philosophy; 

“Knowledge of good and evil is portrayed as a good thing in The Bible. ….this would imply that the issue wasn’t eating from the tree but in how Adam and Eve went about eating from the tree. Think of how Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness when he offered him all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-9). What Satan offered Christ was not bad. Paul tells us that Christ’s rulership over all the kingdoms of the Earth began after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:17). The temptation Satan offered was to bypass the appropriate and necessary processes and seizing them instantly. In other words, the issue was not going about it through God’s timing and plan.”16

Jones goes on to give an analogy to God’s disposition towards sex. Sex isn’t evil. Indeed, there’s even a really sexually graphic book in The Bible about it (Song Of Solomon) that talks about how wonderful sex is! But sex with children is abhorrently wrong! Jones says “In other words, it’s not that we don’t think people should ever have sex but that they should wait until they are mature and comitted in a marriage covenant.” Likewise, what Adam and Eve did wrong was not eating from The Tree of Knowledge, but eating from the tree for the wrong reasons and not according to God’s timing and plan.17

When you really stop to think about it, isn’t that what most sins are; pursuing inherently good things through illegitimate routes? Rather than work hard at a well paying job, some people rob banks and burglarize homes. Rather than find a spouse to be in a committed marriage relationship, people have pre-marital sex, watch pornography, or have one night stands. Rather than wait for God to unleash his wrath on those who do evil to us, or for the court system to give a proper judicial punishment, some people take revenge (vigilante justice). Rather than study hard to get good grades, some people cheat on tests. Sin is more often than not an evil means to a good end. The first sin of humanity was no different. 

In fact, given that sin is often a shortcut to get what we want, apologist Frank Turek speculates that this might be the reason why there won’t be any sin in Heaven.18 Heaven will be perfect. We will not lack anything, and therefore we won’t need to pursue things through illegitimate means. And even if we do lack something, we’ll know better than to pursue it other than according to God’s perfect timing and plan. We’ll be like “Been there, done that. This is not the way.” 

Adam and Eve’s sin was trying to be like God for selfish and prideful reasons. This can even be seen in what Eve says. In Genesis 3:1b, the Hebrew usage of “you” is in the plural, suggesting that both Adam and Eve were present in this exchange. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Commentators have noticed for years that Eve’s reply is odd when contrasted to what God actually did say in the previous chapter. Eve tells the nachash “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3, emphasis added in bold). 

G.K Beale saysFirst, the name of God is changed from ‘the Lord [Yahweh] God’ to ‘God.’ While this does not sound like much in English, ‘the Lord God’ is the personal name of God that signifies an intimate and covenantal relationship, while ‘God’ is the God of power who created all things (Elohim). While Genesis 2 presents the Lord God issuing commands in covenant relationship to his special people, Eve appears to look at this personal God from a distance in Genesis 3. Next, God’s permission is minimized. While God lavishly allows to ‘eat of every tree of the garden,’ Eve reduces this gracious invitation to ‘the fruit of the trees of the garden’ and minimizes God’s generous invitation. Also God’s prohibition is maximized. God commanded that they could not eat only from one tree, but Eve adds, ‘neither shall you touch it.’ She becomes the first legalist and makes God’s commands seem more strict than they actually are. Finally the consequences of sin are minimized. God says, “you shall surely die” (literally, ‘dying you shall die’) but Eve only says, ‘lest you die.’” (emphasis in original) 19

Topic 6: The Serpent Was Demoted, Not Amputated.

If you think that all snakes had legs but then lost them when God cursed the serpent, then you’re not understanding the text in its Ancient Near Eastern context. An ancient reader would have understood that God hadn’t amputed the serpent and all other snakes. For one thing, we’ve already seen that the nachash was not a literal snake, but a divine rebel, and that he didn’t even appear as a garden variety snake to Adam and Eve. They knew he was one of the elohim. We must therefore understand the curse upon the nachash in Genesis 3:13-15 in light of that understanding. 

The following entries drawn from The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament address some of the details in Genesis:

Crawl on your belly (3:14). The Egyptian Pyramid Texts were designed to aid the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom (end of the third millennium) on their journey to the afterlife. Among the over 700 utterances are several dozen spells and curses on snakes that may impede the king’s progress. These utterances contain phrases that are reminiscent of the curse on the serpent in Genesis 3. For instance, the biblical statement that the serpent will “crawl on your belly” is paralleled by frequent spells that call on the snake to lie down, fall down, get down, or crawl away (Pyramid Text 226, 233, 234, 298, 386). Another says that he should “go with [his] face on the path” (PT 288). These suggest that when God tells the serpent that he will crawl on his belly, there is no suggestion that the serpent had legs that he now loses. Instead, he is going to be docile rather than in an attack position. The serpent on its belly is non threatening, while the one reared up is protecting or attacking. Notice that on the Pharaoh’s crown, the serpent (uraeus) is pictured as upright and in an attack position. Nevertheless, I should also note that there are occasional depictions of serpent creatures with legs. There is no indication, however, of an occasion in which serpents lost their legs. 

Eat dust (3:14). Eating dust is not a comment about the actual diet of a snake. It is more likely a reference to their habitat. Again the Pyramid Texts show some similarity as they attempt to banish the serpent to the dust. The serpent is a creature of the netherworld (that is why the pharaoh encounters it on his journey), and denizens of the netherworld were typically portrayed as eating dust. So in the Descent of Ishtar, the netherworld is described as a place where their food is dust and their bread is clay.

Crush your head (3:15). Treading on the serpent is used in Pyramid Texts 299 as an expression of overcoming or defeating it. Specific statements indicate that the “Sandal of Horus tramples the snake underfoot” (PT 378), and “Horus has shattered [the snake’s] mouth with the sole of his foot” (PT 388). This reflects a potentially mortal blow to this deadly enemy. There is no suggestion that the Israelites are borrowing from the Pyramid Texts, only that these texts help us to determine how someone in the ancient Near East might understand such words and phrases. 

Strike his heel (3:15). It is true that the ancients were aware that many snakes were not poisonous.  But since harmless snakes usually were not seen as aggressive, if someone were bitten by a snake, it was assumed that the snake might be poisonous. Thus the strike to the heel is a potentially mortal blow.20

So the conclusion that can be drawn from John Walton’s analysis of the Ancient Near Eastern context is that God put the serpent in a non-threatening, non-attack mode position. Satan was powerless before The Lord Almighty to prevent his removal from The Divine Council. He was cast down from a high member of the council to a lowly outcast. Someday a descendant of Eve would crush the head of the serpent after the serpent bruises His heel. Given the hindsight of The New Testament, we can see that Satan, having entered Judas to hand him over to the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:3), literally bruised the heel of Eve’s descendent in a mortal way. Jesus’ feet were nailed to the cross in crucifixion (Psalm 22:16, Matthew 27:5, 1 Corinthians 15:3). And as we know, this causes the mortal blow to the nachash. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. – Colossians 2:13-15 (emphasis added in bold)

Topic 7: Adam and Eve Are Not Genetic Ancestors Of Us All, But They Are Our Genealogical Ancestors. 

Can it really be said in light of modern science that we are really all ancestors of Adam and Eve? Geneticist Dennis Venema writes that “Converging lines of evidence that support the conclusion that our lineage became human as a population – one that has not numbered below about 10,000 individuals over the last 18 million years or more.”21 It is beyond the scope of this paper (not to mention outside my field of expertise) to argue for or against the current consensus of population genetics. Interested readers should check out Dennis Venema’s blog post series about it on BioLogos.org.22 Rather, if what Venema says is true, and this is really where the scientific evidence is pointing, should we as Christians be worried? How could The Bible be true if Adam and Eve weren’t the first humans whom we all descended from? 

First, I am not persuaded by Theistic Evolutionists who argue that Genesis 1-11 is non-historical and that it’s only meant to convey theological teachings in an allegorical way. Romans 5 teaches that Adam’s sin brought death and sin to the entire human race. How could a non-historical figure bring death to real people? You might as well say that half of your family was killed when Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War. It would make just as much sense to say that as it would to say we suffer sin and death as a result of what Adam did if Adam were not a real person in history, and really passed on his sinful nature to his progeny. Moreover, the genealogies in 1 Chronicles and Luke’s gospel link indisputably historical figures (e.g Jesus) to Noah and then back to Adam. How could a non-historical figure give rise to historical ones? How could a fictional character in an allegory be a descendent of real historical personages? This makes no sense. Either The Bible is in error or this is not a view of Genesis 1-11 we should embrace. To say that Abraham and Jesus are descendants of Adam is as nonsensical as saying that Betty White is a descendant of Snow White! Therefore, the allegorical hypothesis is not a tenable solution to the problem. We cannot say that biblical history began in Genesis 12. 

I’ve already hinted at in this paper that there are clues within the text of Genesis itself that point to the idea that perhaps Adam and Eve weren’t the only people around at the time of the events of Genesis 2 and 3. For one thing, we’ve seen two good reasons to think that Genesis 2 is a sequel to Genesis 1. If humans are created in Genesis 1 and Adam and Eve are created in Genesis 2, then there had to have been people formed other than Adam and Eve. The Toledot formula is almost always used for sequel accounts, rarely used to back up and tell the storyline of a brother’s lineage, and is never used to re-tell previously narrated events in more detail. This suggests Genesis 2 is not a more in-depth Day 6. Also, as the Richard Deem citation shows, there are too many events going on in Genesis 2 to all be crammed into a single day, and simply adopting The Day-Age theory is grammatically problematic. 

Besides these aforementioned clues, consider what happens after Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden. In Genesis 4, after Cain kills his brother Abel, God banishes him. Cain cries out that his punishment is too much for him to bear and that anyone who finds him will kill him (verses 13-14)? Who exactly is Cain afraid of? His Mom and Dad? Possibly. But another alternative is that, as population genetics would attest, there were a lot of other people around besides Cain’s immediate family. 

Genesis 4:17 says “Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.” Where did Cain get his wife? The traditional creationist answer is that Cain married one of his sisters (mentioned in Genesis 5:4). However, Some time ago, an Evolutionary Creationist friend of mine pointed out that Leviticus says that God condemned the nations surrounding Israel for practicing incest even before the Law of Moses was given, indicating that incest was always deemed sinful by God. Leviticus 18 provides prohibitions against many sexual activities, including incest. Verse 24 of Leviticus 18 says “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean,” God says that the sexual sins that he listed previously are among the reasons that He would judge the Canaanites. Yet, The Canaanites did not have the Mosaic law, nor had it been given to anyone yet. Indeed, God is laying it down for Moses for the first time in this very passage! What we can conclude from Leviticus 18:24 is that incest had always been a sin. There was never a time in which it was ok. However, although God tolerated incestuous relationships (Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister), we never have an indication that He ever found it ideal. From Leviticus, we have reason to suspect otherwise. God never liked divorce either (Malachi 2:16), yet Jesus says that God put up with divorce for a time due to the Israelites’ hardness of heart (see Matthew 19:8). The question must then be asked; “If God never liked incest, why would He create only two people in the beginning, making incest necessary to fill the Earth with humans?” 

Genesis 4:17 says that Cain built a city. “City” would not be an appropriate term unless it was a human settlement with a large number of people. 

These are clues in the text that point the idea that God made many humans thousands of years ago, not just Adam and Eve. Therefore, insofar as population genetics suggesting the human population has never had a smaller bottleneck than 10,000 individuals is not a problem for biblical inerrancy. 

However, what about the idea that we are all descended from Adam and Eve? There are some biblical texts that seem to suggest that every one of us can trace his lineage back to them. For example, in Genesis 3:20, the text says that Adam named his wife Eve because she is “the mother of all who live”. In Acts 17:26, the Apostle Paul says “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”  Moreover, you have Romans 5 which has traditionally been understood as Adam passing on the sin nature (and/or his guilt) to all people. How can we inherit the sin nature if we’re not descendants of Adam? 

John Walton argues that Genesis 3:20’s “mother of all living” expression is not indicative of biology since Jabal and Jubal were the fathers “of those who dwell in tents and have livestock” and “who play the lyre and the pipe” (Genesis 4:20–21). If being described as the fathers “of those who dwell in tents and have livestock” and “who play the lyre and the pipe” doesn’t imply that all tent dwellers and lyre players are biologically descended from Jabal and Jubal (and no one has ever made that claim), then why does the fact that Eve is described as “the mother of all living” imply that all living humans are biologically descended from Eve?23

Keaton Halley of www.creation.com criticized this argument saying “Walton has ignored the differences in context. Jabal and Jubal started disciplines which they passed on to others and in this way played a fatherly role to those who followed in their footsteps. But how is Eve’s motherly role anything like that? Eve did not invent the discipline of ‘living’ and pass that on to non-relatives. There is no reason to think that she would be a mother to all in any sense unless she and Adam were the biological progenitors of the entire human race.”24

Although I was initially convinced by Walton’s argument, Halley’s response seems like a really powerful counter, and I don’t see any way around it. Most of Halley’s criticisms of John Walton’s The Lost World Of Adam and Eve were pathetic.25 Most of Walton’s The Lost World Of Adam and Eve is solid, but when it comes to his treatment of the universal ancestry texts, I think he misses the mark. 

Halley wrote “Regarding Paul’s proclamation that God ‘made from one man every nation of mankind’ (Acts 17:26), Walton says he is referring to Noah, not Adam, and has a geopolitical focus, not a biological focus.”26 — That is correct. “However, the idea here is not that national entities were formed when existing people organized and established governments; it’s that all people groups trace their ancestry back to one person. As Walton admits, ‘The nations come into being through lines of descendants’ (p. 186), so this absolutely does concern biology! …. Noah did not give rise to the women on the Ark or the people living before the Flood—but Adam did.”27

I agree with Halley’s response to Walton’s treatment of Acts 17:26. Essentially making the “one man” Paul is talking about Noah instead of Adam simply pushes the problem to another location. After all, only Noah and his family were spared from the flood in Genesis 6-9, the human race grew from Noah’s sons and his sons’ wives. We know from the genealogies in 1 Chronicles and Luke that Noah and his sons were descendants from Adam. So it logically follows that if we’re all descended from Noah, and Noah is descended from Adam, then we’re all descended from Adam. Walton’s interpretation doesn’t really solve anything. 

Perhaps we’ve been thinking about the issue all wrong? Enter The Genealogical Adam and Eve Hypothesis, as put forward by computational biologist S. Joshua Swamidass. The following is transcribed from S. Joshua Swamidass’s article “The Overlooked Science Of Genealogical Ancestry”. This is what S. Joshua Swamidass wrote in the article “The Overlooked Science Of Genealogical Ancestry”. 

Genetic ancestry is not genealogical ancestry. Incorrectly equating genetic and genealogical ancestry confuses entirely the theological implications of evolution.

First, genetic and genealogical ancestry are different concepts that follow different rules. They just work differently. Genealogical ancestry, therefore, does not track with (1) most recent common ancestors (MRCA), (2) mitochondrial Eve, (3) Y-Chromosome Adam, and (4) our genetic ancestors. To reiterate, these commonly referenced ancestries are different types of genetic ancestry are wholly different than genealogical ancestry (https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.08.006  and http://doi.org/10.1016/j.tpb.2015.02.002 ).

Second, Scripture might make genealogical claims, but it certainly does not make any direct genetic claims. We only discovered genetics recently, thousands of years after Scripture was written.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the science of genetic ancestry presses in only a limited way on theology, by suggesting (along with Scripture) that there were people outside the Garden. To understand if Paul’s understanding of a genealogical Adam is correct, we must look to genealogical ancestry, not genetic ancestry.

Three Surprises in Genealogies

What does the science of genealogical ancestry tell us?

We are need of a major rethink. Not of Adam, but we to rethink the assumptions that have shaped the theological debate to this point. Perhaps traditional accounts are not nearly as in conflict with evolution as we imagine.

We have been arguing about genetic ancestry for years now, without even considering genealogical ancestry. Our intuitions are off, so genealogies will behave in surprising ways.

The first surprise is that a large group of people are genealogical ancestors of all living human. We can build our intuition about this by consider a group of grandchildren that share the same grandfather. The grandfather is their common genealogical ancestor, but so also is every ancestor of the grandfather. If we consider the distant ancestors shared by their parents, we find even more genealogical ancestors. Unlike genetic ancestors (like Y-Chromosome Adam or MRCA), genealogical ancestors are very numerous.

The second surprise is that a universal genealogical ancestor (of all living humans) might have been very recent, situated as recently as 3,000 years ago. We can build our intuition about this by counting back generations while simultaneously tracking the total population and the number of ancestors we expect. First, we have two parents, then four grandparents, then eight great-grandparents. The number of ancestors appears to increase exponentially as we go back, however the number of people in past generations either stays constant or even decreases exponentially as we go back.  How is this possible? It turns out that, very quickly, all our lines begin to cross and our genealogies collapse together (https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001867800009587 ). The first universal genealogical ancestor appears quickly, in just a few thousand years, but we find millions more genealogical ancestors stretching back to the first moment homo sapiens appear, and even more before. Even in a global context, only tiny amounts of migration give us universal genealogical ancestors just 3,000 years ago (https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02842 ). Informally extrapolating this to all humans in recorded history, common ancestors might be situated more recently than 10,000 years ago. There are some caveats this data; it depends on precise details about migration around the globe and whether specific populations were totally isolated for very long periods of time.

The math here is important. Common genetic ancestors (like Y-Chromosome Adam) appear in about 2N generations, where N is the population size. But universal genealogical ancestors appear in log N generations, much quicker that we expect. The time to genetic versus genealogical ancestors starts to diverge quickly too, in about 10 to 15 generations. This explains why, for example, Y-Chromosome Adam appears 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, but a universal common ancestor might arise just 3,000 years ago. Intuition calibrated by genetics, therefore, will misguide us entirely regarding genealogies.

The third surprise is that genealogical ancestors far enough back are not usually genetic ancestors; most genealogical ancestors leave no genetic trace in our genome. They are genetic ghosts “who are simultaneously (i) genealogical ancestors of each of the individuals at the present, and (ii) genetic ancestors to none of the individuals at the present” (http://doi.org/10.1016/j.tpb.2015.02.002 ). Consequently, genealogical relationships are “essentially unobservable” in genetic data past about 10 generations (http://doi.org/10.1016/j.tpb.2015.10.008  and http://doi.org/10.1101/gr.115972.110 ).

Consequently, it seems impossible for genetic and archeological science to rule out the small amounts of migration and mixing that would admit common ancestors less than 10,000 years ago. The existence of recent genealogical ancestors does not mean that Adam and Eve must be recent too; perhaps they were in the distant past. If we situation Adam as far back as the rise of modern humans, about 200,000 years ago, then we know he was our genealogical ancestor.28

Figure Taken from https://peacefulscience.org/genealogical-science/ 

Certainly more needs to be said to unpack the math and science that shows Swamidass’ hypothesis is workable, but hopefully this excerpt from his article is enough for readers to absorb the gist. For a thorough treatment, check out the links embedded in the Peaceful Science excerpt and/or read S. Joshua Swamidass’ book The Genealogical Adam and Eve available in hardcover and Kindle. 

Summary and Conclusion

Evolution and The Bible’s teaching about Adam and Eve are not incompatible. For one thing, The Bible does not teach that Adam and Eve were created de novo. The descriptions of Adam being formed from dust and Eve of his rib are meant to convey statements of their identity that are true not only of them, but of all humanity. Dust is a recurring biblical term for mortality. Adam was created mortal. All men are created mortal. Eve was made from Adam’s entire side which He saw in a vision. The meaning of the vision is that all women are ontologically equal to all men. Moreover, all people alive at least since the time of the writing of The New Testament can trace their genealogies back to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are genealogical ancestors of us all, but not genetic ancestors of us all. Therefore, holding to the traditional view that we all come from Adam and Eve does not conflict with modern genetics. And given that we’re all genealogically descended from them, this explains how the sin nature spoken of in Romans 5 could be passed down to the generations. All that would be needed is that there be a lot of other people co-existing with Adam and Eve outside of the garden. This need not be read into the text as there are clues within the biblical text suggesting that Adam and Eve were not the only people around at the time of the events of Genesis 2-4 transpired. Genesis 2 and 3 need not be relegated to the realm of allegory or myth in order to accommodate modern science. Nor do we need to force things upon the text the author would be unaware of (concordism). Interpreting the Adam and Eve account in its ancient context reveals a surprising harmony with the scientific account of human origins. The Bible and science are not at odds.  

The sin Adam and Eve committed was not failing an arbitrary test (i.e “Don’t eat from this tree because I need to give you a choice to obey me or disobey me”) nor did The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good and Evil have inherently evil properties. Rather, Adam and Eve’s sin was grasping for knowledge outside of God’s timing and plan. 

The serpent was a divine being, not an ordinary snake. He probably didn’t even look like a snake, thus explaining why Eve wasn’t freaked out when the serpent spoke to her. The Hebrew word was likely a triple entendre to convey that the serpent was a shining being, a diviner, and crafty like a serpent. In calling Satan a nachash, Moses was employing word play. The curse Yahweh put upon the serpent was not a removal of limbs, but that serpent was kicked out of the divine council, signaled that he would be powerless to stop God’s plan of redemption, that he would ultimately be destroyed in a humiliating defeat. With The New Testament, we know that defeat came by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

—————————————————————————————

NOTES 

1: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/8435.htm 

2: Richard Deem, “The Literal Interpretation Of The Genesis One Creation Account”, http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis1.html 

3: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Genesis One (The Lost World Series) (p. 91). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

4: See my paper “Genesis 1 – Functional Origins, Temple Inauguration, and Anti-Pagan Polemics.”, → https://www.dropbox.com/s/447sx9azjp1v8q3/Genesis%201%20-%20Functional%20Creation%2C%20Temple%20Inaguration%2C%20and%20Anti-Pagan%20Polemics.pdf?dl=0 Also be sure to check out John Walton’s books “The Lost World Of Genesis One; Ancient Cosmology and The Origins Debate” and “Genesis 1 As Ancient Cosmology”. 

5: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (p. 72). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

6: ibid.

7: See Inspiring Philosophy’s video “Genesis 2: Dust and Rib” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw2LCTQHMUI 

8: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (pp. 79-80). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

9: Quote taken from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.

10: In his book, “The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science Of Universal Ancestry”, S. Joshua Swamidass proposes that God could have created Adam and Eve de novo (i.e God literally took a scoop of dust and transformed it into Adam, put Adam to sleep and took a chunk of his side to make Eve) and that everyone is a descendent of that originally de novo created couple. This part of the hypothesis that Swamidass proposes is in line with the traditional understanding of Adam and Eve’s creation and our relationship to them. However, Dr. Swamidass also proposes that there were homo sapiens who lived outside the garden of Eden that Adam and Eve’s descendants interbred with once they were kicked out for disobeying God. These homo sapiens who lived outside the garden of Eden numbered in the thousands and came into being through the widely accepted and scientifically established evolutionary process. These humans evolved from lower hominids and share ancestry with the great apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. This would explain why our genome is so similar to the genome of chimpanzees, gorillas, and so on. We look like we share genetic ancestry with them because we do. Swamidass also argues that while population genetics precludes all people being genetically descended from Adam and Eve. It does not preclude them from being the genealogical ancestors of all mankind. Genetic ancestry and genealogical ancestry are not the same. This will come up again near the end of this paper. 

11: G.K Beale, Mitchell Kim, “God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden To The Ends Of The Earth”, InterVarsity Press, page 18. 

12: ibid. 

13: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (pages 105-106). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

14: 5J. Martin Plumley, “The Cosmology of Ancient Egypt,” in Ancient Cosmologies, ed. Carmen Blacker and Michael Loewe (London: Allen & Unwin, 1975), p. 36.

15: Heiser, Michael S.. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (pp. 87-88). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.

16: Inspiring Philosophy, “Genesis 3b: The Fall”, — https://inspiringphilosophy.org/explaining-christianity-2/

17: ibid. 

18: He said this in a Q&A session after a lecture. I can’t remember where to find the video. 

19: G.K Beale, Mitchell Kim, “God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden To The Ends Of The Earth”, InterVarsity Press, page 26

20: John H. Walton, “Genesis,” in The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), pp. 35-36.

21: “Vern Poythress, Population Genomics, and Locating the Historical Adam” By Dennis Venema, April 7, 2015 — https://biologos.org/articles/series/genetics-and-the-historical-adam-responses-to-popular-arguments/vern-poythress-population-genomics-and-locating-the-historical-adam Although, BioLogos just recently acknowledged major errors in Venemas work, including the quotes I cited. I should make that clear. The correction can be found in the following article — https://biologos.org/articles/truth-seeking-in-science?fbclid=IwAR3aJWDG7H0OLXtpyxRsBX07NFZ3wSQg0PqRcAqjG8jZ3pxOMyQWpuqV9AY As for the article I quote, it is in error, but does not have a note. The beginning of the series, here, however, does have a (very misleading) note. https://biologos.org/articles/series/genetics-and-the-historical-adam-responses-to-popular-arguments/adam-eve-and-human-population-genetics

22: https://biologos.org/articles/series/genetics-and-the-historical-adam-responses-to-popular-arguments 

23: “The Lost World Of Adam and Eve” by John Walton, page 187

24: Keaton Hally, “John Walton Reimagines Adam and Eve” — https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j29_2/j29_2_47-51.pdf 

25: See the blog posts “Response To Keaton Halley’s Critique Of The Lost World Of Adam and Eve (Part 1)” by Evan Minton — https://cerebralfaith.net/response-to-keaton-halleys-critique-of/ and “Response To Keaton Halley’s Critique Of The Lost World Of Adam and Eve (Part 2)” — https://cerebralfaith.net/response-to-keaton-halleys-critique-of_12/ 

26: Keaton Hally, “John Walton Reimagines Adam and Eve” — https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j29_2/j29_2_47-51.pdf 

27: ibid. 

28: S. Joshua Swamidass, “The Overlooked Science of Genealogical Ancestry”, April 27th 2017, — https://peacefulscience.org/genealogical-science/

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