Friday, August 18, 2017

Ante- or Co-Adamism?

Can the Bible allow for other humans to have existed before or contemporaneously with Adam and Eve? (Called Ante- and Co-Adamism respectively.) Such a notion is certainly not what is found leaping from the pages of Genesis. However, there are some passages that some may use to reason that there is some broader context being alluded to regarding the actual extent of human existence. One is the condemnation of Cain in Genesis 4:11-15, where Cain in verses 13-14 expresses dire concern over his safety in exile. Dr. Michael Heiser asks if Cain was concerned about people finding him “a thousand years later? Five hundred years later, a hundred years later?” He continues: “I mean it seems like when God puts a mark on Cain to protect him that the protection is needed right then.”[1] I agree to an extent, but without the need to employ Co-Adamism. First, it is true that the context only allows for three people at this point: Adam, Eve, and Cain; and Cain was not afraid of his parents executing him, avenging Able. So who was he afraid of that day? Genesis 5:4 states that Adam “became father to sons and daughters.” While this is stated after the birth of Seth, this line in the Genesis 5 genealogy is a summary. Thus, Cain could have been afraid of one of his unnamed siblings, both that day and following it for as long as he lived. Cain was not just concerned about meeting someone in the land of Exile or Nod (Genesis 4:16), for as he was to be by divine decree “a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth,” (Genesis 4:12) so he was also looking ahead in time, concerned about preserving his potentially long life. Another point to consider is this: If there really were other humans around living in Nod or elsewhere, why would they have any beef with Cain over killing Able? They could care less! If anything, they would have viewed Cain as a strange, new visitor for possible bartering. No, the mark or sign associated with Cain would only make sense for ones in Cain’s tribe, not for foreigners who would be ignorant of Cain’s deed and ignorant of the significance of his mark or sign. Thus, if he was concerned about being avenged that very day by someone, he had one of his unnamed brothers in mind.

Following this we are confronted with two important events showcased in Genesis 4:17:
  1. While in exile, Cain all of sudden has a wife without any introduction. Did he meet her in Nod? Or did he take one of his unnamed sisters (which at this early time was not incestuous)?
  2. Then in the same verse she gives birth to Enoch and then Cain builds a city named after him.
An example of a primitive Mesopotamian city

This verse presents some very condensed history. It is thus very possible that Cain was married before he killed Able. In this scenario, his wife chose to remain with him and departed from her parents and everything else she knew of, never to return. Regarding building Enoch, what’s most likely happening here is that they built the nucleus of Enoch that was later enlarged into a sprawling urban center. So saying he “built” Enoch is an accepted anachronistic way of saying that he founded it.

Another passage is found in the last verse, Genesis 4:26. First, Adam’s third named son, Seth, had a son whom he named Enosh. Then, it enigmatically adds that “At that time people began calling on the name of Jehovah.” (RNWT) Or, as the NWT put it: “At that time a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah.” The NET Bible has “people” here like the RNWT, but notes that:
The word “people” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation. The construction uses a passive verb without an expressed subject. “To call was begun” can be interpreted to mean that people began to call.
Regardless of what type of “calling” was being performed, whether or not it was pious or impious, the question is raised on why this is significant, if this implies that foreigners existed who were evangelized or took a position on worshipping Jehovah. However, this leaves out that the genealogy in the next chapter includes the same summary for Seth that it had for Adam, that he “became father to sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:6) So we could conceivably be working with quite a few unnamed people, a small community at this point, without the need to bring in foreigners. So if it was a pious calling, then this would indicate a revival.

But there is an implication of Ante- and Co-Adamism that I find troubling and unscriptural, and even opposed to the teachings of Jesus, namely that death was occurring prior to Adam among these people. This in particular nullifies Jesus’ declaration that Satan “was a murderer when he began,” a clear reference to the time when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Tree of Life due to Satan’s deceptions, being called the “father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Jesus is clearly speaking from the vantage point that Adam and Eve were innocent before Satan’s involvement and interception. It also contradicts Romans 5:12-14, that “through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned,” and that “death ruled as king from Adam down to Moses.”[2] Additionally, Romans 5:17 contrasts “by the trespass of the one man [Adam] death ruled as king through that one” to salvation “through the one person, Jesus Christ.” Thus, there is absolutely no room for Ante- and Co-Adamism here, and it would violate the text and context of salvation through Jesus. (Refer to the opening graphic depicting Adam and Jesus the “last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45.)

Another consideration is that, even IF you can get away with an allegorical Adam as some (not all) theistic evolutionists do, then you still have the problem of the historical Eve being deceived, who “was to become the mother of everyone [every human] living.” (Genesis 3:20) If that is an allegory too, then the Bible’s foundation is too muddy to stand on. It just becomes an interesting literary work to contemplate and study, but with a greatly reduced means of trust.

This is why I think that not every hominin is a child of Adam. The only ones Adam can claim for his own are specifically called, in anthropological nomenclature, Homo sapiens sapiens. Other hominins could perform various abilities, some impressive, but they still fell short of the abilities of God’s crowning, genius creation: us, modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens.

The testimony of Luke-Acts
The book(s) of Luke-Acts contributes what may be seen as a clear statement of human origins. First, Acts 17:26, NET Bible states: “From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live.” The footnote for “man” is: “The one man refers to Adam (the word “man” is understood).” Supporting this is the messianic genealogy in Luke 3:38, where Adam is called “the son of God.” The NET Bible footnote here states that:
The reference to the son of God here is not to a divine being, but to one directly formed by the hand of God. He is made in God’s image, so this phrase could be read as appositional (“Adam, that is, the son of God”). See Acts 17:28-29. (emphasis added)
Thus, the testimony of Luke-Acts is that all humanity began with the man Adam.

[1] From a video snippet presented by General Han Solo: Michael Heiser - Is the Pre-Adamite Hypothesis Biblical? Dr. Michael Heiser does not take a position on this.

[2] The rest of the verse says “even over those who had not sinned in the same way that Adam transgressed.” This curious statement would apply more consistently with people in Adam’s line, as opposed to people under Co-Adamism, for it would be strange to introduce that here in this context without elaboration.

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Introductory picture from