Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care

Overview

Throughout history, most Christians have believed that Adam and Eve were actual persons, of whom we are all descendants. Some Christians today, however, readily dismiss the historical consensus, arguing that those same Christians also believed the earth was the center of the universe. Understandably, there are reasons to doubt the traditional view . . . and yet rarely are those doubts humbly subjected to serious scholarship.

C. John Collins invites both doubts and scholarship to...

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Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care

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Overview

Throughout history, most Christians have believed that Adam and Eve were actual persons, of whom we are all descendants. Some Christians today, however, readily dismiss the historical consensus, arguing that those same Christians also believed the earth was the center of the universe. Understandably, there are reasons to doubt the traditional view . . . and yet rarely are those doubts humbly subjected to serious scholarship.

C. John Collins invites both doubts and scholarship to the table. Applying well-informed, critical thinking to questions raised by theologians and scientists alike, Collins examines the historicity and relevance of a real Adam and Eve, ultimately answering the questions: Did Adam and Eve really exist? And why should we care?

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Dr. Collins has presented a careful defense of the existence of the historical Adam and Eve. This methodologically rigorous study reflects a critical awareness of contemporary discussions on both biblical and extra-biblical literature and further contributes to the wider discussion on science and religion. Perhaps more importantly, he has successfully demonstrated the theological significance of this traditional reading, all the while using language that an informed layperson can digest and engage. This work deserves to be widely circulated.”
David W. Pao, Chair of the New Testament Department, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Working through questions of myth and history, Bible and science, harmonization and complementarity, Collins brings fresh arguments to stimulate wide-ranging thought and improved appreciation of the way the first chapters of the Bible affect the whole.”
Alan Millard, Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, The University of Liverpool

“I could hardly imagine a more honest book on this controversial topic. Its openness (in a user-friendly format) is no naivety—it is combined with undeniable competence on the ancient Near East, recent literature, and methodological discussions. Standing firm on vital issues, accepting diversity on others, the reader meets in C. John Collins a sensitive and godly guide.”
Henri A. Blocher, formerly Gunther Knoedler Professor of Systematic Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School

“Few scholars are better equipped than Professor C. John Collins to provide a well-informed, up-to-date assessment of what may and may not be known about Adam and Eve. With clarity, Collins offers a balanced discussion of the relationship between Genesis 2–3 and current theories on the origins of the human race. Recognizing the limitations of human knowledge, he highlights the vital contribution made by the Genesis account for understanding the human predicament. Marked by both erudition and sanity, here is a book worth reading.”
T. Desmond Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Director of Postgraduate Studies, Union Theological College

“In a sense, the way one reads the first few chapters of Genesis will determine his or her way of reading the whole Bible. Dr. Collins has expounded in a lucid manner how the original narrator intended this vital part of the Bible to be read. Cogency combines with erudition to make this book worthy of appreciation by those who do not espouse his general stance, as well as by readers who may be unaware of their own premises.”
Nobuyoshi Kiuchi, Professor of Old Testament, Tokyo Christian University

“This book will boost your confidence in the Bible, especially in its capacity to address a common experience of all peoples. By treating the Bible as Scripture, Collins has modeled for us how Christians should approach the faith-science questions. The Bible has answers to the human predicaments and needs. Only if what it says is true can we truly make sense and move forward in this sinful world. The real payoff of this book goes beyond the unequivocal biblical witness of Adam and Eve’s historical existence. For it is the human dignity based on our common ancestry and a shared perception of sensing the abnormality of this world that open a way for the redemption and restoration of all peoples through the real life and works of the second Adam.”
Natee Tanchanpongs, Academic Dean, Bangkok Bible Seminary

“I commend this book merely for the courage of taking the adventure in addressing this debated issue biblically and scientifically. Even if the reader does not fully agree with Collins’s conclusions he/she is compelled to listen carefully to his arguments.”
Riad A. Kassis, Regional Director, Overseas Council for Middle East, North Africa, and Central Europe; adjunct professor of Old Testament, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Lebanon

“It is not often that a book in this controversial field of human origins takes seriously both the Bible (in terms of textual exegesis, literary form, and theological coherence) and science (in terms of its findings and its theoretical possibilities). Jack Collins does both with graciously applied scholarship, conviction, and humility, making very clear where biblical faithfulness requires us to be uncompromisingly affirmative, and where there is room for varying opinion over possible scenarios that could be consistent with such biblical conviction.”
Christopher J. H. Wright, International Director, Langham Partnership International; author, The Mission of God

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433524257
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • Publication date: 5/4/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 814,443
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

C. JOHN COLLINS (PhD, University of Liverpool) is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis. With degrees from MIT and Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, he pursues such research interests as Hebrew and Greek grammar, science and faith, and biblical theology. He is the author of The God of Miracles.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

1 Introduction 11

2 The Shape of the Biblical Story 23

2.a Story and Worldview 23

2.b History, Myth, and Worldview Story 28

2.c Features of the Biblical Story 41

3 Particular Texts That Speak of Adam and Eve 51

3.a Genesis 1-5 52

3.b Adam, Eve, Eden, and the Fall in the Rest of the Old Testament 66

3.c Second Temple Jewish Literature 72

3.d The Gospels 76

3.e The Pauline Writings 78

3.f Elsewhere in the New Testament 90

4 Human Uniqueness and Dignity 93

4.a The Image of God 93

4.b Universal Human Experiences: Yearning for Justice, Need for God 100

5 Can Science Help Us Pinpoint "Adam And Eve"? 105

5.a Does the Bible Connect to History and Science? The Problem of "Concordism" 106

5.b Making Sure We Read the Bible Well 111

5.c Criteria for Good Scenarios 116

5.d A Sampling of Scenarios Examined 121

6 Conclusions 133

6.a What I Think I Have Shown 133

6.b Why I Think It Matters 133

6.c A Concluding (and Unacademic) Anecdote: How to Grieve 135

Appendices

1 Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Genesis I-II 137

2 Review of James Barr, The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality 161

3 The Date of Genesis 167

Bibliography 171

General Index 183

Scripture and Apocrypha Index 189

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