Notæ

On The Historical Adam

This Notae features a conversation between William Lane Craig and Peter Leithart on the historical Adam, all recently printed in First Things. Enjoy!

“The Historical Adam,” by William Lane Craig in First Things

What historical claims does the Bible make about Adam and Eve? And is belief in a historical Adam and Eve compatible with the scientific evidence? In order to avoid the pitfalls of reading contemporary science into the biblical texts, it is best to treat these questions separately. Only after having determined what the Bible actually says about the historical Adam shall we be in a position to judge whether those claims are compatible with what we know of human origins from contemporary science.

“Doubts About William Lane Craig’s Creation Account,” by Peter Leithart in First Things

On the surface, Craig’s argument turns on his non-literal interpretation of Genesis 2-3. He sets up a hermeneutical frame in three steps. First, Genesis shares features with myth. Yet, second, Genesis also has features of history. Therefore, third, Genesis is “mytho-history,” and we determine what Genesis teaches about Adam by mining the nuggets of history hidden under layers of metaphor. Craig warns us to avoid a simplistic antithesis between myth and history, but he ends up with his own antithesis, sorting bits of the creation narrative into baskets marked “metaphorical” and “literal.” 

“Mytho-History in Genesis,” by William Lane Craig in First Things

The genre analysis of Genesis 1-11 as mytho-history is quite plausible in light of the evidence. In chapter 2 of In Quest of the Historical Adam, I examine the folklorist’s concept of “myth” and derive ten family resemblances exhibited by paradigmatic myths. Then in chapters 3-4 I examine Genesis 1-11 in considerable detail and show that the primaeval history exhibits nearly all of these family resemblances. This approach provides firm, objective evidence that the primaeval history is in some form myth. 

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