That’s a really long article. I didn’t read it all, but here are a few comments from the first part.
When Jesus taught on marriage in Matthew 19:4–6, and when Jude referred to Adam in Jude 14, they used no caveats or anything to suggest they doubted Adam’s historical reality or thought of him any differently than they did other Old Testament characters.
In Exodus, Pharaoh’s magicians are not named or limited to two men. Hundreds of years later, extrabiblical literature added more detail to the story, including portraying the magicians as two men named Jannes and Jambres. 2 Timothy 3:8 brings these flourishes into the text of the New Testament: “As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth.” Paul used no caveats or anything to suggest he doubted J&J’s historical reality or thought of them any differently than he did other Old Testament characters.
If someone wants to believe J&J were supernaturally revealed as the actual magicians in Pharaoh’s court, they are welcome to do so. Many others will draw different conclusions. Perhaps Paul is not uncovering or confirming historical facts, but using a well-known story to illustrate a point. His point isn’t nullified if those characters are a fictional embellishment. Christmas pageants don’t cease to proclaim the truth of the incarnation if they happen to depict precisely three wise men. And humanity doesn’t lose its creator or God’s image based on whether Adam is depicted as one man.
Unlike J&J, Adam appears several times in the New Testament. Rather than strengthening the case for an individual Adam, the variety of these different mentions problematizes a simplistic literal reading. Yes, Jude locates Enoch as the seventh from Adam. Jude then quotes Enoch, but the quote comes from the extrabiblical 1 Enoch and not Genesis. Earlier, Jude relates how archangel Michael fought the devil over the body of Moses – another story not found earlier in the Bible. Jude is not a great example of someone who sticks to the historical truth of the Old Testament.
Matthew 19:4–6 is more interesting. As the article notes, “Genesis sometimes use the word ’ādām to mean “humankind” (e.g., Gen. 1:26–27).” These verses in Matthew show that this wasn’t lost on Jesus. He even changes Genesis to make it more clear that it is talking about all people and not just one man. Rather than “in the beginning,” Jesus says that “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” Jesus reads Genesis 1 as revealing that God creates us all – from the beginning to now.
Then Jesus quotes Genesis 2, but he completely skips over the account of Adam and Eve! Instead, he draws out a narrative aside that is spoken to later readers: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The man and wife spoken of isn’t Adam and Eve (they didn’t have parents), but everyman and everywife.
So while Jesus quotes from both Genesis 1 and 2, he doesn’t mention an individual Adam or individual Eve! He seemingly goes out of his way to draw from these chapters in ways that universalize their message rather than tie it to two people. And in so doing, I think Jesus shows us how to read Genesis well.
But on to Paul. After many words on Romans 5, the article reaches a stunning conclusion:
Where did sin and evil come from? If they were not the result of one man’s act of disobedience, there seem to be only two options: either sin was there beforehand and evil is an integral part of God’s creation, or sin is an individualistic thing, brought into the world almost ex nihilo by each person.
I think this shows how the case proves too much. As the article tells it, not only does the whole Christian faith depend on the historical existence of one man named Adam, it also depends on the non-existence of a historical woman named Eve and a historical serpent who tempted them. If those two existed, then sin didn’t begin with one man’s act and evil was in a beast before it passed to people. Since Paul said it was one man – not a man and a woman and a snake – you either take him at his word or toss his faith.
Or, perhaps there is a third way. If you can make room in Paul’s Adam for Eve, you can make room for all humankind. After all, that’s how Jesus seems to have read Genesis’ Adam. Why couldn’t Paul do the same? Once we allow for that possibility, the weight of grounding the Christian faith is lifted from the historical Adam’s shoulders. The historical man might be in certain texts or certain authors’ minds or he might not, but nothing depends on him. What matters is that Adam shows us humankind and thereby shows us ourselves. As long as we can see ourselves in Adam’s fall, we’ll have no grounds for thinking that without one man we’d no longer need a Saviour.