Adam's Historicity - Luke's Geneology of Jesus

(Kendal Howard) #1

I’ve come to understand the beginning chapters of Genesis to be literary, and thus has caused me to rethink a lot of things. A friend asked me about the geneologies and I’m not totally sure what that means I guess in regards to the historicity of Adam. I know there are many different views on that, some affirm his existence while others affirm his literariness. For the latter, how does one deal with Luke’s genealogy of Jesus that goes back to Adam? My thought is that well they could’ve believed that the genealogy went back to Adam since the creation narrative was a part of their cultural beginnings. But does that answer really suffice? I guess it’s kind of like a person saying they are the descendants of the first human pair, Adam and Eve, who were made from divine breath and dust. That’s a core tenant of mainstream Christian thought (because obviously of a different hermeneutical approach) but technically, according to us (EC), that’s not the case. The claim of origins from solely Adam & Eve is from a traditional faith understandings rather than like a DNA kit from Ancestry lol. Thoughts about Luke’s genealogy?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Good questions, and I’m sure you’ll get lots of great replies; but meanwhile I’m stuck back on your new word: “literariness”. I love it! Can it be a title? Sorta like “yes, your highness!” One could say “I see your point, your literariness.”


A genealogy is never there just to be there. One perspective is that Luke is making a point (similar to Paul’s) that Jesus is a “new Adam”–the human who accomplishes what the “Adamic humans” could not, and the beginning of a new family of God.

(Phil) #4

One thing I am beginning to think about (and need to study more, as it is just at the perifery of my understanding) is that Adam and the geneologies are very Israel-centric. Perhaps Adam is the first man…in the linage of Isreal. Adam is important to point back to in the geneologies…because that is the story of Israel, and Jesus is the new Adam of the new covenant.

(Jay Johnson) #5

Since this is a new category distinct from “historical Adam,” in honor of @DennisVenema I am christening this version “ad hoc Adam” … haha

(Thomas Bell) #6

It’s my understanding that in [I]Humani Generis[/I], Pope Pius XII stated that Catholics are OBLIGED TO BELIEVE that Adam and Eve were real historical people and were the only two humans God created. That is to say, all humans beings descended from Adam and Eve. I imagine this obligation presents a problem for Catholic evolutionists.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #7

Hi Thomas,

Welcome here to the Forum.

Catholic doctrine is not generally relevant to most visitors to the Forum, who are Evangelical, like BioLogos. (Not everyone here is Evangelical, or even Christian, as you’ve seen. Most of us just stumbled upon this place and stayed for the intelligent conversation.)

That said, my understanding is that there is a particular scenario that would be acceptable to Catholic doctrine and does little violence to the mountains of scientific data that support evolution: That is, a scenario wherein God guided evolution up to the point that there was a small group of, say, 10,000 hominids who were 99.9% human; He then specially created Adam and Eve and breathed souls into them such that they were 100% human; they sinned and fell, and then Adam and Eve had children who interbred with the 99.9% humans (who were similar to Adam and Eve save for not having a soul, the image of God, and the stain of original sin). Within just a few generations, Adam’s 100% human genes (along with original sin / a soul / etc.) would have passed on to the whole community of 99.9% humans so now they’re all 100% human, and then this population expanded to fill the earth as we now know it, as homo sapiens.

This scenario isn’t without its drawbacks, but it seems to fit what you’ve described of Humani Generis (supplemented by a bit of info that I just looked up on the interwebs) and I think it accommodates a good amount of the scientific evidence as well. But if you’re Catholic, you may know better than I…

Happy interacting,


Yes, it’s why as a Catholic I have real reservations about BioLogos. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Brad Kramer) #9

My friend @StacyTrasancos (a committed Catholic) has written extensively on this topic. She doesn’t see a major conflict between evolutionary science and Catholic teaching. Here’s an article she wrote on Adam and Eve and evolution: She’s an amazing writer and I strongly recommend you check out her materials.

Here’s a key paragraph in the linked article:

What are we sure of? We can say that God created our first parents, as He did all creatures, and that they were highly complex organisms. That description applies whether Adam and Eve began as zygotes with human souls growing in maternal bodies or as naked adults in a garden. As we know, biological evolution will never fully account for humanity because we are persons, corporeal body and rational soul, made in the image and likeness of God. It is not unreasonable to assume humanity began with a miracle. And if this biological mystery of life from inanimate matter and remote human origins from a common ape-like ancestor troubles you, then consider something nearer. Biology tells us that sperm and egg fusion is the beginning of life, but none of us know down to the subatomic event on a femtosecond timescale what exactly happened as our electrons swirled when we began to live. And we never will. At its most precise resolution, all our lives begin mysteriously.

I don’t see any significant conflict between her views and the views of BioLogos on human origins. There are people in our community who hold to a variety of views about Adam and Eve - both historical and non-historical - while still affirming the authority of science and the validity of common descent.


Even within Catholicism there are quite different opinions on this.

(George Brooks) #11


Here is the paragraph in question… short and to the point … is it specific enough?

"37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty.

For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either

[a] after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that

[b] Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own."

I would suggest that @swamidass’ Genealogical Adam Model is one way for one of the ideas to be reconciled!