George explores the meaning of concordism and the marketing of GA to creationists

(George Brooks) #1

Dear @moderators

And this is why we can’t have nice things.

As long as this “Original Sin” stuff is criss-crossing overhead … “Genealogical Adam” is the logical approach to offer Creationists so inclined.

In other threads, I have heard the objection regarding “Genealogical Adam” that it is “Concordism” or “Concordist”. Now I find that I have been way too amiable about such accusations!

Right here on BioLogos, we have had an article treating Concordism specifically:

Here is a good quote:
"According to the historian @TedDavis , an influential early use of the word “concordism” is found in the writings of Bernard Ramm, the Baptist theologian, in his book The Christian View of Science and Scripture [1954]. Ramm writes with regard to the day-age theory (the idea that the days of Genesis 1 represent long periods of time): “It is called concordism because it seeks a harmony of the geological record and the days of Genesis interpreted as long periods of time briefly summarizing geological history”

Now this is very strange … what do you call a proposed historical scenario which doesn’t attempt to interpret the 6 days of Genesis at all? Usually, an explanation becomes Concordist when it attempts to explain away the idea of Adam and Eve being real people.

@Swamidass quite explicitly makes no such effort! They are real people to him. So, this can’t be why people call “Genealogical Adam” concordist!

The article delves a little deeper:

"The French Wikipedia entry on ‘concordisme’ describes a similar meaning. The website Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales provides a succinct definition of concordisme which, translated from the French, reads: “A system of exegesis aimed at establishing a concordance between biblical texts and scientific data.”

"A little further reading reveals that there are two types of concordism which relate to this definition. . . . “modest” concordism in which … philosophers seek to reconcile the Bible with “accurate science"…

in contrast with:

"… a “bold” concordism which claims that “the Bible teaches science and metaphysics in a positive fashion” (Shatz, 2008). A similar distinction is made between “soft” and “hard” versions of concordism by the organization Reasons to Believe."

I think we can quickly dismiss “hard” or “bold” concordism. @Swamidass makes no claim that the Bible is trying to teach its readers about “Genealogical Adam”.

But how about this “modest” or “mild” concordism: where historians or clergy ". . . seek to reconcile the Bible with “accurate science” ?

That’s a pretty far-reaching criticism, yes? In fact, it is the very nature of this accusation that led guest author, Denis Alexander, to write his clever little piece on Concordism!

“I lived for many years under the naïve impression that the word “concordism” had a reasonably stable and well-understood meaning. In Creation or Evolution—Do We Have to Choose [Monarch, 2014, 2nd edn, p. 286] I wrote that “it is truly important that we do not try and impose scientific interpretations upon the Genesis text, nor try to impose our interpretation of biblical passages upon the science, the approach of “concordism” that has already been criticized.” Therefore imagine my surprise when I was recently accused on this blog of being a “concordist”! Prof. Tom Wright was also so criticized in the same article, so at least one feels in good company. But I say “accused” advisedly because in my theological and cultural context, at least, it is mildly pejorative to claim that someone is “concordist” in their hermeneutics.”

So, let’s take a look at this terrible provocation, this “concordism”!, that the esteemed Alexander wrought upon the world?:

“In the second type of model (my personal preference), God revealed himself to a couple, or community, of farmers in the Near East at the very beginning of a putative proto-Jewish era, the so-called Homo divinus . These lived in fellowship with God, understanding their responsibility to care for God’s earth, but subsequently turned their back on God in disobedience, leading to human autonomy and a broken relationship with him (“sin”). The emphasis in this type of speculation is on a single family or community – relationships built and broken over a short time-span. God’s new family on earth had to begin somewhere and at some time: this was it.”

Scot McKnight, in his book co-written by Dennis Venema, continues his criticism:

“Perhaps I’m wrong again but I see Denis creating his own narrative, part biblical and part genome-theory and evolution-theory shaped. There’s a nice happy narrative here held by no one in the Bible but one that makes a scientist like Denis happier. That’s concordism. The concord I prefer is one that sees Genesis 1-3 more in conversation with the Ancient Near East accounts of origins and purpose.”

Now that’s interesting, yes? McKnight says Alexander is constructing a concordism… and then he plunges on - - offering a “concordist” approach more to his liking!

This approach is discussed in the beginning of his article:

"The clear parallel between Adam and Israel, already noted in rabbinic Judaism, is a crucial element in understanding Genesis 2-3, and—if accepted—decentralizes the historical question concerning Adam and thus eases tensions with evolution."

"Adam is presented in Genesis 2-3 as a preview of Israel’s history: both are
(1) “created” by God (Adam from dust, Israel out of slavery),
(2) placed in a lush land (Eden/Canaan),
(3) given commands to follow (the Tree of Knowledge/Mosaic Law), and
(4) are “exiled” for disobedience, both of which are described as “death”
(Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 37 and Deuteronomy 30)."

"In other words, Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-3 are fashioned as the first narrative of the Story of Israel – obedient, disobedient, and then exiled. This approach to Genesis 1-3 deserves more attention. In some important ways my sketch of the Adam and Eve of Genesis 1-4 is my own synthesis of John Walton, John Levison’s exceptional study of Adam in Judaism, Pete Enns, and J. Richard Middleton."

Wow, what a great solution. We explain to Creationists that Adam and Eve weren’t real at all… it’s a poetic metaphor about Israel… Adam is a stand-in for Israel. And since this is a “conceivable belief” for the actual Hebrew authors of Genesis - - it is not Concordism!

So why doesn’t some non-profit organization champion this miraculous solution? Why? Because Creationists don’t think like this. And lots of folks here at BioLogos think any attempt to craft a solution that appeals to the way Creationists think is a “sell-out”.

I guess the future will tell us the end of that story!

What does original sin actually mean and what are its consequences?
(Christy Hemphill) #2

Huh? Interpretations don’t “become concordist” because of their conclusions. Approaches to Scripture are concordist in their presuppositions and motivations.

When you co-opt aspects of genealogical science to prop up literal interpretations of Scripture, some people are going to see that as the definition of concordism.

And for like the fortieth time, saying an interpretation is “concordist” (in the soft sense you quote) is not an insult or an accusation. Lots of Christians approach Scripture that way. It is not the preferred approach of many Bible scholars associated to varying degrees with BioLogos. I agree with McKnight that trying to read the scientific natural history of the evolution of humans into Genesis is concordist. McKnight is not reading literal scientific natural history into the text. In what way is seeing the text as a literary recreation of a nation’s history inherently concordist? “Easing tension with evolution” isn’t concordism.

Once again, George, the point is not to con creationists into accepting evolution by offering them palatable “solutions.” The point is, in Evangelical-speak, to “correctly handle the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15 for all the non-AWANA kids). You could see Adam as the story of Israel and still think Genesis 1 teaches a young earth.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #3

I have no idea where this notion comes from George. I would always associate “Concordism” with a position involving an historical Adam & Eve, though not all such positions are “Concordist.” For example, YECs typically reject appeals to “two books” theology, b/c in their view they concede far too much validity to the “historical” sciences. Obviously YECs insist on an historical first couple.

As for Concordism itself, I was for many years in that camp. Although I no longer am, I respect it and don’t try to bar the door to it. Here I obviously differ with my very good friend Denis Lamoureux, among others.

(George Brooks) #4


Isn’t that a little circular? Since I am just reading along with Denis Alexander, are you saying that I have misinterpreted Prof. Alexander? Or are you saying that he is fundamentally in error with how he protests the use of the term Concordist in application to him? Or, perhaps it is McKnight’s way of handling the term that is at issue?

In my reading of the two articles, what seems to be at play is the following idea:

Is it conceivable that the original readers of the text would have held the position in question? If it is not likely, then it is a concordist position by a more modern reader who is attempting to construct an artificial harmonization with the Biblical text.

In the case of Joshua’s “Genealogical Adam” discussion … it isn’t quite as simple as that, wouldn’t you agree?

The Bible says God created Adam out of dust and Eve out of a rib.
Joshua says God created Adam out of dust and Eve out of a rib.

So… the usual sticking point has just been deftly avoided!

But the next hurdle is quite a bit higher, right? Joshua says, God created another group of humans, as suggested in Genesis 1; Adam and Eve were created separately (Genesis 2).

So, this is where someone is supposed to say: "…there is absolutely no way that any ancient Hebrew would have considered this possibility!"

If we look at the slight differences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and the oddities of Cain fleeing his family (to marry someone unknown person and to build a city for some unknown people), can we really be so sure that there wasn’t SOMEONE back then who actually did believe Adam was a second group of Humanity?

Note: I have set aside the question of whether any ancient Hebrew reader would agree with Evolution of the Genesis 1 humans; obviously, this is a “bridge too far”, by anyone’s criteria. But Joshua is not saying that Genesis specifies Evolution; the physical evidence found all over the Earth tells us this part. The charge of Concordism must rest or fall on just one question: could any Hebrew reader have believed that the Bible was discussing two different groups of humans?

If someone can think Adam “wasn’t real at all… but represented Israel” . . . I hardly think it is possible to sweep Joshua’s interpretation away. Maybe elementary school readers wouldn’t speculate on a pre-Adamite population implied in Genesis 1 - - but I would wager quite a few adult Hebrew readers couldn’t have avoided the idea…

(George Brooks) #5


I am willing to confess that the early part of my narrative on defining Concordism lacks coherence and finesse. I focused on the notion of Days = Ages because one of the writers I refer to mentions it as a common topic for Concordists: explain away the 6 days by claiming they meant 6 ages. Implied in this was the idea that no ancient audience would have ever considered such a thing. And yet, didn’t at least one Church father conclude that the days must be figurative? - - because God could have made Earth and the Cosmos in a single second?

In any case, this is a digression from the more important consideration:

In my response to @Christy, I have asked her if she can be so sure that no ancient Hebrew reader ever wondered if Genesis 1 was referring to a pre-Adamite population of humanity.

There are many writers who believe the story of Samson and his magic hair would have been easily interpreted by some parts of the biblical audience as veiled references to solar gods freely discussed and even worshipped all around the Middle East (shaggy hairy heroes are frequently associated with mythical solar themes). So, this explanation for Samson would seemingly fail the “concordist test”, wouldn’t you agree?

@TedDavis, if you can agree with this - - even grudgingly - - it is not even a full step to the last question: would Genesis have been accepted at face value 2,000+ years ago? Or would it have been questioned and speculated upon even then?

(Christy Hemphill) #6

Is what circular? What you quoted was pretty straightforward, and it wasn’t even an argument that could be “circular,” it was a straight-up assertion.

Honestly, I find your posts kind of rambling most of the time, so I don’t know what you interpreted Alexander to be saying. He was surprised to be called concordist because he had a specific definition in mind (reading science from Scripture). But as McKnight points out, he does read science into Scripture to justify an interpretation that is not what the original hearers would have gotten out of it, an interpretation that reads meaning that harmonizes with modern science. That is also concordism the way it is used by many.

I don’t find this very clear. “Positions” are what you take on debated “issues” like “is evolution true?” What position you take on modern questions is informed by far more than “what did Genesis mean to the original audience?” since they of course, did not take a position on the question “Is evolution true?” Maybe you mean “meaning”? If the original audience could have conceivably understood the meaning of the text to be the meaning you are proposing, then it is probably not a concordist interpretation. Concordist interpretations take modern knowledge that the original audience could not possibly have had access to and make that part of the intended meaning. I imagine it is possible to have an interpretation that is not what the original audience would have understood, but is not trying to “concord” with knowledge from anywhere else.

I would agree.

And then he tries to argue why this can be so based on science. How is this different than saying that God literally separated the waters above from the waters below and then trying to show that science can’t disprove that there was a water canopy above the earth before the Flood? (That would be a YEC version of concordism, reading a description of literal scientific/historical fact in Scripture that maybe more likely had a different function with its original audience and then saying science supports their interpretation.) I guess you could say that looking for a scientific model of the water canopy thing is pursuing a scientific explanation, whereas Eve from a rib is just accepting a plain old miracle. But fiat acts of creation (separating the waters) are also miraculous. It’s the justifying the belief in the literal interpretation with science part where the similarity is.

Come again? If Adam is a literary description of the founding of Israel, then all the science in the world that props up a literal interpretation of a literal “first man” made of dust and a literal surgery on that man that removed a rib and made a “first woman” is kind of irrelevant.

(George Brooks) #7


I just realized that I didn’t really mention the latter part of your posting.

The question is not about Adam being a literary proxy for Israel. The question is: how likely is it that ancient audiences would have come to this conclusion? Sure we can speculate that it is conceivable… but it’s hardly MORE likely than having an ancient audience wonder who the heck Cain built a city for! :smiley:

(George Brooks) #8


It’s not that important an issue … I just found your “straight-up assertion” that my explanation for Concordism was wrong (while your explanation was better) didn’t really hit the mark very well.

[End of Quote from Prior Posting]

But you don’t actually define it. You say concordism is defined by presuppositions and motivations … and I felt I was hanging from a noose of non-information…

At least the writers I mention gave some kind of idea of what the sins of concordism are. And based on what they write, and even based on what Ted Davis writes, I think labeling Joshua’s scenario as Concordist is more reflexive than substantive.

(George Brooks) #9


I don’t understand your issue here… yes, the dust would be irrelevant.

But relevancy isn’t the criteria for Concordism, right?

(George Brooks) #10


You can’t blame a scientist for wanting to talk about science.

But he isn’t saying the Bible teaches evolution… or that God used Evolution in Genesis 1. He uses Science to conclude these things.

He is saying: the original readers of Genesis 1 and 2 (or at least some of them) would have speculated, all on their own, that Adam and Eve were not the first humans.

(Christy Hemphill) #11

I wasn’t trying to define concordism, I was just saying it’s more a starting point in interpretation not an ending point. Corcordist interpretations arise because people start with presuppositions about how the text should convey meaning (usually in a way decontextualized from its original culture based on modernist ideas about language and communication) and about inspiration (God put meaning in the text that was beyond the comprehension of the original authors and audience) and about inerrancy (“wrong” concepts about science or history can’t be found in Scripture). People who like concordist interpretation are motivated to defend Scripture against any insinuation that it is not “literally true.” They are motivated to look for scientific reasons to support the Bible’s truth claims or to take the Bible’s truth claims as more reliable than science. They are motivated to defend the doctrine of “perspicuity of Scripture” which some people take to mean that no extra knowledge about the cultural context is necessary to understand the intended meaning.

Not sins. Not an accusation.

That was the case McKnight and others have tried to build. That it was the most likely conclusion they would have come to.

You said “if someone can think “Adam wasn’t real at all…but represented Israel”…I hardly think it is possible to sweep Joshua’s interpretation away.” If someone thinks Adam isn’t real, he/she is definitely going to sweep Joshua’s interpretation away because they are mutually exclusive.

Maybe I misunderstood and you were saying something along the lines of "If the Adam is Israel interpretation is valid, then by the same evaluation criteria, Joshua’s interpretation should also count as valid. If that is so, I would say the evaluation criteria that makes the “Adam is Israel” interpretation valid is extensive study of the ANE and ancient Jewish cultural context as well as analysis of a whole history of Jewish rabbinic interpretations of Adam. What parallel to this do you see in Joshua’s interpretation? He is supporting his views with genealogical science, not biblical scholarship. I think you have mistakenly understood the evaluation criteria to be “not concordist.”

(George Brooks) #12


You know I love you like a younger sister, right? A much younger sister!

But I think you are so keen on painting Genealogical Adam in a discouraging light, you are not being objective on what exactly Concordism looks like: you are being distracted by the “science-y” part of @Swamidass’ narrative.

In fact, I think you’ve written on concordism in other threads that suggests to me that you need to get back to the books, and get a better “lock” on what’s actually at stake. Here’s an example:

As you can see in the image (in case you or others can’t, here’s the entire (short!) text:

Addressed to @Marg:
“But don’t you think part of the interpretive process is understanding what it meant to the original audience, and then moving beyond that to try to understand what enduring truth the text is teaching? I don’t think it is so much that they had one lesson and we have another as we have to work a little harder to get the lesson, because our context and conceptual frameworks are different.”

According to the articles by our guest writers, it’s the last part that is actually Concordism! But I’m thinking you meant “going beyond” in the most restrained of ways - - not going beyond what the ancient audience understood … but only going beyond what was apparent to the ancient audience with a superficial reading!

In a subsequent post in that same thread, you rightly say this:

Here are some examples by our guest writers, starting with McKnight. I will summarize them in “sound bite” format, followed by slightly more meaty background details:

[1] NT Wright per McKnight: “Adam & Eve are Elected by God out of an Evolved Population of Humans”

[2] Denis Alexander and Ted Davis’s example from B. Ramm: “Day-Age Interpretation of the 6 Days”.

[3] Alexander’s example from Shatz: “Genesis 1 is about Big Bang Cosmology”.

[4] Alexander’s 3 examples of “Type C” (or “Good”) Concordism:
(i) Bible’s view on extra-terrestrials (but no verse is offered);
(ii) Bible’s view on Cognitive Psychology and/or Human Identity (but no verse is offered);
(iii) Bible’s view on Quantum Uncertainty (but, again, no verse is offered).

[5] McKnight’s view of Alexander’s proposal that “God revealed himself to a couple or community of [evolved] humans”. It was this “accusation” that triggered Alexander’s defense of what is Concordism, and what is Good vs. Bad concordism.


[6] McKnight proposes this as a non-Concordist proposal: Genesis 2 should be understood as a figurative comparison of Adam as an allegorical Israel (in exile).

So, now we have a pretty good aggregation of Concordist scenarios, plus McKnight’s so-called Non-Concordist proposal, to compare to the whole point of this discussion:

@Swamidass’s proposal: "God created Adam & Eve in an act of Special Creation . . . but after he had already created a population of humanity by other means."

@Christy, as we have already touched upon, the trouble-point is not Joshua’s proposal that Adam and Eve were made by special creation. This can’t be concordism because this is actually the plain reading of the text.

And I hope I have gained your acceptance on the “Genealogical” and “Evolutionary” aspects of Joshua’s scenarios: he is not attempting to argue that some obscure part of Genesis is describing the “science of Evolution” or the “science of Genealogy”. These two elements of “Genealogical Adam” are defended by scientific observation derived from the evidence we see in the modern world. Joshua is not saying the Bible is “teaching Evolution” or “teaching Genealogical” notions of “progenitorship”.

There is only ONE part of the Genealogical Adam scenarios that can be accused of being Concordist: that Genesis 1 should be understood as a reference to an earlier population of humans, made separately from Adam and Eve (as we read in Genesis 2).

While it is true that Joshua proposes that this earlier population was created by God using Evolutionary principles (instead of Special Creation from dust or ribs), Joshua is not saying anything like “Genesis 1 is a veiled reference to Evolution”. So let’s not get hung-up on this red herring!

The Big Question then?: The Big Question is super simple! Along the lines defined by McKnight, and by you Christy!, which says Concordism is avoided by sticking to ideas that would have been valid considerations of the Bible’s ancient audience - -

Can we believe that the ancient readers of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 would have speculated on whether these 2 chapters were implying that there were humans prior to the creation of Adam & Eve for the Garden of Eden?
Is it reasonable to think that the writers of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 intended their readers to implicitly understand that Adam and Eve were not “literally” the first and sole humans - - in the same way that McKnight asks us to accept the idea that the writers of Genesis wanted their readers to implicitly understand that Adam is a literary proxy for “Israel in Exile”?

I think the answer is super obvioius: unlike McNight’s example (which relies on understanding the ancient world view of ANE civilizations), Swamidass’ example only requires common sense: when the Genesis writer tells us that Cain fled his family and had a child by an unknown woman, and built a city for an unknown people, it was INTENDED to provoke the reader into understanding that there were more humans than “just” Adam and his immediate offspring.

Not only is it reasonable to propose that this was the intention of the writer of this part of Genesis, but (unlike McKnight’s example), it is actually unreasonable to think the writer of Genesis expected any other reader response! McKnight’s proposal (Adam = Israel) is not nearly as obvious as this; and in fact, McKnight (and you @Christy) have had to specifically invoke the importance of learning more about the ANE cultural views, in order to defend the McKnight proposal!

In contrast, Genealogical Adam requires no special knowledge. Anyone who knows that it takes 2 biological parents to have a son, and that it takes more than just a handful of people to occupy a city, knows enough to conclude: that Genesis author is a clever one! He could have easily have provided some additional detail, or to have excluded Cain’s son and city. But he didnt’; and there’s something important in that!



NT Wright’: “Adam and Eve have been elected out of the many (hominins) who were available, and that they in some sense represented all of humanity – [which] sounded to me [McKnight] a bit concordist.”

Alexander’s view of the Day-Age Proposal:
Alexander quotes @TedDavis on the meaning of Concordism:
"According to the historian Ted Davis, an influential early use of the word “concordism” is found in the writings of Bernard Ramm, the Baptist theologian, in his book The Christian View of Science and Scripture [1954]. Ramm writes with regard to the Day-Age Theory
"… (the idea that the days of Genesis 1 represent long periods of time): “It is called concordism because it seeks a harmony of the geological record and the days of Genesis interpreted as long periods of time briefly summarizing geological history” (p. 145). Ramm labeled such a view “moderate concordism.”

Alexander quotes Shatz regarding the “Bold” or “Hard” Concordists who propose that Genesis 1 is a veiled reference to Big Bang cosmology! Certainly many of us would agree that it seems unlikely that God was “waiting for the day when Bible readers would discover that God had already written about the Big Bang”. Much of this skepticism comes from the fact that a divinely inspired description of the Big Bang (even a veiled one) would not read like the opening section of Genesis 1!

This Big Bang scenario would be consistent with Alexander’s quote from a Patheos.Com article on concordism:
"Other Type B understandings are cautious about such impositions, but nevertheless state that “The concordist not only believes that nature and Scripture will harmonize, but sees specific references in the Bible to current scientific understanding of the universe.”

In his article, Alexander concludes by offering a THIRD TYPE (“TYPE C”) of concordism… a so-called GOOD KIND of concordism!:
"Scot McKnight finishes by suggesting that the concord he prefers “is one that sees Genesis 1-3 more in conversation with the ancient Near East accounts of origins and purpose”. That’s fine, but there’s no need to choose between this and Concordism Type C – we need both. There are too many “either-or” narratives in the world right now. Let’s have more of the “both-and."

I think his 3 examples of this GOOD KIND are rather “inscrutable!”:

“Three examples (amongst many) of Type C:
[1st] … the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) - how does their putative discovery relate to the theology of the atonement? There are plenty of books and articles being written about this topic, a trend which first began in the 17th century.” [< Huh? What?!, G.Brooks]

[2nd] … how does cognitive psychology relate to theological insights concerning human identity? There is a growing Type C literature here." [< What the heck?, G.Brooks]

[3rd … how does the theology of God’s divine action relate to the proposal that God interacts with the world through quantum uncertainty?" [< These 3 don’t sound very concordist at all, without the Bible verses that are supposed to be related to them!, G.Brooks]

So it isn’t clear (to me, anyway) whether Denis Alexander considers his position on Adam/Eve to be Type “B” or Type “C”!. McKnight pronounces it as concordism:

“Even if I’m mistaken about Wright’s concordism, I see the same concordism in Alexander:
In the second type of model (my [Alexander’s] personal preference), God revealed himself to a couple, or community, of farmers in the Near East at the very beginning of a putative proto-Jewish era, the so-called ‘Homo divinus’ . These lived in fellowship with God, understanding their responsibility to care for God’s earth, but subsequently turned their back on God in disobedience, leading to human autonomy and a broken relationship with him (“sin”)…”

And finally, we have McKnight’s personal interpretation of Genesis 2, which is NOT Concordism, even though it seems more like concordism than even Alexander’s 3 examples of “Type C” concordism:

McKnight’s Interpretation of Genesis 2: "…understanding Genesis 2 as a figurative comparison of Adam as an allegorical Israel (in exile).

The Various Meanings of Concordism
(Christy Hemphill) #13


Once again, there is some kind of weird projection going on about my motivations and emotional state when discussing all thing Genealogical Adam. I don’t have a dog in this fight. It is not a useful model for me personally. I don’t resonate with the approach to the Bible.That doesn’t mean I hate it and want to see it go down in flames.

“Moving beyond the meaning to the original audience and trying to understand what truth the text is teaching” is “application” or if you want a fancier word “contextualization” or for some people, “hermeneutics.” It’s a standard part of Evangelical Bible study. It’s not the same thing as “concordism” and I have no idea why you would think that. It’s answering the question “If this is the truth that was revealed to them, how do I live in light of it in my different time and place?” The “going beyond” has nothing to do with harmonizing with extra-biblical scientific or historical knowledge, it’s just acknowledging we have a different context

The original audience was not experiencing the story the way we are. They were not reading it, most likely, at least not in its current form (Genesis was composed/compiled over centuries and redacted), and their understanding was informed by a lot of background we don’t necessarily have access to.

Actually, this is a trouble point. You are right that it is not inherently “concordist” to say Adam and Eve were specially created from dust and a rib. It’s just literalist. But when you enlist science to back up your literalist interpretation, that counts as concordism in many people’s books. It works both ways -the “find concordance with science in the Bible” direction and the “find concordance with the Bible in science” direction.

Who is saying that, or hung up on that? Not me.

Yes. If we assume that ancients could manage figurative language as well as we can today, and there is no reason to believe they couldn’t. Do you have compelling evidence that ancient cultures could only understand origin stories as objective factual history? That’s the whole point of showing that Adam and Eve was a story about Israel. To show that it wasn’t understood “literally” but “literarily.”

Well, what counts as common sense from our modern Western perspective at least. Did you know in the Mixteca everyone knows there are foods that are inherently “hot” and foods that are inherently “cold” and it’s “common sense” which are which and “common sense” which you should never eat when you are pregnant or have a cold. How come we are so dumb we don’t know these obvious things?

To you. Again, that’s the point of a culturally contextualized hermeneutic, revealing what isn’t obvious to us, but would have been clear to the original audience.

Or in other words “doesn’t require understanding the context the text was produced in.” That doesn’t make an interpretation better in my book, it almost surely guarantees it is missing important things.

(George Brooks) #14


This is your key paragraph… and frankly, I can’t make heads or tails of it.

Some people might want to claim Genealogical Adam is Concordist … and if they do, they are wrong.

You wonder how weird “projection” gets thrown your way… and yet let’s inventory your objections:

1) It’s too literal for the Creationists; or do you mean it’s too literal for the Evolutionists, who are NOT our problem?

2) People will erroneously THINK it’s concordist. You mean… SOME Evolutionists will incorrectly think it’s concordist. Again, it’s not the Evolutionists who are our problem.

3) And your statement “find concordance with science in the Bible” vs. “find concordance with the Bible in science” is untenable - - IF our problem is with Creationists and not with Evolutionists.

When an health insurance salesman is trying to sell his health product to people who need it (this assumes that there are people who actually need the product) - - having someone interrupt the conversation by pointing out Millionaires don’t like Health Insurance is really not the point. Very few millionaires need health insurance of any kind.

(Christy Hemphill) #15

It’s too literal for me.

I don’t evaluate interpretations of Genesis based how palatable they are to Creationists or Evolutionists. I also don’t think Creationists are a “problem.”

What does your view on evolution have to do with whether or not you label an interpretation concordist?

Untenable? It’s not an argument, it’s a description. I didn’t make it up. I’m telling you how people use the word “concordism.” It’s not a “vs” situation, it’s an “and” situation. There aren’t “two sides to the corcordism debate” or something. People use the word “concordism” to describe both taking the Bible to be describing scientific truth and taking science to be supporting truth taught in the Bible. I’m not arguing that is what concordism should mean, I’m just telling you how the word is used.

I don’t understand your thinking process. I don’t understand why you think the label is “erroneous” or why you think evolutionists will have a different “concordism evaluation” than creationists. You realize that for creationists, concordism is a good and maybe even necessary thing and it is assumed that a good interpretation will be concordist? That flows naturally from the idea that you don’t need special insight into culture or context to understand the Bible (so “literal” interpretations are good) and that the Bible is inerrant in all it claims about history and science. If you are so concerned about championing GA to creationists you should be marketing it as concordist.

(Randy) #16

I really think that Dr Robert Carter’s response was quite well nuanced, as well. The Big Tent ... and Genealogical Adam!

I wish he were here to clarify it.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #17

I don’t understand the contrast. While this type of language can be used a great rallying cry of Protestantism (the ‘plain sense’ is where it’s at!) how is telling people you don’t need any ANE knowledge- common sense will help you interpret the Bible a good idea?

It’s almost like telling people you guys can just look in the sky and figure out key ideas using common sense. Just don’t try to use special knowledge from telescopes or general relativity or anything.

(Jay Johnson) #18

Last I heard, Joshua explicitly denied endorsing any position on origins.

In arguing before Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, Moses called the nation God’s “firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22), and upon that basis Israel came to view itself as collectively taking up the task of obedience and succeeding where ha’adam had failed. This was standard fare in Jewish theology of the time.

So, you’re suggesting that the original audience would have read/heard the story of the man’s creation from dust, his inability to find a suitable partner among the animals, and the subsequent creation of the woman, and then they would have speculated that it was not about the creation of the first humans. That doesn’t even pass the “smell test.”

(George Brooks) #19


My apologies.

The intention in my mind was clear… but the words I chose did not honor my intentions. Let me re-phrase my original sentence which you quote in your posting above:

New, Revised, Version:
"Joshua says that science is not in a position to deny a supernatural event as obscure as God creating one man from dust, or as obscure as God creating one woman from a rib of one man."

I think that will pass muster now!

My apologies to @Swamidass for being a little too cavalier in my prior wording! :smiley:

(Christy Hemphill) #20

Okay, how about this. As I understand it, Joshua is arguing that when it says Eve will “become the mother of all living” what that means is that 2,000 years later she will be the genealogical ancestor of everyone on earth. That meaning was accessible to no one until 2018 when Joshua explained genealogical science and Adam and Eve to the world. That’s concordism by most definitions. It is saying that the verse means something that could not possibly have been understood by the original audience, but some more advanced scientific understanding or construct later brings to light its truth.