Jesus Mentions Adam & Eve = Evidence, A "Mistake," Or Accommodation

It is well known that since Jesus mentions Adam and Eve, they must be real people. And he even said from the beginning of creation God made them male & female. That probably means the earth is 6,000 years old as well. This Answers in Genesis article summarizes both of these points under the section ‘The Recent Creation of Adam at the Beginning of Creation.’ I particularly like the quote: [Jesus] reveals His belief that Adam and Eve were at the beginning of creation, not billions of years after the beginning, as in an evolutionary view. If Jesus believes it, then that should be good enough for me and you!

None the less, it is clear that humanity shares common ancestry with other species and that there is no evidence of any genetic bottlenecks anytime in the past (I’ll go with…) 800 thousand years or so. So it seems to me there are three general categories to put Jesus’ statements into:

  1. Since Jesus refers to them he believed they existed and they really did. Possible options include a de novo creation of Adam and Eve while other humans came via common ancestry or perhaps Adam and Eve get called out of a larger population and are given a special covenant with God or were transformed in some kind of way.
  2. Since Jesus refers to them he believed they existed but he was mistaken. This is okay because Jesus only knew what the Father taught Him and there were at least some things the son didn’t know like the day or hour of his return. With regards to certain topics like mathematics or perhaps biology, he would have only known what the people around him knew.
  3. Jesus knew they weren’t real people but used the terminology anyway. This could be a form of divine accommodation (the mustard seed provides a good case study for this - see Davis’ Does Modern Science Make Jesus a Liar) but maybe Jesus knew better but because the people didn’t he accommodated his message to their understanding. Or maybe everyone knew they weren’t real people, e.g. there’s a story with a character named ‘man’ and a woman comes out of his rib. It’s somewhat unclear in the Hebrew when he even gets a name and everyone knew this anyways by the genre or other means.

Do you think there are other options (beside reject the evidence for evolution and historical population sizes, etc.)? Here is a 2017 article from BioLogos that bring up four possibilities with some overlap here: https://biologos.org/articles/series/old-earth-or-evolutionary-creation-a-new-book-shows-fruits-of-multi-year-dialogue/where-are-adam-and-eve-in-the-story-of-evolution-four-possibilities

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Good summary of options. I think all of them are plausible.

What I don’t like is when people choose option 1, but then insist that because Jesus mentions them and thought they were “real” people, that it means the narrative in Genesis 2-3 about them has to be historical fact. Well, they could be “real” people who were known to posterity for their literary role in a figurative theological story everyone recognized as a figurative theological story (i.e. option 3b.) The conflation of “real” and “historical” bothers me. Julius Caesar was real, but that does not make Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar “literal history.” And it could also be true that many people today, when they allude to Julius Caesar are actually referring more to the literary character largely invented by Shakespeare to explore themes about human nature than they are relying on their knowledge of actual historical facts about the man.

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But Jesus never said the stories were to be take literally and in Matthew 13 equated literal interpretation with closing ones eyes, ears and mind. So Jesus agrees with my view of an historical Adam and Eve whose story was full of symbolism.

LOL

Yeah… that was my sarcasm font. People often use literary characters to illustrate the point they are making and it doesn’t mean they think these literary characters were historical. So as convenient as this argument might be for my own position, it doesn’t prove any such thing! Jesus simply never speaks on the issue of whether Adam, Eve, Cain, and Noah were real historical people. That issue frankly had nothing whatsoever to do with the message He was trying to get across. Doing so would have very much detracted from what He was trying teach. The same goes for similar babble I have heard from atheists about Jesus not teaching correct science and other such things. So no matter what your obsession might be Jesus most likely didn’t share it. He was a man on a mission and that is what He did!

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Why?

If I refer to Narnia does that make it real? If I refer to Star Trek does that make it real?

Adam and Eve are part of Jewish culture. Of course Jesus referred to them. But it does not mean that they have to be any more real than the characters of His parables.

Richard

I think that is just Matthew’s way of being ironic. He is parroting AIG for effect in that first paragraph.

It is a very common misconception.

Richard

I would probably be fine with any of the options myself but that most closely matches the 3rd option. Technically Jesus didn’t actually ever reference Adam and Eve directly but rather God creating “them” male and female “from the beginning.” We would have to read Adam and Eve into Jesus’ words to make Jesus say anything about Adam and Eve.

Paul certainly referenced both directly and so maybe the list applies moreso to Paul.

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Paul was brought up with Adam and Eve. It was part of his core Scriptures. If he did believe it so what? Is Paul supposed to be perfect? Is there only one belief possible? How would he know any different? Christ has access to knowledge that Paul did not. Perhaps, on this occasion, ignorance is an excuse?

Richard

Jesus was not on earth to correct erroneous views on history or science. To have tried to do so would have been a major distraction to His ministry.

He may have known Adam and Eve were not real and simply referred to them as an illustration, just as we frequently refer to fictional characters. We don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

Alternately, Jesus may not have known.

We do have this passage indicating a progression:

Luke 2:52

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

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That’s a good point, and one that I think gets overlooked in many YEC teachings – but most Genesis teachings I’ve encountered also read Adam and Eve from chapter 2 back into chapter 1 anyway, so it’s easy to not even realize it’s happening.

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I also feel that one reason why we could believe that Jesus believed in them as being real regardless of if they were historical , literary, or a combination is the fact that Jesus also was not correct about the mustard seed.

However, it could be used to prove that although he was God, he was still operating as a man fully, and they believed the seed was the smallest.

So by all of that I mean that Jesus may not have been trying to lay a scientific foundation on those subjects as literal facts in every way.

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Perhaps it was the smallest known at that time, in that place. It served the purpose. There is no need to dispute the details.

Richard

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You mention an interesting point I am still wondering about.

In Gen-1 God is called Elohim.
In Gen-2 God is called Jehovah.

It must mean something, but what ?

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I didn’t realize that – interesting point. I don’t know what it might mean either, but that does seem to emphasize a difference between chapters 1 and 2.

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Well , Ed, the explanation I have heard is that they are separate creation stories from two different traditions that were included in putting Genesis together. The original audience was familiar with both, and saw no conflict in including both in the text, as both spoke to different ideas.
It has some support in that the two stories differ in significant ways. The first seems to be centered around water, and may have been from a coastal culture, the second seems to be consistent with a desert culture, speaking of dust, no rain, and a lush garden set apart from the surrounding land. The order of creation differs, the name of God differs. Those are the things that come to mind of the top of my head.

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Traditionally it means that they were penned by two different sources.

Richard

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Documentary Hypothesis folks say it’s two different sources, but then you go through the whole Pentateuch and find “different sources” within the same verse to the point of ridiculousness. I personally don’t buy the Documentary Hypothesis.

We often use different words for God and Jesus. In the same prayer or sermon or other discussion, we might say “Lord”, “Christ”, “Jesus”, “Messiah”… or we might use “Lord”, “God”, “Almighty God”, “Father”, etc. So I don’t see any reason why the author of Genesis couldn’t use different words for God as well.

Most Bible scholars see the two different names for God as reflecting two different source documents or traditions that were compiled into one scroll at some point. A good commentary on Genesis will have a lot of info on this issue.

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Yes, but remember the Laws of YEC Exegesis:

  1. Any verse of Scripture that can be linked, however tenuously, to any part of Genesis, is, by definition and regardless of context or content, an affirmation of a young earth, a global Flood as the origin of the fossil record and the Grand Canyon, non-evolution, a literal Adam-and-Eve-and-nobody-else, and dinosaurs on the Ark.
  2. Any verse of Scripture that calls into question a young earth, a global Flood as the origin of the fossil record and the Grand Canyon, non-evolution, a literal Adam-and-Eve-and-nobody-else, or dinosaurs on the Ark, is by definition taken out of context.
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Yep, sounds pretty accurate. I find it’s rather difficult to truly study the Bible when you’re already convinced that you know what it says.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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