What an ambitious episode! It was great to hear from many different voices, and to step back to look at big questions. By the end I had follow-up questions for everyone, some of which I had exasperatedly asked while listening.
It also left me feeling somewhat homeless, since my own take on Adam and Eve doesn’t neatly fit any of the three categories given. I expect I’m not alone in that. I don’t envy anyone who tries to distill Christian ideas on Adam and Eve into something both accessible and accurate.
I liked William Craig’s comments about Adam needing to speak about all people, not just a representative, and that original sin is biblically underdetermined and less important than maintaining that all sin. But right after that he made an argument I wouldn’t expect from someone well-versed in this topic:
It seems pretty clear that both Paul and, significantly, Jesus regarded Adam and Eve as real people that actually lived. And so the person who takes a purely mythological or symbolic approach to these narratives is going to be in the very awkward position of correcting the Apostle Paul and even the Lord Jesus himself on matters of doctrine, and that, I think, is an extremely uncomfortable position to be in.
He doubles down on this near the end of the episode. This seems to be a bait-and-switch between what Paul and Jesus believed about certain historical or scientific facts and what they taught as a matter of doctrine. Jesus and Paul’s views on Adam don’t need to make us any more uncomfortable than acknowledging that poppy seeds are smaller than mustard seeds but we can trust what Jesus teaches about faith. To raise the stakes and say our christology depends on Jesus always speaking with historical and scientific precision seems like a poor way to defend the faith.
I was surprised to hear @DeborahHaarsma say that Adam means earth. The word might have emerged through taking the feminine word for ground, adamah, and creating a masculine form, adam, but there are other ideas as well. Even if that is how the word emerged, we don’t determine a word’s meaning by its origin, especially not for a Hebrew word that appears in Scripture 500+ times. (Doing so is the first fallacy in D. A. Carson’s classic Exegetical Fallacies.) By looking at how the Bible uses the word, adam means humanity or human, not earth.
I tend to harp on this because missing the actual meaning of adam makes it harder to see how the Eden account invites a symbolic reading. (Also problematic is seeing Genesis 2–3 as “pretty cut-and-dry.”) It’s a story about a person named Humanity, sandwiched between two other accounts of adam/humanity’s creation (Gen. 1:26–27; 5:1–2). That alone should open a few new doors in how we read it, including a door out of the room that dichotomizes “historical” and “non-historical” readings.
Since I’m curious about objections to a symbolic reading beyond the genealogies, I wondered about Ken Keathley’s comment that 1 Kings connects Adam to all of human history and salvation history. Did he just misreference the genealogy at the beginning of 1 Chronicles, or does he have some narrative in 1 Kings in mind?
To end on a positive note, I think this by Deb Haarsma is critical for determining how much rests on our view of Adam and Eve:
If the Adam and Eve question is used as a litmus test for orthodoxy, for one’s view of the authority of Scripture, then it really becomes a dividing point. But I’d rather the discussion then be about those orthodox theological points and about the authority of Scripture than about Adam and Eve as a proxy for that.