Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters

by C. John Collins

The best way to account for both the biblical presentation of human life and our own experience in the world is to suppose that Adam and Eve were real persons, and the forebears of all other human beings. The biblical presentation concerns not simply the story in Genesis and the biblical passages that refer to it, but also the larger biblical storyline, which deals with God’s good creation invaded by sin, for which God has a redemptive plan; Israel’s calling to be a light to the nations; and the church’s prospect of successfully bringing God’s light to the whole world. The biblical presentation further concerns the unique role and dignity of the human race, which is a matter of daily experience for everyone: all people yearn for God and need him, depend on him to deal with their sinfulness, and crave a wholesome community for their lives to flourish.

PSCF 62, no. 3 (2010): 147-165

6 comments to Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters

  • Norman Brockmeier

     This is one of the best PSCF Articles during the last year.  I’d love to read the unabridged version presented in Waco, TX in 2009.
       I was very intrigued by John Collins’ bio — he also received degrees from MIT, as well as from seminary in St. Louis and Liverpool.  (I have a PhD from MIT and grew up in St. Louis.)  I thoroughly agree with him that it matters very much whether Adam and Eve were real people.  I have been a Lutheran all my life and his article fits with the theology behind my Faith.  His discussion of Towner’s comments about Irenaeus were a fitting example of the manner in which Towner distorts what Irenaeus says, to support what Towner believes. 
      Collins detailed many different concepts that “our faith story” depends on and how we Christians have inherited an important foundation to our story from the Patriarch’s story in the Hebrew Pentateuch.  His exposition of this story is clearly stated and essential to the understanding of our faith journey.     Peace,  Norm Brockmeier

  • John Knapp

    Sept., 2010, a most important issue!
    I’ve spent hours reading all the articles.  As an older ASA member, I think many of us don’t realize how significant this well-written, well-organized, landmark issue is.  There’s much at stake here as we study and share these things that matter deeply to us.  I plan to be at the Vibrant Dance next month, and I hope to meet up with fellow ASAers who have done a bit of homework on all these carefully arranged articles.  As I’ve always taught in my own teaching, may we–especially as Christians–be careful to recognize what true science does and does not definitively demand about human origins.  In my view, after initial scoffing and laughing at Darwin, there seemed be a rush among Christians (who think) to (unfortunately) climb aboard the naturalistic evolutionary train,  so as to not be marginalized.  I hope that the wonderful (yes, wonderful) current learnings about the human genome not cause us to quickly bind ourselves to new conclusions that are unwarranted.
    If you don’t think a rotary motor of a bacterium matters much, look at the direction variations of finch beaks took us!
    –John Knapp II,  (former prof at SUNY-Oswego, occasional science writer for, author of novel, Earth Is Not Alone)

  • Dick Fischer

    I totally agree that regarding Adam and Eve as real people who began the Line of Promise leading to Christ is an important issue that can impact our faith.  On the other hand, I think we all should be aware that our species has an African beginning, a 200,000 year history, and could not have been started by a Neolithic pair living in Mesopotamia as described in Genesis.

    Other than being absolutely wrong it was an article well written.

    ~Dick Fischer
    Historical Adam Society

  • […] Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis Missouri. In his article “Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters” Dr. Collins makes a case for a historical understanding of Adam and the Fall and suggests […]

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