Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 001. Adam

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Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 001. Adam

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Abbott, E. A., The Son of Man (1910), 23.

Charles, R. H., The Apocalypse of Baruch (1896), 45, 79.

Church, R. W., Pascal and other Sermons (1895), 128.

Driver, S. R., The Book of Genesis (1904).

Eck, H. V. S., Sin (1907), 37.

Hall, F. J., Creation and Man (1912), 249.

Matheson, G., The Representative Men of the Bible, i. (1902) 23.

Moberly, R. C., Christ our Life (1902), 67.

Parker, J., Adam, Noah, and Abraham (1880), 14.

Rix, H., Sermons, Addresses, and Essays (1907), 1.

Skinner, J., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (1910).

Whyte, A., Bible Characters: Adam to Achan (1896), 9.

Williams, I., The Characters of the Old Testament (1870), 1.

American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, xxxii. (1910) 85 (A. E. Whatham).

American Journal of Theology, vi. (1902) 758 (H. G. Smith).

Dictionary of the Bible (Single-volume, 1909), 11 (A. H. McNeile).

Encyclopœdia Biblica, i. (1899), col. 58 (T. K. Cheyne).

Encyclopœdia of Religion and Ethics, i. (1908) 84 (W. H. Bennett); v. (1912) 701 (J. Denney).


And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.- Gen_1:27.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.- Gen_2:7.

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.- Gen_2:15.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.- 1Co_15:22.

1. To the modern reader of the Bible the interest of Adam is threefold. He is the race, the representative of the race, or an individual with unique experiences. It may not be possible to separate Adam as man, or as the representative of men, from Adam as an individual; there is no clear distinction in the Scriptures, and we may find it impossible to maintain the distinction consistently in our own minds. But we do undoubtedly think of Adam as an individual, with a wife called Eve and with sons called Cain, Abel, and Seth, and there is some advantage as well as interest in preserving his individuality. On the other hand, it is undeniable that, in the Old Testament as in the New, Adam is chiefly regarded either as simply the race “man,” or as the first and representative of the race, “the man.” If we consider separately, first Adam as man, next Adam as “the man,” and then Adam as “a man,” it will not be expected that the one conception will be kept wholly apart from the other; but it will be seen that the first is chiefly religious, the second chiefly theological in its interest, and the third chiefly ethical. The threefold distinction is suggested by the early narratives in Genesis. In Gen_1:26-28, the Hebrew adham, “man,” is mankind; in 2:4-4:26, we have ha-adham, “the man”; and in Gen_5:1-5, Adam in a proper name.

Gen_1:26-28 is part of the “Priestly” narrative. In the Priestly narrative (P) of Creation (Gen_1:1-31; Gen_2:1-4 a) Elohim creates “mankind” (adham) in His own image, in two sexes, makes man supreme over all living creatures, bids him multiply, and gives him the fruits and grains for food. He blesses man. But whereas it is said separately of each of the other groups of creatures, “God saw that it was good,” there is no such separate utterance concerning man; he is simply included in the general statement, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

Gen_2:4-25; Gen_3:1-24; Gen_4:1-26 belongs to the “Prophetic” narrative. In the Prophetic (J) narrative (Gen_2:4-25; Gen_3:1-24; Gen_4:1-26) Jahweh Elohim moulds “the man” out of dust, gives him life by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, and places him in Eden to dress and keep it. Jahweh Elohim also makes the animals out of the soil ('adhāmah) in order that “the man” may find a helpmeet; “the man” names them but finds no suitable helpmeet, and at last Jahweh Elohim builds up a woman out of a rib taken from “the man” while he slept: the woman proves a suitable helpmeet. Jahweh Elohim had forbidden “the man” to eat of the fruit of a certain “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” planted in the midst of Eden; but, tempted by the serpent, the woman ate of the forbidden fruit, and also persuaded the man to eat. Thereupon Jahweh Elohim drove them out of Eden, and man became subject to death.

Gen_5:1-5 belongs again to the Priestly narrative. Adam is the ancestor of the human race; when he is 130 years old he begets Seth “in his own likeness, after his image.” Afterwards Adam begat other children, and died at the age of 930.1 [Note: W. H. Bennett, in Encyclopœdia of Religion and Ethics, i. 84.]

After the first six chapters of Genesis, “adam” (as compared with other Hebrew words for “man”) is very seldom used except in phrases denoting the class, men (also “every man,” “not [any] man,” “man and beast,” etc.), and especially man in relation to God.

The patriarchal name “Adam” is very rare after Genesis, at least in our English Bibles. Job says “I covered my transgressions like Adam” (Targ. also “like Adam”); Hosea, “They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant.” In both these cases the margin of R.V. has “men.” Deuteronomy (A.V.) has “when he separated the sons of Adam,” but R.V. has “the children of men.” The LXX has “Adam” in none but the last of these three instances, where the translators perhaps thought that “the sons of Israel”-mentioned in the same sentence-are contrasted with “the sons of [sinful] Adam.” According to the text of R.V., Job and Hosea represent Adam as the type of sinful Man_1:1 1 [Note: E. A. Abbott, The Son of Man, 25.]

2. The derivation of the name Adam is doubtful. The most plausible is that which connects it with the Assyr. adāmu, “make,” “produce”; man is thus a “creature”-one made or produced. Some derive it from a root signifying “red” (cf. Edom, Gen_25:30), men being of a ruddy colour in the district where the word originated. The Biblical writer (Gen_2:7) explains it, according to his frequent practice, by a play on the word 'adhāmāh, “ground”; but that is itself derived from the same root “red.”

3. One other preliminary point may be stated.

There is a theory that Golgotha received its name from the tradition that the skull of Adam was preserved there. The earliest known Greek writer to connect Adam with Golgotha is Origen (a.d. 185-253), who lived in Palestine for twenty years (a.d. 233-253), was a personal friend of the Bishop of Jerusalem, and a sound Hebrew scholar. Origen states (1) that there was a Hebrew tradition to the effect that Adam was buried at the Place of a Skull. Athanasius (296-373) says (2) that Christ did not suffer “in any other place, but in the Place of a Skull, which the Hebrew teachers declare was Adam's sepulchre.” Epiphanius (312-403), who was of Hebrew origin, writes (3) that “Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified at Golgotha, in no other place than that in which Adam lay buried.” Basil of Cæsarea (329-379), giving the Adam legend in a fuller form, states (4) that it was “a prevalent belief preserved in the Church by an unwritten tradition,” that Adam was buried at the Place of a Skull, where Christ was crucified. Chrysostom (347-407) connects (5) Adam's death and burial with the Place of a Skull, and so do Nonnus Panopolitanus (6) (circ. 385-440), and Basil of Seleucia (7) (Bishop 448), who calls it a tradition of the Jews. The tradition is not mentioned by Eusebius (260-339), by Cyril of Jerusalem (circ. 315-386), or by the historians of the fifth century-Theodoret, Sozomen, and Socrates.

The references to the Adam legend in Latin writers are few It appears in some verses doubtfully ascribed to Tertullian (8) (155-230), and appended to his genuine works; and in a letter (9) from Cyprian (Bishop, 248) to Pope Cornelius, which is not accepted as genuine by Migne. Ambrose (circ. 340-397) writes (10): “There (at Golgotha) was the sepulchre of Adam,” and ascribes (10a) a Hebrew origin to the tradition. Jerome (346-420) gives the legend without comment in the letter (11) of Paula and Eustochium to Marcella, but elsewhere he calls it (11a) a “stage miracle,” and proposes (11b) a different explanation of the word Golgotha. There is a notice of it in the (spurious) sixth (12) sermon of Augustine (354-430), but none in the history of Rufinus (345-410). After the fifth century the Adam legend appears to have been greatly enlarged, if we may judge from the character it assumes in the writings of the Syrian Bishop, Moses Bar Cepha (13) (tenth century), and of the Patriarch of Alexandria, Saïd ibn Batrak, or Eutychius (14) (876-939). It appears in its most complete form in the Ethiopic Book of Adam, which bears evident traces of having reached Abyssinia viâ Egypt. This curious development is purely Oriental, and is found in the works of no Western writer.

An essential part of the legend appears to have been that the tomb of Adam was in the centre or navel of the earth; and this position is assigned to Golgotha by writers who do not connect that place with Adam. Thus Cyril of Jerusalem calls it “the very centre of the earth”; Didymus Alexandrinus (309-394), “the centre of the universe”; Victorinus of Poitiers, “the middle of the whole earth” (9a); Sophronius (circ. 564-637), “the navel of the earth”; and Andrea Cretensis (Archbishop of Crete, 675), “the middle of the earth.”1 [Note: Sir C. W. Wilson, in Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Jan. 1902, p. 67.]