Was Adam really a historical person, and can we trust the biblical story of human origins? Or is the story of Eden simply a metaphor, leaving scientists the job to correctly reconstruct the truth of how humanity began? Although the church currently faces these pressing questions - exacerbated as they are by scientific and philosophical developments of our age - we must not think that they are completely new.
In The Quest for the Historical Adam, William VanDoodewaard recovers and assesses the teaching of those who have gone before us, providing a historical survey of Genesis commentary on human origins from the patristic era to the present. Reacquainting the reader with a long line of theologians, exegetes, and thinkers, VanDoodewaard traces the roots, development, and, at times, disappearance of hermeneutical approaches and exegetical insights relevant to discussions on human origins. This survey not only informs us of how we came to this point in the conversation but also equips us to recognize the significance of the various alternatives on human origins.
The biblical truth claims of the historicity of Adam and the reality of the fall are neither incidental nor insignificant to the Christian faith. They are matters of gospel importance. But in our time the validity of the churchs doctrine of the special creation of Adam and Eve, body and soul, as our first parents, based on Genesis 12, and the corresponding affirmation of the historical reality of the fall, based on Genesis 3, have come under serious cross-examination. There are voices (some of whom self-identify as evangelical) calling on the church to abandon and to revise its historic teaching. Many reveal an unfamiliarity with the history of the church's exegesis on these issues and its assessment of their hermeneutical and theological significance. William VanDoodewaard's book, The Quest for the Historical Adam, then, arrives not a moment too soon. He provides us with a careful, clear, important, orthodox assessment of the question as well as a tremendously helpful survey of the history of interpretation (including current views). This will prove to be an enormously valuable resource to pastors and teachers wanting to get up to speed on the historical theology behind this discussion and to gain a quick grasp of the present theological lay of the land. Those arguing for a revisionist interpretation must now deal with the material VanDoodewaard has amassed and articulated.
chancellor and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
Dr. Bill VanDoodewaard has gifted the church with a work that began as a labor of love but has grown into a significant major study in which he marries the disciplines of a church historian and the concerns of a Christian theologian. The issues on which he touches reach down to the very foundations of the Christian worldview, to creation itself. Those who share the author's understanding of the early chapters of Genesis will deeply appreciate his detailed analysis and synthesis of how they have been interpreted throughout the Christian centuries. And those who differ, whether in fine details or in major ways, ought, in integrity, to familiarize themselves with the copious material that Dr. VanDoodewaard here presents. This is a valuable and significant contribution to a much-debated subject and from a perspective that has too often been overlooked.
-Sinclair B. Ferguson,
professor of systematic theology, Redeemer Theological Seminary, Dallas