The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say About Human Origins
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Brazos Press / 2011 / Paperback

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The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say About Human Origins

Brazos Press / 2011 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW433153

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Product Description

Much misunderstanding in the creation-evolution debate arises from an improper reading of Scripture, insists Enns. Fully investigating the historical and cultural setting of passages in Genesis and Paul's epistles, Enns seeks to put modern arguments on a sounder footing. From a senior fellow at the BioLogos Foundation founded by Francis Collins. 192 pages, softcover. Brazos.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Brazos Press
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 158743315X
ISBN-13: 9781587433153

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Publisher's Description

Can Christianity and evolution coexist? Traditional Christian teaching presents Jesus as reversing the effects of the Fall of Adam. However, an evolutionary view of beginnings doesn't allow for a historical Adam, making evolution seemingly incompatible with what Genesis and the apostle Paul say about him. For Christians who accept evolution and want to take the Bible seriously, this presents a faith-shaking tension.

Peter Enns, an expert in biblical interpretation, offers a way forward by explaining how this tension is caused not by the discoveries of science but by false expectations about the biblical texts. Focusing on key biblical passages in the discussion, Enns demonstrates that the author of Genesis and the apostle Paul wrote to ask and answer ancient questions for ancient people; the fact that they both speak of Adam does not determine whether Christians can accept evolution. This thought-provoking book helps readers reconcile the teachings of the Bible with the widely held evolutionary view of beginnings and will appeal to anyone interested in the Christianity-evolution debate.

Author Bio

Peter Enns (PhD, Harvard University) is the Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He was formerly senior fellow of biblical studies for the BioLogos Foundation, an organization that explores the integration of science and Christian faith, where he wrote a regular column for their Science and the Sacred blog. He has taught at several schools, including Princeton Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Temple University, and Westminster Theological Seminary. Enns has authored or edited numerous books, including Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.


"The question of the historical Adam is an urgent issue in biblical interpretation and theology today. Recent developments in biology have indicated with impressive evidence that humanity does not go back to a single human couple. Does that mean that the Bible is wrong or that science is wrong? Or perhaps, as Peter Enns argues, we have been misreading the Bible. While not everyone, including myself, agrees with everything that Dr. Enns suggests, his book is an important contribution to the discussion concerning Genesis 1-2 and science.
Tremper Longman III,
Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

The Evolution of Adam not only reflects the evolution of evangelical understandings of Adam, but it also contributes to new perspectives on Paul and the gospel of Jesus Christ. No one concerned with the beauty, glory, and truth of the good news in a scientific world will want to miss out on this landmark book!
-Amos Yong,
J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity

The evolution of humans from other organisms has always presented very serious problems for conservative Christians, and the most serious problems have centered on the historicity of Adam. In this splendid book, Peter Enns confronts these problems with remarkable clarity and courage, offering a solution that is both biblically and scientifically informed.
-Edward B. Davis,
professor of the history of science, Messiah College

This is a bold, honest, and direct approach to the questions of origins and the interpretation of the Bible. Pete has battle scars from the journey to his conclusions in The Evolution of Adam, but those battles have made him increasingly sensitive to the plight of the church's struggle with science and the Bible. Here is a theologically alert, pastorally sound, and exegetically informed book that will lead us onward.
Scot McKnight,
Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

The Evolution of Adam provides a sure-footed and engaging look at what the Bible says--and does not say--about the first man. Peter Enns, one of America's most important Old Testament scholars, provides a masterful and accessible survey of the relevant biblical scholarship from the past couple of centuries. Enns combines a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition with a courageous willingness to go where most evangelicals fear to tread. I highly recommend this book.
Karl Giberson,
author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution

In this book, Peter Enns deals with one of the most challenging issues facing Christians today--the historicity of Adam. Was there really a man named 'Adam' from whom all men and women descend? How are we to understand the story of Adam? More importantly, how are we to understand Paul's theological use of Adam? Enns is well-equipped to deal with these volatile issues, holding a PhD from Harvard University in Old Testament studies and having taught for 20 years at various evangelical seminaries and colleges. With grace and incisive scholarship he offers a provocative thesis that will certainly interest and challenge the evangelical church. From my perspective, Enns fulfills Jesus's commandment that we 'love the Lord our God with all our mind' (Matt 22:37), and he does so fearlessly and faithfully.
Denis O. Lamoureux,
associate professor of science & religion, St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta

In this honest, insightful, informative, and provocative book, Enns offers readers an innovative way of reconciling their faith with evolutionary theory. In the course of fleshing out his argument, he provides readers with very accessible introductions to the historical-critical approach to Scripture as well as to the cultural and literary backgrounds of the Bible's creation stories and of Paul's reflections on Adam. Whether one ends up agreeing with Enns or not, all readers will benefit enormously from reading this book. I heartily recommend The Evolution of Adam!
-Greg Boyd,
author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

For far too long, evangelical Christians have dodged the implications of modern biology for our understanding of the Bible and theology. Foremost, we have failed to face the unassailable fact that death, rather than being the historical consequence of Adam's sin, was a part of the natural cycle that created our human forebears. What shall we do with Genesis and Paul in light of these facts? Enns blazes a trail that engaged Christians can follow.
-Kenton L. Sparks,

professor of Hebrew Bible, Eastern Universit

Product Reviews

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  1. Jonathan Becker
    Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Much Needed Perspective...
    June 16, 2013
    Jonathan Becker
    Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    First of all, let me preface this by stating that Peter Enns is crystal clear that his audience is Christians who accept evolution as a powerful explanatory force. Thus, it is pretty obvious that anyone who doesn't share his assumptions will necessarily give the book a bad review. Peter is not trying to be convincing to creationists of any sort; instead, he focuses his attention on those for whom evolutionary biology is theologically challenging, yet a scientific reality. Any review that doesn't share these pre-commitments will by necessity lack much force in determining the book's effectiveness. I begin by admitting that I share Enns's assumptions and, on that basis, find this book to be extremely helpful.

    The book is divided into two sections. Section one is focused on Genesis, while section two aims to deal with the question of Paul.

    First the section on Genesis:

    Enns begins by discussing issues that shape the way Genesis is understood today. He introduces both internal and external issues that suggest that genesis is concerned with far more than just a simple history. His thesis is well respected amongst biblical scholars today, namely, that Genesis -in its final form- reflects the concerns of an exiled people group and tells the story of primeval history to answer questions relevant to that time period. Externally, Enns brings up the issue of similarity to other sources, but he doesn't accuse the writers of genesis of plagiarism. He asks probing questions that challenge the legitimacy of viewing Gen 1-11 as pure history. The question for Enns (here, as well as in the rest of the book) is this: are we being true to the text, or arbitrarily asserting things to solve problems?

    Next we come to the section on Paul's view of Adam:

    Up until the last chapter, Enns says very little about the Adam problem, except to remind readers that that is indeed the topic of the book. Much time is spent laying the groundwork so that when Adam is discussed, everything falls into place. Enns does not pretend to have all the answers, but only hopes to be a voice in the dialogue, one that recognizes the need to deal with Adam and evolution responsibly.

    As one of the reviewers of the book (on the back cover) stated, Peter Enns has felt the ramifications of thinking long and hard about the issues of this book. He has every reason to be bitter, yet he comes across as very gracious and charitable. That alone makes it worth picking up. However, my hope is that one will find helpful suggestions for approaching the issue of Adam and evolution and Paul. Just remember that Enns assumes evolution to be true and assumes that biblical scholarship is on the right trajectory. Thus, he doesn't TRY to address creationist objections to those positions, and reviewers should bear this in mind before putting him down because of it. Do with Peter's book what he asks you to do with the Bible: Read it and try to understand what the author is saying. Be creative if necessary. Don't take everything he says on faith, but work it out. If you do those things, this book promises to bear fruit.
  2. Doug
    Door County, WI
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Interesting but Unconvincing and Flawed
    April 2, 2013
    Door County, WI
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    There is some good material in this book with regard to OT studies. However Enns makes the unfortunate assumption that if something is written in Babylonian literature that it must not have happened in any historical sense. For example he states that because the Biblical creation account has some commonality with other creation stories in Near Eastern literature that this makes the Biblical account mythical and only symbolic since he assumes that these other accounts are purely mythical. But wait a minute! Isn't it possible that there is historical truth that has been misrepresented in Near Eastern literature which the Biblical narrator corrects? Enns really is trying to convince us to believe that Adam was not a historical figure, but some mythical symbolic representation of humanity. He doesn't make his case. Thus his hermeneutic is VERY flawed. Would the first hearers and readers believe that the Biblical Adam was a mythical figure? He doesn't make that case at all. Adam is viewed as an historical figure throughout the genealogies in both the OT and NT texts. Adam is given a specific age in which he died just like other persons of the Bible! He doesn't even begin to answer that problem. If Adam is a mythical figure are the rest of the people in the genealogies mythical? He doesn't deal with this. He selectively chooses the material he wants to discuss while leaving out serious counter arguments to his own suppositions. His argument is so flawed it is hardly worth the time to consider. For that reason it is a pathetically weak and flawed presentation. But it is a good read to show at what lengths people who are Evolutionists want to twist the scriptural text to conform to their "science." To some degree it parallels how "young earth creationists" are willing to twist science to conform science to what they think the Biblical text is saying. Enns does have some interesting insights into OT theology that are helpful. That's about the only redeeming aspect of this book.
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