The Evolution of Adam (Review)

Published: RTR 71, no. 2, 2012

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins

Peter Enns, Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2012. xx and 172 pages.

In this follow-up book to Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker, 2005), Enns expands upon his view that there is (ahistorical) myth in Scripture. He believes, firstly, that science proves that Genesis 1–9 is not literally true. Secondly, the early narratives of Genesis are deliberate parallels of the myths of other ANE cultures. To take each point in turn, firstly, Old Testament scholars, of all people, ought to be wary of imperious scientific hypotheses, given the rise and decline of the evolutionary Documentary Hypothesis. Secondly, why does ‘parallel’ necessarily mean ‘ahistorical’, and why assume that every ANE text is only myth? Flood stories are found the world over, presenting serious evidence that should not be ignored.

Enns then seeks to mitigate his challenge to Augustinianism. Paul’s ‘culturally assumed belief’ was that Adam was the original man, but we do not need Paul’s Adam to have Paul’s Christ. Quite apart from the problem of cordoning off the resurrection from myth, Enns fails to demonstrate that Paul’s theology remains intelligible. How is Christ ‘for us’, since the corporate rationale is a myth? As to why all are sinners, ‘I make no claim to answer’ (p. 126)—leaving Christianity pastorally impotent when confronting suffering. The historical Adam does not quickly surrender his place (cf. Luke 3:38, Jude 14, which Enns dismisses as unimportant, p. 150).