The Apostle Paul and Adam with Pete Enns

The Apostle Paul and Adam
Conversation with: Pete Enns

In this video conversation, Old Testament scholar Peter Enns discusses the Apostle Paul and his understanding of Adam as the progenitor of the human race.

To join the discussion, see "The Apostle Paul and Adam" on Science & the Sacred.

Video Transcription

One approach that is helpful to me is that I think Paul certainly assumed that Adam was a person and the progenitor of the human race. I would expect nothing less from Paul, being a first century man. And again, God speaks in ways and uses categories that are available to human beings at that time. I don't expect Paul to have had a conversation with Francis Collins about the Genome Project and how common descent is essentially assured scientifically. I don't expect him to understand that. Does that then violate the theological point that Paul is making of connecting Adam and Jesus? And more importantly, does the non-literalness of Adam affect the non-literalness of Jesus?

There, I think, Christians would pretty much come down and say, "Absolutely not. The two are not connected in that way." In Paul's mind there may be a more organic connection, but talking about, to use common terms, the non- historicity of Adam, a person of antiquity, a story of antiquity, that even in Paul's time was hundreds and maybe thousands of years old, and Jesus staring you in the face. How you handle this does not determine how you handle this.

More importantly, how Paul handles Adam does not determine modern scientific discoveries about the origin of humanity. Paul does not determine that issue for us. Paul is a first century man and what he says about Jesus and Adam has to be understood in that context.