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Adam and Eve

sat under the teaching of Jack Collins in seminary, I was glad to see this new book entitled Did Adam and Even Really Exist? from Crossway. Collins' goal is to "show why I believe we should retain a version of the traditional view, in spite of any pressures to adandon it" (13). Collins is referring to the view taken by most Christians through history that identifies Adam and Eve as historical persons and the fall of man into sin as coming from their own hands. Collins very carefully handles the concept of history in the introduction to provide the readers a foundation upon which to handle the Genesis narrative. He sides with argument that the author of Genesis believed he was writing about actual events while using rhetorical and literary conventions to shape his readers minds (16). Why is all this talk about history important? For one, many shrug their shoulders and decide that history is unnecessary to modern man. Others, believing in the advances of scientific inquiry but wanting to retain some of the biblical record, cry out that Adam and Eve were not historical persons, but the author(s) of the Genesis narratives believed them to be actual persons. Questions of storyline, witness of other biblical writers, and ordinary experience are questions that Collins relates to the answer of history and its importance. Agreeing with Colllins, I wonder how we can seriously take the writings of Paul relating to sin seriously if we entirely reject the actuality of Adam and Eve.

In the chapter on The Shape of the Biblical Story Collins draws us into the world of the text through seeing its overarching narrative. In speaking of the 'worldview story' that the Bible portrays Collins writes, "..the worldview story..captures the imaginations of those who own it, thereby driving them on and holding their loyalty" (27). What is unique in this delineation of worldview is that it is not merely cognitive but captures the whole person (imagination connects to emotions and gut feeling). Secondly, these worldview stories are not static but provide a steering wheel for their obedience and faithfulness. Next, Collins makes a helpful distinction in seeking to define historical as a 'way of referring to events' that are not necessarily non-figurative, non-ideological and non-sequential (34-35). What is the purpose of this discussion? The main point here is to provide an alterative to applications of the text that seek something that the text cannot provide (prose, complete in detail, chronological sequence, 34-35).

In looking at the rest of the book I wanted to venture into Collins' comments on Genesis and science? Collins wants to provide a discussion between the narrative of Genesis and scientific inquiry that is both reasonable and sound. How does he do this? First, he writes, "We should begin by observing the literary conventions, rhetorical purpose,and original audience of the author of Genesis" (109) Stop right there, why is this important? In order to be good readers of the text, we must pay careful attention to the shape of the text (conventions, rhetoric, divergence from other texts). Genesis 1-11 is markedly different from the ANE stories in its polemical thrust and intent. Secondly, the Genesis narrative has a way of shaping our teaching of the Bible that rids itself from the facts only approach (These are the truths of the Bible, the end). Reading Genesis acutely allows us to see the grand worldview story that is told by the author and allows us to put the events into proper perspective.

I think this is a great book for pastors, laymen, students of the Bible. Collins gets into many other details that people ask when approaching Genesis (no death before Adam and Eve sinned? 115, common origin of mankind). Overall, this is a great resource and a great approach to carefully taking the narrative seriously and engaging science profitably.

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy.


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