The Lost World of Adam and Eve with Dr. John Walton

I just learned something MIND BLOWING about the creation of Eve that has astounding implications for understanding the equality of men and women as God’s original design and intent.

I have been listening to lots of fascinating podcasts as my summer cleaning has kicked into gear here in beautiful coastal Maine.  I cannot be subscribed to enough podcasts as I spend around 40 hours a week allllll byyyyy myselllllffff tidying up vacation rentals.  This past week, one particular episode from the Phil Vischer podcast stands out.  They had on Old Testament scholar and Wheaton College professor Dr. John Walton to discuss the creation account in Genesis.  In particular, he was discussing his books, The Lost World of Genesis One and The Lost World of Adam and Eve (with contributions from N.T. Wright).  If you cannot listen to the whole podcast, start at 29:00 to hear Dr. Walton’s thoughts on the creation of Adam and Eve.  Your world will be rocked!  Here is the entire discussion, and I will highlight the conversation’s main points below.

  • Ancients were more interested in discussing FUNCTIONAL origins rather than MATERIAL origins.  It’s more about ORDER than about STUFF.
  • Reading the text with our modern lens DISTORTS the text.  We ought to read the text exactly for what it was written for.  Read it according to the author’s intent, understanding the language they used and the culture they came from.
  • A Hebrew word and its meaning cannot always be reduced to an English word.  We have no suitable translation for some Hebrew words, like bara translated “create,” asah translated “to make,” and yatsar translated “formed.”
  • We assume because of our modern worldview and culture that these words are material in nature, but in Hebrew it can refer to PROCESS. For instance, with asah, the subject is somehow involved in a causation process, but it does not necessarily denote direct causation or to what level the subject is involved.  It also means we cannot prove a literal six day process just from the text.
  • Adam is used in Genesis 1-5 in a variety of ways, sometimes with a definite article on it (the adam), so that this is not his name, this means “human.”  “Adam” and “Eve” are Hebrew, which didn’t exist at the time, so these were not their names until Hebrews wrote their story down.  We have an Israelite account written to Israelites in a particular period.
  • We assume Genesis 2 is giving us more detailed information about day 6, but day 6 never mentions man and woman, it talks about the creation of HUMANITY.  Perhaps more than two people.  This makes more sense when we get to chapter 4 when Cain finds a wife and says “anybody who finds me will kill me” when he is driven away, and forms a city.
  • At 29:00 they begin to talk about the Creation of Adam and Eve–This is a must hear!  Dr. Walton asserts that forming from DUST and building from a RIB in ancient near eastern accounts are ARCHETYPAL claims, not claims of material origin.
  • “Dust” pertains not to chemistry but to mortality. Humans in the Bible were NOT created IMMORTAL.  Creationists argue, “There can’t have been evolution because there was no death before the Fall,” but Dr. Walton asserts they were created mortal but given an antidote, the Tree of Life.
  •  At 38:30, they start going into Eve’s creation.  The translation “rib” is not represented in the Septuagint or Latin or Aramaic.  This is the only place in the Bible that the word tsela is translated “rib” instead of “side.”  It is an architectural term, “this side of the temple,” “this side of the ark,” and there are always TWO sides.
  • Adam knows this is not just a bone; “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
  • “Deep sleep” has two possible contexts.  It could pertain to a situation where there is imminent danger and the person doesn’t know because they are asleep.  Jonah in the bottom of the boat, Saul is asleep in the camp when David is creeping in, Sisera is asleep in Jael’s tent when she drives a tent peg through his head.  Or “deep sleep” may have to do with a visionary experience.  Daniel falls into a deep sleep and has visions in chapters 9 and 10.  Adam falls asleep and has a VISION in which he sees himself cut in two, out of which one half God builds Eve.  Eve is the SAME AS YOU, is made of the same flesh.  
  • The original audience was more concerned with the theological and basic identity implications of the creation story rather than the scientific implications.  This story is about WHO WE ARE, our IDENTITY.  We are frail, mortal beings, dust.  We are gendered pairs, ontological EQUALS, of the same essence and matter.  The Bible does not speak to biological origins.
  • This interpretation does not challenge the traditional understanding of marriage, sin, or the existence of Adam and Eve.  This also does not contradict Paul, as N.T. Wright explains in the book.

“I have suggested that one can accept the historical Adam without thereby making a decision about material human origins.  This has the advantage of separating scientific elements, material human origins, from exegetical and theological elements with the result that conflict between the claims of science and the claims of Scripture is minimized without compromise.” – Dr. John Walton


Thanks for visiting TBKW blog.  Come again!

Advertisements

9 responses to “The Lost World of Adam and Eve with Dr. John Walton

  1. typo twice: you wrote immortal when you meant mortal.

  2. Hi Ruth,
    As I see it, these findings also do not disprove 6 days.

    Regardless of the fact that Hebrew was used later on, the Biblical logic from Genesis to Revelation allows for only two singular persons, who we refer to in English as “Adam and Eve”, as the first two persons of all humankind.
    Here is a site has something on this as well as Cain’s city: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=696

    K&D: For Cain is evidently afraid of revenge on the part of relatives of the slain, that is to say, of descendants of Adam, who were either already in existence, or yet to be born.

    Even if mankind was created mortal with the tree of Life for immortality, “death” only became our enemy because of the Fall. It was not creation or mankind’s portion before the Fall.

    Dust was clearly chemistry too, when Jesus healed a man with the dust of the earth.

    • At several points, Dr. Walton does clarify that these are possible interpretations and that the language does not clearly tell us one way or the other. I think it is important that we not split hairs over Literal 6 day creation vs. evolution when the more important implications of the text are matters of human identity. More than anything else he said, I was most interested in the creation of Eve more of a splitting of “the human” in two rather than cutting out a bone. As male and female, we are equally created in the Image of God. My bullet points do his interview (and books, I am sure) no justice. Thank you for reading the post and commenting!

  3. Ruth,

    Sorry for the curtness of my previous comment. My fault is that I get to business far too quickly. We are far more valuable than the sum of our beliefs.

    Before I continue, let me say that though we lovingly differ on this topic, I always really appreciate receiving your posts in my inbox. I find them interesting, confirming and rewarding.

    If I may, here is a Creationist response to Dr. Walton’s view:
    http://creation.com/review-walton-the-lost-world-of-genesis-one

    I got that from the comment section for the article, Christian leaders who uphold Genesis at http://creation.com/scholars-uphold-genesis
    (These statements are worth reading.)

    Be blessed,
    Rob

  4. Ruth,
    In terms of male and female equality, I appreciate why you used Dr. Walton’s material. I am certainly not trying to discredit all that he has to offer.
    God’s richest blessings,
    Rob

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s