Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? – This is a question that I hear often in ministry, or different forms of this question. In Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?, C. John Collins takes this question head on by looking at some of the evidence surrounding it including Ancient Near Eastern epics and Biblical history narratives. His goal with the book was to retain a traditional view while arguing that this view does the “best job of accounting not only for the Biblical materials but also for our everyday experience as human beings – an experience that includes sin as something that must be forgiven (by God and our fellow human beings) and that must be struggled against as defiling and disrupting a good human life” (13). I thoroughly enjoyed and was challenged by this book. Collins discusses Ancient Near-East myths, the Image of God and understanding the role of science when it comes to Adam and Eve. I would recommend this book to any person that wants to have a deeper understanding of Genesis 1-3 that is written in a way that is easier to understand than most scholarly written books.
Here are some of his points throughout the book that really stuck out to me:
- “Theologically, if we say that being prone to sin is inherent in being human with a free will, then we must say the Bible writers were wrong in describing atonement the way they did; and we must say that Jesus was wrong to describe his own death in these terms (e.g., Mark 10:45). Further, this approach makes nonsense of the joyful expectation of Christians that they will one day live in a glorified world from which sin and death have been banished (Rev. 21:1-8). Do these modern authors mean to imply that those who dwell in a glorified world will be less human because they no longer sin?” (48).
- “Some have suggested that, because there are no words for ‘sin’ or ‘rebellion’ in Genesis 3, therefore the text does not ‘teach’ that Adam and Eve ‘sinned.’ Of course this is absurd: the question of 3:11 (have you done what I told you not to do?) is as good a paraphrase of disobedience as we can ask for” (61).
- “If we deny that all people have a common source that was originally good but through which sin came into the world, then the existence of sin because God’s fault, or even something that God could not avoid. In either case there is little reason to be confident that any relief is headed our way” (134).