Did They Really Exist? A Biblical and Scientific Defense of Adam and Eve
by Jonathan Mclatchie
The historicity of Adam and Eve is a question which strikes at the heart of the Christian faith. If the primordial pair did not exist, then the historical and Biblical doctrine of the fall becomes extremely difficult to maintain. The apostle Paul clearly linked God’s redemptive plan and Christ’s atonement for sin with the fall described in Genesis (e.g. see Romans 5:12-21). We read in Romans 5:12-14,
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
In 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, we similarly read,
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Further evidence that Paul took Adam as a literal historical figure can be found in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 where he appeals to this doctrine in order to make an argument concerning the role of women in the church with respect to men. Paul writes,
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Indeed, Jesus Himself clearly understood Adam and Eve to have been historical figures. In response to questioning from the Pharisees about marriage and divorce, Jesus declared (Matthew 19:4-6),
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the genealogies recorded in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as an historical figure. The literature associated with second temple Judaism also recognised Adam as an historical individual. The context and genre of the book of Genesis does not give any indication whatsoever that it is intended to be non-literal or ahistorical in the sense that much of apocalyptic literature (e.g. the book of Revelation) is. If we read the book of Genesis as metaphorical, at which point do we stop? The life of Abraham (to whom we are first introduced in Genesis 12) is clearly connected to the history that came before him, going all the way back to Adam. Those who discard Genesis 1-11 as metaphorical but understand Genesis 12 onwards to be historical are being inconsistent. The narrative simply does not allow for this interpretation…