In tracing the origins of the human race, scholars have come across the question of whether or not Adam from the Old Testament Scriptures was a historical human being. Did Adam exist as flesh and blood, or is the biblical narrative just a bunch of hype? Without the support of archaeological evidence to come alongside the claim of an historical Adam, we can still search the reliability of the biblical text, from both the Old and New Testaments, and arrive at a reasonable understanding for Adam being a historical figure.
In Genesis 1, the author Moses recalls the Creation account where God created the universe, light, sky, oceans, earth, plant life, animals, and the first human beings, Adam and Eve (1:1-27). In the New Testament books of Matthew and 1 Corinthians, both Jesus and the Apostle Paul mention circumstances regarding the Creation account generally and also Adam specifically. In Matthew 19:4-5, a question comes from the Pharisees about divorce whereby Jesus addresses it saying, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” Jesus mentioning “male and female” along with the Creation account points to Adam and Eve being actual human beings. As well, in Matthew 23:35, Jesus speaks about Abel, the son of Adam, which provides an association that bolsters historical support through the Scripture. Comparatively, the Apostle Paul takes the association further in 1 Corinthians 15 by putting Adam and Christ side-by-side, threading together the history of sin and the hope of resurrection. These three passages show biblical support for a historical Adam by linking him to other historical figures.
WITHOUT ADAM BEING A HISTORICAL HUMAN BEING, THE FABRIC OF CHRISTIANITY WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN.
There are Old Testament scholars who also agree with the claim of Adam being a historical human being. Richard Averbeck asserts that a belief in Adam and Eve, the “progenitors [originators; ancestors; parents] of the human race,” should be maintained as historical. Additionally, Todd Beall points to the importance of hermeneutics in this matter. He discusses the genealogy of Genesis 5, which begins with Adam and looks back to the Creation account of Genesis 1-2. He rightly questions, “What kind of hermeneutical gymnastics will allow one to take Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as historical people, but not Adam, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth?” As well, what would the theological implications be for denying a historical Adam, as some scholars have claimed?
Without Adam being a historical human being, the fabric of Christianity would be difficult to maintain. Such claims would be inconsistent with Scripture’s teaching about creation and sin. Without the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), sin and evil would possibly be reduced to myths, making the purpose of life and explanation of death at a loss. This narrative could cause a person to question why Jesus came into the world if not to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Without a historical Adam, humanity would either still be searching for our original human ancestors or we might embrace other unverified theories more readily. Either way, this would leave gaping questions about humanity’s origin, purpose, and destiny. Such evidence for a figurative Adam is lacking, and as we have demonstrated, there is strong biblical and scholarly support for the historical Adam. We can take God at His Word.