Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Longman on Adam, or Why I'm Not Surprised
The following video clip has been making the rounds of Facebook and evangelical and Reformed blogs for the past couple of weeks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Pk1vXL1WE
In this clip, Longman denies an historical Adam, seeing rather and evolutionary process at work, and is not even willing to affirm, at the end of an evolutionary process, God setting apart a unique person or persons as the first distinct human beings. Now anyone who has read much of Longman knows that he has little confidence in the historical reliability of the Bible, so these conclusions should not be surprising.
But let us examine his views a little more closely. Aside from the fact that he clearly has bought into the whole evolution thing, he is obviously greatly influenced by Ancient Near Eastern materials, arguing that the Bible is simply using ANE categories to talk about the creation of man. Many of the ANE creation myths are readily available in such anthologies as James B. Pritchard's The Ancient Near East, Vol. 1: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures or Documents from Old Testament Times by D. Winton Thomas (out in a new edition in 2005). SO you can read for yourself. Then ask yourself the question: Does Genesis 1-2 sound like these ANE materials? If you can honestly say yes, then you can agree with Longman. However, the differences are far more striking than the similarities, not only in content but in style. Only if someone is already convinced that the Israelite material is essentially unoriginal, and was more or less borrowed from its ANE neighbors can Longman's thesis stand.
Further, his dismissal of virtually the whole history of not only Christian, but Jewish, interpretation of Genesis as simply "literalistic" is arrogant beyond belief. Such arrogance can only be sustained by isolation in a cultural setting in which you can dismiss all those who disagree with you as intellectual troglodytes and get away with it.