Adam in Canonical Perspective: The Old Testament
Where has Adam gone? The central figure in Genesis 1–5 is missing in the rest of the Old Testament. It is surprising that the personal name “Adam” occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament except the single reference in the genealogical list in 1 Chronicles 1:1, “Adam, Seth, Enosh.” In order to hold Adam in canonical perspective, therefore, we must return to Genesis 1–5 to ask what the text demands of us as twenty-first century readers. This paper returns briefly to the question of the ancient Near Eastern location of the text, proposing that we ask only as much of Genesis 1–5 as that location will allow. The result is an exploration of the fundamental questions of genre and worldview in the opening chapters of the Bible as a means of establishing what is and is not reasonable in our reading of Adam, concluding with a few implications for our current dialogue.
||Bill T. Arnold (PhD Hebrew Union College) is the Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1995. He has written or edited over a dozen books, including most recently Who Were the Babylonians? (SBL, 2019).