Was Adam an historical person?

Professor Tremper Longman (Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College, formerly at Westminster Theo. Sem.) gives room to read Genesis 1-2 from a perspective of a story but not necessarily as an historical account and order of creation.  Tremper Longman says that “it’s something he hasn’t resolved in his own mind and that there are still open questions.”  I’m glad.

This is bound to stir up some controversy amongst evangelicals and the blogosphere (HT: Nick Norelli, Justin Taylor, James Anderson).  One of my two congregations just began a bible study on Genesis last evening beginning with Genesis 1-2 so this very timely.

Personally, I do not insist that Genesis 1-2 is necessarily an historical account of creation and of Adam but I do feel that Genesis chapters 3-50 are historical.  Does Adam have to be an historical person for one to maintain one’s belief in the authority and inspiration of Holy Scripture?  I don’t really think so.  The biblical accounts in the Old and New Testaments may speak of Adam as an historical person but they may be speaking from a figurative and fictional point of view.

A literal six days of creation is scientifically impossible to prove but I do believe that with God, anything is possible. If God wanted to, he can create a human being in a matter of minutes. Some would lean toward the view that creation in Gen. 1-2 was created over a very long period of time (i.e., billions of years) through a gradual evolutionary process.  Even this theory takes faith to believe.

And no, I did not insist in my bible study group that Adam was not an historical person. I didn’t want to stir up controversy. My denomination is already mired in enough controversy as is.

7 thoughts on “Was Adam an historical person?

  1. Hi trainwreck, thanks for visiting New Epistles.
    I count you as a full-fledged brother/sister in Christ, not necessarily because I totally agree with you but just because you are also “in Christ.” That’s most important.

    When Christ first found me, I was under the impression that every word in the bible was literally true. It doesn’t have to be for me to have faith in Christ.



    1. We don’t have to agree on everything… I understand God hasn’t blessed everyone with the same wisdom and insight as he has given me… (which is why my track record on making good decisions is so nice and tidy)

      The “in Christ” part is the main thing. I accept the Authority of the Bible. There is no doubt in my mind that everything in there is there because He wants it there. I think that in our journey to grow closer to Him, scripture is designed to do a whole bunch more than be a somewhat disjointed history text. It is supposed to challenge. It is supposed to make us think. We only change or grow stronger when we are in a state of tension. Wrestling with God through His Scripture is the best way to do that.

      In my experience if the a message in scripture is telling something I do not want to accept as truth it usually means one of two things…

      1. It might not be telling me what I think it is telling me.

      but in most cases….

      2. I may not be willing to accept the message because it is in conflict with a part of my sinful nature that I have not yet acknowledged.

      Reading scriptue and trying to understand what it is God is trying to tell me thorugh it has been essential in my recovery from Gambling Addiction. It has also helped me develop a vibrant (most of the time anyway) prayer life.

      I just wanted to be clear that it was not my intention to undermine the authority of scripture in anyway.



  2. I do not believe that much of the Bible up until Saul’s time can be taken as historically acurate. The stories told there probably have their foundations in historical events but to me it is a stretch to assume that they are historically acurate.

    I do not have any doubts as to the “truth” of these stories, but that is not the same thing as literal historical “fact”.

    I do not hang my faith on whether or not we can accept the history presented in the Old Testament. Could God have made the world in 6 days? Sure He’s God. Could He have done of countless trillions of years? He’s God. To make one’s faith dependent on either school of thought is basically limiting God.

    The important part of the Old Testament accounts (or the whole Bible really) is not whether not we accept it as historically acurate. It is whether or not we can see what God is telling us through the stories. We need to look for the message… not a literal depiction of history.

    I do not think the God inspired human authors of the Bible were intending to write anything that was supposed to be interpreted as authentic history. I think they were telling the story of how they saw God interacting with them on a daily basis.




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