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The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins Paperback – January 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Can Christianity and Evolution Coexist?

"This is a bold, honest, and direct approach to the questions of origins and the interpretation of the Bible. Pete has battle scars from the journey to his conclusions in The Evolution of Adam, but those battles have made him increasingly sensitive to the plight of the church's struggle with science and the Bible. Here is a theologically alert, pastorally sound, and exegetically informed book that will lead us onward."
--Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

"The question of the historical Adam is an urgent issue in biblical interpretation and theology today. Recent developments in biology have indicated with impressive evidence that humanity does not go back to a single human couple. Does that mean that the Bible is wrong or that science is wrong? Or perhaps, as Peter Enns argues, we have been misreading the Bible. While not everyone, including myself, agrees with everything that Enns suggests, his book is an important contribution to the discussion concerning Genesis 1-2 and science."
--Tremper Longman III, Westmont College

"The Evolution of Adam not only reflects the evolution of evangelical understandings of Adam, but it also contributes to new perspectives on Paul and the gospel of Jesus Christ. No one concerned with the beauty, glory, and truth of the good news in a scientific world will want to miss out on this landmark book!"
--Amos Yong, Fuller Theological Seminary

"The Evolution of Adam provides a sure-footed and engaging look at what the Bible says--and does not say--about the first man. Peter Enns, one of America's most important Old Testament scholars, provides a masterful and accessible survey of the relevant biblical scholarship from the past couple of centuries. Enns combines a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition with a courageous willingness to go where most evangelicals fear to tread. I highly recommend this book."
--Karl Giberson, author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution

About the Author

Peter Enns (PhD, Harvard University) is the Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He was formerly senior fellow of biblical studies for the BioLogos Foundation, an organization that explores the integration of science and Christian faith, where he wrote a regular column for their Science and the Sacred blog. He has taught at several schools, including Princeton Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Temple University, and Westminster Theological Seminary. Enns has authored or edited numerous books, including Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158743315X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587433153
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Peter Enns considers his primary audience to be first Christians, and second people who think evolution needs to be taken seriously. Because of that, his aim "is to speak to those who feel that a synthesis between a biblically conversant Christian faith and evolution is a pressing concern" (p. x). He briefly sketches his own Christian background before explaining his approach to Scripture (which was outlined more fully in Inspiration and Incarnation):

The most faithful, Christian reading of sacred Scripture is one that recognizes Scripture as a product of the times in which it was written and/or the events took place - not merely so, but unalterably so (p. xi).

In other words, much of what Enns argued in Inspiration and Incarnation, and reiterates briefly here, is a reconsideration of the human-ness of the Bible. In the same way Jesus was both God and man, Scripture is both the Word of God and the words of man. This in short, is the incarnational analogy Enns proposes for reading Scripture. Enns draws this out (in Insp/Incar) by examining:

The ancient Near East cultural context
The theological diversity of the Old Testament
The use of the Old Testament by authors of the New.
In The Evolution of Adam, Enns uses Part One to further apply his understanding of (1) to the question of Adam in Genesis, and then uses Part Two to apply (3) to the question of Adam in Paul's writings.

He first finishes out the introduction with a discussion of the relationship between science/faith and evolution/Christianity. He wisely notes that "if evolution is correct, one can no longer accept, in any true sense of the word "historical," the instantaneous and special creation of humanity described in Genesis" (p. xiv).
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Let me begin by stating how thankful I am for the scholarly work and ministry of Peter Enns. As with other evangelical students of the Old Testament, I have benefited greatly from his books, edited works and articles in the past. He has raised many good questions for evangelicals studying the Old Testament. I am most thankful for the following aspects of this book:

First, I appreciate the openly apologetic nature of the book. Enns states in the introduction that his intention is to stop any "unecessary and tragic obstacles to belief," and that a driving concern in the book is "preparing the church for the future." The book is intended for Christians from an openly Christian scholar. Thus, Enns does not attempt to argue from a neutral perspective, but from within a Christian worldview.

Second, Enns seeks to bring all information to the table in his analysis of Scripture, but doesn't dwell on areas outside of his expertise. He doesn't intend to sweep anything under the rug, which is admirable, but also doesn't claim to be a biologist.

Third, Enns seeks to present a biblical theological interpretation of the the biblical data. He wants to think theologically in light of the entirety of Scripture, so what Paul says concerning Genesis matters for his interpretation of origins.

Despite these positive aspects of the book, I would probably not recommend the book as an introduction to the topics for the following reasons. Let me clarify that I do not dispute the evidence presented in the book, but find the interpretive framework flawed. My objections are thus largely hermeneutical:

First, the connections between pagan origin stories and biblical ones are exaggerated by Enns.
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One cannot but deeply admire what Peter Enns has managed to produce within the span of less than 150 pages - not counting his endnotes. Kudos as well for his penetrating exegetical insights...to say nothing as regards his courage: few conservative evangelicals (and even fewer fundamentalists) will find the title "The Evolution of Adam" something that warms the heart. And yet what Enns has produced here not only is revolutionary (in a very real sense - see below) but may well prove to be one of the more controversial books on the science/theology debate of recent years.

Why so? Primarily because (according to Enns - Part Two of his book) Paul's creative use (in Romans) of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis was primarily for apologetic purposes...a matter that will be discussed in greater detail below. But we begin with Part One.

Essentially Part One (four chapters) represents Enns' understanding of the crucial importance Ancient Near Eastern influences exerted upon the biblical writers - the writer/s of the Genesis creation account in particular. Enns (correctly in my view)hammers this point repeatedly for the reader to consider - i.e., the bible (the whole of it) was not written in a cultural vacuum unsullied by the surrounding culture/s of pagan religious thought, whether ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, or Greco-Roman. Indeed, to do otherwise would have been an impossibility - somewhat like trying to walk along the Tibetan foothills while refusing to breathe its polluted 'pagan' air. None of us ever fully escapes the surrounding influences of culture - and the bible was never intended to do so; rather, God (if one believes in biblical inspiration...as Enns does) works fully within the conceptual categories of culture.
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