Adam, Eve and…Olena

aegIn his short post, “Will The Real Adam and Eve Please Stand Up?”, Douglas Olena, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Evangel University, claims that Prof. Franks and I “falter,” commit “logical gaffs,” and ultimately “cook up” the case for a historically real, original human pair: Adam and Eve. Olena is referring to our popular piece “Adam, Eve, and the Gospel” recently published in Enrichment Journal (Winter 2014).

In the process of building our cumulative case, we quote Mark 10:1-8—a passage in which Jesus cites Genesis 1:27 in setting forth his teaching on divorce. Here is the relevant passage (Jesus is speaking):

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’ (v. 6).

Dr. Franks and I then proceed to make the rather unexceptional remark that Jesus is here referring to the Adam and Eve of early Genesis. Olena responds:

yet don’t they [i.e., Davis and Franks] realize the possibilities of that little statement of Christ? Easily, and most generally, the statement could refer to the first of our kind, but was Christ referring to Adam and Eve? That is a leap of faith, an interpretation, not a literal reading of the Scriptures. Christ was obviously referring to those of our race for whom marriage was based on fidelity. But are those people necessarily Adam and Eve? If as the Scripture allows, Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically about Adam and Eve, then the quandary Davis and Franks cook up disappears ( link ).

These are curious words—not at all what one would expect from a professor at the flagship institution for the Assemblies of God. I have a few brief observations. First, Olena is quite right to say that “the statement could refer to the first of our kind.” It could because it does. Adam and Eve are “the first of our kind.”

Second, to say that our interpretation of Mark 10:6 is a “leap of faith” is puzzling in excelsis. It suggests that an inference has been made without evidence or warrant. Unfortunately, Olena doesn’t bother to prove this. It’s just a bald assertion. The fact is, however: it is easy to show that “them” in Mark 10:6 is Adam and Eve. All you have to do is show that “them” in Genesis 1:27 (the passage Jesus cites) refers to Adam and Eve. To do that, simply read a bit further into Genesis, chapter 2, and Moses explicitly says who they are: the man is identified as “Adam” (2:20), and the woman as “his wife” (2:25) and eventually “Eve” (3:20). To be sure, this is an interpretation (as all deductions from Scripture are), but contra Olena it is indisputably based on a plain reading of the text.

Third, on Olena’s view, “Christ was obviously referring to those of our race for whom marriage was based on fidelity…[but] Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically about Adam and Eve.” Well, this is certainly a grand assertion. If we are to take Olena at his word, we must believe that Jesus was a very poor reader of Scripture indeed. There isn’t the slightest hint in Mark 10:6 (or, tracing this back, in Genesis 1:27) that Jesus is drawing our attention to the set of all people committed to fidelity in marriage. Surely, if there are any “leaps of faith” going on here, this one ranks right near the top. Olena says Christ is obviously not referring to Adam and Eve. Well, it’s certainly not obvious to me–not nearly as obvious as that God cannot fail to exist, or that bachelors are unmarried. I should very much like to see Olena’s proof on this point.

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