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By Peter Enns / Brazos / 2012
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Can Christianity and evolution coexist? Traditional Christian teaching presents Jesus as reversing the effects of the fall of Adam. However, an evolutionary view of beginnings doesn’t allow for a historical Adam, making evolution seem incompatible with what Genesis and the apostle Paul say about him. For Christians who accept evolution and want to take the Bible seriously, this presents a tension that endangers faith.
Peter Enns offers a way forward by explaining how this tension is caused not by the discoveries of science but by false expectations about the biblical texts. Focusing on key biblical passages in the discussion, Enns demonstrates that the author of Genesis and the apostle Paul wrote to ask and answer ancient questions for ancient people; the fact that they both speak of Adam does not determine whether Christians can accept evolution. This thought-provoking book reconciles the teachings of the Bible with the widely held evolutionary view of beginnings and will appeal to anyone interested in the Christianity-evolution debate, including college and seminary students in science and religion courses.
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 Dr. Enns suggests, his book is an important contribution to the discussion concerning Genesis 1–2 and science.
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, 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, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity
The evolution of humans from other organisms has always presented very serious problems for conservative Christians, and the most serious problems have centered on the historicity of Adam. In this splendid book, Peter Enns confronts these problems with remarkable clarity and courage, offering a solution that is both biblically and scientifically informed.
—Edward B. Davis, professor of the history of science, Messiah College
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, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University
In this honest, insightful, informative, and provocative book, Enns offers readers an innovative way of reconciling their faith with evolutionary theory. In the course of fleshing out his argument, he provides readers with very accessible introductions to the historical-critical approach to Scripture as well as to the cultural and literary backgrounds of the Bible’s creation stories and of Paul’s reflections on Adam. Whether one ends up agreeing with Enns or not, all readers will benefit enormously from reading this book. I heartily recommend The Evolution of Adam!
—Greg Boyd, senior pastor, Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul
For far too long, evangelical Christians have dodged the implications of modern biology for our understanding of the Bible and theology. Foremost, we have failed to face the unassailable fact that death, rather than being the historical consequence of Adam’s sin, was a part of the natural cycle that created our human forebears. What shall we do with Genesis and Paul in light of these facts? Enns blazes a trail that engaged Christians can follow.
—Kenton L. Sparks, professor of Hebrew Bible, Eastern University
Peter Enns (PhD, Harvard University) teaches 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.