Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives

Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves, eds., Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014. Pp. 352. $26.99, paper.9780801039928

This book is a collection of fifteen essays, organized in four parts, and written by different scholars, to present a theological, biblical, and scientific case for the necessity of belief in original sin and the historicity of Adam and Eve in response to contemporary challenges.

Part One: Adam in the Bible and Science

1. Adam and Eve in the Old Testament by C. John Collins

Taking Genesis 1–11 as a coherent narrative, Collins argues that the writer of Genesis was talking about what he thought were actual events, using rhetorical and literary techniques to shape the readers’ attitudes towards those events.

2. Adam in the New Testament by Robert W. Yarbrough

Yarbrough exegetically considers the New Testament’s Adam passages. He argues that Paul faithfully represented Jesus’s intent and commission.

3. Adam and Modern Science by William Stone (a pseudonym)

Stone places Adam in conversation with crucial evidence from paleoanthropology to show how Adam’s historicity and the human fossil record are not in conflict. He provides evidence to confirm the expectation of a discontinuity between the genus Homo and the australopithecine genera and places Adam at the root of genus Homo.

Part Two: Original Sin in History

4. Original Sin in Patristic Theology by Peter Sanlon

Sanlon focuses on Augustine and his vision of God, humanity, and ethics that was thoroughly informed by his understanding of original sin. For Augustine, had Adam not been a historical person, then the reality of original sin, which shaped God’s grace and its conception, would collapse.

5. The Lutheran Doctrine of Original Sin by Robert Kolb

Kolb highlights the relational aspect of Luther’s definition of original sin, which is the breaking of the bond between Creator and human creature. He traces the development of Luther’s understanding of original sin through Philip Melanchthon, the Formula of Concord, Martin Chemnitz, and Philipp Jakob Spener.

6. Original Sin in Reformed Theology by Donald Macleod

Macleod summaries the Reformed view of original sin that all human beings are born with a propensity to sin, and by nature are incapable of loving God, repenting of sin, or believing in Christ, apart from the new birth. Macleod explains the covenant of works, Adam’s federal relationship to his posterity, the imputation of Adam’s guilt, and our inheritance of corruption.

7. “But a Heathen Still”: The Doctrine of Original Sin in Wesleyan Theology by Thomas H. McCall

McCall offers an overview of the Wesleyan doctrine of original sin, which historically held to federalism but later modified it.

8. Original Sin in Modern Theology by Carl R. Trueman

Trueman surveys the highly diverse phenomenon in modern theology of original sin. He reviews six mainline theologians who have been influential on various strands of modern thought and stand in continuity with certain aspects of Enlightenment critiques of classical orthodoxy.

Part Three: Original Sin in Theology

9. Original Sin in Biblical Theology by James M. Hamilton

Hamilton argues that biblical theology is the attempt to discern the interpretative perspective that the biblical authors employed in order to adopt it as our own. This perspective includes a first man, Adam, whose sin had ramification for all humans and universal consequences.

10. Threads in a Seamless Garment: Original Sin in Systematic Theology by Michael Reeves and Hans Madueme

Reeves and Madueme demonstrate that a gospel that omits Adam and original sin is far less good news, if good news at all. These biblical doctrines show how kind and good God is and what good news is therefore offered to the weak and helpless sinner.

11. “The Most Vulnerable Part of the Whole Christian Account”: Original Sin and Modern Science by Hans Madueme

Madueme acknowledges that science is an aspect of God’s general revelation and Christianity is a revelatory faith with divinely revealed doctrines including original sin. For Madueme, full harmonization between science and Christianity will ultimately and certainly happen in the eschaton.

12. Original Sin in Pastoral Theology by Daniel Doriani

Doriani discusses original sin in relation to pastoral call, evangelism, church leadership, and pastoral care.

Part Four: Adam and the Fall in Dispute

13. Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12–19 by Thomas R. Schreiner

Schreiner argues that the most plausible reading of Romans 5:12–19, both exegetically and theologically, supports the doctrine of original sin and original death.

14. The Fall and Genesis 3 by Noel Weeks

Weeks deals with the difficulties of searching for earlier texts or sources behind Genesis 3 then he turns to what the text itself says, working his way through some of the crucial exegetical puzzles before making sense of the sequential narrative. He affirms the reality of Adam’s sin and relative relationships of God, Adam, Eve, and the animals.

15. Adam, History, and Theodicy by William Edgar

Edgar argues that the historicity of Adam is crucial in theodicy. It explains why God is not accountable cause for evil in the world. In fact, as Edgar shows, there is no intrinsic reason why God’s goodness could not allow evil, as long as it will one day be eradicated.

The essays in this volume are timely and much needed in contemporary discussion on the historicity of Adam. The historicity of Adam and original sin are essential, irremovable, relevant, and credible elements of the Christian faith.

Sherif L. Gendy

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