Bibliography: J. de Fraine, Adam and the Family of Man, 1965; and E. K. V. Pearce, Who Was Adam? 1969.——PT

ADAM (Heb. ’ādhām, red). A city near Zarethan (Josh.3.16), seventeen miles (twenty-eight km.) north of Jericho. At this spot the waters of the Jordan River were stopped to create a dry pathway for Israel to enter Canaan. Now identified with Tell ed-Damiyeh.

ADAM ăd’ əm (אָדָם, H132, meaning uncertain, the main suggestions connect it with [1] the noun ground [ אֲדָמָה, H141]; [2] the verb to be red. The first of these is prob. dependent etymologically on the second, but is clearly indicated Biblically by the juxtaposition of man and ground [Gen 2:7]. “Mankind; the proper name of the first created man, the antitype of Jesus Christ; occasionally man in contrast to woman” [e.g. Gen 2:22]).

In the OT.

Common and proper noun.

Adam occurs approximately 500 times with the meaning of mankind. In the opening chs. of Genesis, with three exceptions (1:26; 2:5, 20) it has the definite article (הָֽאָדָם) indicating “man” or “the man” rather than “Adam.” The first undisputed occurrence of the name of Adam is in the genealogy of Genesis 5:1-5. It is not necessary to assume thereby that the early chs. of Genesis deal generally with the beginning of human life rather than with the historical details of the first created individual. Of necessity the first created man is “the man” and the designation is equivalent to a proper name.

The Genesis narrative.

Alleged Mesopotamian affinities.

The connection of the Mesopotamian creation accounts with the Biblical account is much less than in the case of the Flood narratives. The common connections are infrequent and tenuous and it is apparent that each is sui generis. The purpose of the creation of man in the Mesopotamian account was to form a labor force to provide for the gods and to free them from arduous toil. This has no genuine counterpart in Genesis, where man’s toil does not become arduous until after his exclusion from Eden. The method of man’s creation in the non-Biblical accounts is also strikingly dissimilar, the blood and flesh of a slaughtered god mixed with clay and the spittle of the gods (in some accounts) providing the materials for this act. There is no hint of the use of any part of a deity, living or dead, in Genesis.

The theological implications.

In the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.

In the non-canonical Jewish writings significant developments took place in the interpretation of the character and significance of Adam. He was given a glory which transcended that of every other human being. In Ecclesiasticus 49:16 RSV, at the conclusion of a catalog of the virtues of Israel’s great leaders, one reads, “...and Adam above every living being in the creation.” Second Enoch 30:8ff. describes him as a “second angel, honourable, great and glorious.” A second line of development is that the effect of Adam’s sin involved all humanity. Thus 2 Esdras 3:21, “For the first Adam burdened with a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome; and not he only, but all they also that are born of him.” And again, “For a grain of evil seed was sown in Adam’s heart from the beginning, and how much ungodliness it has produced unto now...!” (2 Esdras 4:30). These two concepts find a certain reconciliation in Philo, the outstanding representative of Hel. Judaism. Philo distinguished (Allegory of the Jewish Law, I. 31, 32) between the two types of men (Gen 1; 2). The first man, the “heavenly man,” is uncreated, he is no more than an idea representing the perfection of humanity in the mind of God. The second man (ch. 2) is the “earthly man,” the historical Adam, the forefather of sinful humanity.

In the NT.

In the gospels.

Christ was questioned concerning the law of divorce (Matt. 19:3-9; cf. Mark 10:2-9), referring to the creation of Adam and Eve (who are not specifically named) and indicating the fundamental nature of the marriage bond in the original purpose of God (cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24). The provision for divorce in the Mosaic law (Deut 24:1-4) is regarded as secondary and permissive because of man’s “hardness of heart” (Matt 19:8). Mention has been made of the Jewish tendency to trace their history back to Abraham, the father of the nation. This is reflected in the genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17. Luke, whose gospel is directed toward the Gentiles, sets the birth of Christ in a universal context by tracing His descent to Adam, the father of mankind (Luke 3:23-38). The assertion of Luke 3:38 that Adam was “the son of God” prob. hints at the fact that he, and all his descendants, share in the divine nature.

In the epistles.

There is historical reference to Adam in the Epistle of Jude (v. 14) which notes that Enoch was “in the seventh generation from Adam.” Stress is placed upon the creation of Adam before Eve (who was formed from man) as indicating man’s essential priority in the realm of public worship (1 Cor 11:8; 1 Tim 2:13). This is strengthened by an allusion to Eve’s leading part in the Fall (1 Tim 2:14).

There is an oblique reference to Adam in Philippians 2:6. In contrast to Christ, who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” Adam, succumbing to the temptation to “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5) had eaten the forbidden fruit (cf. 3:22).

The first of three references which are of vital importance in Paul’s theology is found in 1 Corinthians 15:22. A theme which was noted in connection with the intertestamental lit., viz. the involvement of all mankind in Adam’s transgression, is repeated. Paul observed that if there is a solidarity in Adam to death there is a corresponding solidarity in Christ to life. This is worked out in greater detail in Romans 5:12-21 (see below).

In the context of a discussion on the resurrection (1 Cor 15:45-49), a fundamental distinction is drawn between the natures of the two great representative men, Adam, “the first man,” and Christ, “the second man.” The first man was made of dust; he was a physical creature of flesh and blood, a perishable being. All men, because of the fact of racial solidarity, share this nature, which cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But Christ, in the starkest contrast, is the Man of heaven, an imperishable spiritual being and a life-giving spirit. Those who are His partake fully of His nature and bear His image. The lesson drawn is that the resurrection is not to be conceived in material terms but in terms of a fulfillment of this relationship to Christ in the sharing of His immortal spiritual nature (1 Cor 15:53, 54; cf. the illustration from nature and its inference in vv. 35-44). The same comparison between the solidarity of mankind in Adam and the redeemed in Christ is worked out in Romans 5:12-21. In this case, however, the context is Christ’s work of salvation. Adam’s sin is shown to have involved all humanity in judgment, condemnation and death. Whether this death is spiritual or physical is not made clear; prob. both are involved. (There is no disparity between this section with its emphasis upon Adam’s sinful act and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, where Adam’s sinful nature is prominent. Adam’s sin is not mentioned in the latter section, but neither is Christ’s work of atonement; both acts, however, underlie the discussion.) This involvement in Adam’s sin included the generations born before the giving of the Mosaic law, which made specific the main classes of transgressions. It has been objected that this aspect of Paul’s teaching lacks an ethical connection with the individual, since it seems to suggest that men perish because of an inherited depravity, or because they were necessarily involved in Adam’s sin. Paul may, in fact, have accepted both of these alternatives (the first is the outcome of the second) as the logical explanation of the universality of sin which he notes elsewhere (e.g. Rom 3:9-23). The mode of sin’s transmission is not uppermost here; Adam’s transgression marked the entrance of sin into the world, and in Paul’s view, sin was a sufficiently powerful force to affect all men, even the would-be righteous man (cf. Rom 7), until the effective intervention of Christ. In any case, his was no crude or mechanical concept of the crushing effects of heredity. The individual’s moral responsibility is made clear in the observation that “death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom 5:12). His main concern, however, is with the broad contrast between Adam and Christ, both viewed as the heads of the human race. Again, there is the sharpest contrast between the effect of Adam’s one act of trespass and Christ’s one act of righteousness. There is no exact parallel; the act of Christ is markedly superior in its ultimate effects, since it annuls the evil legacy of Adam’s transgression. Christ’s act was a free gift, following many trespasses which, logically, ought to have received their due punishment. This unmerited gift brought justification, acquittal and life for all men. The emphasis is upon the free grace of God which supervened in a situation of death and transformed it into one of life through Christ’s perfect act of obedience in His death on a cross. Christ, therefore, became the new spiritual head of a restored humanity, in contradistinction to Adam who was the first, physical head of fallen mankind.

One final point may be observed. In all these NT references it is apparent that Christ and His disciples accepted the historical existence of the first man Adam and his fall as narrated in the early chs. of Genesis. See Fall.


W. Manson, Jesus the Messiah (1943), 174ff.; A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis 2nd ed. (1951), 46, 47, 66-72, 118-126; Th. C. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testament Theology (1962), 192-212; A. R. Millard, “A New Babylonian ‘Genesis’ Story,” Tyndale Bulletin 18 (1967), 3-18.