Friday, May 22, 2020

The creation of Adam

1. I've discussed this before, but I'd like to explore a variation. If I stepped into a time machine and went back to Eden, just before God created Adam, what would I see? We can't say for sure since the narrative is sketchy, so there's more than one way to mentally pencil in the details, but here's one way.

2. I see a man standing in the garden. I'm not saying the figure is a man. I'm just referring to what he looks like. In reality, the "man" is God, who assumed angelic form to create Adam. In Scripture, some angels are seraphim/cherubim. But we wouldn't expect God to assume cherubic form. They are symbolic guardians of the divine throne room. 

Other angels are luminous beings. It's possible that God was luminous. 

At other times, angels appear to be indistinguishable from human males. Suppose that's the case. 

In that event, Adam was literally made in God's image. He was made in God's image when God assumed human form to create Adam. 

3. So let's say I see a man in the garden, although he's God in the form of a humanoid angel. Suppose he reaches down and scoops a lump of clay from the ground. He begins shaping the clay. At the same time, he multiplies the size of the lump. Like a sculptor, he creates a life-size clay figurine of a human male. He then brings it to life by breathing into its nostrils. The clay is transformed into a human body, and the human body is animated. 

4. I don't mean animated in the sense of ensoulment. I'm referring to biological life. The narrative is silent on the question of dualism. The primary biblical witness to dualism occurs in eschatological texts concerning the intermediate state.     


  1. That's pretty much how I've imagined things happening, but I don't understand what you mean by #4.

    I thought in Adam "man became a living soul" after God breathed life into him?

    1. That's just a traditional English rendering, but the Hebrew isn't using "soul" in the technical sense of the source of consciousness.

  2. Thanks, I wasn't aware of the distinction. This is actually very interesting as I had never even considered the possibility that at any time post-creation that Adam wasn't "fully man" in the sense of having an ordinary human body and a rational human soul - albeit in a state of created perfection - just like every human to follow through his line.

    Would you mind expanding point #4 sometime in a follow up post perhaps? And what about Eve?

    1. I didn't suggest that Adam lacked a rational soul. My point is that the creation account is silent on dualism in that sense. That's consistent with Adam having a rational soul, but nephesh doesn't mean "soul" in the technical sense. Later passages of scripture bear witness to a rational soul, separable from the body, that outlives the body.

  3. Oh ok, got it. This encouraged me to look up "nephesh" in Strongs so I learned something today, thanks!