Free Westminster Journal Article
Denying the historicity of Adam has become increasingly present within evangelical circles.
Was Adam the first historical man? Does the answer really matter? And does it affect any important doctrines in the Bible?
Carefully examining key passages of Scripture, Versteeg proves that all human beings descended from Adam, the first man. He argues that if this is not true, the entire history of redemption documented in Scripture unravels and we have no gospel in any meaningful sense.
Includes a Foreword by the translator
About the Author
J. P. Versteeg (1938-87) was a New Testament professor at the Theological University of the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (in Apeldoorn) and a minister in that church.
About the Translator
Richard B. Gaffin Jr. is Emeritus Professor of Systematic and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Calvin College, Grand Rapids, and he holds the ThM and ThD degrees from Westminster. He also is the author of Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology.
Publisher: P&R Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1977, Second Edition 2012
ISBN 10: 1596385227
ISBN 13: 9781596385221
“This is the basic thread of [Versteeg's] argumentation: if it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam as the first human being, then the entire history of redemption documented in Scripture unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense. Versteeg’s work is as timely today as when it was first written. The publisher is to be commended for making its translation available again.”
- Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Emeritus Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary
“This book is the best that I know of in demonstrating exegetically that the parallels drawn by Paul between Adam and Christ (as the Last Adam) necessitate viewing not only Christ as a historical figure but also the first Adam as an actual historical figure. The argument is made persuasively and convincingly that, if one concludes that the first Adam was not historical, then one should be driven to the conclusion that Jesus as the Last Adam was not historical—the latter conclusion even very few unbelieving scholars would be willing to hold. Other references to Adam outside of Paul in the New Testament are also discussed, and the same conclusion is convincingly reached about the historicity of the first Adam. One might not agree with everything said about other issues outside of the Adam-Christ topic, but the conclusions reached about Adam and Christ are sane, sober, and reliable.”
- Gregory K. Beale, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Westminster Theiological Seminary
“Given the recent debates about the existence of Adam, this vigorous defense of historical Adam is as relevant now as it was when first published in Dutch. The exegetical and theological issues remain the same today. Versteeg shows with vigor and cogency that the New Testament’s teaching requires a historical Adam, and his defense deserves the attention of all who are interested in the question.”
- Vern S. Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Editor of the Westminster Theological Journal, Westminster Theological Seminary
“Many thanks for reissuing this helpful work. Among its many virtues let me mention two. First, Versteeg stresses clearly that Paul’s arguments in Romans and 1 Corinthians depend on historical sequence: Adam did something, and as a result something happened, and then Jesus came to deal with the consequences of it all. In this process both Adam and Jesus acted as representatives. Second, our view of Adam is bound up with our view of sin: is it an intruder into God’s good world (the traditional position), or is it a necessary part of the creation (which denial of historical Adam entails)? Anyone reading this will appreciate that contemporary discussions of Adam are still treading the same ground.”
- C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
“Denying the historicity of Adam or his significance for our own original sin is not just an issue of science versus the Old Testament. For the New Testament, as in Romans 5, deals with Adam as well, in an important theological context. For the apostle Paul, our sin begins in Adam, as our redemption begins in Christ. Theologians cannot escape this teaching merely by saying that Adam is a myth or legend; they must also account for his role in Paul’s doctrine of salvation. So a number of theologians, such as H. M. Kuitert, have postulated that Adam is a ’teaching model’ in the New Testament. Versteeg’s remarkably cogent and concise book tells us why this view is impossible. It was a great help to us when it was first published in 1979. But it is even more helpful now. Recently, some have claimed that analysis of the human genome forbids us to believe that the human race began with a single couple. In the face of such arguments, it is important to remind ourselves why the church has maintained that Adam is the first man and the source of human sin. I do hope this book gets a wide readership.”
- John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
“What an important book this is for today! Sane, clear and thorough, it offers a stout answer for those questioning the historicity of Adam, and lucidly shows why it remains non-negotiable. All thinking Christians need to read this.”
- Michael Reeves, Head of Theology, University and Colleges Christian Fellowship