from man's creation to his near destruction
a study of the early chapters of genesis
Once the student has recognized that Moses didn't himself originally write GENESIS, but rather that he only collated and edited ancient tablets which had already been passed down from the patriarchs, then one's whole and entire perspective towards the Book changes and the solutions to many of the problems in these early chapters he finally has in his grasp.
On occasion Moses might have inserted brief remarks or clarifications into the text for his contemporary readers, but GENESIS is not Moses' account of the origins of mankind. We quote from P. J. Wiseman's New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis, page 60;
- The third line of evidence is that many of the original place names given in Genesis were so old, even in the age of Moses, that it became necessary for him to add an explanatory note, in order to identify these ancient names for the sake of the children of Israel entering the land after their exodus from Egypt. Several instances of this may be seen in Genesis xiv. When in the time of Abraham this tablet was written, it recorded the movements of certain kings, and the names of the places as they were then known were put down. But in the four hundred years which elapsed between Abraham and Moses, some of these names had become changed, or the localities unknown to the Israelites. So Moses with this ancient tablet (i.e. Genesis xiv) before him and compiling the Book of Genesis added a note to enable his readers to identify them. Thus we have:-
- Bela (which is Zoar) verse 2 and 8.
- Vale of Siddim (which is the Salt Sea) verse 3.
- En-mishpat (which is Kadesh) verse 7.
- Hobah (which is in the left hand of Damascus) verse 15.
- Valley of Shaveh (which is the King's Dale) verse 17.
Mr. Wiseman then goes on in his illuminating work to give further illustrations of this same editing in 16:14; 23:2, 17,19 and 35:19 (we might add 2:24). Moses obtained these ancient tablets and then copied and translated them, evidently from the original cuneiform texts into the vernacular of his age.
As such, contrary to popular thought, the book of GENESIS wasn't Moses' systematic telling of the ancient history of mankind, but rather eleven separate and individual episodes within that history. Thus, the Book of GENESIS is a collection of accounts loosely grouped together by Moses, but not simply a single narrative told by one man. In other words, it is not a continuous history but rather individual accounts from the writers of each particular document. This no doubt will explain many apparent contradictions which readers and theologians have struggled with over the ages.
For example, the first tablet ends at 2:4 and gives us the account of the creation of the world, including the celestial and earthly bodies (the reader should note that the summary statement of each tablet comes at its end, "these are the generations" of so and so). It is there in this first tablet where we are told that man was created in GOD's image, both male and female (1:26-27). We are further told that these persons were instructed to "be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth" (1:28).
Yet when we come to the second tablet beginning in 2:5, we find man being created all over again (2:7). And this time there is no mention of the female being created with the man as in the first tablet, but instead she was made out of his own body some time later. Thus, while in the first tablet the female seemed to be created along with the male, in the second tablet she was not made until after GOD had planted the Garden, placed man there, instructed him concerning the forbidden tree, and then, after Adam had named the living creatures, then was the woman made (2:22), seemingly as an afterthought.
And this second tablet says nothing about them being fruitful and multiplying and replenishing the earth, but rather they were evidently confined to a garden where there is no indication that it was intended for them to have children. It was just the two of them, living a life of ease and comfort. No children, no families, and their only responsibility was to not eat from the forbidden tree. In fact, they only had children after they were kicked out of the garden, apparently in some way a part of the consequence for disobeying GOD (3:16).
How are we to account for these obvious discrepancies? Commentators over the years have offered opinions but few have recognized that two distinct and separate tablets make up these first four chapters of GENESIS. Realizing that, we can offer a very logical and simple solution. The two tablets were speaking of two entirely different situations, two separate occasions where man was created.
The creation episode in the first tablet touched upon mankind in general while the creation episode in the second tablet dealt with the individual man, later known and referred to in Scripture as Adam. Mankind was first created and sent forth to populate the planet, but sometime later GOD especially created the man Adam and endowed him with special gifts and abilities (2:7, 19; 3:22) which evidently mankind in general didn't possess.
As these separate tablets were written by different individuals, we can surmise that what they each wrote was from their own perspective. The first tablet contained information which only the Creator could have known so whoever wrote it must have gotten that information from GOD. Howbeit, the second table says it was from or of Adam (5:1), and then the third tablet says it was from or of Noah (6:9). Thus, these particular tablets contained information which each of the specified writers would have readily known.
The student must decide for himself if he is going to adhere to and accept the traditional interpretations of these passages, or is he going to be willing to cut himself loose from the Church's tether and think for himself, outside of the box so to speak. Obviously this proposal about the two creations of man is a huge departure from the customary interpretations of these passages, but if the reader will at least consider the possibility of what is put forth here, he will perhaps see a number of difficult passages finally make sense.
For example, it has often been asked, Who did Cain marry and have children with? We are told by Commentators that he married his sister, but that answer is given only because they don't think that there was anyone else around, so it had to be his sister. But no where in the text of the Bible does it say whom Cain married.
Then we are told that Cain built a city (4:17), a massive undertaking which would be impractical and unnecessary for a single family. It is true that this third chapter covers an extensive period, perhaps two thousand years, but as the record states that Cain named the city after his firstborn son Enoch, we can be confident that he didn't build the city centuries afterward, when his own family had multiplied into a vast hoard.
He eventually had grandchildren who not only invented stringed and wind instruments (4:21) but were also forgers in brass (copper) and iron (4:22). Are we to expect that all this was done by the means of a single family? Producing copper and iron is a huge process involving mining the ore, smelting it in furnaces and then fashioning it into tools and works of art. Are we to suppose that Cain's family did all of this without the aid of a sizable community? It would just make more sense if Cain was out among an already developing society.
We are also told in this same tablet that after Cain murdered his brother Abel, and was exiled as a fugitive and vagabond (4:12, 14), that he feared that "every one that findeth me shall slay me". As a result GOD placed a mark upon Cain as a warning to whomsoever might think of doing him harm (4:15). Who was he referring to if the traditional interpretation is correct and only he and his father were on the planet? But if the "every one" refers to those who were first created in 1:26-27 and had since began to multiply over the face of the earth, then it all makes perfect sense. Being ostracized from his father's house he would have joined himself to the already active society which was developing parallel to Adam's.
We should take a moment to examine the Hebrew word which is variously translated man and Adam and mankind in these records. This Hebrew word adam is found no less than forty times in the first six chapters of the Bible. Sometimes it refers to a single individual, sometimes to mankind in general, and sometimes to just two people. It is first found in 1:26-27 where the KJV reads,
- And God said, Let us make man [adam] in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man [ha adam] in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Where the KJV has translated the Hebrew word adam here as man, the NRSV has rendered it mankind and the New American Bible version has human beings. Obviously the passage could hardly refer to just one solitary man, as the verse specifies adam as them, whether they were male or female. We must therefore admit that this first usage of the word does not have to do with the creation of only one person and completely warrants us to understand that adam can mean more than just the single individual, named Adam.
We don't come to the word's next usage until we open the second tablet (2:5 to 5:1) which concerns the life and times of the man Adam (5:1). Thus, everything that happens here is from his perspective. As such, the Hebrew word adam used in this tablet has every indication of referring to the single individual.
- GENESIS 2:5-8 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man [adam] to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man [ha adam] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [ha adam] became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man [ha adam] whom he had formed. [Sometimes the Hebrew word ha precedes adam which then simply means the man, or this man, or a man.]
When we consider the other usages of this word adam in this same second tablet (2:5 to 5:2), then it becomes evident that the writer always had the single person in mind, the individual man, Adam (2:15-16, 18-23, 25; 3:8-9, 12, 17, 20-22, 24; 4:1, 25; 5:1-2).
In 2:18 it is explicitly stated that this adam was indeed alone and needed a companion, so it could only refer to the single person, Adam. The in 2:21-22 we are told that GOD took something from this adam so as to make for him a help-mate. In 3:8-12 GOD confronts this adam for eating from the forbidden tree and of course the adam made his excuses. Ultimately GOD drove the adam out of the Garden and then in 4:1 it is stated that Adam knew his wife and she conceived a son. This all has to do with one man, one single individual.
It seems like we are forever hearing of archeological discoveries which date the human race back many thousands or even millions of years, long before Adam and Eve lived. True of false, this really doesn't trouble us, because all biblical dating begins with Adam and not with the original creation of mankind in 1:26. The Bible together with later secular history gives us precise dating from the person named Adam (approximately 4000 B.C.) on into the Christian Era, but how long before that that the first men and women were created in 1:26-27 we are not told. It could have indeed been many thousands of years.
When we come to the third tablet (5:6 to 6:9) we have a record of the events leading up to the great flood of Noah. Here we are told some interesting and curious things which has led to some very peculiar interpretations by Commentators.
- GENESIS 6:1-2 And it came to pass, when men [ha adam] began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men [ha adam] that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
We must ask, Who were these so called "sons of GOD" which impregnated these daughters of men? Most Commentators try to convince us that the sons of GOD were angels or spirits because of passages like JOB 1:6 & 2:1, which clearly suggests that the sons of GOD in Job's situation were indeed heavenly beings. But surely, any sane and logical person will find it extremely hard to get his head around the notion that angels or spirits would have any desire to cohabitate with earthlings, or that it would even be possible for them to attempt such a thing. That an angel or spirit would have a penis that could deliver the necessary sperm to impregnate a woman is pretty far fetched.
In the Gospels, when the religious leaders questioned Yeshua (Jesus) about marriage after the resurrection, He plainly stated that in the resurrection there is no marriage, but instead, men and women are as the angels of GOD in heaven (MATTHEW 22:30), thus indicating that angels are not the kind of beings that have intimate sexual relationships with one another.
Yeshua stated elsewhere that spirits don't even have a physical body which one can touch and handle (LUKE 24:39), so there is obviously no way they could have had sexual relations with earthlings. This whole idea of fallen heavenly angels or spirits being able or even interested in impregnating women was perhaps first conjectured by James Gall in 1871, and has no foundation whatsoever in Scripture. But Commentators offer this explanation only because they think that they have no other, unless as some think that these sons of GOD were space aliens visiting from another planet.
But if the supposition of this Study is correct and there were actually developing side by side two separate societies, one beginning from the creation of mankind in GENESIS 1:26-27, and the other from Adam and Eve after they were kicked out of the Garden, then perhaps we have a clue as to just who these sons of GOD were. They would have been Adam's direct descendants, who had began to look upon the daughters of the other and separate race of men.
We must remember that this third tablet was written from the perspective of Noah. What exactly was going on in his life and times that would inspire his use of the phrase "sons of GOD"? Was he really thinking of fallen angels (JUDE 6-7) or imprisoned spirits (1 PETER 3:20)? The reader must decide for himself, but it seems more likely that he was simply looking out over the landscape and seeing the men of his own community lusting after foreign and alien women.
Probably not too long after transcribing this text in GENESIS, Moses wrote to his nation "Ye are the children of the Lord your God" (DEUTERONOMY 14:1). Clearly it was widely recognized even in Moses' day that the nation of Israel as a whole was considered the sons or children of GOD. Adam was himself the first son of GOD (see LUKE 3:38), thus his children were evidently also considered to be the sons of GOD.
Perhaps then, the passage in GENESIS is simply telling us that Adam's descendants were beginning to routinely seek wives among the foreigners, those who had developed their societies outside the circle of believers. This was always something which was taboo for the chosen people as we are told a multitude of times in scripture.
- EXODUS 34:14-16 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
Intertwined with their worshipping other gods was them taking the daughters of the foreigners as wives. Time after time they were warned by Moses of the consequences of taking the wives of the daughters of foreigners.
- DEUTERONOMY 7:3-4 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
And even after they entered the Promised Land they were cautioned against taking wives from the daughters of foreigners.
- JOSHUA 23:12-13 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.
Nevertheless, this is exactly what they did with the expected consequence.
- JUDGES 3:5-6 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
And even later when the nation was well established, this sin was specifically charged against Solomon.
- 1 KINGS 11.2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
And then again, even after their return from their captivity in Babylon, they again fell into this great sin.
- EZRA 10:10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. (see also NEHEMIAH 13:25-27)
The re-occurrence of this great sin and its consequences throughout the history of the chosen nation is strong evidence that it probably had its roots even in the time of Noah, and that was indeed the sin of those sons of GOD.
As the son of GOD, Adam was specially endowed with certain gifts and abilities and no doubt he passed these on to his own sons. We might say that Adam was the pet project of the LORD. Unlike the original man in 1:26, when GOD created this man it is specifically stated that HE breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul. Concerning the man being made in the image of GOD, the reader may wish to consult the Study, The Image of GOD.
This man Adam was given the responsibility of naming the animals (2:19-20) which probably indicates an advanced intelligence. And after his disobedience GOD had to drive him from the Garden lest he eat from the tree of life and therefore live forever. In 2:16 we are told that he was evidently already eating from that tree of life so before his disobedience the original intent must have been for him to live forever.
Thus, Adam's son Cain evidently had the capacity and ability to build a city when he went out among those of another tribe or community. And his own sons and grandsons were apparently gifted enough to invent music and were able to figure out how to forge brass and iron. It appears that they excelled among the pre-Adamites.
So likewise, when in GENESIS 6:4 we are further told that Adam's progeny were not only marrying and raising children among the outsiders, but we are also told that these children were becoming "mighty men", "men of renown". In later scriptures these giants (NUMBERS 13:33), and mighty men (GENESIS 10:8-9), and men of renown (of a name GENESIS 11:4) were simply other men which happened to possess special abilities. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest to us that they were a super breed of freaks, half man and half spirit or angel.
And then in between these two statements in verses two and four concerning the sons of GOD lusting after other women, we read this most interesting and peculiar passage,
- GENESIS 6:3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man [ha adam], for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
What first attracts our attention is the phrase, "the Lord said". Evidently the narrative which preceded this statement was of a different nature than what is just now being revealed. Now GOD is going to unveil something that was not previously known. Noah could see with his own eyes that Adam's progeny were being drawn away by their lusts after the daughters of the outsiders. He could see the children from these marriages becoming unusually powerful and mighty, but now some new and enlightening information was being given. That being, that GOD's dealings with the man was going to change, which was evidently to occur in about one hundred and twenty years. Right after this revelation we read of the great Flood, so we can conclude that the two events are probably related.
GOD was telling someone, probably Noah, that because man had become so wicked and evil, that HE had determined to put an end to their days. The context of the passage suggests that these children of the mixed marriages of Adam's progeny (the sons of GOD) with the outsiders, were raising up a people who were probably larger and smarter and more powerful than the others. Evidently this new race of men were over-powering and en-slaving the regular folk, inflicting upon them unspeakable abuse and hardship. Thus, in a little over a hundred years GOD's spirit was no longer going to strive, or as some render it, contend with man.
But of what man was HE speaking? Evidently it was the men who had lusted after the daughters of the outsiders, the sons of GOD. These were the ones in HIS view. These were the ones who were the subject of these tablets. The peoples living outside of the purview of the descendants of Adam rarely came into view. They may pass in and out of the record, but the patriarchs generally dealt with and wrote about their own people, their own tribes.
Thus, when GOD promised to wipe man off the face of the earth, HE was not necessarily concerned with the pre-Adamites, but rather with the giants, the mighty men of HIS own people, indeed, HIS very own sons. These were the ones with whom HIS spirit was no longer to strive or contend with. GOD was through with them, all except Noah who found grace in HIS eyes (6:8).
If this is the correct interpretation of these passages, that GOD was angry with Adam's line and not the whole race of mankind, then we are no longer necessarily dealing with a global flood. Then the destruction which GOD intended had to do with the limited locality where these giants, these mighty men of renown ruled. This opens up a whole new can of worms, so to speak, but also irons out a lot of wrinkles and apparent contradictions with the record.
Let's begin by considering the other kingdoms and dynasties that archeological excavations have uncovered over the past few centuries. As GENESIS is not a record of the history of mankind, there is little mention of the other civilizations of the world, even though we know that they must have existed. The patriarchs were mostly concerned with what immediately affected their own people and community and only mentioned outsiders as they came into contact with them.
Thus, we know that the civilizations of the Egyptians and Sumerians and Akkadians were all thriving during or shortly after the time of Noah's Flood, so how do we fit into the history of the ancient world an age when all men everywhere died, except for the eight on the ark? Why was there no interruption in these kingdoms but they seemed to continue on right through and after the flood? If the flood was indeed a world-wide global event then how do we account for the histories of other civilizations not seeming to be affected?
It is pretty much agreed that the Bible dates the flood to around 2300-2400 B.C. yet we can trace the Egyptian Dynasties back to about 3400 B.C. Indeed the pre-Dynastic period of Egypt dates back to 4200-4300 B.C. The Archaic Period of Menes went from 3400 to 2980; the old kingdom with the pyramids went from 2980 to 2475; Dynasties seven to ten went from 2470 to 2160; the eleventh and twelfth Dynasties from 2160 to 1788, and so on. So where can a global flood, which would have wiped out all mankind, fit in?
The same thing can be found when we look at the ancient history of the Sumerians which date back to the fourth millennium; the Akkadians to the twenty fourth century; the Assyrians to the twenty fifth century; the Chinese to the twenty first century and the distant Mayan civilization in Central America to 2000 B.C. There is just no reasonable way to explain how the history of all of these civilizations were't interrupted by a global flood which is thought to have annihilated all mankind except for those eight on the ark.
We must further wonder, how could every specie of animal, even from the far reaches of the planet have managed to make their way to the ark? Can we really accept that polar bears from the arctic and the giant snakes of the amazon could somehow survive such a trek? And think of how much time it would have taken tiny lizards from the American Southwest to make a pilgrimage half way around the globe. Could they survive such a journey? And if all of the rivers and lakes were intermixed with the salt water oceans, how did the fresh water fish survive?
Some creative minds suggest that the planet before the Flood was one big continent and so there would have been no oceans for the animals to cross. But that only kicks the can down the road, so to speak, for after the Flood there were separate continents. So then how did the animals leaving the ark, like kangaroos, manage to cross vast oceans so as to find their way to distant lands where we find them today?
We are told that GOD miraculously made it all happen, and we have always accepted that without much thought, but now we wonder. The record in GENESIS states that GOD told Noah to provide food for all of the animals as well as himself and his family (6:21). This seems to suggest that GOD was probably not miraculously supplying the wants of all of the animals before they reached the ark if HE was expecting Noah to provide for them within the ark.
And then are we to suppose that Noah and his three sons daily fed and cared for this great multitude of animals? And how did they provide meat for the carnivores, for the lions and tigers and grizzly bears? And we are not talking of a brief journey of a few weeks but they would need supplies for over a year. That is an astronomical amount of provisions for such a tremendous number of animals.
Arthur Custance touches upon this subject in his book, The Flood: Local or Global? Though he refutes this whole theory of a pre-Adamite civilization, and incidentally offers no real solutions to many of the questions which we have been circling, he does nicely sum up this whole problem of Noah assembling all the animals into the ark. We quote from Part one, chapter two, page 14.
- It is quite obvious that some territories are determined by temperature- the Arctic regions or deserts, for example. Consequently it is difficult to conceive how creatures accustomed to these very well-defined climatic conditions could pass through great stretches of country with entirely different environmental conditions as they made their way to the ark. Yet this would be necessary if the flood was world-wide. Desert lizards from Central America, polar bears from the Arctic, kangaroos from Australia, and giraffes from Africa would all have to make their way over thousands of miles of unfamiliar territory, and in one case by sea, to Asia Minor, where the environmental conditions might very well be "unsuitable" for any of them. Multiply this circumstance to cover thousands of creatures who are so small that the journey could only be completed by about the tenth or even the twentieth generation descending from those who began it, and one gets a fair idea of the miraculous supervision required to assemble a crew sufficient to preserve every species from a global flood.
Thus there is good reason and justification for us to question the scope of this Flood. It might have been global, but if it was we have some serious and seemingly impossible issues to resolve.
Next let us analyze the actual text of the tablet, for that is perhaps where we find the greatest obstacle to the theory proposed in this Study. The record of the Flood was not given by Noah in his third tablet but rather by his sons in their subsequent writings (GENESIS 10:1). Therein we find statements such as "all flesh had corrupted his [GOD's] way" (6:12), and so Noah was to bring into the ark an assortment of "every living thing of all flesh" (6:19), because "every living substance that I [GOD] have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth" (7:4). These sound like pretty sweeping statements. Then we have the conclusion stated in 7:23.
- And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth [eres]: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
There seems to be no conclusion to draw except that the writer intended for us to understand that he was recording a global flood which decimated and destroyed everything not on the ark. But as we have already seen, there is just no room in the history of mankind for a global flood. Therefore something has to be amiss. Either the writer of the fourth tablet lied and invented the whole idea of a flood, or else we are reading into the text what is not there. And that is where the problem usually lies, and that is where it lies again.
Much of the difficulty can be traced back to the word rendered earth. Often it is translated from the Hebrew word eres, which can mean planet earth but not usually. We find when we peruse its occurrences that it frequently means land or country, as the ancients had no concept of a planet earth. Their existence and conception of life usually was their own small community, the land or the valley in which their people lived and spent their lives. Consider the following examples.
- GENESIS 47:13 And there was no bread in all the land [eres]; for the famine was very sore, so that the land [eres] of Egypt and all the land [eres] of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.
- DEUTERONOMY 8:7-10 For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land [eres], a land [eres] of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land [eres] of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land [eres] of oil olive, and honey; a land [eres] wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land [eres] whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land [eres] which he hath given thee.
As such, whenever we come across this word eres and the English translation intimates planet Earth instead of some limited geographical area, it is always the translators opinion. Each occurrence must be interpreted by its context. If we thus believe that the entire planet was engulfed in a global flood then Earth might be the appropriate rendering in those occurrences. But if the correct interpretation is that it was only a local flood, then some particular and limited area would be the correct rendering.
As a side note, in his massive work Old Testament Bible History, Volume I page 48, Alfred Edersheim gives us a quote from Dr. W. G. Blaikie concerning the possibility of Noah's Flood being only local.
- "It is a question among theologians and men of science whether the flood was absolutely universal, or whether it was universal only in the sense of extending over all the part of the world then inhabited. We do not here enter into this controversy; but we may notice the remarkable fact that the district lying to the east of Ararat, where the ark rested, bears traces of having at one time been under water. It is a peculiarly depressed region, lying lower than the districts around, and this according peculiar facilities for such a submersion."
Though Dr. Blaikie doesn't seem to recognize the possibility of a pre-Adamite society, he does acknowledge the possibility of Noah's Flood being only local.
Secondly, we should also note that often the Oriental speaks flamboyantly. His language is exaggerated and colorful, full of hyperbole. Mr. Custance again speaks to this in his same book on The Flood, Part 1, chapter 1 and pages 4-8. Though his quote is lengthy, it is also useful and necessary so as to understand and appreciate this ancient figure of speech.
- We shall consider, then, some examples which seem to imply much more than was perhaps intended by the writer. We have already noted the language in Exodus 10:5-15 in which the phrase "the whole earth" is shown by what preceded to mean only Egypt, and not even the whole of Egypt -- since the land of Goshen was excepted. The same kind of limitation is found in I Samuel 30:16 in which the Amalekites are spoken of as "being spread abroad upon all the earth" by which was meant no more than the land of the Philistines (I Samuel 29:11).
- In Jeremiah 34:1, "all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the peoples, fought against Jerusalem." There, the phrase "of the earth" is limited to "his dominion," i.e., the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar.
- When Ahab sent his servant to find Elijah, it must be assumed that he limited his journeyings, in view of the time interval, to Palestine itself. And yet in I Kings 18:10 the same servant addresses Elijah with the words "As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee."
- In 2 Chronicles 36:23, Cyrus' empire is said to have encompassed "all the kingdoms of the earth". But there were kingdoms in the Far East which were surely not included. Cyrus' empire was pretty clearly defined. We are told in Deuteronomy 2:25 that at this early period in their national history God had put the fear of the Israelites upon "the nations that were under the whole heaven." It seems doubtful if this geographic range included any more than the Middle East, and probably only part of this. Meanwhile Nebuchadnezzar tells his contemporaries that "all people, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him" (Daniel 2:37, 38; 5:19). The limits of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom are well known.
- In Genesis 41:57, "all countries" came into Egypt to buy corn, for the famine was sore "in all lands." The story of those famine years reads like a firsthand account -- not a revelation. The Egyptian government would hardly have sold corn (i.e. wheat) to people in China who lived on rice or those in the New World who lived on maize. China's history goes way back beyond this period, and certainly man was in the New World prior to 2000 B.C., antedating this particular famine. Acts 11:28 speaks of a similar famine throughout all the world, yet it is not likely it really meant over the whole globe including the New World.
- The New Testament is full of illustrations of the use of hyperbole. The apostle James, in Jerusalem, points out that "Moses . . . hath in every city them that preach Christ" (Acts 15:21), and Paul claims in Colossians 1:23 that the Word of Life had actually been "preached to every creature under heaven". . . .
- The Queen of Sheba is said to have come to hear the wisdom of Solomon "from the uttermost parts of the earth," which was probably another way of signifying Yemen in Southern Arabia. And this word was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, who most certainly did not suffer the limitations of the geographical knowledge of His contemporaries (Matthew 12:42). He was evidently using language which is reflected in I Kings 10:24 and there used in the same connection. Solomon's father before him had enjoyed a similar notoriety, as indicated in I Chronicles 14:17, but surely Europe and the Fart East were quite ignorant of David's existence, and so was the New World.
- Luke 2:1 refers to a decree which went out to tax "the whole world." Surely we are not intended to suppose that the pygmies of the Ituri Forest in Africa and the nomads of Eastern Asia were also forced to pay dues. The phrase undoubtedly refers only to the Roman Empire, a limitation which must probably be applied in Romans 1:8 also, where the faith of the Roman Christians is said to be "spoken of throughout the whole world." This same faith had become a challenge in Acts 19:27 to the worship of the heathen goddess, a worship which was claimed to have been equally "world-wide." Both the early Christians and their contemporary pagans used a term which must obviously be limited, and which was quite meaningful in its limited sense to their listeners. In Acts 19:10 we are told that "all that dwell in Asia" had heard the gospel. It is not unreasonable to speak in this way. It is analogous to saying: "everyone knows that" -- a term we use without insisting on its literal meaning.
- There are many such passages in which hyperbole is clearly the reason for the comprehensiveness of the statement. In Acts 2:5, devout men from every nation under heaven surely does not include the Americas? Similarly, in Daniel 6:25 Darius writes to all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth -- but, again, surely exclusive of the Far East, the New World, and even Wester Europe, England, and the Scandinavian countries. In Israel's history, there were many occasions upon which God moved mightily in their defense, and such occasions must have seemed to them to have been told around the world, as Joshua 4:24 implies! Yet even neighboring states take no note of them in their official histories . . . David's fame went to all lands and all nations (I Chronicles 14:17) as did his son, Solomon's (I Kings 10:24). Yet we find scarcely any reference to either in the records of the time outside the land of Israel.
- Moses, who is similarly unknown so far except in the Bible, is said to have been the meekest man of all men upon the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). Perhaps he was, literally. But I do not think we are really required to believe this: only, that he was an exceedingly meek individual.
- In II Chronicles 36:23, Cyrus claims that the Lord God of heaven had given him all the kingdoms of the earth. We can be quite certain, I think, that this is merely royal exaggeration . . . .
- James 5:17, 18 tells us that in Elijah's time it rained not upon the earth for a space of three and a half years. Are we to suppose this was true even in Tierra del Fuego, where it seems to be raining all the time? And it is rather unlikely that the world could survive zero precipitation for more than three years. A single area could, insofar as there would be some input of food for man and beast from neighbors. But over all the whole globe?
- In all these cases it could be that the statements are precise observations of sober fact. But to argue this too emphatically would surely mean that Hebrew simply did not as a language allow the use of imagery to impress the reader. Actually, we know it does. It speaks, obviously hyperbolically, of waves mounting to heaven (Psalm 107:26), trees growing unto heaven (Daniel 4:11), a tower as high as heaven (Genesis 11:4) -- though admittedly this passage could conceivably be interpreted to mean dedicated to (the worship of) heaven. In II Chronicles 28:9 a man's rage reaches to heaven -- we might exclaim, "Good heavens, what a rage!" And in Deuteronomy 1:28 and 9:1 the enemy cities that stood in Israel's way as they marched into the Promised Land were walled up to heaven and had just as impressive fortifications along the walls!
- So one can take virtually every word descriptive of the magnitude of Noah's Flood and find it elsewhere applied in Scripture to circumstances of rather clearly limited, though impressive, dimension. Allowing Scripture to be its own best commentary, I do not think we can argue that the record of one single event should determine the precise meaning of the terms used in describing all other events. We ought rather to let the many occurrences govern our judgment about the terms used in the one event.
- Quite incidentally, but not without relevance, there are numerous passages in which the words "all men" occur with the meaning of "all kinds of men" or "all sorts of men". In John 8:2 "all the people" undoubtedly means "all kinds of people". In the same way, in Mark 3:28 "all sins" is given in the parallel passage in Matthew 12:31 as "all manner of sin". In John 12:32 the Lord said He would draw all men unto Him, which surely means all kinds of men. Similarly, in I Timothy 6:10. the love of money is probably not the root of all evil, unless one is to attribute cancer, for example, to this cause -- which seems absurd. The love of money is the root of "all kinds of evil." There are many illustrations of this: such, probably, are John 1:7 and I Timothy 2:4, for example.
- From such illustrations one gathers that the Old Testament and the New Testament writers both made us of expansive terms similar to those employed throughout the Flood story, attaching to them no greater significance than we would attach to such a colloquialism as "everybody's doing it wherever you go".
One more example might be added to Mr. Custance's list of possible clarifications for the phrase "all men". It sometimes means all men of a certain class or group. One example which comes to mind is in ACTS 3:9 where it is said that all the people saw the lame man walking and praising GOD. Obviously it was all the people who were present, all the people who were in attendance. Thus, when GENESIS says that all men would die in the Flood, it may mean nothing more than all the men of the community or nation, all of the people with whom the writer of the tablet was concerned, all of the son's of Adam.
The dimensions of the ark also need to be considered. The account in GENESIS states that it was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall. The question is, how long is a cubit? Most commentators agree that it was measured roughly from the elbow to the tip of the finger, or around 18"-20". That would make the ark 450' long, 75' wide and 45' tall.
Howbeit, commentators and theologians have no way of knowing what the accurate measurement of a cubit was at this very early date (2400 B.C.). The Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible concurs, saying "We have at present no means of ascertaining the exact dimensions of the Hebrew ordinary and royal cubits".
Around 700 B. C. King Hezekiah's Siloam tunnel was dug and a notice posted there stated that it was 1200 cubits (or possibly 1000 cubits) long. Today it measures around 1749' which makes the cubit in Hezekiah's day around 17.5". Howbeit, that tells us little as to what the cubit measured in Noah's day, seventeen centuries earlier. According to measuring sticks found in one of the Egyptian burial chambers, they evidently had two measurements for a cubit, the royal cubit (20.67") and the ordinary cubit (17.6"). Even so, neither of these tell us much about the cubit in Noah's age and in his land which was quite remote from Egypt.
If the ark really was over four stories high, how did these four men manage to handle the huge beams which would have been required for such a colossal project? Remember, the vessel needed to be sea worthy and able to carry a massive load which may have been continually shifting its weight.
But if the Flood wasn't global and not every species of animal needed to be loaded, then a much smaller vessel would work. Perhaps all Noah would be required to preserve were his farm animals; his hogs and chickens and cattle. The record in GENESIS stated only that he was to load "fowls . . . . cattle. . . . and creeping things (GENESIS 6:20). The creeping things needed not be a countless variety of bugs, spiders and other pests but could simply refer to small mammals such as rodents.
That would seem like a much more reasonable task for him and his sons to accomplish. No doubt these livestock were specially bred as they are today and it would be a grave hardship for Noah to have lost them in a regional flood. And protecting and providing for these animals would have been much more feasible than trying to house wild and dangerous carnivores from the far reaches the entire globe.
One might ask that if it wasn't going to be a global Flood, then why didn't GOD just have Noah move his family to another Land and start again, as HE later did with Abram (GENESIS 12:1) and then Lot (GENESIS 19:17)? Why go to all the trouble to build this huge boat to save him and his family if there was a simpler way to accomplish the task? To this there may be several answers.
GOD needed to exterminate all of these people because of their wickedness, but one wonders if Noah would have been able to turn away from his neighbors desperate cries for help when their destruction was upon them? Even today many of us squirm at the idea of such a wholesale slaughter and we can expect that the coming doom upon all those of Noah's community was something he surely agonized over. The account even tells us that after all had been loaded onto the ark that "the LORD shut him in" (7:16). We gather from this statement that if the LORD hadn't of slammed the door tight, that after the waters began to rise Noah might naturally have been tempted to open the door back up so as to allows others to join them.
Thus, if Noah had just moved over the hill with his family to another Land, then surely some of these wicked people would have tagged along and again settled in with Noah, once again corrupting his seed. We find a very similar situation when their ancestors entered the Promised Land and even though GOD had commanded them to destroy all the people in some particular community, that they on occasion disobeyed and saved the lives of some of them. As a result, the descendants of these surviving enemies later afflicted and even enslaved many of the children of Israel (JUDGES 2:10-16).
GOD has perfect foreknowledge and HE can see well into the future the consequences of our present actions. We on the other hand are often motivated only by what we see in the present. Too many times we are taken in by seemingly sincere people who are only repentant in their moment of need. When their crisis is past they too often return to the mire from which they had been rescued. So we surmise that GOD used a regional Flood to wipe out all of Adam's seed, except Noah and his family.
An additional reason for the necessity of a Flood, even if it was only a regional one, was the lesson it would have taught to not only Noah and his family but also to coming generations. Life is for learning and as such, everything that happens is for the express purpose of teaching us something. Thus, we can expect that everybody on that ark had a lesson to be learned.
Let's consider the events which surely transpired as the waters began to rise. Many of Noah's neighbors may have began to assemble around the ark and to plead to be let aboard. We know that Noah was called a preacher of righteousness (2 PETER 2:5), so we can be confident that he had already preached to them about the consequences of their evil lifestyle. They evidently rejected his preaching and we can gather from this that that is what sealed their doom. They rejected his message and rebuffed his attempts to open their eyes.
But if the Flood was global, then are we to understand that Noah preached to every single individual on the entire planet? Probably not. But this is the only just way GOD could hold them all accountable for rejecting Noah's testimony. Howbeit, if the Flood was only local, then it is reasonable to expect that he preached to all the ones in his community, and those were the ones responsible for their own demise because they rejected his message and warning.
An additional lesson which the Flood no doubt taught, was the effect the drowning multitude would have had on Noah's family. How long the screams and pleadings of these doomed people echoed in their ears we can only imagine. How long did the horrible visions of floating corpses bobbing in the flood waters re-appear in their thoughts and recollection?
What effect would that scene have had on their lives after the Flood waters had subsided and they had left the ark to begin to re-build their lives and their communities? They had surely learned that a wicked and evil lifestyle had its consequences. They learned that only they had been chosen among the progeny of their ancestor Adam and been allowed to survive. They learned that GOD meant what HE said and said what HE meant and heeding HIS warnings was the only way to survive. They learned that to find grace in GOD's eyes was what mattered most of all (GENESIS 6:8).
Finally, let us consider the quotations of this Flood event in the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament). Both Mathew and Luke (17:26-30) record for us the occasion where Yeshua recalled the incident.
- MATTHEW 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Primarily Yeshua's comparison here was to the fact that both peoples, those in Noah's day as well as those in His own were unprepared, both were caught off guard, both were overcome with destruction because they were not ready. In both instances the guilty parties had ignored and disregarded the call to repent and were thus swept away with destruction.
But there are even further similarities between the two events, for even though most people today believe that Yeshua's return was to involve the entire planet, a good argument can be made that it also was simply a regional event (for a brief over-view of this important topic, see the Study, Whatever Happened to Timothy?, or for a more complete examination see J. Stuart Russell's The Parousia, where he comprehensively scrutinizes each occurrence in the Christian Scriptures which have to do with Christ's Return). As such, Noah's Flood and Yeshua's Parousia were more alike than many might realize.
Then we have mention of the Flood in the great eleventh chapter of HEBREWS.
- HEBREWS 11.7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world [kosmos], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
Noah's faith condemned the world, but the Greek word kosmos rendered world here doesn't necessarily refer to planet earth. We have only too often read into it that meaning. According to Arnold Ehrhardt in his book The Framework of the New Testament Stories, page 206, kosmos originally referred to the perfection and beauty of the Greek City-State because of its "good order" and "political constitution". He further stated that the word later became attached to the perfect heavenly order; the measured courses of the stars and planets, the regularity of the seasons, the continuous cycle of day to night and birth to death.
Thus, we shall see that the word kosmos had more to do with the order and structure of creation rather than with a geographical area. As such, Noah didn't condemn planet Earth itself but rather the constitution, the framework and texture of the society in which he presided. He condemned their lifestyle, their wicked and evil ways.
Then we have an important mention of Noah and the Flood made by Peter in each of his epistles.
- 1 PETER 3.20 Which sometime [once] were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Not necessarily only eight souls out of everyone on the planet were saved, but rather eight souls out of all those with which the record had to do. Perhaps just eight souls out of all the sons of GOD. And then in his second epistle.
- 2 PETER 2.5 And [GOD] spared not the old world [kosmos], but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world [kosmos] of the ungodly.
We should note that in this second epistle Peter specifically stated that the Flood was unleashed upon the kosmos of the ungodly, i.e. their society, their organized and structured community. Consider a couple other occasions in these same epistles where Peter used this same word kosmos.
- 1 PETER 3:3 Whose adorning [kosmos] let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
- 2 PETER 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world [kosmos] through lust.
This corruption was not in the physical universe, or even planet Earth, but in the lifestyle of the inhabitants, in their adorning. Likewise, the kosmos upon which the Flood was brought was not so much the whole globe but rather the organization of their lifestyle, the garnishment of the society. The planet itself was not evil, but it was the organization, the constitution of their politics which needed to be destroyed.
Thus, no mention in the Christian Scriptures of the occurrence of Noah's Flood necessitates us to understand that it was global. If we are predisposed to think that it was, and that it then wiped out all life on the entire planet, then perhaps some of these passages will reinforce our conviction. But if we realize all of the problems with that scenario then we can awaken to the fact that Scripture does offer us an alternative view. We can believe that it was global if we choose to, but we are not able to insist upon it. Not honestly.
Perhaps one of the most significant obstructions to the theory put forth in this Study of a pre-Adamite people, is concerning the traditional belief of Original Sin. We've been taught that when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, that man fell. This fall then resulted in all of mankind there-after being sinful, having the nature of sin, and this sinful nature ushered in every man's death. Our question then is, if sin and death originated with Adam and Eve in the Garden, then did not pre-Adamite man sin? Did he not die?
It should first be recognized that the doctrine of Original Sin was not part of any theology found in the Hebrew Scriptures. We quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Original Sin- the state into which each human being is born. "Although the human condition (suffering, death, and a universal tendency toward sin) is accounted for by the story of the Fall of Adam in the early chapters of the book of Genesis the Hebrew Scriptures say nothing about the transmission of hereditary sin to the entire human race. In the Gospels also there is no more than allusions to the notion of the Fall of Man and universal sin."
Thus, it is admitted that ". . . . the Hebrew Scriptures say nothing about the transmission of hereditary sin to the entire human race", and further, even in the Gospels ". . . . there is no more than allusions to the notion of the Fall of Man and universal sin". One would think that this most important topic would be found scattered throughout the Bible, referred to countless times, but no, it is hardly ever mentioned, if at all.
It is also also curious that no where in Scripture does anyone mention the fall of man as concerning Adam's sin. As disciplined students of the Book, we should as much as possible stick to the language used by the inspired writers. In this way we will not have a tendency to wander or drift too far from the truth. As such, when we routinely use non-scriptural words and phrases, such as Trinity, Original Sin and the Fall of Man, we are venturing into dangerous theological territory. Sticking close to the inspired language is our surest bet for remaining on the right track.
We should note that in the record of GENESIS, when GOD pronounced the curses upon Adam and Eve for their disobedience, no mention whatsoever is made of this Original Sin. The curse upon Eve was concerning her labor in child birth (3:16) and the curse upon Adam was concerning his hard toil in producing crops from the soil (3:17-19). Perhaps we could add his eventual death to the curses, GOD declaring that "dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return", but no mention is made anywhere in GENESIS of Adam's disobedience causing or contributing to his descendants sin and death.
Even in the very next chapter when GOD was discussing with Cain various things, HE told him that "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door" (4:7). In other words, if you are obedient then things will go well for you but if you are disobedient then things will go bad for you. Cain was not destined or enslaved to sin, but it was simply his choice to be obedient or disobedient. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures one's obedience is always expected and commanded by GOD. The believer's obedience is the expected reaction to GOD's command, which is always something that is doable.
Also, there is never any mention in Scripture of Adam being responsible for Cain's murder of his brother, or of Noah's Flood, or of any of the other tragedies that befell mankind over the ages. It all boiled down the the simple choice each individual made. Obedience or disobedience to GOD.
- GENESIS 26:4-5 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
It was never suggested or even intimated that an individual wouldn't be able to avoid sinning because of Adam's disobedience. It was always as GOD told Cain, "sin lieth at the door" (GENESIS 4:7) and so it was each person's choice how he responded.
But then when we come to Paul's epistle to the Roman believers, the modern versions do seem to suggest that he wrote that Adam was indeed responsible for all mankind's sinning and death. It is thus important for us to take some time to consider and recognize Paul's purpose and reason for writing this epistle. It was mostly an attempt to bring together the different factions which were developing in the Church at Rome. There were religious Jews who as Christians were condemning their brother Gentiles because of their laxness to the Mosaic Law. And then there were the Gentile Christians who were ridiculing these same Jews because they adhered so devotedly to the Mosaic Law (for a complete analysis of this important subject, the student may want to consult Paul Minear's The Obedience of Faith).
Consider the following passages in just the first four chapters where Paul specifically noted just who his epistle concerned.
- 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
- 1:9-10 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
- 3:9, 29 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. . . . Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
- 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also . . . .
Paul wasn't writing ROMANS as many today suppose, as a foundational epistle for the Christian Church. Some of these believers in Rome had probably been Christians long before Paul ever converted (ACTS 2:10) so they didn't need any foundational principles, they only needed a rebuke and correction so as to re-align their thinking and then walk more righteously.
What Paul was attempting to do in this epistle was to show his Jewish brethren that these Gentiles can be saved without the deeds of the Mosaic Law. And he was at the same time endeavoring to demonstrate to the Gentile believers that these same Christian Jews were no less in GOD's sight than they themselves (3:1-2), even though they still observed many aspects of the Mosaic Law. All were brethren, and each were justified by faith (5:1) and they should regard one another as such.
He was likewise reminding them that no man, either Jew or Gentile had been able to live a sinless life. Each and every one of them had come short of the glory of GOD and this was the necessary importance of HIS grace. Abraham (ROMANS 4:3), David (ACTS 7:46), Moses (ACTS 7:30-34) and even Yeshua (LUKE 2:52) all required the grace of GOD to achieve righteousness. This grace (ROMANS 5:15) was essential for each and every one of the believers in Rome, and thus the Jew could not self-righteously condemn the Gentile for not upholding or neglecting the Mosaic Law, but also the Gentile should not ridicule the religiousness of Jew for thinking that the Law was profitable (ROMANS 14). This was the contention into which Paul delivered his rebuke.
The challenge for us today is to somehow be able to insert ourselves into this controversy and thereby understand the quarrel among the Roman brethren which Paul was trying to settle. Reading a passage here and there fails to give us the context needed to understand Paul's intent. When he wrote of sin and law, of nature and law, of transgression and offense and condemnation, it was usually in the context of their infighting, of them judging and condemning one another (8:1). His entire purpose for what he had written was an attempt to bring them together and show them that one is not to be thought of as above another (12:2-8), but all were to eventually stand before the judgment seat of Christ (14:10).
- Let us not therefore judge one another anymore (14:13).
With this brief overview, we then come to this important section (5:12-19) thought by so many to be the source and foundation for this doctrine of Original Sin.
- ROMANS 5:12 Wherefore [Mark what follows], as by one man sin entered into the world [kosmos], and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that [in as much as] all have sinned:
It was not necessarily the world as we might think of it that sin entered, but rather it entered into the kosmos. But to what kosmos was he referring? Paul had already used this word kosmos in the first chapter, by writing that their "faith was spoken of throughout the whole kosmos" (1:8). Obviously he was not intending to say that their faith was known throughout the whole Universe, or even around the entire planet. Rather, he was acknowledging that their faith was spoken of throughout the social structure and organization of the known world in which they lived.
But then later in that same chapter he wrote that "the invisible things. . . . from the creation of the kosmos. . . . are clearly seen" (ROMANS 1:20), which suggests a view which went far beyond the Roman Empire. As noted above, the kosmos wasn't so much a geographical area but rather a system or design or arrangement of some sort. Sin didn't enter into the physical world but rather it entered into the constitution or disposition of Adam's community.
According to Paul here (5:12), sin gained access into Adam's kosmos through his disobedience, but what about the pre-Adamites? What about the other humans which may have been on the pre-historic planet? Did Adam's sin and eventual death affect them in any way? The next passage presents an apparent contradiction for us to consider.
- 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world [kosmos]: but sin is not imputed [ellogeo, charged to one's account, PHILEMON 18 ] when there is no law.
In the previous verse Paul had plainly written that sin entered into the kosmos through one man, and therefore death passed upon all men; but then in this next verse he says that sin was not imputed unto man on account of there being no law. How can Adam's sin result in the death of all men (12), but then it not be imputed because there was no law (13)?
Either they were destined to die as a result of their sin or they were excused and so not penalized with death. One or the other. Verse twelve implies that sin and death did enter the world as the result of Adam's sin, but then verse thirteen flatly states that before the law sin was not charged to man's account.
And to what law? Was he speaking of the Mosaic Law which came long after Adam, or was Paul intending to refer to the law which GOD had given Adam about not eating from the forbidden tree? Most theologians either silently pass over this thirteenth verse with no comment, or they admit that it makes no sense whatsoever. Consider what Rudolf Buttmann wrote in his Theology of the New Testament.
- "Verse 13 is completely unintelligible . . . . What sort of sin was it if it did not originate as contradiction of the Law? And how could it have brought death after it if it was not 'counted'? These questions cannot be answered ".
His point is a powerful one. Paul was no fool but these two passages seem quite contradictory. Evidently we have not been fully understanding what Paul was trying to put forth. But as concerns the Original Sin doctrine, consider C. K. Barrett's comment on these passages in his The Epistle to the Romans, page 111.
- So far Paul has been describing the historical events (as he would deem them) of Adam's career, and established that he was responsible for the entry of sin and death into the world, at least as far as his own person was concerned. But once the connexion between sin and death has been established, Paul moves onward: 'So also death came to all men, because they all sinned'. That is, all men sin (cf. iii.23), and all men die because they sin; but Paul does not add here that they sin, or that they die, because they are physically descended from Adam. Nowhere, even in v. 19, does Paul teach the direct seminal identity between Adam and his descendants which seems to be implied in the nearly contemporary 4 Ezra (especially iii. 7, 21).
Note that Mr. Barrett says "at least as far as his own person was concerned". As far as Adam's own kosmos was concerned, he was indeed responsible for the entry of sin and death. But Paul might not have had the entire planet in view. Then in a further note on this page, he adds,
- The Latin rendering (in quo) of the words here translated 'because' could be, and was, understood to mean 'in whom'; that is, all men sinned in Adam. But this is certainly not the meaning of the Greek.
The most important question we must endeavor to answer is, What did Paul intend his readers to understand? Perhaps the key to sorting out this section of his epistle is to begin by considering his use of this word law, translated from the Greek word nomos. Its meaning has a number of different senses. Sometimes the writer uses it to represent the entire Mosaic Law; then at other times it is used to refer to law in general, a custom or underlying principle of life. It is also defined as living in accordance to nature or the law of the community.
In this epistle Paul speaks of the works of the law, the righteousness of the law, of the law of faith, the law of GOD, the law of the spirit, the law of his mind and the law of sin and death. Thus, we see that Paul uses the word nomos for more than just the Mosaic Law and we should also consider this when endeavoring to understand these difficult verses in chapter five.
When in verse thirteen Paul stated that "until the law sin was in the kosmos", he may not have been referring to the Mosaic Law but rather to the direct command from GOD not to eat from the forbidden tree. Perhaps he was saying that even before GOD told Adam not to eat from the forbidden tree, which was a law as well as any other, that sin was even then already in the kosmos.
Howbeit, that sin (before the law not to eat from the forbidden tree) was not imputed simply because there was yet no law. If this is the case, then we might now have a clue as to what he meant. Paraphrasing this thirteenth passage, "For until GOD told Adam not to eat from the forbidden tree, sin was nevertheless in the kosmos, but all previous sin was not imputed before there was any statute declaring it was a sin".
It was probably only imputed sin that entered the kosmos when Adam disobeyed a direct command from GOD, and not sin in general. Mankind evidently had already sinned before Adam disobeyed GOD's direct command, but that sin was not imputed. Paul then more fully explained in verse fourteen that this new offence from Adam's disobedience was not a normal sin (hamartia) but rather a transgression (parabasis). Note the New English Bible's rendering of this verse.
- But death held sway from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned as Adam did, by disobeying a direct command . . . .
Adam's great and dire transgression was that he disobeyed a direct command from GOD. Thus, his sin was somehow and in some way different and more severe than the sins of others. Their sins were not held accountable for as Paul had just written in the two previous chapters, "by the law is the knowledge of sin" (ROMANS 3:20). And then,
- ROMANS 4:6-8 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Thus, some sins can be covered over and forgotten, but some cannot. The statement we sometimes hear that "sin is sin" is not necessarily true. There are degrees and different categories of sin. Not only inputed and non-imputed, but forgivable and unforgivable, sins to pray for and sins which are not to be prayed for. Thus we need to allow Paul a few sentences to develop his argument here and not rush to a conclusion as to his meaning too quickly.
The penalty for Adam's great transgression was that it ushered in death, which may simply have meant that his special relationship with GOD was then severed.
- ROMANS 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
This might explain why Adam did not physically die the day he ate from the forbidden tree, as GOD had said he would and the Serpent had said he wouldn't. He was not to immediately die physically, but rather spiritually. His special relationship with GOD was ended that day.
If this interpretation of Paul's epistle is correct, then one passage is no longer contradicting the other. What he was in essence saying then, was that Adam's sin in eating from the forbidden tree was not the Original Sin, because sin existed even before that happened. The great catastrophe of Adam's sin was that it severed his relationship with GOD, and he was thus kicked out of the Garden and barred from the tree of life.
For Paul's readers in Rome, this meant that the sin against the law was far worse and lasting than any sins against nature, so to speak. The Jews may have held themselves in higher esteem than they did the Gentiles, but GOD held them as being more responsible, because they did indeed have the law (ROMANS 2:25-27; 4:13-16; 9:31-32). Paul may have simply been telling them not to feel too high and mighty, for the sin against the law had far worse consequences than did the other sins.
Paul was little concerned with whether or not there was a pre-Adamite world. He was not bothering himself with whether or not there were Neanderthals on the Planet before Adam and Eve. What he was concerned with was the Jews and Gentiles, the Christians of Rome. He was concerned with their infighting, their bickering and their finger pointing at one another. The question about whether or not there was a race of man prior to Adam may never have even entered his mind. These were to be questions for archeologists and geologist to later ask and solve.
In another passage in this same chapter of ROMANS is an additional statement by Paul often put forth as other evidence for the doctrine of Original Sin.
- 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made [kathistemi] sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made [kathistemi] righteous.
The KJV states that because of one man's (Adam's) disobedience, many were made sinners. Many can mean a great number, an unfathomable number, but it doesn't necessarily mean all. Paul had all in his vocabulary because he had just used it in the previous passage, so if he meant that all were made sinners as a result of Adam's disobedience, then surely he would have wrote that.
Secondly, Paul contrasts here the many which were made sinners with the many which were made righteous. If Paul had meant that all mankind had been made sinners because of Adam's disobedience, then he must have meant that all mankind had been made righteous by Yeshua's obedience, which just isn't so. What he surely intended was that many had been "declared to be", or "shown to be" either sinners or righteous. This is actually the meaning of the word kathistemi, rendered made in the KJV. The many weren't made such, they were declared to be such. "Sin lieth at the door" and many would succumb to it.
In another epistle Paul wrote of the first man Adam, but then in the same passage he referred to Adam being the last man (1 CORINTHIANS 15:45). Many suppose that the two Adams are referring to Adam and Yeshua while others think they are referring to the original earthly carnal man within us and then the new spiritual man in the believer.
But either way, surely we don't imagine that he intended to establish as an historical fact here that Adam was the very first human. Paul was not giving an historical record of the origins of mankind. Writing in this epistle that Adam was the first man can't mean that there were not other men on the planet, anymore than him writing that Yeshua, or the new nature in the believer was the last man means that there are not now other men on the planet. Paul's usage of the first and last man had to do with the natural earthly body and the heavenly spiritual body, not with the origins of the human race.
Thus, Scripture doesn't anywhere spell out for us in any way anything about an Original Sin generally enslaving mankind because of Adam's disobedience. Sure, mankind is prone to sin, indeed all men probably have sinned, but they are not enslaved to sin. In fact, the whole purpose of life is to teach us how not to sin. To train us to be free from sin.
In considering whether or not there were men before Adam and Eve, we have also to consider Paul's bold declaration to the Athenian council on Areopagus.
- ACTS 17:26 And [GOD] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.
Mankind being of one blood does not necessarily mean that all men descended directly from Adam. But again, Paul was not attempting to set before them the origins and history of mankind, but rather he was simply declaring that there was only one GOD who created all men, not the many gods which they ignorantly worshipped. Thus, there is no passage in Scripture which forbids us from understanding that before Adam and Eve there was not another race of man on the Earth.
In summary, it doesn't appear that Scripture proves either way whether or not there was a pre-Adamite civilization before GOD made Adam and Eve in the Garden of paradise. Howbeit, if there was, that certainly solves a lot of problems and irons out a lot of wrinkles in the record of these early chapters of GENESIS.
We have seen in this Study that the records of the first two tablets paint for us two entirely different accounts of man's creation. In the first tablet the male and female appear to be created together and then sent forth to multiply, presumably to raise families and fill the land with their offspring. But the Adam and Eve of the second tablet not only came into existence in an entirely different manner, but there is no indication that it was intended for them to raise families until after they were kicked out of the Garden.
Then we have the question pondered in the fourth chapter about who Cain was afraid of? As an exile and vagabond from his family, who did he fear might slay him, if he and his father were the only males alive? Of course a pre-Adamite community which was multiplying over the Land, perhaps side by side with Adam's own family would perfectly answer this difficulty.
It also solves the problem about who the sons of GOD were in chapter six. With the sons of Adam beginning to inter-marry with the outsiders, we don't have to leave reality and invent a completely impossible scenario where the daughters of men are having sexual relations with angels or spirits.
Then we have the question of a global Flood. Many details in the record point towards the Flood being only a local event, such as the practability of being able to assemble and care for an incomprehensible number and variety of animals from every climate of the planet. The sheer size of an sea worthy ark necessary for such a collection of animals being constructed by only four men is also extraordinary. Then we have to consider what ever became of the other ancient civilizations which we know were thriving at the same time as the Flood?
All of these issues can be readily solved with the idea of a pre-Adamite people and as we have seen, there is nothing in Scripture which precludes us from this conclusion. Only tradition stands in our way. Only the traditional view of Church dogma denies the possibility. But Church Tradition always stands in the way of truth. As in the instance where it was once believed that the earth was the center of the Universe and all of the stars and planets revolved around it, we now can consider another explanation to mankind's origins, that Adam and Eve in the Garden were not the original two humans on the planet.