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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Adam

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ADAM . The derivation is doubtful. The most plausible is that which connects it with the Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] adâmu , ‘make,’ ‘produce’; man is thus a ‘creature’ one made or produced. Some derive it from a root signifying ‘red’ (cf. Edom , Genesis 25:30 ), men being of a ruddy colour in the district where the word originated. The Biblical writer ( Genesis 2:7 ) explains it, according to his frequent practice, by a play on the word ’adâmâh , ‘ground’; but that is itself derived from the same root ‘red.’ The word occurs in the Heb. 31 times in Genesis 1:5 to Genesis 5:5 . In most of these it is not a proper name, and the RV [Note: Revised Version.] has rightly substituted ‘man’ or ‘the man’ in some verses where AV [Note: Authorized Version.] has ‘Adam.’ But since the name signifies ‘mankind,’ homo, Mensch , not ‘a man,’ vir, Mann (see Genesis 5:2 ), the narrative appears to be a description, not of particular historical events in the life of an individual, but of the beginnings of human life (ch. 2), human sin (ch. 3), human genealogical descent ( Genesis 4:1 ; Genesis 4:25 , Genesis 5:1-5 ). In a few passages, if the text is sound, the writer slips into the use of Adam as a proper name, but only in Genesis 5:3-5 does it stand unmistakably for an individual.

1 . The creation of man is related twice, Genesis 1:26-27 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) and Genesis 2:7 (J [Note: Jahwist.] ). The former passage is the result of philosophical and theological reflexion of a late date, which had taught the writer that man is the climax of creation because his personality partakes of the Divine (and in Genesis 5:3 this prerogative is handed on to his offspring); but the latter is written from the naïve and primitive standpoint of legendary tradition, which dealt only with man’s reception of physical life (see next article).

2 . Man’s primitive condition , Genesis 2:8-25 (J [Note: Jahwist.] ). The story teaches: that man has work to do in life ( Genesis 2:15 ); that he needs a counterpart, a help who shall be ‘meet for him’ ( Genesis 2:18 ; Genesis 2:21-24 ); that man is supreme over the beasts in the intellectual ability, and therefore in the authority, which he possesses to assign to them their several names ( Genesis 2:19-20 ); that man, in his primitive condition, was far from being morally or socially perfect; he was simply in a state of savagery, but from a moral standpoint innocent, because he had not yet learned the meaning of right and wrong ( Genesis 2:25 ); and this blissful ignorance is also portrayed by the pleasures of a luxuriant garden or park ( Genesis 2:8-14 ).

3 . The Fall , Genesis 2:16 f., Genesis 2:3 (J [Note: Jahwist.] ). But there came a point in human evolution when man became conscious of a command the earliest germ of a recognition of an ‘ought’ ( Genesis 2:16 f., Genesis 3:3 ); and this at once caused a stress and strain between his lower animal nature, pictured as a serpent, and his higher aspirations after obedience ( Genesis 3:1-5 ) [ N.B . The serpent is nowhere, in the OT, identified with the devil; the idea is not found till Wis 2:23 ]; by a deliberate following of the lower nature against which he had begun to strive, man first caused sin to exist ( Wis 2:6 ); with the instant result of a feeling of shame ( Wis 2:7 ), and the world-wide consequence of pain, trouble, and death ( Wis 2:14-19 ), and the cessation for ever of the former state of innocent ignorance and bliss ( Wis 2:22-24 ).

On the Babylonian affinities with the story of Adam, see Creation, Eden.

A. H. M‘Neile.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Adam'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/a/adam.html. 1909.

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