Series of 5 articles. And God said “Let Us make Adam in Our image” Article 1/5. Is it really mankind who is the image of God?
Series of 5 Articles. And God said: Let us make Adam in our image.
[Note: Towards the end of this first article, is a direct link to the second article. And at the end of the second articles is a direct link to the third article etc….]
Article 1. Is it really mankind who is made in the image of God?
Our English bibles tell us so and our society is happy for us to believe so.
Our English bibles tell us it is mankind in Genesis 1 who is the image of God. Our society is telling us who mankind is and many of us in the church are taking heed. As we read Genesis 1 we are increasingly doing so through the eyes of our world and its gender agendas. Why are we so open to these? What is there in our theology of man and woman that is enabling us to say yes to our society’s agendas?
Is Mankind made in the image of God? I wish to say an emphatic NO!
My Thesis. In Genesis 1, it is Adam who we are reading about. It is not mankind. It is Adam who is made in the image of God.
Once we reach Genesis 4:25 every translation agrees that it is Adam and not mankind. Who can deny that the man, who knows his wife named Eve who bears his child, is not the man Adam? Here everyone agrees that the Hebrew word “adam” means Adam.
Yet, in the only two previous mentions of “adam”, our translations such as NIV and NRSV tell us that it is not the man Adam but rather “mankind” (1:26) and the generic “one” (2:5) that is being spoken of. [And NIV and NRSV say “mankind” in 1:27 for “ha-adam” and “a man” in 2:7].
But, could it be Adam all along that is being spoken of?
[NOTE: This is a condensed version of Appendix 1a “Notes and analysis on all the instances of “adam” and “ha-adam” in Genesis 1 to 5”. Where I look in more detail at the 33 verses in Genesis 1 to 5 that mention “adam/ha-adam”. Here is the link to Appendix 1a. http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=602 [I do encourage you to read this Appendix 1a, it may be best to do so when you have finished this current Article 1, as it takes you back to examine the text to see how “adam” and “ha-adam” are used.]
In Genesis 2 to 5, we see that this supposed generic man (“one”) of 2:5 is indeed the specific man that God forms, places in the garden, and commands. It is this same man who names the animals, but can’t find a female man amongst the animals, that God puts to sleep and builds a female man (a woman) from out of him. It is this specific man who excitedly proclaims “flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones”. The same man who God confronts over his eating the fruit and is expelled from the garden. The very same man who knows his wife who bears his sons in 4:1 and 4:25, who in that verse we all agree is Adam. And then in Genesis 5, it is this same man Adam, whose genealogy we are given, who has children and lives and dies at a specific age. Yet, our English bibles speak of him as generic man in 2:5, and as corporate mankind in 1:26, even though the storyline has no missing links from chapter 5 back to 2:5. Is it wrong to think of adam of 2:5 as Adam and not as a generic man? Is not this what the flow of the text is inviting us to do?
There are two Hebrew words used to refer to this man. The first is “adam” in 1:26, 2:5, 4:25 and 5:1-4. The second is “ha-adam” meaning “the adam”, which is used consecutively 25 times from 2:7 through to 4:1. Again and again, it is “the adam” in the entire section from 2:7 to 4:1. The term “the” in “the adam” speaks of specificity. It is no generic adam, rather, it is “the adam” that we are dealing with. The one whom God considers creating in 1:27 and 2:5, who is referred to as adam, is in fact “the” man that God does create. At this stage he is the only man, for there is no one else other than Eve, a woman. So, he is referred to as “the adam”, but when he has male children, it is from then on that He is referred to by name “Adam”, as there are now other men (ish) in the world. (ie. after 4:1) Yet, just because he is referred to by the description “the adam” stressing that it is a specific man, that does not mean it is a generic man that is being referred to back in chapters 1 & 2..
But why is the text referring to him as “the adam”?
There is are extensive wordplays going on in the text in regard to “adam”. The first aspect of wordplay is easy to see, once we realise that the Hebrew word for “ground” is “adam-ah”. So, the descriptive name adam/Adam really means something like “ground person”. Genesis 2 emphatically tells us that Adam was created from the ground. And his description throughout 2:7 to 4:1 continually reminds us that he is “the ground-person”. Additionally, the use of the article “the” tells us that he is the only ground-person, the only adam. So, this wordplay is one based on the spelling of the words, which reminds us of the source of “adam /the adam”, which is “the adam-ah”. This wordplay and the association of adam with the ground and his creation from the ground is important background to the creation of the woman, for she is NOT made from the ground, but rather is made from the ground-person.
I wish to propose that there is also another wordplay going on with “adam” in 1:26 and 2:5. This is a semantic wordplay where the play is on the level of the meaning of the words. “adam” in the Hebrew language and throughout the entirety of the Old Testament can mean either of 3 things “a man”, “mankind”, or “Adam”, depending on the context.
So, even if it is Adam in 2:5, what is stopping it being mankind in 1:26?
I have 2 reasons for us to consider.
The first. The two passages 1:26-27 and 2:5-7 are parallel to each other. Each chapter first mentions “adam” (1:26 2:5) and then subsequently mentions “ha-adam” (1:27 2:7). Also, each chapter first references adam as the future, not yet created, person (1:26 and 2:5) and then subsequently, as the actual created person (1:27 2:7). So, in each passage, adam is used of the person who is to be created and ha-adam is then used of the person when he is created with the “the” indicating it is a specific person who is created. The future to be created person is the same person as the person who is created. I have already argued above that adam of 2:5, in the unhindered flow of the text, is to be understood as the adam of 2:7 to 4:1 [Note: I argue this in more detail in Appendix 1a where I look in detail at all the uses of adam and ha-adam in Genesis 1-5]. who is to be understood as Adam of 4:25 and 5:1-5. It is a specific person Adam that 2:5 is speaking of. Since 1:26-27 is parallel to 2:5-7, the pattern of the text is pointing us to understand that adam of 1:26 is this same specific person Adam of 2:5 who is the Adam of 4:25 and 5:1-4.
The second. Every English translation agrees that adam of the genealogy of 5:1a is Adam who is also the Adam of 5:3-5 whose age and length of life we are told. These translations show that there is an inclusio of Adam by 5:1&3-4 around 5:1b-2 “When God created adam He made him in the likeness of God …. them male and female …. named them adam … when created”. Yet, in 5:1b-2, those same translations say that the same word “adam” means generic “man” or corporate “mankind”, just as they do in their translation of Genesis 1:26-27. Granted, they are consistent in doing this, for 5:1b-2 parallels and repeats the content of 1:26.
However, I suggest that it is a mistake to translate adam as mankind in 5:1b,2 since the purpose of the Adam genealogy inclusio is to include the Genesis 1:26 content as part of the genealogy. The inclusio informs the reader that the person created adam of 1:26 is the same person Adam who begats Seth at age 130 in 5:3. It is inconsistent, and in fact non-sense, to say that in the middle verses of the genealogy it is now generic man or coporate mankind that is being referred to. It makes nonsense of the genealogy which is emphasising that it is the real historical person who lived and died at specific ages, who had children. It is the genealogy that is controlling the Genesis 1 insert and not the other way around. It is Adam all along throughout the genealogy. The whole point of the genealogy is to tell us it is this real same historical person that Genesis 1:26 is telling us about. And specifically, the whole point of the genealogy including 1:26 in its content is to tell us 1:26 is about the one real historic person Adam that the genealogy is about. Yet, the translators ignore this. They edit Adam out of this part of his own genealogy, replacing him with generic corporate mankind. What the translators do is to say that their interpretation of what adam means (in 1:26 and hence 5:1b,2) must be followed even if the the form and function and purpose of the genealogy itself would say otherwise.
Additionally, 5:2 “named them adam” re-enforces that it is the same man Adam. 5:2 is a commentary on and explanation of Genesis 1:26, for it tells us that the Genesis 1:26 account actually named them Adam, even though the verb for naming is not in the Genesis 1:26,27 account. It thus seems that 5:2 is telling us that the mention of adam in 1:26 is in fact an act of naming him Adam, the Adam of the genealogy. Thus, it is directly telling us how to translate adam of 1:26 and it tells us to name him Adam. All this should lead to translating adam 5:1b and 1:26 as Adam. So the texts 5:1b and 1:27 both use the use the word “him” and do not use the word “them” and actually says for 5:1b “When God created Adam, He made him in the likeness of God” rather than “When God created mankind he made them in the likeness of God” as in the NIV and some other translations. Please observe that the NIV, besides editing Adam out of the text by replacing Adam with mankind, also changes the Hebrew word “him” to “them”, to match the replacing of Adam with mankind. That they need to manipulate the text like this should be a warning sign that there may be something wrong with their translation of adam as mankind. These verses alone, in its context of the genealogy and life of the man Adam, tell us clearly that it is this man Adam who is the image of God, and that ‘mankind’ is a wrong translation.
My aim has been to encourage us to read again the text of Genesis 1 to 5, and to consider that “mankind’ is actually an incorrect translation of “adam” in Genesis 1:26 and 5:2. However, translating adam as Adam in 1:26 highlights an enigma, a seeming contradiction, in the text. It is a seeming contradiction that the translators have eliminated by translating adam as mankind. In the next article I wish to both examine the contents of this enigma and examine how the text of Genesis 1 ties it to Adam being the image of God, yet without the text of Genesis 1 actually giving a resolution to the enigma. In the third article, I want to show how the text of Genesis 2 gives the solution to this enigma.
Please do not neglect to read the Appendix 1a which looks in more detail at all the uses of “adam” and “ha-adam” in Genesis 1 to 5. Click this link. http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=602
This concludes the first of the five articles in this series. If you click on this following link, it will take you directly to the second article. http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=766
Link to Appendix 1a “Notes and analysis on all the instances of “adam” and “ha-adam” in Genesis 1 to 5”. WHERE I LOOK IN MORE DETAIL AT THE 33 VERSES IN GENESIS 1 -5 THAT MENTION “ADAM” http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=602
This additional link to Appendix 1b contains the modified NASB text of Genesis 1:26 to 5:6 modified to distinguish the words “ha-adam” and “ish”. This will show you all 33 instances of “adam” or “ha-adam”. In it I substitute “Groundperson” for “Adam” which helps retain the wordplay in the Hebrew between adam-groundperson and adam-ah (ground). http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=676
4 thoughts on “Series of 5 articles. And God said “Let Us make Adam in Our image” Article 1/5. Is it really mankind who is the image of God?”
Series of 5 Articles: And God said: Let us make Adam in our image. Article 5/5. Adam the image of God – the key to knowing God. – manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com 25 July 2021 at 1:50 am
[…] If you would like to go back to article 1 then click on this link. http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=763 […]Reply
Article 1a Notes and analysis on all the instances of “adam” and “ha-adam” in Genesis 1 to 5. – manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com 25 July 2021 at 3:58 am
[…] Link back to Article 1 http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=763 […]Reply
Text of Genesis 1:26 to 5:6 modified to distinguish the words “ha-adam” and “man – ish”. – manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com 25 July 2021 at 4:03 am
[…] Link back to Article 1. http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=763 […]Reply
Introduction to and Summary of the 5 Article Series “And God said: Let us make Adam in Our image”. – manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com 26 July 2021 at 11:42 am
[…] Click this link to go to the next article – Article 1 in the 5 Article Series “And God said: Let us make Adam in Our image” http://manandwoman-exegeticalblog.com/?p=763 […]Reply