Table of Contents
Part III: If Adam Had Not Died Chapter 2
Were Adam and Eve Immortal? The Data of Revelation
RECAPITULATING in summary what was said in the first chapter, in the present view dying is an unnatural process for many organisms, even some of those of great complexity. It is in no sense a necessary consequence of the process of living and may have no necessary connection with it. (46) Fifty years ago it would probably have been considered scientifically absurd to propose that a complex organism like man could succeed in extending his life span by any more than a few years. And most assuredly only a comparatively small proportion of Christian people would have held that a life span of nearly a thousand years would yet be possible in the future (Isaiah 65:20), as it once was in the past.
Today the real question has become a different one. It is no longer a matter of surprise that some people live so much longer than others, but rather that men do not all live to a very much greater age than they do. Indeed, it is not "Why does man die so soon?" but "Why does man die at all?" Senescence and death, which were formerly assumed as inseparably related processes, death being merely the terminal point in senescence, are now considered as probably independent phenomena. Bradley T. Scheer has said that the relationship "has not been proved, and there are all about us instances of senile individuals who do not die, and dead individuals who never became senile." (47) Indeed, some cases are on record of a certain degree of rejuvenation -- at least, in the appearance of second and third complete sets of teeth, for example -- in those of extreme "old" age.
46. The statement was made by Dr. F. Schreider of Tubingen and appeared in "Towards a Cure for Old Age," New Scientist, November 4, 1965, p.320. pg 1 of 18
47. Scheer, Bradley T., General Physiology, Wiley, New York, 1953, p.428.
Now, no biologist with a concern for his professional reputation would admit at the present time that the ages of the patriarchs were precisely what the record says they were, because this would be a concession to the Bible, and, as Napoleon said, "Man will believe almost anything as long as it is not in the Bible." Yet, in point of fact, expressed opinions on the subject begin to imply exactly this. Scripture, taken at its face value has shown itself once again to be wonderfully ahead of the most advanced opinions of modern biologists and gerontologists. It is now quite within the bounds of possibility in the light of our present understanding of life processes that the first man could indeed have enjoyed a condition of immortality, and that death "entered" (Romans 5:12) into human experience only after he had somehow poisoned his body.
And what more simple an explanation of this loss is there than that he ate a fruit containing a toxic agent that initiated the dying process? Moreover could it not also happen that, once introduced, the diseased condition was transmitted to his descendants so that each succeeding generation was weakened more by it than the preceding one, by the accumulation of mutant genes? Thus, a once immortal line fell so low that shortly after the Flood man barely survived 500 years, a century or two later barely 120 years, and in another few hundred years barely three score and ten.
Already in this volume we have given some thought to the nature of a toxic agent that could have just such an effect and which would accordingly provide us with an example of an acquired characteristic (mortality) becoming inherited. And subsequently, in another chapter we shall show a possible reason why this agent caused an increasingly shortened life span with the passing of the years and why this effect was enormously accelerated immediately after the Flood when the population had been drastically reduced and inbreeding occurred as an immediate consequence. And we have noted, too, why the fruit which contained it may have been so pointedly forbidden to Adam as long as he remained in the Garden of Eden but was not so forbidden once he had been expelled from it, and how the fruit might even have been harmless if it had been eaten at once after it was picked, a striking example perhaps of the consequence of "doubt."
But in the present paragraphs we are primarily concerned with the scriptural evidence of his original immortality. We turn, therefore, to a study of what the Bible itself has to say on this subject:
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And God said, Let us make man 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 in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male
and female created He them. . . .
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man
whom He had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to
the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the
tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress
it and to keep it.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou
mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in
the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make
him a help meet for him.
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl
of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever
Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the
field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took
one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and
brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall
be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
(Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7-9,15-25)
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God
had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every
tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said,
Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know
that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods,
knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant
to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did
pg.4 of 18
eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked;
and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the
day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst
the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was
naked; and I hid myself.
And He said, Who told thee that thou west naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree,
whereof I commanded thee that thou should not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me
of the tree, and I did eat.
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?
And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art
cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou
go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her
seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.
Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;
in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and
he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and
hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed
is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb
of the field.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good
and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and
eat, and live for ever:
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground
from whence he was taken.
So He drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden
Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of
the tree of life.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and so death passed
upon all men, for that all have sinned:
For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned
after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
(1 Corinthians 15:21, 22)
For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman
being deceived was in the transgression.
(1 Timothy 2:13, 14)
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness,
after his image; and called his name Seth:
And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and
he begat sons and daughters:
And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years and he died.
These verses are the basic biblical data upon which the case for Adam's original immortality must rest: and it should be borne in mind that it is a physical immortality, not a spiritual immortality which we are thinking of in the present context, a kind of immortality which does not signify that death is impossible but rather that it is not inevitable. It is immortality in the sense that unicellular animals, like Paramecia, are immortal. They may be destroyed by starvation, poisoning, or dehydration, and so forth, but if they are protected from accidents of this kind, death never becomes part of their experience. In short, immortality is probably a far more common phenomenon relative to living organisms than mortality is, since from the purely numerical point of view unicellular creatures far outnumber all other forms. And even in respect to these other forms, many Naturalists believe that few, if any, such animals do actually die a natural death. They are far more likely to be killed. So that in terms of experience, natural death may be a rare event indeed, when balanced against the number of new lives generated hour by hour by the mere act of cell division. pg.5 of 18
It is only because death overwhelms us so tragically and looms so large in our own experience that we suppose it to be such a prominent fact in the stream of life. But it seems clearly intended by
the record in Genesis that death was in no sense inevitable for Adam. But Adam surrendered his potential immortality, it would appear, by eating a fruit which introduced into his body a protoplasmic poison. This substance began in him that very day a process of dying. From that moment he was doomed to mortality, as Erich Sauer put it. "At the moment of the sin, spiritual death entered and with it also, under the Divine Judgment, freedom from bodily death was forfeited. . . . Forthwith 'life' is merely a gradual dying, and birth is the beginning of death." (48)
If we take the passages of Scripture quoted above and assume they are to be understood literally, we have in substance the following details.
Unlike the other creatures which were created by the Word of God, the creation of Adam was the result of a kind of divine conference. And Adam bore the image of his Creator as a mark of the special relationship he held towards Him, above that of any of the other creatures. He was commanded to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, in order that he might everywhere exercise dominion over it.
At first, though placed in a veritable paradise which many other animals shared with him, he was truly alone. This aloneness was of a special kind, and the reality of it was driven home to Adam when the Lord brought to him creatures which might have appealed to him as fit companions because of their tameness, gentleness, intelligence, or beauty. As he responded to the character of each one, he "identified" it and named it appropriately as a creature apart from himself. And so he learned that although he could enjoy their presence, they could not supply his own lack of companionship. When we are told that whatever Adam called them, "that was the name thereof," I do not think this means that he gave each one a name which it ever afterwards bore in his own particular vocabulary. I think rather that it means he succeeded in precisely identifying their true nature. The emphasis in the text would thus be not "that" was the name thereof, but that was its true identity. That is to say, he was perfectly correct in his assessment of each one. This is not merely a matter of open interpretation, with no other clue than the general sense of the whole passage. It can be supported syntactically, for there is, in the original, no verb "to be." If the object of the Author had been to state that after Adam attached a label to each creature, that became its name, the Hebrew would have strictly required the presence of the appropriate
48. Sauer, Erich, The Dawn of World Redemption, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1953, p.56. pg.6 of 18
form of the verb "to be"
Since this has not been inserted where the English seems to require it
in order to complete the sentence, one is led to the conclusion that the
verb "to be" is copulative, or equative. The sense then simply
becomes a statement of "instant," "immediate," or
"direct" identity. Adam did not "name" the animals
as we name a pet dog or cat: he rather identified them according
as he saw their true nature. And his identifications were correct. pg.7 of 18
Thus he re-discovered his own separateness -- and consequently his own lack of companionship. Perhaps wearied by disappointment or by the energy required to exercise his judgment rightly in a matter of such importance to himself, he fell asleep. His sleep was deepened by the direct action of the Lord who, while Adam was in this state of general anaesthesia, performed an operation by which He withdrew from Adam a certain part of him. And this He built into a true and perfect companion for him.
When he awoke, God brought to him what must,
at first, have seemed to Adam just one more creature to be named, but
this time a creature more lovely than all the others. Almost instantly
his loneliness was dispelled. Rising to his feet, he named her "woman"
-- a word in the English which is, in the original Hebrew, a feminized
form of Adam's name for himself -- ish ()
for man, ishah ()
I do not doubt that he loved her at once as he loved his own soul. Without sin, and beautiful as only God could make her in the full perfection and maturity of virgin womanhood, she returned his longings for companionship with her own first love, and each completed for the other the cup of happiness in their idyllic garden home. Without doubt, her presence with him became seemingly essential to his own peace and fulfillment. And thus, in their earthly paradise Adam and Eve passed the sunlit days in fellowship and open communion with God, with neither fear nor shame, and with complete freedom to do whatever they willed and to eat whatever they desired of the fruits of the Garden -- except only the one tree that was forbidden.
And then, one day, Satan put Eve to the test. Whether Satan used a serpent as an agent by controlling its behaviour from without, or whether he indwelt a serpent, or whether he assumed a serpent form, we cannot tell precisely from the record. But one could well imagine the serpent ascending the forbidden tree in Eve's presence and there eating its fruit with complete confidence and manifest
enjoyment -- and, to her amazement, perhaps, with apparent safety. Perhaps the thought came to Eve that if this creature could eat with impunity, why could not she? pg.8 of 18
Have not men often been led to try out seeds, berries, and fruits which they have seen other animals eat without injury to themselves? And, indeed, have not even some medicines been discovered by primitive people in the same way, after watching a sick animal seek out by instinct the ideal antidote for its sickness? Perhaps the serpent did speak to Eve in audible language clear to her understanding -- as Balaam was spoken to by his ass. Who can be sure? It may be that when doubts arose in her mind, the Satan-inspired serpent at once reassured her by deliberately returning to the tree and taking the fruit a second time or a third time, while Satan suggested to her the "real" reason why God had forbidden her to take any of it. At any rate, she was evidently completely deceived (as the New Testament tells us), and having plucked the fruit from the tree, tasted it and found it to be all that Satan had declared it to be, not only beautiful to look at and good to the taste, but somehow enlightening the mind in a new way -- as some modern drugs do.
In due time she went back to Adam and invited him -- possibly with no real comprehension of what had really happened to herself, to share her experience. And here we come to the crux of the story. For although Eve was in one sense as innocent as a child who has disobeyed somehow but is not sure exactly how, Adam was not deceived at all. He realized in a moment that he was once more completely alone. He perceived the real significance of what had now taken place. He had lost his other self, his love, his sole human companion. She stood before him, but she stood completely removed from him. Adam knew it at once. And in that moment he faced a trial surely more heartbreaking than has ever been the lot of any man since who is called to surrender his love. For although many men since have made this sacrifice for one reason or another (millions were forced to do so by the Nazis), Adam could never, for all he knew, expect to have a "helpmeet" again. There was no other woman in the world. . . . Nor was there any other man who, placed in similar circumstances, might have shared his burden of loss with him. He had been alone before, but now he had to face the prospect of an aloneness far more acute, and seemingly forever. Adam was still immortal: but for Eve a subtle change had already begun and she was, as God had said she would be, from that very day a dying creature.
Thus had God, who over-rules all human history, allowed the
first man to be brought into a position of trial, the severity of which is far beyond our comprehension. Adam was faced with a choice that was quite literally a matter of life and death, and it had all been brought about by the fruit of a forbidden tree. Profoundly simple it is -- and simply profound. pg.9 of 18
In the Hebrew original, at verse 6, there is a small mark which indicates a pause after the words "and gave also unto her husband with her," and before the words "and he did eat." Within this pause went all the anguish of a man's soul. Adam was faced with a choice, that of staying in the Garden and living forever in complete and daily fellowship with God, in perfect health and free from sin, care, fret, and anxiety -- but without Eve. Or he could surrender his immortality and innocence, and his sojourn in the Garden and his daily sense of the Lord's fellowship -- and preserve the companionship of his love, the woman whom God Himself had "given to be with him." And who can tell but that his own awareness of the reality of the situation may have communicated itself to Eve. Would she not then begin to appeal to him not to desert her? How could he contemplate a separation on such terms as these which would leave him in the sunshine of Eden and God's presence, and send her forth to the dark unknown and hostile realm outside the Garden in which they had shared such happiness together. I do not think we can really grasp the situation that Adam found himself in, because wherever we go we are likely to find people. Adam and Eve were entirely alone in the world. We are told that there was no man to till the ground (Genesis 2:5), that it was not good for him to be alone (Genesis 2:18), and yet that no help could be found meet for him (Genesis 2:20) until God created one. And as for Eve, she too was quite alone, for we are told that she became the mother of all living. This, then, was the situation. Can one imagine what must have been Adam's thoughts as he contemplated the sending forth of his beautiful help-mate out of the Garden into an utterly unknown and uninhabited world, while he remained within the Garden where so much would constantly be a reminder of her? And can we imagine what Adam's thoughts would be as he looked into the future and saw his beloved lying somewhere "out there" dying alone and unattended in her aged condition? There can surely be no doubt that he perceived at least something of what the future could mean. It does not, of course lessen his disobedience to realize at what a cost obedience would seem to have been demanded of him. But it surely underscores the fact that those who thoughtlessly scoff at the idea of a temptation story so childishly linked to a forbidden fruit have, by their refusal to take the record seriously, entirely failed to see how acutely was Adam
being tried and by how completely reasonable a series of circumstances his trial had been allowed to come about. Surely this is why we are told that Adam was not deceived, why we are allowed to observe that he did not at once eat the fruit but only after profound deliberation, and why when faced with his disobedience he (not altogether without an element of tragic truth) reminded God that He had, after all, "given" the woman to be with him as his companion (Genesis 3:12). pg.10 of 18
And thus it came about that, like Socrates, he deliberately poisoned himself. He made his choice and surrendered his immortality that he might share Eve's loss. Whatever this fruit may have been, it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that it contained a poison or perhaps developed within itself a toxic agent because it was picked but not immediately eaten, and the poison, once introduced into his perfect body, began a process of decay that ended in death. For nearly one thousand years he survived its effects, so full of vitality and health was he when God created him; nevertheless, in the very day that he ate, that day the process of dying began. Thenceforth it was merely a question of time, and it appears that both Adam and Eve detected almost at once that this process had begun, for they somehow became physiologically self-aware. It is, I think, an almost infallible sign of health that no part of the body makes itself "felt." The completely healthy child has no bodily consciousness except as a feeling of sheer exuberance. It is the sick body that is felt; the body draws attention to itself, whether we want it to or not. Adam and Eve almost immediately seem to have become aware of their bodies in an unwelcome way. This awareness was perhaps a sense of chill that for the first time came to them "in the cool of the evening," when their originally perfect mechanism of thermoregulation began to fail them and the chill they experienced for the first time drew attention to their nakedness. This consciousness brought with it a fear of being discovered, as though the discomfort was so obvious that others would observe it, too. And thus they hid themselves from God as they had already sought to hide themselves from each other (Genesis 3:7). God was not unaware, of course, of the events which had taken place, and He could have confronted them both at once. Yet He did not do so. He passed to and fro in the Garden, calling, "Adam! Adam! Where are you?" It is as though Adam had not only lost God, but God had almost lost Adam, a circumstance undoubtedly set forth in this literary form for our learning and as an accommodation to our way of seeing things.
We do not, for the present purposes, need to examine the
judgment passed upon them both as they stood before God in their new nakedness, waiting to be reclothed as only He could clothe them. We need only note the urgency with which they were expelled from the Garden. This is not an indication of God's harshness, for He loved them still. It is, rather, a testimony to His wisdom and His mercy. For in the Garden there remained a tree of great physiological importance, the Tree of Life whose leaves, according to Revelation 22:2, are for healing. And there is little doubt that it was the existence of this tree in the Garden which now constituted a source of gravest danger. For had they taken of its leaves (Genesis does not tell us any more about the tree than that they were free to eat of it), the effects of the poison in their bodies would have been counteracted and their immortality restored so that they would have lived on forever (Genesis 3:22). But immortality would now be immortality with a fallen nature, for their disobedience had introduced not merely a physiological poison into their bodies, but a spiritual poison into their souls. So awful was the possibility of everlasting existence in a state of sinfulness that the very sentence itself is unfinished in the original, as the English versions show. Thus God drove them out in haste, before they had the opportunity to compound their unhappy lot by taking of the Tree of Life also. And in order to render any such contingency quite impossible thereafter, He set an angel at the entrance to the Garden, specifically to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). This angel was armed with a sword, the symbol of inescapable death, for it turned every way. Henceforth there is to be no immortality for man, except either through death and resurrection or through a process of transformation which will accomplish for some the same end when the Lord returns for His saints. pg.11 of 18
It is apparent, therefore, that this deceptively simple record of man's earliest history is profoundly meaningful if taken seriously. In a way, it is a case of "all or nothing." Either it is accepted at its face value and is then found to shed a wonderful light on the true nature of man as a living organism -- for it shows him to have been an organism with a potential of life quite beyond that experienced by any other animal species -- or one may attempt to salvage it by treating it all as allegory -- only to end up with something that really sheds no light of importance on the nature of the human species that could not be discovered by purely natural (i.e., scientific) means.
When we do take it seriously, we find Adam and Eve to have been entirely and completely unlike all the other creatures in the Garden, even though they may have shared many life processes with them. And, to me, it seems quite impossible to make sense out of the
record unless one assumes that for Adam and Eve death was no necessary concomitant of life. At the same time, if they were indeed immortals at first, and if they did indeed acquire mortality as a direct result of their disobedience, one may well ask how this acquired state of mortality became, by simple inheritance, the lot of their children also. Romans 5:12-14 tells us that death "entered" by one man and that it then "passed upon" (i.e., was thereafter inherited by) all men, even though they have not sinned in precisely the way Adam and Eve had done. That is to say, the condition of mortality became an acquired characteristic of human life, which was subsequently passed by inheritance even to men who did not repeat Adam's fatal mistake. pg.12 of 18
If this is the case, with our present knowledge of human genetics, we may profit much by considering this circumstance with care, in order to gain some insight into the fact that although all Adam's descendants have since that time been mortal creatures, there appeared in due course one Descendant who escaped this stream of corruption. This man indeed "became" subject to death (Philippians 2:8), but He was not so born; yet to all outward appearance His birth must have appeared quite normal to those who were present, and there is no doubt that Jesus Christ was true man, though He was also truly God incarnate. It is enough for many people to say with conviction, "Well, He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and was born of the Virgin Mary." This is "reason" enough to explain why He, the Second Adam, was like His first counterpart, an immortal being. But this does not really explain how or why it was possible for such a one to appear as He did and to dwell among us until the time came for the surrender of His immortality for our sakes. To understand, in part, why the virgin birth was chosen as God's method of sending His Son into our world to manifest Himself thus and to secure our redemption by such a means, we are provided in Scripture with some remarkable insights in the light of modern genetics. But these arise only if we take Genesis chapters 1 through 3 as real history -- only if we assume that Adam and Eve were not just "representative people," but real people, identifiable by their names, with needs and potentials such as we have, though differently constituted at first in certain important respects.
Christian theology is not a system of beliefs loosely thrown together with no essential coherence between the component elements. It is an organic whole, a single system, a closely connected framework of thought, which is logically defensible if preserved in its entirety, but rather irrational if merely presented as a catalogue of
traditional beliefs. There were physiological reasons why the Virgin Birth was necessary, physiological reasons for creating Adam first and then deriving Eve out of him as a second step, and physiological reasons why Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. As I see it, there were physiological reasons why the Lord died so quickly on the cross and physiological reasons why, when He rose again the third day, His body had not seen corruption. This does not mean there were not spiritual reasons also, nor that the spiritual reasons were not more important. It only means that we are in a better position today to gain some deeper insights into these events which we most surely believe. Such understandings will never generate faith, no matter how clear the evidence may come to be. But such understandings should surely be used to enable us to explore the faith we already have. It will not do to deny evidence of this nature merely because it may change faith into knowledge. Perhaps the Lord is calling us to explore our faith so that, having found how reasonable it has been to believe what we have believed, we may have even greater assurance in those areas of our faith that lack any such confirmation and yet still form an essential part of the logical structure of our theology. pg.13 of 18
So we shall press forward in this inquiry, not ignoring entirely the fears of those who sincerely believe such inquiries are apt to be more dangerous than useful, but believing that we cannot refuse to test our faith against the demonstrable and established findings of experimental science. To my mind, the result is rewarding indeed and greatly confirms my faith in the absolute wisdom and reasonableness of all of God's dealings with men.
We have, then, the appearance of a true man, the Lord Jesus Christ, born of a woman in such a way that He escaped the stream of corruption which enters the body of every naturally conceived child and renders that child a mortal creature. When the time was fully come, by a supernatural agency, an ovum, a normal seed of a normal woman was vitalized and began the natural process of division and growth into an embryo, and then a fetus of a male human being who, when He was born, restored to man's view a perfect body precisely like Adam's perfect body and therefore in the most absolute sense a Son of Adam, or as He called Himself since the name Adam came to mean man, "Son of Man" -- for so He was.
We have here, therefore, the sudden re-emergence of Adam after thousands of years that had seen the birth of untold millions, who were, in the strictest sense, not truly "human," since they were not as Adam at first had been. Adam's humanness lay in his perfection in
both body and in spirit, not simply in spirit. He was not "just another (though higher) form of animal" with a specially created soul. He was a unique organism, deliberately planned, and as deliberately created, to satisfy a certain condition of life which in an entirely new way would make him a delight to God. He was created thus for God's pleasure, and in him God took special delight, just as God took special delight in the Second Adam. There have been only two true men: all the rest of us throughout the whole of history have been poor unworthy mockeries of what God really means by "manhood." We think we are men, and some of this vast multitude of people have stood out among us and shamed us by their nobility. But even the noblest were "noble" only in spirit. All (except Enoch and Elijah.) have returned to the dust, and many even in life were very miserable specimens physiologically considered. When we speak of a noble animal, we have in mind chiefly its body. When we speak of a noble man, we have in mind chiefly his soul. But Adam was a wholly noble creature when God first created him, noble in body and in soul -- an altogether noble creation. Both the First and the Last Adam were "giants": beside them the rest of mankind have been pygmies in comparison. pg.14 of 18
Yet even at this distance we have retained enough of that first created "Adam-ness" to permit us to recognize, in a strictly physiological sense, at least something of the nature of our loss and the mechanism whereby that loss came about. But this something can obviously be recognized only by those who are willing to admit that such a loss has really occurred, by those who are, in short, ready to admit the possibility that man is now a creature fallen in body as well as in spirit. Few biologists are willing. Or to restate the matter slightly differently, if we once agree that man may indeed be a degenerate creature in the sense that a once immortal constitution has become a mortal one by a process of degeneration, then a number of lines of evidence take on a new meaning. The significance of this evidence is apt to be quite unperceived without the prior clue, a clue to be obtained only from Scripture. The relationship between the First and the Last Adam then begins to take on a new meaning, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ sheds a new kind of light on what led to the death of Adam. Like all else in the plan of God as revealed in scripture, there is evidence of a beautiful balance, a kind of measured appropriateness, which must have a special appeal to human reason and to our sense of justice -- at least it certainly does to my own. I feel like bursting out in adoration with Paul who wrote so eloquently, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33). pg.15 of 18
Let us, therefore, take a fresh look at the creation of the First Adam and (out of Adam) of Eve: and then move forward to the time of Mary, and (out of Mary) to the coming of the Second Adam.
There are several ways in which the formation of Eve out of Adam have been interpreted by those who take the record seriously. Some assume that Adam was, from the first, a true male and that Eve's femininity was not in any way connected with her derivation out of Adam. She may have been taken from Adam in the most literal sense, but only because God wished to show in a very concrete way how essentially each was to be a part of the other. The attitude of Adam toward Eve might then be analogous to the attitude of a mother to the child she has borne. On the other hand, it is not inconceivable that Adam when he was first created may have contained within himself the two functions for procreation, which have now been divided between the two sexes. As we have shown elsewhere, there is even yet some evidence that the distinction which we observe between the sexes both with respect to physiological function and personality type are not quite as absolutely separate as one might suppose. There are men, and even whole cultures, in which the male temperament much more nearly resembles what we consider in our culture an appropriately feminine one, and vice versa. And even in the matter of pure physiology there may be confusion in organ development. Indeed, Livingstone refers to a man who, when his wife died in childbirth, was able to suckle the newborn infant successfully. Tradition, of course, lends its support to the dual nature of Adam, for we find firm recollections in antiquity of the view that the first man was bisexual, and that the creation of Eve involved, among other things, a separation into two sexes of a being who formerly housed both elements.
It has been noted, moreover, by students of human nature, such as Carl Jung, that the most creative and highly gifted individuals, with the greatest potentials, are often found to be those in whom the masculine and feminine "personality" is blended. If Adam was made in the image of God and if God Himself is "neither male nor female," but both perfectly combined in one whole personality, then what at is more likely than that Adam should have shared this characteristic? In this case, when the Second Adam appeared, we ought perhaps, not be surprised that He should have combined in Himself, in His one perfect Person, the whole potential of human nature, both
male and female. Thus when He enters into the heart of any man or woman, He sets free in the world once more the appropriate elements of Christian character which are the expression of Himself indwelling the Christian soul. It is the same Lord who thus sets Himself forth anew with equal propriety in both men and women; and for the same reason the strongly masculine individual who becomes a Christian develops some new elements of gentleness, just as the strongly feminine woman who becomes a Christian develops some of the strengths of the male. This is not a digression; it merely underscores the probability that when he was first created, immortal Adam contained within himself the potential of perpetuating his own kind. pg.16 of 18
Now, this is not to say that there was any change in God's plans when He formed Eve. But what it may indicate is something else of profound importance when the formation of Eve out of Adam is viewed from a physiological point of view. For Eve was formed out of Adam before he fell, that is to say, while he was still in a wholly perfect and immortal state. Before this division, Adam must have contained within himself a mechanism for the production of both sperm and ova. These components of the generation-to-be were perfect and potentially deathless. When Eve was formed, Adam surrendered the mechanism for the production of ova. Had Adam and Eve been joined in their unfallen state, Eve would have borne a child of immortality. When Adam and Eve partook of the poisoning fruit, a change took place, for the children which were born to them were henceforth always subject to death. Yet one Child was born in due time who was not subject to death, and the process whereby this Holy Child was generated in Mary's womb, conceived by the Holy Ghost as we are told (Luke 1:35), indicates to us now that in some way the death that was passed upon all men born by natural generation was conveyed through the sperm, and not through the ovum. We must therefore assume, I think, that Adam's body differed from Eve's in this respect, that when he ate the forbidden fruit its poison reached his seed, i.e., the sperm, but when Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, the poison did not reach her seed, the ova. In this, Adam and Eve were constituted differently. Thus, although both Adam and Eve in due time fell victims personally to the poison they had introduced into their bodies, the seed which the woman carried was never affected by it, but retained its immortal character. This immortal seed -- due to a process explored in another Doorway Paper ("The Nature of the Forbidden Fruit", Part II in this volume) -- was passed from generation to generation untouched by the poison-stream which brought death to all other cells in the body. Only when it is
fertilized by the seed of the male is death introduced to that part of it which develops into the body cells. Thus by creating Adam first as complete in himself and then taking from him that part which formed Eve while he was yet in a state of immortality, and by constituting Eve so that the seed she carried was in no way affected by the poison of the forbidden fruit, God opened the way for the appearance in due time of One who was truly the Seed of the Woman (in an unbroken chain from Eve) and therefore also the Seed or Son of Adam. And this One escaped the element of death, which has been transmitted by natural generation to every other human being descended from Adam. The Virgin Birth was not merely some kind of miraculous sign which singled out the Lord as being a special Person because uniquely born: it appears in the light of the above analysis to have been the one way in which God could, in the completely literal sense, re-produce a Second Adam who might, because He was immortal, sacrifice His life in a truly vicarious way, the vicarious nature of the sacrifice being doubly assured by the fact that He did in His own Person truly represent, not mortal man, but man as God originally made Him, the First Adam. Thus as Adam became the father of all who die, Eve became the mother of all who live, for Mary was Eve's ultimate representative in the Plan of Redemption. It would appear indeed that Eve had some premonition of the mode whereby God was to provide for man's redemption, for with the birth of her very first child she may possibly have imagined him to be the Promised Seed, although her exclamation has created problems for the translator. She said, either, "I have gotten a man with the (help of) Jehovah," or, "I've gotten a man -- even Jehovah (the Promised Seed) Himself." Satan may also have been deceived in this and have hoped through Cain to have destroyed this Seed. At any rate, from Eve until Mary, through each succeeding generation, that perfect seed originally derived from Adam while yet in a state of immortality was conveyed unbrokenly in its immortal state from vehicle to vehicle, from mother to daughter, to granddaughter, and so throughout the passing centuries, until the time came that God chose Mary as the particular vehicle through whom He would act. Perhaps any female descendant of Eve might have taken Mary's place, and the situation remains unchanged even to the present day. Perhaps Antichrist will be supernaturally born of a virgin by satanic agency when the time of the end draws near: and we may have here some added light on that always controversial portion of early history, Genesis 6:1-2. pg.17 of 18
It thus appears that if we make the simple assumption that
Adam was a unique "animal," in the sense that he was not subject to death when God first created him, we have a much fuller understanding not only of the events which took place in the Garden of Eden but of the Plan of Redemption. And the assumption we thus make is no longer to be considered as unreasonable, for the real question that is occupying the attention of biologists at the present time is why death comes at all. But if we do make this assumption for Adam and Eve, and if we also suppose, for the sake or argument, that they had not yielded to temptation and thus had not subjected the whole race to the penalty of dying, would not obedience to the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth have filled it until it reached a condition of utterly impossible over-crowding? I think the answer is, No. And the reasons for this answer will be explored in the next chapter.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved
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