Yesterday I summarized C. John Collins’ introductory presuppositions in his book Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care (See Pt. 3). Today I want to outline what is at stake according to Collins. It boils down to worldview.
“(1) The author intended to relay “straight” history, with a minimum of figurative language.
“(2) The author was talking about what he thought were actual events, using rhetorical and literary techniques to shape the readers’ attitudes toward those events.
“(3) The author intended to recount an imaginary history, using recognizable literary conventions to convey “timeless truths” about God and man.
“(4) The author told a story without even caring whether the events were real or imagined; his main goal was to convey various theological and moral truths.” (p. 16)
Collins takes some time to explain why he rejects #1, #3, and #4. He finds #1 to be shared by Fundamentalist and critical scholars alike. Many confessional-critical scholars affirm #4. Only #1 and #2 allow for someone to affirm a historical Adam.
How does Collins comes to accept #2? He asks himself three questions (p. 19):
“(1) How does the person or event impact the basic story line?
“(2) How have other writers, especially Biblical ones, taken this person or event?
“(3) How does this person or event relate to ordinary human experience?”
For Collins the canonical narrative doesn’t make sense without Adam and Eve. It is apparent that other biblical authors affirmed the historicity of Adam and Eve. And Collins thinks Adam and Eve make the most sense out of our day-to-day existence. He writes,
“An important argument for any position is how well it actually explains ordinary human experience. This means that I will make our experience part of my discussion.”
“There is so much sadness in the world, and most of us feel that such sadness comes from things being wrong. I have found that a sound perspective on Adam and Eve helps us to come to grips with this wrongness, and to give full vent to our grief, in full faith toward God”. (pp. 20-21)
What I appreciate about both Collins and Enns is their relative straightforwardness when it comes to presuppositions.
I will resume this discussion next week returning to Enns’ understanding of the relationship between Christianity and science. Today I’d like to hear your thoughts on (1) the possible interpretations Collins offers and (2) his use of experience as part of his overall argument.