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Question: Were Adam and Eve real people?
Yes - 67 (63.2%)
No - 23 (21.7%)
Other (explain) - 16 (15.1%)
Total Voters: 106

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Author Topic: Adam and Eve: Historical People? (Poll)  (Read 16974 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #135 on: September 20, 2009, 06:43:11 PM »

If they aren't real persons, why do we have Icons of them in our chapel?

In the Icon of the Pentecost, who is the figure emerging from the darkness at the bottom? Is this a "real person" or an image of one person representing many?

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« Reply #136 on: September 20, 2009, 09:26:11 PM »

Quote
"Nobody has the power to forbid to keep theologumen as my private theological opinion, that has been expressed at least by one of the Fathers of the Church, if it has not been proven that a competent church court has already declared that the view as a mistaken one. From the other hand, nobody has the power to demand from me that I accept, as my theological opinion a theologumen that has been uttered by several Church Fathers, because this theologumen does not fascinate me by its sublime theological beauty, does not win my heart by understanding, or even appeal to my mind, by its majestic power of argumentation." - V.V. Bolotov
Then, is there any quote from the Church Fathers denying Adam and Eve as historical characters? While on the matter of the length of creation there are examples of divergence in the early Christian writings, the same cannot be said of Adam and Eve, whose existence was indisputed for AT LEAST 1900 years (i.e. since the beginnings of evolution). If Adam and Eve didn't exist, what about the dogma of the immortal condition of Adam before the Fall, as it is confessed in the Synod of Carthage, whose canons belong in our infallible tradition and doctrine through the Council in Trullo which is - it's worth reminding - the result of the 5th and 6th Ecumenical Synods and was approved as a canonical source in the 7th Ecumenical Council? If you believe that Adam and Eve are fiction, what was this doctrine based on? Where does ancestral sin come from? If sin has never had a beginning, did God create humanity in a sinful condition - in other words, did God create evil and rebellion?
Believing in a human couple who desobeyed God's commandment (I don't know whether the Trees were literal or not - the names for the trees convey primarily an allegorical sense) makes it easier because:
1) It takes many Biblical passages more literally, as for all the genealogies where Adam is present as a forefather of mankind (Genesis 4-5, 1Paraleipomenon 1, Luke 4).
2) Allows to better understand the image of the New Adam (if the First Adam was fiction, why not his parallel New Adam? Brrr that makes me tremble in fear only writing it!)
3) It's consistent with the *only* reading of the Fathers, who saw them as literal ancestors of the human race
4) It's consistent with the transmission of ancestral sin as it is expressed by st. Paul and dogmatically fixed by the Council of Carthage and and implied in the condemnations of Celestius, a supporter of Pelagianism, in the Council of Ephesus
5) It is consistent with iconography which portrays Adam and Eve as an historical human couple
6) It gives a basis for the sacramental character of Marriage, since Jesus himself supports this doctrine using Genesis 3
7) It is supported by Liturgy, since there's no minimal suspect in the liturgical texts of a mythical reading for the Adam and Eve story

On the contrary, I sum up what you have to explain if you maintain that no Adam and Eve ever existed:
1) Why did God narrate a story which has no historical base, and let Jesus, the Apostles and the Fathers assume it as historical?
2) How can we respect the canons affirming the immortal condition (either by grace or by nature, we don't know) of our ancestors, if there's been no real ancestor of humankind?
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?
4) If we are mortal and sinners by nature, what is God rescuing us from? How can the Devil be responsible for an error of our Creator?
5) Is Jesus the New Adam a model based on a non-existent OT type of the First Adam?
6) If the future Paradise is based on the model of the Garden of Eden, but this never existed, how can we trust God's promises on Heaven?
7) How could Jesus base his doctrine of Marriage on an event which never occured? Since he's God, he perfectly knew what happened or not, and if the episode were false, He would have explained it as a purely poetic instrument to convey truth.

I'm not necessarily supporting a 5508 BCE Date of Creation, but at least the fact that mankind was originated in a limited area, that this occured in the persons of Adam and Eve, and that these persons - immortally sustained by God - failed and fell losing Life Everlasting and introducing sin, this is the minimal I need to confess.

In Christ,  Alex

great post!
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« Reply #137 on: September 20, 2009, 09:26:53 PM »

whoops ... nevermind this post
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« Reply #138 on: September 20, 2009, 09:27:57 PM »

If they aren't real persons, why do we have Icons of them in our chapel?

In the Icon of the Pentecost, who is the figure emerging from the darkness at the bottom? Is this a "real person" or an image of one person representing many?



that person does not have a halo and the writing around his head tells us that he represents the cosmos. Adam and Eve icons frequently have icons and tell us that they are indeed Sts. Adam and Eve. St. Irenaeus even said that its heretical to say that Adam was not redeemed. That obviously necessitates that he be a real person.
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« Reply #139 on: September 21, 2009, 12:38:04 AM »

If they aren't real persons, why do we have Icons of them in our chapel?

In the Icon of the Pentecost, who is the figure emerging from the darkness at the bottom? Is this a "real person" or an image of one person representing many?



that person does not have a halo and the writing around his head tells us that he represents the cosmos. Adam and Eve icons frequently have icons and tell us that they are indeed Sts. Adam and Eve. St. Irenaeus even said that its heretical to say that Adam was not redeemed. That obviously necessitates that he be a real person.
If, as you correctly point out, the person depicted at the bottom of the Pentecost Icon with the name "Cosmos" represents the Cosmos emerging from the darkness- the Slavific Plan unfolding and redeeming the Cosmos. So why can't the Icon of Adam whose name means "Man" represent Mankind and "Eve" whose name means "Life" represent Womankind? Adam being redeemed would thus mean mankind being redeemed. Or is mankind not redeemed?
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« Reply #140 on: September 21, 2009, 12:38:22 AM »

Adam and Eve icons frequently have icons and tell us that they are indeed Sts. Adam and Eve.
In Traditional Orthodox Icons, Adam and Eve do not have Halos in their Icons, even in the Icon depicting their redemption in the Harrowing of Hell:
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« Reply #141 on: September 21, 2009, 02:54:39 AM »

Adam and Eve icons frequently have icons and tell us that they are indeed Sts. Adam and Eve.
In Traditional Orthodox Icons, Adam and Eve do not have Halos in their Icons, even in the Icon depicting their redemption in the Harrowing of Hell:


But they are considered Saints and commemorated on second Sunday before the Nativity.
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« Reply #142 on: September 21, 2009, 07:37:43 AM »

What I found interesting in this thread is that none of those who interpret Genesis as an entirely fictional story have yet explained how this reconciles with what I wrote in my previous post. I repeat my main questions here:
1) How do you feel that your not confessing an heterodox thought in understanding Adam and Eve as fictional characters when the Council of Carthage and the Council of Ephesus, in their anathemas against Pelagius and Celestius, EXPLICITLY state that Adam was immortal? How could a generic "humankind" in the past be immortal?
2) Why is Adam celebrated as a saint in our liturgical calendar if his character is a myth? And if he were a figure of a generic humankind, is this date on the calendar a sort of "All-Saints Day" celebrating all the deified people and not a true saint?
3) If sin has always existed (since no first sinner ever existed) how can God not be the cause of evil himself?
I am adding a fourth question here:
4) If man is nothing but an evolved monkey, and there's a continuity in time between apes and men who evolved over some million years, when did man begin to have a soul? Did the human soul evolve from simian souls? When did our soul begin to be immortal like angels'? That means there must have been AT LEAST a first humanoid monkey endowed with a special soul, and that soul is Adam's. And if you believe that we have a soul evolved from apes, re-read the Hexaemeron of st. Basil who, even as "ignorant" (sorry for the bad word, but take it positevely) of modern science as he could have been, was surely aware of the implications of an evolved "soul" when he condemned the vision of the Greek philosophers who believed that our soul has evolved from that animals such as fish.

Anyway, I still don't understand why there's such a great will of Evolutionists to deny a literal Adam. I don't even think the two things contradict each other afterall: couldn't God have chosen a super-evoluted humanoid to give him a spirit, for example? How could such a view contradict official science?
A possible answer on the subject of that icon: Adam and Eve don't "wear" a halo because they haven't been glorified yet at the time the event of this icon is taking place. Jesus is in the act of delivering them from death, and they're going to be glorified soon after, otherwise we would have to admit that they had already been redeemed "before" Jesus Christ's sacrifice, which sounds of course a little strange.

In Christ,   Alex

PS: Dear Peter, I put that quote from Jesus in the end of the list because I considered the other questions preeminent. This shows that I gave much more authority to other six, or better, that I find they show much better how the Church believed something for a long time while modern-day Christians are denying the existence of a literal human being NONE of the Church fathers ever denied. Can you explain me, once and for all, why do you feel the existence of Adam and Eve to be unacceptable? What's so unbearable in that? Didn't Jesus perform much greater miracles then forming a soul and breathing it into a human body to make it a living being? I think that once we accept the mystery of the Incarnate Word, all other miracles - including Adam's creation - were just a sort of game for God! "Nothing is impossible to God" says archangel st. Gabriel!

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #143 on: September 21, 2009, 08:31:59 AM »

I have to retract my latest conclusions on the icon, since I found at least three versions of the Icon of the Resurrection where Adam and Eve "wear" a halo, on the web.



so using the absence of the halo in some depictions of the Resurrection of our Lord isn't enough to prove anything from Tradition.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #144 on: September 21, 2009, 10:09:19 AM »

PS: Dear Peter, I put that quote from Jesus in the end of the list because I considered the other questions preeminent. This shows that I gave much more authority to other six, or better, that I find they show much better how the Church believed something for a long time while modern-day Christians are denying the existence of a literal human being NONE of the Church fathers ever denied. Can you explain me, once and for all, why do you feel the existence of Adam and Eve to be unacceptable? What's so unbearable in that? Didn't Jesus perform much greater miracles then forming a soul and breathing it into a human body to make it a living being? I think that once we accept the mystery of the Incarnate Word, all other miracles - including Adam's creation - were just a sort of game for God! "Nothing is impossible to God" says archangel st. Gabriel!
You're putting words into my mouth.  Please go back and reread what I said, for I did not say that I don't believe Adam and Eve to be historical persons.  All I did was suggest that the logic of your last argument was rather weak.

Not to criticize the whole gist of your logic, but this particular statement strikes me as a fallacious appeal to silence, whereby you project onto Jesus what you would have had Him say.  Unless you know His mind much better than you most likely do, I don't think you can anticipate what He would have said if such and such were true.

It's possible I may actually agree with your whole premise yet think one argument you advance in its favor poorly formed and unpersuasive.  My criticism of your logic, therefore, has nothing to do with what I really believe about Adam and Eve.
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« Reply #145 on: September 21, 2009, 10:10:16 AM »

1) How do you feel that your not confessing an heterodox thought in understanding Adam and Eve as fictional characters when the Council of Carthage and the Council of Ephesus, in their anathemas against Pelagius and Celestius, EXPLICITLY state that Adam was immortal? How could a generic "humankind" in the past be immortal?
Firstly, Adam representing humanity does not make him a "fictional character" any more than the Icon of the Pentecost personifying the cosmos makes the Cosmos a "fictional character". Secondly, in what sense is Adam immortal? Before the fall? If he represents humanity before the fall, then humanity before the fall is immortal- where's the problem?

2) Why is Adam celebrated as a saint in our liturgical calendar if his character is a myth? And if he were a figure of a generic humankind, is this date on the calendar a sort of "All-Saints Day" celebrating all the deified people and not a true saint?
Is he commemorated as a Saint? What is his troparion and kontakion?

3) If sin has always existed (since no first sinner ever existed) how can God not be the cause of evil himself?
Who said that sin always existed?

when did man begin to have a soul?
Animals have souls too. What I think you are asking is "when did man have a spirit?", and the answer is when God "breathed into his nostrils".
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« Reply #146 on: September 21, 2009, 12:21:16 PM »

I'll try and change my explanation, evidently I asked everything the wrong words.
Let's imagine the standard model of science: the first humanoids as a primitive tribe. If they were immortal, we would imagine all homo sapian in the world becoming immortal? Or do you imagine that for generations immortal humans popolulated the earth without undergoing physical death, and they suddenly rebelled altogether? I just don't get how you interpret the historicity of Adam and Eve, i.e. what's literal and non-literal behind the narration for those who answered in the poll that Adam and Eve aren't historical characters (that's some 11-12%, a really good percentage...)
Sincerely, I don't know who answered No to the poll, and I'm glad 44% answered yes, and I benefit of the doubt that the remaining vote "Other" tries to see at least a bit of history behind Genesis 2-3-4.
On my last post, I am sorry: I thought you were on the "Adam and Eve are fairy tales" side after your latest post... I sincerely beg pardon for that misunderstanding.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #147 on: September 21, 2009, 06:59:10 PM »

What I found interesting in this thread is that none of those who interpret Genesis as an entirely fictional story have yet explained how this reconciles with what I wrote in my previous post.

I'm not sure about the others here think, but I would point out that this is one of the first mistakes that creationists/literalists make. They claim, as you have done, that those who accept evolution as valid science believe that Genesis is entirely fictional or "we don't believe what God says" is a favourtive fundamentalist comeback. While I can see the literalist's problem with someone seeing these passages differently to them, what they don't or can't see is that it is possible for someone else to come a piece of literature and see it differently than them and still see it as containing the important truths that make us all believers. I, for one, see Genesis as falling into the category of parable; a way of relating certain truths without being literal/historical. As Bishop Kallistos says, it's theological rather than science as creationists attempt to make it. Therefore there is no conflict between it and science. Imo, this conflict is contrived by those who wish to limit the thinking of others and their acceptance of something they, the creationist/literalist, doesn't wish to understand.   
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« Reply #148 on: September 22, 2009, 01:22:22 AM »

If they aren't real persons, why do we have Icons of them in our chapel?

In the Icon of the Pentecost, who is the figure emerging from the darkness at the bottom? Is this a "real person" or an image of one person representing many?



that person does not have a halo and the writing around his head tells us that he represents the cosmos. Adam and Eve icons frequently have icons and tell us that they are indeed Sts. Adam and Eve. St. Irenaeus even said that its heretical to say that Adam was not redeemed. That obviously necessitates that he be a real person.
If, as you correctly point out, the person depicted at the bottom of the Pentecost Icon with the name "Cosmos" represents the Cosmos emerging from the darkness- the Slavific Plan unfolding and redeeming the Cosmos. So why can't the Icon of Adam whose name means "Man" represent Mankind and "Eve" whose name means "Life" represent Womankind? Adam being redeemed would thus mean mankind being redeemed. Or is mankind not redeemed?

if Adam and Eve are used simply as symbols of all mankind, then their halos would mean that all of mankind becomes Saints wouldnt it? All of mankind has the potential for redemption, but not all people actually become redeemed. Such people do not receive halos when depicted in icons.
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« Reply #149 on: September 22, 2009, 01:27:09 AM »

If they aren't real persons, why do we have Icons of them in our chapel?

In the Icon of the Pentecost, who is the figure emerging from the darkness at the bottom? Is this a "real person" or an image of one person representing many?



that person does not have a halo and the writing around his head tells us that he represents the cosmos. Adam and Eve icons frequently have icons and tell us that they are indeed Sts. Adam and Eve. St. Irenaeus even said that its heretical to say that Adam was not redeemed. That obviously necessitates that he be a real person.
If, as you correctly point out, the person depicted at the bottom of the Pentecost Icon with the name "Cosmos" represents the Cosmos emerging from the darkness- the Slavific Plan unfolding and redeeming the Cosmos. So why can't the Icon of Adam whose name means "Man" represent Mankind and "Eve" whose name means "Life" represent Womankind? Adam being redeemed would thus mean mankind being redeemed. Or is mankind not redeemed?

if Adam and Eve are used simply as symbols of all mankind, then their halos would mean that all of mankind becomes Saints wouldnt it? All of mankind has the potential for redemption, but not all people actually become redeemed. Such people do not receive halos when depicted in icons.

Actually we all have been redeemed. We just seem to have a problem with falling. Most of of us are young children still, its to be expected.
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« Reply #150 on: September 22, 2009, 01:52:11 AM »

Actually we all have been redeemed. We just seem to have a problem with falling. Most of of us are young children still, its to be expected.

I like this!  Smiley
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« Reply #151 on: September 22, 2009, 01:59:43 AM »

Quote
"Nobody has the power to forbid to keep theologumen as my private theological opinion, that has been expressed at least by one of the Fathers of the Church, if it has not been proven that a competent church court has already declared that the view as a mistaken one. From the other hand, nobody has the power to demand from me that I accept, as my theological opinion a theologumen that has been uttered by several Church Fathers, because this theologumen does not fascinate me by its sublime theological beauty, does not win my heart by understanding, or even appeal to my mind, by its majestic power of argumentation." - V.V. Bolotov

On the contrary, I sum up what you have to explain if you maintain that no Adam and Eve ever existed:
1) Why did God narrate a story which has no historical base, and let Jesus, the Apostles and the Fathers assume it as historical?

It was historical. I fully believe that Adam and Zoe represent the condition of Early Man. I believe, in accordance with the faith, that the difference between Man and Creature was provided by God. I do not believe that mankind started with two individuals, nor do I believe that Adam and Zoe were two specific people. Unless you count African Eve.

Quote
2) How can we respect the canons affirming the immortal condition (either by grace or by nature, we don't know) of our ancestors, if there's been no real ancestor of humankind?

Who says there has been no real ancestor??

Quote
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?

Sin has a historical origin.

Quote
4) If we are mortal and sinners by nature, what is God rescuing us from? How can the Devil be responsible for an error of our Creator?

Ummm...

Quote
5) Is Jesus the New Adam a model based on a non-existent OT type of the First Adam?

The First Man did exist, just not necessarily as literally as described by Genesis.
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« Reply #152 on: September 22, 2009, 02:46:06 AM »

Is he commemorated as a Saint? What is his troparion and kontakion?

I've posted that he is.

It looks that Slavic and Greek tradition differs a bit. Nevertheless:
Quote
On the Sunday that occurs on or immediately after the eighteenth of this month, we celebrate all those who from ages past have been well-pleasing to God, beginning from Adam even unto Joseph the Betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos, according to genealogy, as the Evangelist Luke hath recorded historically (Luke 3:23-38); we also commemorate the Prophets and Prophetesses, and especially the Prophet Daniel and the Holy Three Children.

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« Reply #153 on: September 22, 2009, 05:24:34 PM »

Quote from: AlexanderOfBergamo
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?
Sin has a historical origin.
Should that be "Sin has a prehistorical origin"?
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« Reply #154 on: September 22, 2009, 05:28:34 PM »

Quote from: AlexanderOfBergamo
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?
Sin has a historical origin.
Should that be "Sin has a prehistorical origin"?
No, we understand the origin of sin to be recorded for us in the book of Genesis, thus making it historical. The question we're seeking to answer here is whether Adam and Eve's sin was the one origin for all of us, or merely the origin of sin for Adam and Eve.
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« Reply #155 on: September 22, 2009, 05:42:51 PM »

Quote from: AlexanderOfBergamo
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?
Sin has a historical origin.
Should that be "Sin has a prehistorical origin"?
No, we understand the origin of sin to be recorded for us in the book of Genesis, thus making it historical. The question we're seeking to answer here is whether Adam and Eve's sin was the one origin for all of us, or merely the origin of sin for Adam and Eve.

ytterbiumanalyst,

I would have thought that a historical account would mean that the record was actual.... hmmm.... not sure how to put this. Even if the events weren't quite like Genesis portrays, would one still call it historical? Before I get myself in too deep, I think I should simply ask you to explain exactly what you mean!  laugh
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« Reply #156 on: September 22, 2009, 06:12:35 PM »

Quote from: AlexanderOfBergamo
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?
Sin has a historical origin.
Should that be "Sin has a prehistorical origin"?
No, we understand the origin of sin to be recorded for us in the book of Genesis, thus making it historical. The question we're seeking to answer here is whether Adam and Eve's sin was the one origin for all of us, or merely the origin of sin for Adam and Eve.

ytterbiumanalyst,

I would have thought that a historical account would mean that the record was actual.... hmmm.... not sure how to put this. Even if the events weren't quite like Genesis portrays, would one still call it historical? Before I get myself in too deep, I think I should simply ask you to explain exactly what you mean!  laugh
"Prehistory" is simply the time before we wrote down what happened to us, and "history" the time since then. History was, shall we say, not an exact science until very recent times, and actually historians look closely at mythology to see how ancient people saw their world, if not for what actually happened.
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« Reply #157 on: September 22, 2009, 06:22:32 PM »

Quote from: AlexanderOfBergamo
3) If sin had no historical origin, when did sin begin? since the beginning of creation? Is God the maker of evil?
Sin has a historical origin.
Should that be "Sin has a prehistorical origin"?
No, we understand the origin of sin to be recorded for us in the book of Genesis, thus making it historical. The question we're seeking to answer here is whether Adam and Eve's sin was the one origin for all of us, or merely the origin of sin for Adam and Eve.

ytterbiumanalyst,

I would have thought that a historical account would mean that the record was actual.... hmmm.... not sure how to put this. Even if the events weren't quite like Genesis portrays, would one still call it historical? Before I get myself in too deep, I think I should simply ask you to explain exactly what you mean!  laugh
"Prehistory" is simply the time before we wrote down what happened to us, and "history" the time since then. History was, shall we say, not an exact science until very recent times, and actually historians look closely at mythology to see how ancient people saw their world, if not for what actually happened.

Ah yes. I understand. Thanks.
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« Reply #158 on: September 23, 2009, 07:41:07 AM »

For the sake of clarity: I understand an historical reading of Genesis as saying that there's some authentical historical event in the past of human history that led to a Biblical narration, and where the use of symbols is only functional to the theological significance of that event.
For example: it is historical, but not literal, to say that at a certain time the first tribe of humans committed a crime which cursed them and their descendants. It is also historical to say that there were in different areas of the world many Adams and Eves who, progressively gaining independently a religious and ethical conscience, were also led by their pride to introduce evil in the world (in this case the historical first ancestor of Jesus would be only a figure representing equally all the other Adams who sinned in the rest of the planet); and of course, it is historical to believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and at the same time see the events, places and objects (the trees) surrounding them as an allegory of the true event behind that (the Church Fathers, in fact, identified the eating of the Tree of knowledge as different kinds of sin, such as pride, lust etc...). It is on the contrary 'mythical' a belief in the non-existence of a Golden Age of humanity which came to an end by our fault - in other words, a time when men were not physically subject to death, were not in communion with God and hadn't renounce to this gift with their first sin yet. A "literal" reading would be, on contrary, to take the first chapters of Genesis as a chronicle of entirely historical event, with a literal Adam formed out of clay, a literal Eve formed from Adam's rib, a literal snake tempting them both, and of course a literal couple of trees in the center of a literal garden planted personally by God's literal hands (sorry for the repetitions but they're there to keep the meaning clear). My understanding is that a historical (but not 'literal') reading of Genesis is acceptable when we confess the idea of an immortal primordial humanity experiencing a Golden Age of communion with God, which was abruptly interrupted by the introducing of a voluntary sin (prehistoric peoples would have called it a taboo). This is more then sufficient when we understand that Jesus comes directly - as all of us - from one of these sinful human lines, and that none of us is free from that condition transmitted through the millennia.

In Christ,    Alex

PS: I repeat that I just want the "mythic" vision to be explained by its supporters in the light of the Orthodox Faith in an immortal Adam as confessed at Carthage. Those who believe in a "literal" or an "historical" approach to the Holy Writ can easily reconcile this doctrine with Holy Tradition without any risk of heresy and aren't of course in any way free to believe them: they're all compatible with Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #159 on: September 24, 2009, 02:46:08 PM »

Adam and Eve are historical people , and literal people , there is no humankind before the fall of Eden,and no other humans except Adam and Eve.After the fall Adam intercoursed with Eve and the first human was born.That was Cain.
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« Reply #160 on: September 24, 2009, 03:34:08 PM »

Adam and Eve are historical people , and literal people , there is no humankind before the fall of Eden,and no other humans except Adam and Eve.After the fall Adam intercoursed with Eve and the first human was born.That was Cain.

Very convincing argument.  I applaud you.

Tell me o wise one.  I have trouble believing whether man was created before or after animals.
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« Reply #161 on: September 24, 2009, 04:08:43 PM »

Adam and Eve are historical people , and literal people , there is no humankind before the fall of Eden,and no other humans except Adam and Eve.After the fall Adam intercoursed with Eve and the first human was born.That was Cain.

Very convincing argument.  I applaud you.

Tell me o wise one.  I have trouble believing whether man was created before or after animals.

Animals first.
At this point, I offer my specific view. I already wrote before that I believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and in an historical rebellion in the past ("Primordial Sin") but I don't think the events such as eating the fruit etc are literal, but rather a parable of what truly happened to Adam and Eve, as the Church Fathers also seem to admit. If by "Adam" you mean "homo sapian" i would say that homo sapian was created in the end of Genesis 1, after animals. Homo sapian, the original adamah, was a highly intelligent ape species endowed with a spiritual "feeling of God". At the same time, Adam as an historical character was the first homo sapian endowed with a 'human spirit' and in direct contact with God. The same for Eve. Animals had already been created on the previous six Creation Days (whatever you mean by it) and I read somewhere that when Adam was brought the animals to name them, the best translation from the Hebrew original would be "And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: for whatsoever Adam called any living creature the same is its name". So this presents a PAST action: God had already formed the animals before he brought them to Adam to be named, so the problem of this apparent contradiction disappears.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #162 on: September 24, 2009, 04:40:16 PM »

Adam and Eve are historical people , and literal people , there is no humankind before the fall of Eden,and no other humans except Adam and Eve.After the fall Adam intercoursed with Eve and the first human was born.That was Cain.

Very convincing argument.  I applaud you.

Tell me o wise one.  I have trouble believing whether man was created before or after animals.

I think the animals were created first than man.I`m not wise, i`m still learning, i`m here to learn and to bring my contribution to this forum according to my own limitations.
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« Reply #163 on: September 24, 2009, 05:12:01 PM »

Adam and Eve are historical people , and literal people , there is no humankind before the fall of Eden,and no other humans except Adam and Eve.After the fall Adam intercoursed with Eve and the first human was born.That was Cain.

Very convincing argument.  I applaud you.

Tell me o wise one.  I have trouble believing whether man was created before or after animals.

Animals first.
At this point, I offer my specific view. I already wrote before that I believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and in an historical rebellion in the past ("Primordial Sin") but I don't think the events such as eating the fruit etc are literal, but rather a parable of what truly happened to Adam and Eve, as the Church Fathers also seem to admit. If by "Adam" you mean "homo sapian" i would say that homo sapian was created in the end of Genesis 1, after animals. Homo sapian, the original adamah, was a highly intelligent ape species endowed with a spiritual "feeling of God". At the same time, Adam as an historical character was the first homo sapian endowed with a 'human spirit' and in direct contact with God. The same for Eve. Animals had already been created on the previous six Creation Days (whatever you mean by it) and I read somewhere that when Adam was brought the animals to name them, the best translation from the Hebrew original would be "And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: for whatsoever Adam called any living creature the same is its name". So this presents a PAST action: God had already formed the animals before he brought them to Adam to be named, so the problem of this apparent contradiction disappears.

In Christ,   Alex

What does the Septuagint say concerning the verse?
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« Reply #164 on: September 24, 2009, 05:27:28 PM »

Can't witness for that: I'm no Greek expert, and I don't know what to look for. Anyway, if you want the text in question, here it is:
Quote
καὶ ἔπλασεν ὁ θεὸς ἔτι ἐκ τῆς γῆς πάντα τὰ θηρία τοῦ ἀγροῦ καὶ πάντα τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἤγαγεν αὐτὰ πρὸς τὸν Αδαμ ἰδεῖν, τί καλέσει αὐτά, καὶ πᾶν, ὃ ἐὰν ἐκάλεσεν αὐτὸ Αδαμ ψυχὴν ζῶσαν, τοῦτο ὄνομα αὐτοῦ.
Don't know how this might help though. I consider the Septuagint to be a good, but not perfect, translation of the only inspired copy of the Holy Bible into Greek. This means the original text behind the LXX was inspired, while the Septuagint is just reliable, and can't convey the richness of the original (and unfortunately lost) original Hebrew text. Anyway, if the Church Fathers, who had a literal understanding of Genesis 1-11, I think they didn't see any true contradiction in the double creation. Another possibility might be for example that God created some exemplars of pre-existing animals and set them in the Garden of Eden. Afterall, who knows?

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #165 on: September 25, 2009, 02:10:44 AM »

Can't witness for that: I'm no Greek expert, and I don't know what to look for. Anyway, if you want the text in question, here it is:
Quote
καὶ ἔπλασεν ὁ θεὸς ἔτι ἐκ τῆς γῆς πάντα τὰ θηρία τοῦ ἀγροῦ καὶ πάντα τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἤγαγεν αὐτὰ πρὸς τὸν Αδαμ ἰδεῖν, τί καλέσει αὐτά, καὶ πᾶν, ὃ ἐὰν ἐκάλεσεν αὐτὸ Αδαμ ψυχὴν ζῶσαν, τοῦτο ὄνομα αὐτοῦ.
Don't know how this might help though. I consider the Septuagint to be a good, but not perfect, translation of the only inspired copy of the Holy Bible into Greek. This means the original text behind the LXX was inspired, while the Septuagint is just reliable, and can't convey the richness of the original (and unfortunately lost) original Hebrew text. Anyway, if the Church Fathers, who had a literal understanding of Genesis 1-11, I think they didn't see any true contradiction in the double creation. Another possibility might be for example that God created some exemplars of pre-existing animals and set them in the Garden of Eden. Afterall, who knows?

In Christ,    Alex

Well, if anything, Origen acknowledge a contradiction between the first two chapters.  These seems to show at least that there are some Church fathers who read into the contradiction, specifically those of the Alexandrian tradition.  The idea in Alexandrian exegesis is not to try to find a way to make things mesh and invent for ourselves a consistency in literalism that is impossible to do, but rather look deeper in the allegory of these stories.  The Creation story for the most part was an affirmation of God working through creation, that God is the source of all things, and that man was in the Image of God.  This is what one should extract from it.

And if I may add as well, since the New Testament writers used the Septuagint in Scriptural references, I don't see why I should trust anything else but the Septuagint.  It's pretty reliable considering that it were Jewish Rabbis who translated the Hebrew texts to Greek, to the point where the Isaiah text for Virgin giving birth seemed more reliable in Greek than in Hebrew in the translation, since the Hebrew allegedly only had "alma".

By the way, any Greek readers who can help us with this?
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« Reply #166 on: September 25, 2009, 09:11:10 AM »

The Greek is still a far simpler language then the Hebrew. Some Hebrew words can convey multiple meanings at the same time, and no translation can translate all of the contemporary possible meanings at the same time. The example of 'almah' you use here also supports this view. The definition of 'almah' is a 'young girl not yet in the age of marriage'. Try and say a traditionalist Jewish man that his 11 years old daughter is no more an almah... and you'll see his reaction! Almah always implies virginity just because all not-yet-married people (and especially females) are supposed to stay chaste, otherwise that would be premarital sex (and thus fornication) according to Jewish Law. So, almah always implies virginity, and thus the translation of the Septuagint is just a right conclusion from the original text rather then a correction from a wrong Hebrew text.
I would exclude Origen from the list, not because I'm a creationist (because I'm a day-age theory supporter, and it would be even detrimental to my own understanding of Genesis to exclude him from the list) but because of his ideas on so many points that it's risky to use him as if his vision were a common position of the Church Fathers... the same eternal pre-existence of the human souls affects the theology behind Adam's creation, for example.
On the contrary, I see that the other Fathers who expressed an explicit historical character to Adam and Eve even tend to discuss minor points on their existence, such as what age they had in appearance when they were created... for example Irenaeus thought they were created as children, and others that Adam was 20. All of them take the genealogies of Genesis literally (but in explaining why Cain could already create a city, Augustine just says that the lists of names don't contain all names, which can be freely interpreted as an ante literam "gap genealogies theory"). I feel personally bound to believe everything the Church has certainly established either by Ecumenical or Pan-Orthodox Councils, but also of those beliefs which were held by all the Church Fathers who faced a subject unless that opinion has been discredited by the Church herself (such as a purgatorial fire). Since there were some Fathers who objected to a 6-day creation, or at least one doubting of the effective list of Genesis to be incomplete, I don't feel bound to believe a specific view and can reconcile Orthodoxy and Science easily... but no-one doubted that Adam and Eve were literal and historical characters (while the same certainty was never expressed for the Trees) and this case I can say there's a 'consensum Patrum'.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #167 on: September 25, 2009, 11:03:21 AM »

I am new to Orthodoxy so I don't know if this idea is Orthodox or not but I found it interesting:

I came across a book that hypothesized Adam wasn't the first man, but the first covenant man. So Genesis is the beginning of the covenant, not necessarily the beginning of humans. I haven't read the book so I don't know the particulars but the idea seemed interesting and an interesting way to reconcile Genesis with what we know from science.
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« Reply #168 on: September 25, 2009, 02:18:39 PM »

I am new to Orthodoxy so I don't know if this idea is Orthodox or not but I found it interesting:

I came across a book that hypothesized Adam wasn't the first man, but the first covenant man. So Genesis is the beginning of the covenant, not necessarily the beginning of humans. I haven't read the book so I don't know the particulars but the idea seemed interesting and an interesting way to reconcile Genesis with what we know from science.
This is what is called the pre-Adamite theory. There are many elements in the Bible which give room to this kind of speculation since:
1) Man is created TWICE, as a humankind in Genesis 1 and as a human couple, Adam and Eve, in Genesis 2. In this case, these wouldn't be two rival descriptions of creation, but two distinct events following each other.
2) This also answers to the question "who married Cain and Seth" excluding an incest with their sisters.
3) This might also be an alternative explanation for the distinction between the "sons of man" and the "sons of God", where the latter might be the Adamites and the former the pre-Adamites. In this case, the Nephilim ('giants', in most translations) would be a hybrid human race.

Although I'm not a direct supporter of this theory (in the sense that i support entirely none of the already proposed theories: I just can't know the entire truth) I consider it to be interesting. This would also strengthen the analogy between the First Adam and the Last Adam, as former would be the first king, priest and prophet of mankind like Jesus was.

In Christ,  Alex
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« Reply #169 on: September 26, 2009, 10:05:33 AM »

deuteros and AlexanderOfBergamo, you've made me think. That really makes sense. That theory (theologumeon (sp?)) does not seeks the compromise between Bible and science, does not say anything about "symbolism".

It clearly separates two different facts: creating humans as a biological specie and creating humans with conscience and ethic doubts (gaining spirit).
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« Reply #170 on: September 26, 2009, 10:15:59 AM »

I found this explanation of Creation on http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/catechism_ext.htm , and I thought it did a pretty decent job of explaining things:

Quote
Creation: Orthodox Christians confess God as Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1, the Nicene Creed). Creation did not just come into existence by itself. God made it all. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God" (Hebrews 11:3). Orthodox Christians do not believe the Bible to be a science textbook on creation, as some mistakenly maintain, but rather to be God's revelation of Himself and His salvation. Also, we do not view science textbooks, helpful though they may be, as God's revelation. The may contain both known facts and speculative theory, but they are not infallible. Orthodox Christians refuse to build an unnecessary and artificial wall between science and the Christian faith. Rather, they understand honest scientific investigation as a potential encouragement to faith, for all truth is from God.

Now while it does not address the Adam & Eve question posed here specifically, I think in a round about way it does address the question. The Bible is not a science book, and a science book is not the Bible. The Bible is intended to be a "textbook" on salvation; not on how the world was formed. Science books are intended to try to explain how the world was created/how the world works. However as even scientists will admit, they don't know it all, and even they are uncertain as to exactly how the world was formed.

Were Adam and Eve real people? Part of me says "yes" since so many references are made to the Theotokos being the "New Eve." I have also heard it said that when Christ was on the cross at Golgotha with the Theotokos at his side, since Golgotha means "place of the skull" it was a fulfillment of the prophecy that woman would step on the head of the serpant. (I could be messing that up big time, so forgive me if I am wrong.)

The bottom line is this: Is it really that important? I mean, will your faith in Christ be shattered if you find out that they were not real people?

God created the heavens and the earth. That's all I need to know. The rest, I trust in God, and try to work out my salvation as best I can.
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« Reply #171 on: September 26, 2009, 10:19:00 AM »

I've also read a report recently, where was stated that all humans come directly from one woman, who had lived 200000 years ago and one man, who lived 60000 years ago, despite many other people, who had lived then.
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« Reply #172 on: September 26, 2009, 01:09:27 PM »

The Greek is still a far simpler language then the Hebrew. Some Hebrew words can convey multiple meanings at the same time, and no translation can translate all of the contemporary possible meanings at the same time. The example of 'almah' you use here also supports this view. The definition of 'almah' is a 'young girl not yet in the age of marriage'. Try and say a traditionalist Jewish man that his 11 years old daughter is no more an almah... and you'll see his reaction! Almah always implies virginity just because all not-yet-married people (and especially females) are supposed to stay chaste, otherwise that would be premarital sex (and thus fornication) according to Jewish Law. So, almah always implies virginity, and thus the translation of the Septuagint is just a right conclusion from the original text rather then a correction from a wrong Hebrew text.

I wish you're right, but many Jews discredit the Isaiah prophecy simply to use "almah" as some sort of mere young woman that doesn't define necessarily as a virgin.

But if you have the Jewish resources, I'd be very happy to report this to my Jewish friends who always felt they knew more Hebrew than me and thus more qualified than I am in the conversation, in which case I felt they were right about the Hebrew part.

Quote
I would exclude Origen from the list, not because I'm a creationist (because I'm a day-age theory supporter, and it would be even detrimental to my own understanding of Genesis to exclude him from the list) but because of his ideas on so many points that it's risky to use him as if his vision were a common position of the Church Fathers... the same eternal pre-existence of the human souls affects the theology behind Adam's creation, for example.

Origen is a Church father so long as these ideas were not condemned.  St. Jerome once said, and I'm quoting out of memory, "I take what is good of Origen."  In fact, if you read Origen's "Philocalia," it's more of a collection of his writings compiled by Sts. Basil and Gregory.  St. Clement seems to develop ideas similar to Origen (in fact, he was Origen's teacher).  There's also some research vindicating Origen of some Origenism that went around probably either as a misunderstanding of his teachings (after all St. Athanasius defended Origen from the claim that he was Arian; which shows how important Origen was to early Christians, and how revered he was even to St. Athanasius) or a form of character assassination.

See Fr. Tadros Malaty's writings about Origen for details, available at copticchurch.net.

Quote
On the contrary, I see that the other Fathers who expressed an explicit historical character to Adam and Eve even tend to discuss minor points on their existence, such as what age they had in appearance when they were created... for example Irenaeus thought they were created as children, and others that Adam was 20. All of them take the genealogies of Genesis literally (but in explaining why Cain could already create a city, Augustine just says that the lists of names don't contain all names, which can be freely interpreted as an ante literam "gap genealogies theory"). I feel personally bound to believe everything the Church has certainly established either by Ecumenical or Pan-Orthodox Councils, but also of those beliefs which were held by all the Church Fathers who faced a subject unless that opinion has been discredited by the Church herself (such as a purgatorial fire). Since there were some Fathers who objected to a 6-day creation, or at least one doubting of the effective list of Genesis to be incomplete, I don't feel bound to believe a specific view and can reconcile Orthodoxy and Science easily... but no-one doubted that Adam and Eve were literal and historical characters (while the same certainty was never expressed for the Trees) and this case I can say there's a 'consensum Patrum'.

From what I understand in reading the Fathers is that no two Fathers seem to agree on every point in the Creation story.  There's always contradictions, and some will even try to allow the possibility of change in the interpretations based on the scientific knowledge of their days.  Origen probably did believe in a literal Adam and Eve (there was no reason not to), but he also believed in an allegory explaining Adam and Eve.  Even St. Athanasius recognized Adam as the Hebrew name for man, and seems to imply Adam as generally "man" (collectively describing the experience that both Adam and Eve had, even though it was just a name for one man in Genesis 2) and our Coptic liturgical tradition personalizes Adam as if we were in his shoes furthering the allegorical tradition of Alexandria.

Nevertheless, what we can get out of this is that we are all Fallen, and we need the salvation of Christ.  This seems to be the central lesson to learn from, besides the Father as Creator of all things seen and unseen.
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« Reply #173 on: September 26, 2009, 01:15:01 PM »

I've also read a report recently, where was stated that all humans come directly from one woman, who had lived 200000 years ago and one man, who lived 60000 years ago, despite many other people, who had lived then.

The report doesn't claim that these two figures were exactly "man."  They're simply our genetic ancestors, whether homo sapien or some close species to us.

This report also directly contradicts the idea that Adam was formed before Eve, if one has to be a Biblical literalist.
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« Reply #174 on: September 26, 2009, 02:04:39 PM »

I've also read a report recently, where was stated that all humans come directly from one woman, who had lived 200000 years ago and one man, who lived 60000 years ago, despite many other people, who had lived then.

The report doesn't claim that these two figures were exactly "man."  They're simply our genetic ancestors, whether homo sapien or some close species to us.

It tends to be viewed as the period of transition between Homo erectus to Homo sapien for Mitochondrial Eve at least. 
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« Reply #175 on: September 26, 2009, 09:42:45 PM »

I've also read a report recently, where was stated that all humans come directly from one woman, who had lived 200000 years ago and one man, who lived 60000 years ago, despite many other people, who had lived then.
To be more precise, the "one woman" mentioned above, is simply the most recent female ancestor of all living human beings. Since she is the "most recent" female ancestor, she herself had a mother and father, and her mother and father had mother and fathers, and so forth. So all currently living humans would come from those other, "not-most-recent-ancestor" females (and males), as well.
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« Reply #176 on: September 27, 2009, 04:24:51 AM »

Quote
Were Adam and Eve real people? Part of me says "yes" since so many references are made to the Theotokos being the "New Eve." I have also heard it said that when Christ was on the cross at Golgotha with the Theotokos at his side, since Golgotha means "place of the skull" it was a fulfillment of the prophecy that woman would step on the head of the serpant. (I could be messing that up big time, so forgive me if I am wrong.)

The bottom line is this: Is it really that important? I mean, will your faith in Christ be shattered if you find out that they were not real people?

Well, since we just can't verify their existence personally, my faith can't be affected unless I'm dead and I receive knowledge in Paradise... but when I'll be in Paradise, my faith couldn't change anymore, so even at that time my faith won't be altered by such a revelation, don't you think? LOL
My point is just this: science can't discredit the existence of Adam and Eve, but many assume a contradiction between the scientifical record (i.e. the process of development of live - sorry if I don't like the word 'evolution') and the biblical record of an historical proto-couple of human beings. The Bible and Science can't disprove each other, so I prefer to accept the Bible as literally AND allegorically as I can, and to refute any view trying to transform the entire biblical record of the first Genesis chapters into a legend or myth with no historical value. Anyone is entirely free to harmonize this two sources of knoledge according to a personal view, but the official dogmas of the Orthodox Church should be at least taken in consideration, especially the concept of an immortal Adam confessed at Carthage: if you can harmonize it with the evolutionary theory, well done... I just can't, so I use the literal Adam and Eve as devices to respect Orthodox doctrine. If I assume that humanity has never been immortal in the past, then I'm saying the Church is fallible, and that would be an authentical loss of faith, which I can't accept as a true Orthodox Christian.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #177 on: September 27, 2009, 04:33:15 AM »

I've also read a report recently, where was stated that all humans come directly from one woman, who had lived 200000 years ago and one man, who lived 60000 years ago, despite many other people, who had lived then.
To be more precise, the "one woman" mentioned above, is simply the most recent female ancestor of all living human beings. Since she is the "most recent" female ancestor, she herself had a mother and father, and her mother and father had mother and fathers, and so forth. So all currently living humans would come from those other, "not-most-recent-ancestor" females (and males), as well.
That's very true. Yet, this could be at least the time when the created adamah was made 'in the image and likeness of God', before receiving Spirit from God. At this time humans were no more just apes... they began to interact with the world and discover its principles with the first kind of scientific and religious approach, animism. Believing in a word ruled by forces, and understanding the divine behind them,  is the first intuitive approach to science and religion as possible to a man without a public revelation of God. Adam and Eve - whatever you may mean by that - are the beginning of monotheism, i.e. the essential understanding that the forces AREN'T divine by themselves, but they're originated FROM that divine who made everything.
I would also add that per se this identification of the Mitochondrial Eve states nothing about the historical existence of Eve. In fact, our direct and most recent "female ancestor" isn't Eve, but Noah's wife, if we take the Genesis account of the Flood literally (a thing I don't even minimally subscribe, there are too many hints in the Bible for a devastating local flood!)

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #178 on: September 27, 2009, 05:54:34 AM »

Science and the Bible can contradict each other and usually are.  This isn't new.  Church fathers have accepted the idea that the Bible can contain historical and scientific inaccuracies, in which case, the allegory is important.  Nothing wrong with that idea.  To be as literal as possible is to share in a Bibliolatry that many Protestants do, similar to the Islamic worship of the Quran.  The Bible is inspired, but it's not dictated word of God.  It's infallible, but not inerrant.
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« Reply #179 on: September 27, 2009, 09:03:58 AM »

It is convenient to use the Bible as literally as we can, as a theological device, not as if the Bible were a word-by-word history of the world. But that doesn't mean that the first chapters of the Genesis narrate a story tale to teach us not to rebel to God: in that case, God could have obtained the same effect saying that man have always sinned, that we created as sinners etc etc.
I am free to believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and I don't think I confess heresy when I do so. Since there's no passage in the Bible saying that science is divinely inspired, infallible and authoritative on everything, I don't see how I need to abandon such a vision only because others accuse me of Bibliolatry. Were the Church Fathers Bibliolaters, because they preferred to treat Adam and Eve as historical characters and not as literary devices? then, the Church has been fallible and heretic (even worse, idol worshippers!).
The only thing I can't understand with your position is this: WHY understanding as mythical only those parts of Genesis, and not the entire Bible? isn't that one and the same canon of writings? Only because a human science disproves the POSSIBILITY of a 6-day creation, or of forming a man out of clay? What about miracles and resurrections? Aren'te they impossible to science? Why should we believe the latter but not the former? The same Orthodox Church taught them both equally; the Fathers believed in a literal Adam as well as in a literal Cross on Golgotha; the Fathers confessed Ancestral Sin in the same way as they confessed the promise of life everlasting... I just don't get how a concordist and yet literal re-reading of the Genesis account should be so easily dismissed. The attitude of all of you seems to say: You don't believe in science, so your heretic! I am bound to believe in God, and not in science! Science tries to explain out the existence of God, so to demonstrate that we're a fruit of chance, and that life is not a spiritual gift, but a lucky circumstance. How can I appreciate this? Do you really think that I'm heretic and idol worshipper because I believe in a literal Adam???

In Christ,   Alex

PS: I am not a Protestantizing reader of the Bible. In fact, if I were I wouldn't quote the Church fathers: it's them I honour as the source of our Faith, and not a canon of books of difficult reading. Nevertheless, the Church Fathers took very seriously the Bible, and so I do. Is being conservative a synonim of heresy? I don't thing so, otherwise Paul wouldn't have written "Stand fast and hold the traditions which have been handed down to you, either by word or by our epistles". I left the RCC because of modernism, and now I find the same seed of heresy in some Orthodox believers... these are indeed bad times for Christianity!
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