New article on dating Adam

All kinds of Christian authors have been writing books and articles on dating Adam and Eve, including Ross and Rana, Who Was Adam? and Jack Collins, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? In this article I chime in, analyzing all the various options that I have heard proposed and assessing their pros and cons.

Also, see this book by J.P. Versteeg, newly released by Westminster.

20 responses to “New article on dating Adam”

  1. Martin Poenie

    I do not think that the male and female of Gen 1 and Adam and Eve are the same individuals. To me, this renders the dating gymnastics irrelevent.

    1. David Snoke

      That is one of the positions I review in the article (I try to cover every possibility, and there are many). Each position has various problems, and the problem with your position is that Genesis 5:1-3 seems to clearly tie together the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 accounts. It uses exactly the language of Gen 1:27, but also clearly ties this to the man Adam who is in the story of Gen 2-4 and fathered Seth.

      1. Martin Poenie

        Not necessarily. This is the book of the toledoth of Adam and these toledoth constructions often start with a background statement. Certainly the male and female were the founders and related. But they together are called adam – generic. Verse 2 starts with Adam as a proper name. So, there is in fact a difference. Verse 1 in chapter 5 restating chapter 1. Verse 2 corresponds to chapter 2. I do not see chapter 5 as any problem.

    2. David Snoke

      I agree it is not a slam dunk, but the more I have looked into Gen 5:1-3, the more I think it connects Gen 1-2. Gen 5:1 says God created Man (adam, the generic word for human). Then Gen 5:2 uses the exact same formula as Gen 1:27-28, almost verbatim.

      Gen 1:27-28:
      “God created man in his own image,
      in the image of God he created him;
      rmale and female he created them.
      And God blessed them”
      Gen 5:1-2:
      “He made him in the likeness of God.
      Male and female he created them,
      and he blessed them.”
      Yet Gen 5:2 includes the very important “naming”: “and named them Man [Adam] when they were created” and Gen 5:3 goes right on then to say “when Adam [Man] was 130 years old, he fathered a son in his own likeness.” Note that not only the name connects, but also the pattern of generating something in one’s “likeness” (image). This fits with how the Luke genealogy calls Adam the “son” of God.
      There is nothing in Gen 5:1-3 that indicates a break or shift. Everything suggests continuity and connection.

      1. Marty Avatar

        Gen 5 maintains the distinctions of Gen 1. To call them (male and female) adam does not necessarily tie them directly to the Adam and Eve of Gen 2. The name for Eve is Eve (Hava) not adam. There are important distinctions in the text. The toledoth always is used to refer to what comes next or what comes after. The toledoth of Gen 2:4 that links Gen 1 and Gen 2 serves that function, indicating that the events of Gen 2 come after Gen 1. Furthermore, in Gen 1, the male and female are told —
        29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
        The Adam of Gen 2 is told —-
        Genesis 2:16-17 (NASB)
        16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
        The translation is rather remarkable since there is no “freely” and no sense of “may” in the Hebrew. Rather, the Hebrew is parallel for “eat” and “die” (lit eating you shall eat … dying you shall die). It should be thus be translated of every tree … you shall surely eat or you must eat.
        The male and female of Gen 1 are told to subdue the earth. Subdue (Hebrew kabash) indicates forcible bringing into bondage a resistant earth. In Gen 2 there is no indication of that. Rather God plants a garden.
        The term formed from the dust or clay is a term that applies to us as well as Adam and is not necessarily the language of creation. For example —
        Job 10:8-9 (NASB)
        8 ‘Your hands fashioned and made me altogether, And would You destroy me?
        9 ‘Remember now, that You have made me as clay; And would You turn me into dust again?
        Job 33:6 (NASB)
        6 “Behold, I belong to God like you; I too have been formed out of the clay.

    3. David Snoke

      One thing to keep in mind in regard to the toledoths is that they always refer to people who have already been introduced as part of a previous story. They do not bring in a person for the first time. It is a transition from a person who was part of someone else’s story to becoming the “ancestor” of the story. Thus Gen 5:1 is the generations of Adam, who was already been introduced, Gen 6:9 is the generations of Noah, who was already introduced in Gen 6:1-8, Gen 10:1 is the generations of his sons, who already went through the flood with Noah, Gen 37:2 is the generations of Jacob, at the end of the story about him which comes under the story of Isaac, etc. In the same way the toledoth of Gen 2:4 is the generations of “the heavens and earth” which were the main characters, with Adam [man] already introduced, and now the heavens and earth become the “ancestor” for Adam’s story.

      1. Marty Avatar

        Sorry but that did not make sense to me. Male and female were introduced in chapter 1. As such, naturally constitute the (5:1) background parental info that can then move on to Adam proper. While I do not know how important a principle it is that you bring to bear here – certainly 5:1-2 does not violate it.

        1. David Snoke

          Two points: 1) The toledeth in Gen 5:1-3 is hearkening back to the story of Gen 2-4 if it is like all the others, picking up the story of the immediate person introduced just beforehand. I.e. the most nature “adam” to be in view is the one we have just seen introduced. 2) Making a sharp distinction between verses to read two different stories in Gen 5:1 and Gen 5:2 strikes me as very similar to the “gap theory” people who want to read a big jump in between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. The same word “adam” is used continuously through Gen 5:1-3 and it seems to be splitting hairs to take it to mean one person in one place and another person (or persons) living 50,000 years earlier in the adjacent verse.

          1. Marty Avatar

            Well, I just cannot agree with that at all. The text 5:1 makes clear that this is generic adam – tied to chapter 1 as is the usage in chapter 6 where adam is used for mankind. As for gaps, as an old earth advocate whom I think accepts the basic scientific time frame, there are gaps there of millions of years between some of the events.

      2. JLVaughn Avatar


        How does this “One thing to keep in mind in regard to the toledoths is that they always refer to people,” square with the toledoh of the heaven and earth in Gen. 2:4?

        1. JLVaughn Avatar

          By the way, I agree w/ your toledoh claim. Heaven and earth in Gen. 1-2 are people. I’m just having trouble believing you agree.

        2. David Snoke

          yes, I would say that the form of the toledoth is that heaven and earth are the “ancestors” of Adam and Eve. Toledoths normally come at the end of the story of the ancestor and turn the focus to the children of that ancestor who have already been introduced. An exception seems to be Noah, who has quite a bit of story after his toledoth.

          1. JLVaughn Avatar

            In standard Akkaddian, a toledoth occurs at the end of every document.

            TLDT Name, Date.

            Ancient Sumerian did the same. It’s a colophon, which is meant to give the name of the author and the date in which it was written.

            P.J. Wiseman was Woolley’s cataloger back in the 1930’s and examined every single tablet that was shipped to London. Wiseman claimed that every single intact tablet and most of the broken ones clearly ended with a colophon of this type.

            Wiseman claims that the toledoths in Genesis match the Sumerian and Akkadian example.

  2. David Snoke

    I should clarify that in “dating Adam and Eve” I meant that I was looking at every possibility for the origin of mankind that has been proposed as in agreement with the Bible, including the idea of generic creation of many people.

    1. JLVaughn Avatar


      In the article, you qualified it further. You started with the stated assumption that Adam was the federal head of all mankind.

      According to Ez. 28:13-14, the King of Tyre, or his federal head, was present in the Garden as one of the guarding cherubs. This cherub had a covenant with God, separate and apart from Adam’s covenant. This is evidence that Adam, though a federal head, was not the federal head of all mankind.

  3. JLVaughn Avatar


    Clarification on your footnote 14: J. Vaughn has proposed that humans before Adam did not have the image of God but were fully human. In this view, “image of God” is simply a term for the special relationship of Adam and his line with God. Vaughn’s view is therefore equivalent to II.B below but with different terminology.

    In Ancient Near East literature, and common to essentially all ancient cultures, the king and/or the priests were “in the image of God.” This phrase implies one has God’s authority. This was not a trait of men in general, but only of men in important positions of power.

    In Adam’s case, he received the image of God, via God’s breath/spirit. In much the same way, Jesus granted His Spirit to the apostles, via His Breath (John 20:22) and The Scriptures being “God breathed,” have God’s authority, power, and life.

    This understanding would imply, not just that men before Adam did not have the image but, that few men, if any, had the image before the Christian age, and that today, only Christians have the image. This further implies that the image of God is not what makes us human, but rather is what makes us God’s.

    1. David Snoke

      Interestingly, the books of 2 Esdras and Tobit in the Apocrypha have very clear teaching that Adam was the progenitor of all humans. But I don’t view the Apocrypha as authoritative. Actually, Acts 17:26 is similar: “from one man he made every nation.” How do you take this verse?

      1. JLVaughn Avatar

        Acts 17:26, “of one blood” not man.

        1. David Snoke

          No, looking at my Greek NT, the word is “henos”– which is the masculine for “one individual” of male gender–there is no connotation of “blood” in there.

          Let’s move this discussion to the new forum page:
          for further discussion. These comments get kind of squeezed after many replies.

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