Adam and Eve: Figurative?


#21

Peace be with you all,

Let me thank you all for offering a wealth of opinion on this matter. I have engaged in this discussion elsewhere to reach an unsteady equilibrium between literal and figurative which our Church seems to desire on this matter for the time being. As one desiring to be a Faithful Son of our Tradition I find it difficult to fine clarity on this issue without the Church speaking on Creationism and Evolution. Clearly without such clarity we will stand on the unsteady foundation of two seemingly justifiable positions. Truly it is a situation to ponder further.

My concern on the figurative opinion is that it seems to suggest that Sin is brought into the word by mere creative storytelling. If so, then why not also offer that Salvation work the same way? I feel that the criticism on Genesis begins a process which unravals the very fabric of our Faith. If Adam is not literally “the” first man what is the necessity of a “literal” New Adam? Are you following my reasoning here? It appears to be very tricky for our beloved St. Paul to offer a rationale between Adam and Jesus if one is figurative and the other literal. Maybe that is just my concern alone but it doesn’t appear to be.

There are some many Doctrines, Jesus’ necessary Sacrifice for our Salvation, to name which appears to begin to unraval without a concrete and historical fall from “one” man, the “one” man Adam.

I continue to reflect on this and seek further opinion. Thank you.

Peace, Love and Blessings.


#22

[quote=BibleReader]In reading Trent’s words, we Catholics must realize that even Trent was being interpretive. First, do you think that though we see “Adam” in the anathema declaration, Trent considered that there was an individual named “Adam,” whose name in Hebrew means “red [clay]”?
[/quote]

Oh yeah! I keep forgetting that we need an interpreter of the Interpreters of scripture. This is because, according to you, we can never assume that someone within the teaching Magesterium actually means what they say. There is a grey mist before their words, figuratively speaking, which clouds the meaning from anyone whose opinion differs from your own. Could you please interpret for me Pius XII in Humani Generis when he speaks of Adam:

“For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

[quote=BibleReader]Also, do you think that Trent thought that this “Adam” lived in a perfect physical place on physical Earth, and that this is the unchangeable, solemn teaching of the Magisterium?
[/quote]

I don’t know. They did not mention Eden in the passage I quoted. But I do know that death of man entered the world through a specific sin of a specific man, and it was sanctifying grace that preserved Adam and Eve from death. Now, how do you explain the effect that grace has on their physical bodies. Maybe this grace was so powerful that it affected the environment around them, as well as their physical bodies. However is was, it is gone forever, we are only left to speculate. But this grace was real!

[quote=BibleReader]If you do, then you should also think that we should get a new pope, because he, too, is “anathema.”
[/quote]

Show me where JPII denied Adam and Eve were the first two human beings. The following text was taken from JPII’s Catechesis on Original Sin:

[quote=]“Therefore, there was also order in his relationship with the other, in the communion and intimacy that makes for happiness: as in the initial relationship between man and woman, Adam and Eve, the first couple and also the first nucleus of human society.”

"Adam’s sin is transmitted to all his descendants by generation and not merely by way of bad example. The Decree states: “This sin of Adam which by origin is unique and transmitted by generation and no by way of imitation is present in all as proper to each” (DS 1513).

“In this context it is evident that original sin in Adam’s descendants has not the character of personal guilt. It is the privation of santifying grace in a nature which through the fault of the first parents has been diverted from its supernatural end.”
[/quote]

Maybe you are not such a good interpreter of the Interpreter of the Interpreters of scripture. I know I will hold out for someone else.

[quote=BibleReader]Relax, anathema thrower.
[/quote]

I am not the one who threw it in the first place. Am I?


#23

[quote=BibleReader]Well, the current pope reportedly believes in evolution. He probably wouldn’t go for the “Adam” or “clay” business.

[/quote]

Not so fast! The Pope is behind the Catechism - (see previous Catechism posts)

God is able to simultaneously transmit the truth in a simple way, an elegant way and in a sophisticated way, which can reach the hearts and minds of all hearers. He is perfect simplicity. He can do this is a single statement or many.


#24

[quote=Stevereeno]Oh yeah! I keep forgetting that we need an interpreter of the Interpreters of scripture. This is because, according to you, we can never assume that someone within the teaching Magesterium actually means what they say. There is a grey mist before their words, figuratively speaking, which clouds the meaning from anyone whose opinion differs from your own. Could you please interpret for me Pius XII in Humani Generis when he speaks of Adam:

“For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

[/quote]

How old are you, friend? You write with the impetuousness of one who has not yet been severely tested.

The answer to your nasty, skeptical, impetuous “Oh yeah! I keep forgetting that we need an interpreter of the Interpreters of scripture” is that your Church teaches that we need an interpreter of the interpreters of Scripture. His name is the “Holy Spirit.” He acts upon those apprehending the teachings of the interpreters of Scripture with “the receptive grace of infallibility.” In other words, infallibility is not just reliable words coming out of inspired teachers, but it is also a process by which the Original-Sin-engendered weakness of those listening to the Church and their desire to learn morality improperly is overcome by a complementary grace of infallibility.

So, now do you see, oh nasty, skeptical, impetuous one, how unqualified you are to play “Church Cop”?

Calm down. Love. Learn. Give your opinion. But calm dooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnn.


#25

[quote=BibleReader]How old are you, friend? You write with the impetuousness of one who has not yet been severely tested.

So, now do you see, oh nasty, skeptical, impetuous one, how unqualified you are to play “Church Cop”?

Calm down. Love. Learn. Give your opinion. But calm dooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnn.
[/quote]

I’m having a little trouble resolving the red and the green, above. By the way, I do believe I am the calm one here, regardless of my other faults that you so lovingly exposed.


#26

[quote=BibleReader]Listen, no matter what you’re completely missing out on the overwhelmingly more important sensus plenior level understanding.

Question: Why was Adam said to be made of clay which was red? Answer: Because Adam was the “type of the man to come,” Jesus.

etc
[/quote]

Yes, I know about those things with Adam, it stunned me in awe when I first learnt about them, you can also find many fascinating things with regard to Noah and Abraham and even through the Exodus and Passover that are symbolically pointing us to Christ as well as many other things, I could go on, it’s really fascinating stuff! I never denied that Genesis isn’t symbolic and ‘figurative.’ I’m only arguing that along with that it is real history as well. Most importantly a real Fall because of real people which is the entire reason for Christ’s sacrifice. As well the literal reading will clear up many issues such as that God never created the world as we experience it now with death and suffering. It is all a result of sin! God originally created the world and pronounced it ‘good.’ This is a contradiction in the face of things like Darwinism where it considered death and survival a part of the world from its inception.


#27

[quote=jdnation]Yes, I know about those things with Adam, it stunned me in awe when I first learnt about them, you can also find many fascinating things with regard to Noah and Abraham and even through the Exodus and Passover that are symbolically pointing us to Christ as well as many other things, I could go on, it’s really fascinating stuff! I never denied that Genesis isn’t symbolic and ‘figurative.’ I’m only arguing that along with that it is real history as well. Most importantly a real Fall because of real people which is the entire reason for Christ’s sacrifice. As well the literal reading will clear up many issues such as that God never created the world as we experience it now with death and suffering. It is all a result of sin! God originally created the world and pronounced it ‘good.’ This is a contradiction in the face of things like Darwinism where it considered death and survival a part of the world from its inception.
[/quote]

Peace be with you jdnation,

Your post reminds me of a quote Saint Thomas Aquinas once said:

"all other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal." - Summa Theologica

But my question, with regard to Genesis, is exactly what are we to take literally if our Catechism states that it uses frigurative language? You may note that it speaks specifically about Chapter 3 which is the story of the Fall. I find this confusing which is why I brought the topic up in the first place.

Peace, Love and Blessings.


#28

[quote=chrisb]But my question, with regard to Genesis, is exactly what are we to take literally if our Catechism states that it uses frigurative language? You may note that it speaks specifically about Chapter 3 which is the story of the Fall.
[/quote]

I think, maybe, the following link will answer your question. JPII speaks of the figurative language in Genesis such as eating the apple, the tree of knowledge, etc. He also speaks on the true history of Genesis, such as Adam and Eve, Original Sin, etc.

ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2ORSIN.htm


#29

[quote=Stevereeno]I think, maybe, the following link will answer your question. JPII speaks of the figurative language in Genesis such as eating the apple, the tree of knowledge, etc. He also speaks on the true history of Genesis, such as Adam and Eve, Original Sin, etc.

ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2ORSIN.htm
[/quote]

Peace be with you Stevereeno,

Thanks for the link, Steve! I’ll read it this weekend. Thanks again!

Peace, Love and Blessings.


#30

[quote=Stevereeno]I’m having a little trouble resolving the red and the green, above. By the way, I do believe I am the calm one here, regardless of my other faults that you so lovingly exposed.
[/quote]

Friend Stevereeno,

When you infer that your reader is “anathema,” you are inferring that he is excommunicated and damnable to Hell.

That is what “anathema” means.

From Catholic Encyclopedia: “[F]ormula of anathema: "Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N-- himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.” (The underlinings are from Catholic Encyclopedia.)

The words “damn you” would not be fundamentally different.

Yet, you were throwing it around like candy.

Now, if I were to say “damn you,” wouldn’t you be justified in saying that that is “nasty,” “skeptical” and “impetuous”?

Don’t you see a difference between “you are damned,” and a response, in response to the damning, observing that the damner is “nasty,” “skeptical” and “impetuous”?

Please, just discuss. Don’t damn to Hell. Let the Church do that.


#31

[quote=BibleReader]That is what “anathema” means.

Don’t you see a difference between “you are damned,” and a response, in response to the damning, observing that the damner is “nasty,” “skeptical” and “impetuous”?

Please, just discuss. Don’t damn to Hell. Let the Church do that.
[/quote]

I am, truely, sorry BR. I was not, as you say, damning you. We both know that I cannot do that, and if I tried, it is I who would be damned. Besides, anathemas were usurped, we have Canon Law now:thumbsup: . But I was trying to emphasize the weight of the words and how strongly the Magesterium felt at that time about that doctrine.

It is unfortunate that you and I are at odds, since we are both Catholic and especially so close to Holy Week. I was just at the Stations of the Cross a couple of hours ago. How could I have done this to you? Please accept my apology.

BTW, I liked the 9-point analogy of Adam and Jesus that you posted earlier.


#32

[quote=Verbum]Hi Cris,

The creation story is clear about the following points of Catholic doctrine :

God exist
God is one
God is transcendent (he is not “part” of the world)
God existed before the world
God created all things

If one interprets the creation story in a way that denies the above, then he is not doing it in a Catholic way.

Verbum
[/quote]

According to the Church, one must accept the following, which are also evident from the story of Genesis:

  1. Creation by God at the beginning of time
  2. Special creation of Man; **the formation of the first woman from the first man.
    ** 3) The unity of the human race
  3. Their initial state of justice, integrity and immortality
  4. The testing of Adam and Eve by a positive precept
  5. Their temptation and sin under the influence of the Devil
  6. Their expulsion from Paradise
  7. The promise of a Redeemer.

The above highlighted parts run rather afoul with the atheists’ dreams of natural selection.

BTW: The Church does require that we interpret the entire Bible literally…


#33

[quote=Steve Andersen]nope

Myth, n. A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society

“Fictitious” is the tertiary definition
[/quote]

Myths are always held to be…and indeed they are: UNTRUE.

I can’t think of any true ones…unless you insist that the Bible is a myth.


#34

[quote=Tom of Assisi]Myths are always held to be…and indeed they are: UNTRUE.

I can’t think of any true ones…unless you insist that the Bible is a myth.
[/quote]

my point was that Myths are NOT always held to be untrue

especially by the people who believe in them

there are 3 billion or so people in the world who believe that the Bible is true in some shape or form and another 3 billion who consider it just someone else’s myth

there are a billion Hindus who consider the Vedas true

a myth is something that, by definition, people base their world view on
they have to think that they are “true” on some level

otherwise what’s the point?


#35

What always troubled me was the possible existence of preadamites that existed before Adam, that lacked the Hebrew neshama, or something that was supposed to represent the human soul. And there has always been difficulty with the name Adam and the Hebrew adam used in Genesis, which loosely meant mankind rather than the proper Adam.

The New Advent Encyclopedia’s article on Adam begins talking about this
newadvent.org/cathen/01129a.htm


#36

From www.dictionary.com
myth

n : a traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people

I have pondered this issue for some time, and have recently spoken to several priests about it. There are many varying opinions on the issue; I have formulated my own based on what I’ve been taught, and I’m confident that it is within the bounds of catholic orthodoxy. If any of it seems to contradict the current Catechism please point it out.

The early books of Genesis are True Myth. They are mythological in the sense that many of the details are to be figuratively understood, yet they teach actual history as well. The sacred writer is not giving us an entirely literal-historical account, but is teaching us, through mythological principles, true fundamentals of faith and morals. In a way, Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is also a True Myth because He brings all the mythological Truths together in Himself, but makes of it a literal-historical event by his life, death, and resurrection.

Originally posted by *Stevereeno
*** "For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam
there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents."

I have asked a few priests about this. Pius XII with Humani Generis wrote a papal Encyclical. An Encyclical is binding on all lay faithful, however, it is open to debate by theologians. In 1996, John Paul II in his letter to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, notably left open the question of Evolution. Many Catholics keep bringing up the issue of papal infallibility, but this is actually a very limited power. Infallibility has only been invoked twice since its formal inception. In 1854 for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and in 1950 for the dogma of the Assumption. Monogenism is still recommended doctrine for lay faithful, but it is not dogma by any means.

*Adam *in Genesis is both figurative and historical; true myth. The sacred writer seems to refer to three meanings: mankind in general, the first men (as in plural males) and a particular individual (one man.) The first meaning is used for Creation, the second for Original Sin, the last for the monogamous Marriage of one Man to one Woman. The fact that Genesis 5 refers to the lineage of a single man, Adam, indicates the historical Truth of the creation story; however, it is all within a mythological context.

The Holy Spirit inspired Genesis, but it was still written by a human hand and mind, who did not personally witness (as the Evangelists did) the events he wrote about. Therefore, it is myth, purged of all superstition, teaching true faith.

In the light of this doctrinal and moral excellence, the question of the strict historical character of the narrative, as regards the framework and details, becomes of relatively slight importance, especially when we recall that in history as conceived by the other biblical authors, as well as by Semitic writers generally, the presentation and arrangement of facts – and indeed their entire role – is habitually made subordinate to the exigencies of a didactic preoccupation (Catholic Encyclopaedia (1911) on Adam).


#37

Then, with that logic, what do you make of this?

"Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both of their wives lost their children while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both were shot in the head.

Both were shot with one bullet.

Both were rumored to be killed in a conspiracy.
Neither was confirmed to be a conspiracy.

Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theater.
Kennedy was shot in a card made by the Ford Motor Company (a Lincoln no less)

Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners.

Both successors were named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
Their first names both contain six letters.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names comprise fifteen letters.

Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Both assassins were assassinated before their trials.

The only complete filming of Kennedy’s assasination was shot by Abraham Zapruder.
The only complete account of Lincoln’s assasination was written by John Zelfindorfer.

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was with friends in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with his friend Marilyn Monroe.

Lincoln’s last child, Tad, had his funeral held on July 16, 1871.
Later he was exhumed and moved to a different grave site.
Kennedy’s son JFK Jr. was lost at sea on July 16, 1999.
Later he was found, brought up, and then re-burried at sea. "

MJW


#38

[quote=trth_skr]Then, with that logic, what do you make of this?

"Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both of their wives lost their children while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both were shot in the head.

Both were shot with one bullet.

Both were rumored to be killed in a conspiracy.
Neither was confirmed to be a conspiracy.

Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theater.
Kennedy was shot in a card made by the Ford Motor Company (a Lincoln no less)

Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners.

Both successors were named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
Their first names both contain six letters.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names comprise fifteen letters.

Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Both assassins were assassinated before their trials.

The only complete filming of Kennedy’s assasination was shot by Abraham Zapruder.
The only complete account of Lincoln’s assasination was written by John Zelfindorfer.

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was with friends in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with his friend Marilyn Monroe.

Lincoln’s last child, Tad, had his funeral held on July 16, 1871.
Later he was exhumed and moved to a different grave site.
Kennedy’s son JFK Jr. was lost at sea on July 16, 1999.
Later he was found, brought up, and then re-burried at sea. "

MJW
[/quote]

That is an urban legend with many incorrect claims:

snopes.com/history/american/linckenn.htm


#39

[quote=jdnation]That is an urban legend with many incorrect claims:

[/quote]

That supports what I am trying to say. We can not drop the fact the Adam and Eve were real for a list of interesting comparisons. I am not questioning that Adam and Eve were also typological of Christ and Mary, for instance, nor that there are even deeper levels of symbolism. But they were also real.

Here is an even more mystical one::wink:

MADAM IM ADAM oooh wooo ooooh

MJW


#40

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