Evolution of Adam Blog Tour: Day Five

Kurt Willems posted his entry to the blog tour: “Evolving With Enns: Reflections on ‘The Evolution of Adam'”. He concludes:

“In my estimation, The Evolution of Adam, offers the most significant working view of how to carefully, pastorally, and honorably interpret the early chapters of Genesis and their workings out by Paul, in light of evolution.  His reading does nothing to defend biological evolution, but uses the questions raised by science as an opportunity to refine our understandings of God’s inspired Word. I invite you to read Pete’s prolific book and to decide for yourself if you will also, evolve with Enns.” (emphasis his)

Kurt Willems is writer and pastor who is currently working towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.

Kurt blogs at “The Pangea Blog”.

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Gregory Smith posted his second and third blog entries for the tour. He writes in his third post:

“When I began reading “The Evolution of Adam” I was already convinced of the “essentially self-evident” point that Genesis 1 and the flood story in chapters 6–9 do not record history “in any normally accepted sense of the word today,” and was comfortable with the idea that Genesis “reflects its ancient Near Eastern setting and should be read that way” (p. 50).  For me, understanding Genesis as an ancient story of Israelite self-definition – through comparison to other ancient stories made by biblical theologians – is part and parcel of gleaning the take-home theological messages of this part of God’s Word.”

Gregory Smith currently blogs at “Jesus Loves Darwin”.

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Nate Claiborne posted his review of The Evolution of Adam. He writes:

“While I hope that The Evolution of Adam is not merely dismissed by more conservative scholars who will disagree like I have, I imagine many of them will similarly find his conclusions unsatisfactory. I probably will revisit this with a future post unpacking more of why I didn’t think he gives the best explanation of reading Paul, but to do so, I need to do a bit more research on Paul, and thankfully, that’s on the docket for this summer.”

Nate currently blogs at NathanielClaiborne.com.

Evolution of Adam Blog Tour: Day Four

Don’t forget about our giveaway!

Nathaniel Claiborne posted his blog entry for the tour today. He writes:

“Given that the book is mostly focused on biblical studies and hermeneutical issues, it is really more concerned with the discussing how the conversation about Adam has evolved, as Enns hopes it will continue to do (p. xiii). Enns more or less steers away from issues related to science and evolution, though it is clear he assumes that current scientific thought concerning human origins provides a true account of the matter.”

Nathaniel currently blogs at “NathanielClaiborne.com”.

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Justin Topp posted his second entry for the blog tour. He writes:

“As I alluded to on Monday, the title of the book is a bit misleading. Evolution is a reason for questioning a literal interpretation of Genesis, but it is not the only one and as a reason itself is not covered in depth. Instead, Enns chooses to focus Part 1 of his book on the other reasons, reasons that do not receive as much attention and stem from his discipline of Biblical studies.”

Justin currently blogs at “A Biologist’s View of Science & Religion”.

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Evolution of Adam Blog Tour: Day Three

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway!

Rachel Held Evans posted her entry in the blog tour: “I Could Have Used This Twelve Years Ago: A Review of ‘The Evolution of Adam’ by Peter Enns”. She writes:

“For me, this book served as both a reality check and an inspiration—a rare combination that you just won’t find in most books that take historical and literary criticism seriously. I wish I could get into all the details of what made this book so helpful, but this would require a series of posts that will have to wait for a later time.

For now, just know that The Evolution of Adam comes with my heartfelt, enthusiastic recommendation. Learning to love the Bible for what it is, not what we want it to be, means taking its context and history seriously. Enns has managed to do that in a way that both enlightens and encourages.” (emphasis hers).

Rachel is the author of Evolving in Monkey Town (Zondervan, 2010).
She currently blogs at RachelHeldEvans.com.

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Jacob Sweeney posted his review of The Evolution of Adam.  He begins by writing:

“The 20th century saw considerable debate surrounding evolution and Christianity. It appears that the 21st century will not fare differently (at least, presently). There continues to be significant debate and disagreement among evangelicals (broadly defined). Peter Enns has been at the center of this issue for some time.”

Jacob is currently pursuing a MDiv in Christian Ministry at Southern Baptist Seminary.
He currently blogs at “Jacob Sweeney’s Blog”.

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James McGrath posted his third blog entry on Enns’s book. He writes:

“I highly recommend this book, and am hopeful that the significant number of books by Evangelical scientists and scholars addressing the relevant scientific and textual evidence related to the intersection of evolution and Christian faith will lead to a shift away from deceptive nonsense like young-earth creationism, and towards a serious whole-hearted engagement with the best Biblical scholarship and science.”

James currently blogs at “Exploring Our Matrix”.

Evolution of Adam Blog Tour: Day Two

Joy Bennett posted her review in a post titled “‘The Evolution of Adam': In Which Science and Faith Are Allies, Not Enemies.” She concludes:

You may or may not agree with Dr. Enns’s theories regarding Adam, Israel, the Pentateuch, and Paul’s letters. However, whether you identify yourself as a young-earth creationsit, an old-earth creationist, or a theistic evolutionist, you will find this book has great value as you seek to better understand the people who wrote/received/heard the sacred Scripture – how they viewed the world and themselves and how they interacted with sacred Scripture, particularly as contrasted with how we do. (emphasis hers)

Joy currently blogs at “Joy in this Journey”.

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Gregory Smith has posted his first blog entry for the tour. He writes:

I recognize that “The Evolution of Adam” will be controversial in certain theological control centers of orthodox Protestantism.  Detractors will argue that the gospel is at stake. However, as a scientist and Christian I respond very positively to Enns’ contribution to the creation-evolution dialogue.  Enns’ writing style is engaging, clear and direct, yet humble and pastoral.  As far as I am concerned, Enns’ contribution is timely precisely because the gospel is at stake: we cannot effectively share Christ while denying what has become incontestable: a long history of life on earth, common ancestry, and descent with modification.

Dr. Gregory Smith is Associate Professor, Department of Applied Science at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

He currently blogs at “Jesus Loves Darwin”.

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James McGrath posted his second blog entry for the tour. He writes:

The first chapter in Paul Enns’ book Evolution of Adam, The: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins focuses on the evidence and approaches that emerged in the 19th century, which forced Christians to reconsider their assumptions about Genesis. [...]

This information is important because it highlights that challenges to certain ideas about the nature and character of Genesis and of Adam result from study of the Bible, and from discovery of ancient texts, quite apart from any considerations raised by the natural sciences.

James McGrath currently blogs at “Exploring Our Matrix”.

Evolution of Adam Blog Tour: Day One

As we posted earlier, Peter Enns kicked off the blog tour for The Evolution of Adam with a blog post titled “Why I Wrote The Evolution of Adam“.

Two other bloggers posted reviews of the book today.

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James McGrath posted the first of three blog entries today. He writes:

“[...] Enns provides not merely a book about Adam, but also a good general introduction to the history, methods and essence of scholarly study of the Bible, using Adam as an example.

It is thus reasonable to hope that this book will do more than just address concerns that some Christians have related to modern biology. This book may help a larger number of Evangelicals to grasp and embrace Biblical scholarship to a greater extent and less selectively than tends to be the case at present.”

Dr. James F. McGrath is Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University. He currently blogs at “Exploring Our Matrix”.

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Justin Topp will also be posting three times this week. He posted his first entry today:

“[...] I believe the book to be a great contribution to the field of science and religion (as you’ll see in the upcoming posts as well). After my first reading of it I labeled it a great conversation-starter and thinking about it longer hasn’t changed my mind one bit. It’s a well-written, well-reasoned, and timely book that will illuminate yet leave you asking questions. It’s not the end all be all on this topic, but it wasn’t designed to be. It was written to show Christians what the Bible doesn’t say about Adam.

And once you know what it doesn’t say, perhaps you can then begin to realize what it actually does say.”

Dr. Justin Topp is Associate Professor of Biology at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. He currently blogs at “A Biologist’s View of Science & Religion”.

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Don’t forget about our giveaway. The grand prize winner will receive a book package from Brazos Press – including The Evolution of Adam.

Behind the Book: Peter Enns’s The Evolution of Adam

Today begins the week-long blog tour for Peter Enns’s new Brazos book The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins. Check back all week as we will be updating as various bloggers review and engage with this important book.

To kick-off the tour, we asked Peter Enns to write a brief post for us on how the book came about.  Here is his reply:

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“Why I Wrote The Evolution of Adam” by Peter Enns

Many Christians are looking for ways to think clearly, deliberately, and differently about evolution and the Bible. There are several angles one can take to talk about this (e.g., theological, philosophical), and they all come into play. But I feel the most pressing issue Christians face is the hermeneutical one: if evolution is true, what do I do about what the Bible says about Adam and Eve?

I know many Christians who understand the scientific issues and are convinced that evolution explains human origins. They are looking for ways to read the Adam story differently. Many more—at least this is my experience—are open to the discussion, but are not ready simply to pull the trigger on evolution. They first need to see for themselves that the Adam story can be read with respect and reverence but without needing to read it as a literal account of human origins. Both groups are thinking hermeneutically, though they approach the issue from different sides.

So, as a biblical scholar who has always been keenly interested in the interface of ancient faith and contemporary life, I thought I would paint a bull’s-eye on my back and write a book trying to do just that.

I never really gave the topic of evolution any serious thought until 2009. I had just read Karl Giberson’s Saving Darwin and I was struck by how helpful it was, but also how much more convincing his arguments could be if they were in conversation of biblical scholarship and hermeneutical issues. He and I began corresponding, which eventually lead to my working at The BioLogos Foundation—first under Giberson and then under the current president Darrel Falk.

As I got deeper into the issue and began reading widely, I could see that, despite the many tremendous books out there on science and faith, few, if any, books were taking on the hermeneutical issues surrounding evolution—they weren’t dealing head on with the question, “How specifically do I read Genesis and Paul now that you’ve convinced me that evolution is true and that science and faith can live in harmony?”  In other words, the uneasy, awkward, piecemeal approach sometimes seen when Christians (especially evangelicals) talk about evolution stems from a failure to have an overt hermeneutical strategy for handling the Bible.

From the vantage point of academic biblical scholarship, I felt that such a strategy was sitting there all along, waiting patiently for someone to name it: read the Bible in historical context and see for yourself that the Bible is not remotely set up to contribute to any modern scientific discussions, including evolution.

This conclusion is, I feel, obvious: the pink elephant, 500-pound gorilla, and emperor with no clothes all rolled into one. And one needs no secret academic decoder ring to see it. A simple Google search will quickly yield a lot of information. We know enough today about the religious traditions of the ancient Mesopotamian world, of which Genesis was a part, to know that Genesis was produced by storytellers, not historians, anthropologists, or biologists. Ancient Israelites produced the story of Adam and Eve, and however you think of God’s role in inspiring these storytellers, the ancient Near Eastern-ness of it all must be kept front and center.

Likewise, astute readers of Paul in his historical context see clearly that he, like others of his time, felt quite free to appropriate and adapt creatively his scriptural tradition (our Old Testament) to serve his rhetorical and theological purposes. This is precisely what Paul does with Adam. Here too—however we might explain Paul’s being moved by God’s spirit—we must remember that the Paul that was so moved was a first century Jew who thought like a first century Jew, not a western evangelical.

As I see it, these observations about Genesis and Paul cannot be sidelined but must be brought front and center into the hermeneutical discussion over evolution. I say this for two reasons. First, these observations are hardly idiosyncratic or resting on thin ice, but are well-documented staples of biblical studies. Any discussion of the Bible and evolution that ignores or minimizes these factors in favor of defending familiar theological categories should be given no quarter. Second, these observations are well positioned to help provide the “theological vocabulary” for many Christians to begin their own hermeneutical journey of reading Genesis and Paul responsibly.

Of course, there is a downside to this type of discussion. Many readers seeking alternate ways forward experience tremendous cognitive dissonance and social pressure, for they are part of ecclesiastical communions that historically have not looked kindly at the kind of hermeneutical synthesis the evolution/Bible discussion requires. In fact, not to overstate, but there are theological and ecclesiastical bodies that have a vested interest in seeing to it that these conversations don’t happen.

I do not take the fact lightly, but I do think that a self-preservationist mindset is wrong, and, ironically, self-defeating in the long run.

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Peter Enns (PhD, Harvard University) teaches biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.  He has taught at several schools, including Princeton Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Temple University, and Westminster Theological Seminary. Enns has authored or edited numerous books, including Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.

Evolution of Adam Blog Tour Line-Up & Giveaway

We are excited to announce the line-up for next week’s blog tour for Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins (hosted right here at The Brazos Blog).

Here is the official list of bloggers who will be engaging with Peter Enns’ new book next week:

Joy Bennett –  “Joy In This Journey
Nate Claiborne – NathanielClaiborne.com
Rachel Held Evans – RachelHeldEvans.com
Tripp Fuller – “Homebrewed Christianity”
James McGrath – “Exploring Our Matrix”
Gregory Smith – “Jesus Loves Darwin”
Jacob Sweeney – “Jacob Sweeney’s Blog”
Justin Topp – “A Biologist’s View of Science & Religion”
Kurt Willems – “The Pangea Blog”

Each of these bloggers will be posting on The Evolution of Adam next week. Be sure to check The Brazos Blog all next week for links and highlights from each stop on the tour.

In anticipation for next week’s blog tour, we will be giving away copies of the new book with one grand prize of five great books!

Beginning today and running all next week, you can enter to win The Evolution of Adam Blog Tour Book Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive the following books from Brazos Press & Baker Academic:



Five runner up winners will receive a copy of The Evolution of Adam.

To enter, fill out the form here:

This giveaway has ended.