Brian LePort has done a lot of blog work and writing on surveying the views on the ‘Historicity of Adam’. Let me chime in on this. I am not going to appeal to the literature at this point (as Brian is methodically doing), but instead, I am simply going to offer my nascent view and then maybe as time allows, work from there.
The Tradition of the Christian church has been to hold, of course, that Adam and Even are historic and real and actual persons. Given the advent of the Enlightenment, and all of the historical critical “tools”; and then couple all of this with the advent of modern science, the result for biblical studies is that the ‘Tradition’ of the church can be seen as out of touch with reality — as a relic that served as a point of veneration for the saints of the past, but today is no longer (necessarily) relevant for post modern enlightened people. And so, the historicity of Adam and Eve, for some, has (or is) become a relic.
That said, the case for Adam being a real flesh and blood person must come back to how one understands the intention of scripture; and a way for getting at that is to become familiar with various types, genres and forms of literature that make up the book that we call the ‘Bible’ (indeed, this is how some of Brian’s interlocutors relativize the historicity of Adam by seeing him as a literary device, a mythopoetic instrument). Further, this issue also comes down to the theological import that Adam and Eve have as characters in scripture’s narrative. Indeed, this is where the argument really resides, as Brian’s linked post illustrates. The question that Brian is dealing with, and that many others are as well, is; do Adam and Eve need to be literal people in order for the Apostle Paul’s theological arguments to work (like Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15)? Or, does Jesus’ belief in the historicity of all of the history covered in the so called ‘Old Testament’ need to be taken as pertinent to this discussion? Or, how about Luke’s Gospel, and his meticulous work in tying Jesus’ identity as the ‘Son of God’ into the genealogy that terminates in Adam as the son of God (which is embedded in the literary ‘form’ of genealogy, which by definition denotes the lineage of real historical people — like when we work out our family tree); should this be taken as an internal argument for the historicity of the physical, real life, flesh and blood Adam?
Coming back to how I opened this post, with the brief discussion about the impact that modern science has had upon such questions. Indeed, this is the framework that frames how many of Brian’s interlocutors are seeking to engage this question about the historicity of Adam. Even with all of the internal (to scripture) questions and points that I have sketched above from just a cursory reading of scripture; some of Brian’s interlocutors would still say “So?!” They take a methodological posture that presumes that Jesus (in his “humanity”, so they press, theologically, a hard and fast kenotic christology) was a man conditioned by his time, just as was the Apostle Paul, and say the Gospel writer Doctor Luke. From this presupposition, they take the next step that allows them to annex the Second Temple Judaism context as just that; a period of history that was precritical, premodern, and thus unenlightened. Based on this posture, these modern and post-modern interpreters fill at liberty to fill in the gaps of scripture’s history by reading it through a scientific lens that really understands reality.
So how do I understand this question? Well, I am pretty Traditional when it comes to such things. There is your answer. But I want to address this question further in the days to come. Because there is something more fundamental going on and being presumed, methodologically, hermeneutically, and theologically that is helping to fund the method being employed by Brian’s interlocutors (some of them). Stay tuned …