Adam–Firstborn of All Creation?

In the Apocalypse of Abraham, the patriarch sees a vision of Adam and Eve in paradise. He sees them intertwined with each other, being fed grapes by a dragon-like creature.

The failure of Adam and Eve is a cause of great consternation to Abraham: why did God create these people, give them dominion, only to ruin humanity upon the earth (23:12)?

Here is the divine answer:

And he said to me, “Hear, Abraham! Those who desire evil, and all whom I have hated as they commit them–over them did I give him dominion, and he was to be beloved of them.”

Adam, it seems, was not the firstborn of all human creatures. He was created to be the ruler of the human creatures who committed all sorts of evil. He was given dominion over sinful humans, in order to be loved by them and thus, it seems, draw them to obedience to Israel’s God.

This underscores two things.

First, an most generally, it reinforces the idea that the story of Adam has to be read as part of the narrative that defines the specific people of Israel. It was written to introduce their story and is best read as such an introduction. If we read it as simply about humanity our reading is too thin.

Secondly, it is good for us to realize that long before “scientific” concerns started giving people reason to reread the Adam narrative, early Jews were reading it differently from what we see as the “normal” or “straight” reading. Adam and Eve did not have to be read as the first humans ever to come on the scene. Early Jewish readers “knew” that Cain had somewhere to go, a people to go to, after he killed Abel.

Whereto? To the people whom Adam and Eve had been created to rule and bring into conformity with the will of God.

Please note, I’m not saying that this is the correct reading of the text; rather, I’m suggesting that it shows us a couple of important things. One of these is that the story of Adam precedes stories of Davidic kings and messiahs a story about a representative human ruling the world on God’s behalf. The other is that such a recognition can lead to a reading of Gen 2-3 that sees Adam and Eve entering a story that is already well underway–and that this did, in fact, happen before there were scientific pressures pushing anyone in such a direction.

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