“Equality with and without Innocence: Genesis 1–3” (Ch 4) by Richard S. Hess -- By: J. Ligon Duncan, III

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: “Equality with and without Innocence: Genesis 1–3” (Ch 4) by Richard S. Hess
Author: J. Ligon Duncan, III


“Equality with and without Innocence:
Genesis 1–3” (Ch 4) by Richard S. Hess

J. Ligon Duncan, III

Senior Pastor
First Presbyterian Church
Jackson, Mississippi

The fundamental biblical teaching on manhood and womanhood finds its fountainhead (like so many other key Christian doctrines) in the first three chapters of the Bible. Furthermore, the apostle Paul gives us the definitive, inspired, new covenant expositions and applications of this passage to the issue of male-female role relationships in the church in 1 Timothy 2–3, and in marriage and family in Ephesians 5. Naturally, then, Genesis 1–3 has been a key text in the ongoing debate between evangelical egalitarians and complementarians. In Discovering Biblical Equality, chapter four, “Equality with and without Innocence,” Richard Hess, Old Testament Professor and husband of a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, has the unenviable task of attempting to make a positive case for evangelical egalitarianism and to reply to the moving and pastoral exposition of this great passage by Ray Ortlund, Jr., found in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.1

Hess begins well when he acknowledges that “Genesis 1–3 may contain more doctrinal teaching concerning humanity as male and female, as well as the state of the fallen world, than any other single text in the Bible” (79). But when he reaches his conclusion, there is precious little left to be learned from these chapters about biblical manhood and womanhood. He seems more interested in asserting what Genesis 1–3 does not say, than in making significant positive affirmations for our lives together as man and woman. This suggests that Genesis 1–3 is unfriendly ground for egalitarians, one on which they must simply try to hold their own, rather than make a positive case.

To be welcomed and applauded is Hess’s affirmation that “Genesis 1–3 is a matter of God’s revealed will for his people so that they might live in communion with him” (79). However, his attempt to discount the significance of Moses’ use of ’adam as his term for mankind is problematic for a robust embrace of the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture.

Hess argues that since the “generic ’adam was part of the West Semitic lexicon before You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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