Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 06:2 (Winter 2015)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves, eds. Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014. xii + 339 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978–0801039928. $26.99 (Paperback).

Every so often one comes across a wide-ranging and probing inter-disciplinary collection of essays that sheds thoughtful theological light across scripture and the tradition. This is not such a volume. With one striking exception, this is a collection of essays that set their sights doggedly on the far shore of urging a historical Adam as a non-negotiable element of a historical fall without which all Christian things fall apart, and the biblical-theological center cannot hold. There is much excellent material along the way, but it is wrapped in this gloomily unpromising framework to such an inextricable degree that time and again the basic hermeneutical issues are obscured.

Perhaps I should confess that I am a British reviewer, though also a theologian and a church-minister for whom the doctrine of original sin is indeed a fundamental pillar of both my theological understanding and my ministry. I found myself quite startled by what seems at times to be a window into a peculiarly American world where people lose their jobs because of their hermeneutical approach to Genesis, or where Barth can be called a liberal (as indeed is Pannenberg, of all people), or where C.S. Lewis (that quintessential Oxbridge professor) can be quoted as if he were affirming a belief in an historical purpose to the Genesis 2–3 story. I frequently had to put my cup of tea back on its china saucer and proclaim “I say old chap, that’s just not how we do things here.” In the interests of providing some illumination to the reader of this review, I will attempt to intersperse some hermeneutical ruminations into an outline of the details of the book.

There are fifteen essays in four sections, framed by an editorial introduction and postscript that are worth studying first. They reveal a surprising homogeneity of purpose to the various contributions: they are all (or so the editors aver) demonstrating that “a historical Adam and original sin are essential, irremovable, relevant, and credible elements of the Christian faith.” (p. 323) The three essays of Part 1 explore “Adam in the Bible and Science:” an OT exploration, a NT piece, and a view from a paleontologist, who apparently had to write under a pseudonym because of the explosive nature of his comments. I fear that the explosion would strike those in my British context as rather tame. The OT piece (by C. John Collins) is entirely an exercise in “slippery slope” argument, even avo...

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