the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Holman Bible Dictionary
Old Testament In Genesis 1:1 mankind is the crown of God's creation. Mankind is granted a unique status, expressed as being made “in the image” of God, and is given dominion over the earth and its creatures, that is, made responsible for the earth. In Genesis 2:1 the earth-boundedness of mankind is stressed: mankind is formed of the dust of the ground, thus dispelling any idea of the divine in mankind. The Lord God blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a “living, breathing thing,” the same phrase that is used to describe the animals in Genesis 1:1 . Thus Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:1 together present both sides of the human situation: the unique relationship to God and the essential connection to earth.
Genesis 3:1 relates the appearance of sin which consisted of the refusal of mankind to be content with being human and the desire to become divine. The Bible affirms that humans have dignity as humans; they do not have to try to become divine to find meaning. The serpent, the woman, and the man receive their sentences, one of which is the unequal relationship of the man and the woman as the result of sin. The separation which sin causes is emphasized in the account of the expulsion from Eden ( Genesis 3:22-24 ).
Psalm 8:1 , like Genesis 1:1 , celebrates the exalted status of mankind in God's sight and the dominion of mankind over God's creation. The biblical view of the worth of humans is to be contrasted sharply with the other views in the ancient Near East, especially in Mesopotamia, where the human being was created to be the slave of the gods. The tragedy of the human situation is the failure to celebrate mankind's unique status before God and through human effort to distort the divine intention.
New Testament The writer of Hebrews referred Psalm 8:1 to Jesus, seeing in Jesus alone the realization of all that God intended mankind to be and the means for divine-human reconciliation. Paul twice used the contrast of Christ with Adam to clarify the achievement of Christ for mankind. In Romans 5:12-21 , Adam is referred to as the type of the One to come, although the contrast is mainly negative. Just as sin entered the world through one man, Adam (Romans 5:12 ), so the act of righteousness of one man, Jesus, leads to acquittal and life for all people (Romans 5:18 ). In 1 Corinthians 15:1 , Paul used the Adam-Christ analogy to affirm the resurrection. As by a man came death, so by a Man has come resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:21 ). Just as the first Adam became a living being, so the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45 ). Whatever the origin of this typology or analogy of Adam and Jesus, for Paul, Adam represented the old humanity with all its failures, while Jesus represented the new humanity as God intended humanity to be from the beginning. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, entrance into the new humanity is made possible.
Thomas G. Smothers
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Adam'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hbd/​a/adam.html. 1991.