Monday, February 10, 2020

Reflection for the Week - February 10

In Science & Theology discussions, especially among theists and Christians, the question is often posed: Was Paul right or wrong about his views of an historical Adam & Eve? Perhaps, to frame the question this way is not the best way of approaching it. It looks to me like Paul appeals to the OT and tradition out of his Jewish/Greco-Roman perspective. There seems little doubt he would have believed in a historical Adam & Eve, but since he would have had no other option, he therefore can’t be right or wrong. He worked with what he had and with what was being revealed. When it comes to human origins, cosmology, and the theology connected to them, Paul writes as an authoritative apostle and communicates what he could about these matters. Yet, because of a lack of information (not the case for his encounter with the Risen One, though this was still somewhat opaque according to one narrator; three conversion stories in Acts) on any alternative for origins or cosmology and their theological implications, Paul has to be understood within the limits of his historical and cultural context on such issues. I’d wager he can be more and less influenced by this context, depending on the matter at hand. Paul is therefore not right or wrong regarding his views of Adam & Eve. He is the ‘more’ contextually influenced Paul on these matters and as such, right or wrong is a category mistake. Thus, it is no longer an option, but now an obligation to try to sort out the varying degrees of context and the role they played in Paul’s writings, and then to try to work other things out from there.