Jesus Christ: The New Adam


Adamic Typology in the New Testament


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Jewish Foundations



Before exploring Adamic typology in the New Testament, it will be instructive to investigate any typology related to Adam found in the Old Testament and other Jewish sources before or at the time of the writing of the New Testament. This will show any foundational elements of the Adam-Christ link that may have been incorporated by the writers of the New Testament.

Typology is most prominent in the prophets and in extra-biblical Jewish apocalyptic literature. In both cases, the prophet or author is recalling events of the past - the Flood, the Exodus, etc. - as the foundation for great works of God that are to come (cf. Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 12). This typology extends also to Adam: "In both Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism we find traces of an Eastern redeemer myth which finds in the first man partly the redeemer himself and partly a type of the redeemer" (Jeremias 142). One of the key references for these prophecies and apocalypses is the paradisiacal garden in which Adam lived. Specifically, God will in the future restore the blessings of paradise, making it a time in which animals and man will live in harmony, women will no longer have labor pains, and all of creation will be restored. For example, in Ezekiel 34:23-29, the prophet writes,
And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken. "I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them; they shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them prosperous plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations."
We see in this passage a restoration of nature and man - wild beasts will be banished from the land, man will be able to live in the wilderness securely, the earth will yield its increase (implying a removal of the curse on work found in Genesis 3:17), and there will be no hunger in the land. In other words, with the coming of the Messiah, the paradise lost by Adam will be restored (see also Amos 9:13, Isaiah 11:6-9).

The restoration of paradise by the coming Messiah brings about an intimate connection between Adam and the Messiah - what Adam lost, the Messiah will restore; what Adam did to bring about this loss (sin), the Messiah will reverse by his own actions. Isaiah's famous prophecy of the coming Immanuel also contains Adamic typology:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. (Isaiah 7:14-16)
A number of links between Adam and the coming Messiah can be seen. The "curds and honey" describe the happiness of Paradise and choosing the good and refusing the evil can be paralleled to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by which Adam fell (Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 15). Furthermore, the child of the mysterious "young woman" can be connected to the "seed" promised to the woman Eve in Genesis 3:15. Ultimately, this prophecy shows an antithesis between the coming Immanuel and Adam: the promised Messiah will reverse the actions of Adam.

Jewish apocalyptic literature also included many links between the first Adam and his fall and the coming end of the age to be inaugurated by the Messiah. In the Apocalypse of Baruch, which can be dated around the first or early second century, the following words can be found:
After the signs have come, of which you were told before, when the nations become turbulent, and the time of My Messiah is come, he shall both summon all the nations, and some of them he shall spare, and some of them he shall slay. These things therefore shall come upon the nations which are to be spared by Him... And it shall come to pass, when He has brought low everything that is in the world, And has sat down in peace for the age on the throne of His kingdom, That joy shall then be revealed, And rest shall appear.
And then healing shall descend in dew, And disease shall withdraw, And anxiety and anguish and lamentation pass from amongst men, And gladness proceed through the whole earth.
And no one shall again die untimely, Nor shall any adversity suddenly befall. And judgments, and abusive talk, and contentions, and revenges, And blood, and passions, and envy, and hatred, And whatsoever things are like these shall go into condemnation when they are removed.
For it is these very things which have filled this world with evils, And on account of these the life of man has been greatly troubled.
And wild beasts shall come from the forest and minister unto men and asps and dragons shall come forth from their holes to submit themselves to a little child. And women shall no longer then have pain when they bear, nor shall they suffer torment when they yield the fruit of the womb. (Apocalypse of Baruch 72:2-3; 73:1-7)
Allusions to the pre-Fall state of Adam abound with the coming age of the Messiah, most especially in 73:7 - the curse of the woman, labor pains, will be removed (cf. Goppelt 33).

Furthermore, in the Apocalypse of Moses, also known as the Life of Adam and Eve and dating from the first century, this restoration of the original state of Adam brought about by the Messiah can be found:
But the Lord turned to Adam and said: "I will not suffer thee henceforward to be in paradise." And Adam answered and said, "Grant me, O Lord, of the Tree of Life that I may eat of it, before I be cast out." Then the Lord spake to Adam, "Thou shalt not take of it now, for I have commanded the cherubim with the flaming sword that turneth (every way) to guard it from thee that thou taste not of it; but thou hast the war which the adversary hath put into thee, yet when thou art gone out of paradise, if thou shouldst keep thyself from all evil, as one about to die, when again the Resurrection hath come to pass, I will raise thee up and then there shall be given to thee the Tree of Life." (Apocalypse of Moses 28:1-4)
Adam cannot have his pre-fall state restored, nor does he have access to the Tree of Life anymore. However, the Lord does promise that one day - "when again the Resurrection hath come to pass" - this Tree of Life will be restored and humanity will again have access to it (cf. Goppelt 33).

It is clear from this brief overview that the New Testament authors did not have to invent an Adamic typology. Instead, they applied the typology that existed within Judaism to the one whom they believed was the promised Messiah of the prophets, Jesus Christ.


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